Can Chiropractic Care Support Asthma Management?

Most members of the general public associate chiropractic care with treatment of conditions that are musculoskeletal in nature. These include back pain, neck pain, sciatica, headaches etc. However, from the time chiropractic came into existence in 1895, patients receiving chiropractic care have reported improvement across a range of non musculo skeletal conditions as well. This article will discuss the topic of Asthma, and whether chiropractic care is able to help patients who suffer from it.

The last statement is an incredibly important distinction to make. We are not asserting that chiropractic is intended to “cure asthma”. It is more a discussion of whether people who suffer from asthma can have a better quality of life with respect to how it affects them.

In 2010, the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association publishes a review of the scientific literature which examined the effectiveness of chiropractic care for patients that have been diagnosed with Asthma. All included studies had clear criteria in order to be considered, which included the following:

  • Had to be published in a peer reviewed journal
  • Had to be published after 1980 (ie very old studies weren’t considered)
  • Treatments had to be administered by qualified chiropractors
  • There had to be an “outcome measure” to assess the effect of the treatment

The full text of the article can be viewed here:

However, this article will discuss the key points.

In considering the effectiveness of the treatment, the following comments were made.

“Subjective measures varied amongst the selected literature, including reported number of asthma attacks, medication use, quality of life, patient-reported changes in asthma symptomatology, modified Oswestry rating scale, and asthma diary logs. A noticeable trend of improvement in these measures was recognized across the reviewed literature, although none were statistically significant.

Spirometry readings were the main objective measures used in the selected literature. These included peak expiratory flow, vital capacity and forced expiratory volume. Some improvements in these objective measures were noted, however, as with the subjective measures, none were statistically significant.”

Essentially, there were a range of objective measures (ie things that can be measured and demonstrated) as well as a range of subjective measures (ie things that the individual person notices and feels in terms of their own improvement). The objectives findings were considered not to be statistically significant, however, the patients involved in many of the studies reported a decrease in medication use, quality of life scores and asthma symptom severity.

The conclusion of the study was as follows:

“Results of the eight retrieved studies indicated that chiropractic care showed improvements in subjective measures and, to a lesser degree objective measures, none of which were statistically significant. It is evident that some asthmatic patients may benefit from this treatment approach; however, at this time, the evidence suggests chiropractic care should be used as an adjunct, not a replacement, to traditional medical therapy.”

The authors of the study are stating that using chiropractic care INSTEAD OF traditional medical treatments is  not supported by the available evidence, but there may be benefit for people with asthma to try chiropractic care as part of their overall treatment strategy.

The other important aspect to note is that no adverse effects were reported in any of the studies in terms of worsening of the condition or otherwise.

“It is encouraging to note that, in the articles that commented on it, no patients were reported to experience any worsening of symptoms or injuries while under care”

In other words, if you were considering trying chiropractic as an option, you can do so knowing that the risk of complications or getting worse is extremely low.

On a personal note, one of my professional colleagues pursued a career as a chiropractor because he suffered from asthma throughout his childhood despite the usual treatments being prescribed. On beginning a regimen of chiropractic care, he improved so much that he was able to participate in high level exercise and all normal daily activities without restriction.

Adelaide chiropractors support the choice of any patient who has been diagnosed with asthma and would like to see if chiropractic care can help them to improve their quality of life, to be able to do so.

Chiropractic care for patients with asthma: A systematic review of the literature

Adrienne Kaminskyj, BKin, DC, Michelle Frazier, BA, DC, Kyle Johnstone, BGS, DC, and Brian J. Gleberzon, BA, DC*. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2010 Mar; 54(1): 24–32.