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Asthma

In the United States asthma is now epidemic. This once rare disease is becoming more and more common in both adults, and children. Chiropractors do not claim to cure, or treat asthma. However, any thing becomes possible with a properly functioning nervous system.

Two examples that I would like to recall, both occurred in this very office. The first patient was a male. In his mid-fifties who presented for treatment of upper back and neck pain. He did not disclose that he had asthma. After about four weeks of care the patient came into the office and made the following statement. “doc, I have had asthma for over 40 years, I just came from my regular doctors appointment and for the first time ever, I just passed my breathing test! Do you think that what we are doing here may have any thing to do with that?”

The second patient was a four year old girl lets call her Emma. Emma suffered with severe chronic asthma. She was continually in need of breathing treatments, inhalers, and steroids. Her mother was being seen at the office for headaches when she learned that chiropractic may also help asthma. The little girl began treatments with her mother. It was found that she had nerve interferences in both her neck and her upper back, these regions are commonly found to have problems in asthmatics. Over the course of the next few months Emma responded well to the adjustments and the case is considered a great success. To this day she has maintained her new found health and is no longer taking the breathing treatments nor the steroids, and uses her inhaler about 90% less than she did prior to care.

The evidence and studies overwhelmingly show that chiropractic represents a safe non-pharmacological health care approach which could reduce or eliminate the need for medication and potentially ease the severity of the asthmatic condition. Several published studies are sited below.

Study 1.

An impairment rating analysis of asthmatic children under chiropractic care. Graham, RL and Pistolese RA. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research 1997: 1 (4): 1-8

Eighty one children under chiropractic care took part in this self-reported asthma related impairment study. The children were assessed before and two months after chiropractic care using an asthma impairment questionnaire. Significantly improved impairment rating scores were reported for 90.1% of subjects 60 days after chiropractic care in comparison to their pre-chiropractic scores. In addition, 30.9% of the children voluntarily decreased their dosage of medication by an average of 66.5% while under chiropractic care. Twenty four of the patients who reported asthma attacks 30-days prior to the study had significantly decreased attacks by an average of 44.9%. Six different chiropractic techniques were used by the different chiropractors who participated in this study.

Study 2.

From the November / December 2000 issue of Todays Chiropractic, comes a study report on Asthma. The article notes that approximately 14 Americans die each day from asthma. Asthma is only one of three diseases that have shown an increasing death rate in recent years, up 58% since 1979. It is estimated that 17 million Americans suffer from the disease making it the most common and costly illness in the United States costing over $13 billion annually. Currently, asthma causes more hospitalizations of children than any other childhood disease.

In the study, 47 patients were observed over a two year period. These patients had all been medically diagnosed with asthma ranging from mild persistent in 11 cases, moderate persistent in 28 cases, to severe persistent in 8 cases. The study consisted of specific chiropractic adjustments. The range of visits was from 14 to 44, with the average being 26 during the study period. Most patients in the study began care at a rate of 3 visits per week with this frequency being reduced after 4 to 8 initial weeks.

The patient results were great with all 47 of the study patients showing a marked improvement ranging from 87 to 100 percent. Patient improvement was measured by both improvement in their symptoms as well as a decrease in their usage of acute asthma attack medication. Even more impressive was that all of the patients in the study reported maintaining their improvement after a two-year follow up.

In a study conducted in 1996 by the Michigan Chiropractic Council (MCC), a panel of doctors performed an out-come assessment study to test the qualitative and quantitative effectiveness of chiropractic care on children with asthma. The high demand of parents seeking alternative care for pediatric asthma was shown by the overwhelming interest in the study. More than 500 parents called the MCC seeking to get their child involved in the chiropractic study.

The study, which took place in 1996, examined if chiropractic is effective in helping the symptoms and causes of asthma in patients from birth to age 17. The average age of the participant was 10 years. “After 30 days of chiropractic health care, patients averaged only one attack, whereas prior to the study they were experiencing more than four attacks,” said MCC Dr. Bob Graham, who directed the study. “Medications were decreased by nearly 70 percent. Finally, patient satisfaction was rated 8.5 on a scale of 10.” The study is considered a great success.

Study 3.

Asthma has become a large health concern for children in recent years. Over the past 20 years the incidence of asthma has doubled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that in 1998, approximately 17,299,000 people in the United States , or 6.4% of the population, with cases among very young children up 160% . As reported in the June 16, 1999 issue of JAMA, the CDC also noted that between 1980 and 1994, the number of people self-reporting asthma grew 75%.

In a study conducted in 1996 by the Michigan Chiropractic Council (MCC), a panel of doctors performed an out-come assessment study to test the qualitative and quantitative effectiveness of chiropractic care on children with asthma. The high demand of parents seeking alternative care for pediatric asthma was shown by the overwhelming interest in the study. More than 500 parents called the MCC seeking to get their child involved in the chiropractic study.

The study, which took place in 1996, examined if chiropractic is effective in helping the symptoms and causes of asthma in patients from birth to age 17. The average age of the participant was 10 years. “After 30 days of chiropractic health care, patients averaged only one attack, whereas prior to the study they were experiencing more than four attacks,” said MCC Dr. Bob Graham, who directed the study. “Medications were decreased by nearly 70 percent. Finally, patient satisfaction was rated 8.5 on a scale of 10.” The study is considered a great success.

Study 4.

It is estimated that up to 15 million people suffer from asthma. Of those, 14.8 million are children under the age of 18. In 1993 alone, there were 198,000 hospitalizations for asthma. In that same sample year, 342 people under the age of 25 died due to this problem. In money terms, the direct cost of managing a patient with severe asthma has been estimated at more than $18,000 per year.

The following statistics about asthma come from the Better Health & Medical Network.

  • Asthma has increased 46% from 1982-1993 with an 80% growth in children under 18.
  • In the 5-17 age group, asthma causes an annual loss of more than 10 million school days per year.
  • Asthma accounts for more childhood hospitalizations than any other childhood disease.
  • Children with asthma spend approximately 7.3 million days per year restricted to bed rest.
  • In 1990, there were 7.1 million physician visits for asthma.
  • Health care costs for asthma were estimated to be $6.2 billion, which is almost 1% of the total US health care costs.
  • More than 5,200 Americans died from asthma in 1991.

Recent articles in publications such as “The American Chiropractor”, and “Today’s Chiropractic” describe strong links between people who suffer from these conditions and nerve interference from subluxation. Subluxations are when bones in the spine pressure or irritate nerves causing abnormal nerve function. An article appearing in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research Vol. 1 No. 4, also demonstrated the positive effects of chiropractic care on 81 children with asthma.

According to Richard Pistolese, research assistant for the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, “Based upon information currently available, chiropractic care represents a safe non-pharmacological health care approach, that may be associated with a decrease in asthma-related impairment, reduced respiratory effort, and a decrease incidence of asthma attacks.” Pistolese goes further to say, “The correction of vertebral subluxation is a non-invasive procedure, which could reduce or eliminate the need for medication, and potentially ease the severity of the asthmatic condition.”

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