resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Identify & Adjust the Apex Posterior Sacrum
Low back pain involving an apex posterior sacrum (+θX-axis misalignment) typically presents with signs of lumbosacral joint impingement or facet syndrome.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
Day in the Life of an Advanced-Practice DC
Can you tell us a little about your background in the profession? Why did you want to become a DC? I studied at Boston University from 1968-1972 as a pre-med student majoring in biology.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Excited to Share the Science of Chiropractic: An Interview With Dr. Heidi Haavik
Dr. Heidi Haavik has become known in the circle of chiropractic researchers as not only a rising star, but also one willing to do research that can have a major impact in the scientific world and how chiropractic is perceived.
Let's Streamline Your Front Desk
Your front office can be your greatest source of efficiency or a constant bottleneck. Increasing the productivity of this area without sacrificing the quality of patient interaction can be a little tricky.
How Many of Your Patients Have Sarcopenia?
Figure 1 demonstrates the typical appearance of sarcopenia in the paravertebral muscles. Have you considered evaluating your patients for this problem? Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function that affects the older population.
Misconceptions & Opportunities With Medicare
As I speak around the country on how to properly document Medicare patient encounters, I get questions regarding opting out of Medicare. There are many misconceptions about opting out of Medicare, including just what it means to opt out.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 4): Blending Pain Relief With Healthy Aging
Pain relief is still the No. 1 reason patients come to my office. However, most of my patients have other goals as well, such as: "I want to lose 10 to 20 pounds"; "I feel old and want to slow down the aging process"; "My doctor says I am becoming a diabetic and need to exercise"; or "I'm tired and want more energy."
F4CP Launches New Social Media Campaign
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has launched a new service to help member doctors: a social media campaign called "Accelerator."
An Alarming Lack of Accountability
Accountability seems to be a lost quality today. The simple act of taking responsibility and doing the right thing just doesn't happen as often as it should. Maybe it is the litigious nature of our society.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
News in Brief
Northwestern Student Honored for Addressing Concussions Head-On; Northwestern Announces New CFO; Life U. to Provide Unique Opportunity.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators: 21st Century Inflammation Fighters
Specialized pro-resolving mediators, or SPMs, are a portion of the omega-3 fatty-acid spectrum that have been shown to have a powerful effect on reducing inflammation.
December, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 12
Understanding and Rehabilitating Unbalanced Breathing
By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO
In the October issue of Massage Today,1 I outlined some of the symptoms that can be created or aggravated by Breathing Pattern Disorders (BPD) such as hyperventilation.The response to this has been remarkable. I honestly can say that in the many years I have written articles and books, I have never had such a rapid and insistent response asking for more information. This follow-up article goes a small way toward meeting those requests.
This article contains information focusing on three overlapping areas: the background to BPDs, how to recognize BPD in a new client and how to begin rehabilitation. More detailed information can be found in my co-authored book published by Elsevier, Multidisciplinary Approaches to Breathing Pattern Disorders (Chaitow, Bradley & Gilbert 2002).
Back pain research and breathing rehabilitation2
A very recent research paper has been published that demonstrates another aspect of the benefit of breathing rehabilitation improvement in chronic low back pain! In this randomized, controlled study, patients with moderate chronic low back pain, of average 1-year duration, improved significantly (both pain and function) whether they were treated with either Breathing Rehabilitation or what was described as "Gold Standard" Physical Therapy. Both groups received one introductory evaluation session of 60 minutes, and 12 individual therapy sessions of equal duration of 45 minutes, over six to eight weeks.
Summary of some of the main BPD effects:3
Excessive carbon-dioxide loss causes blood pH to rise, creating respiratory alkalosis. This induces increased sympathetic arousal, altering nerve function (including motor control). It also encourages a sense of apprehension and anxiety which affects balance. Calcium and Magnesium ions are lost as the kidneys attempt to restore pH balance by excreting bicarbonate. This enhances neural sensitization, encouraging spasm and reducing pain threshold. Smooth muscle cells constrict, leading to vasoconstriction (and possibly altering fascial tone). Smooth muscle constriction can lead to colon spasm and pseudo-angina. Due to alkalinity, the so-called Bohr effect reduces oxygen release to the cells because haemoglobin retains oxygen more effectively in an alkaline environment, thus affecting tissues and the brain, encouraging ischemia, fatigue and pain. Ischemia encourages the evolution of myofascial trigger points. Overbreathing creates biomechanical overuse stresses, particularly on the accessory breathing muscles (scalenes, sternomastoid, upper trapezius, etc), as well as compromising core stability and posture.
Breathing Pattern Disorders commonly are habitual, easily recognizedand usually capable of being improved or eliminated.
Background and Definition of Breathing Pattern Disorders
The extreme of a BPD is hyperventilation, which is defined as breathing in excess of metabolic requirements. A client might show an odd arrhythmic breathing pattern and not be hyperventilating, and perhaps more importantly, might look as if they are breathing okay, but actually be hyperventilating even if apparently fit with good lung function.
About 10% of all patients attending general internal medicine practice in the U.S. are estimated to be suffering from chronic hyperventilation.4 My own clinical experience with this sort of problem suggests that a large patient population exists with BPDs who don't meet the criteria for hyperventilation, but whose breathing patterns contribute greatly to their symptom picture.
What are the Symptoms?
The vast majority of patients who chronically overbreathe in this way present with symptoms such as: fatigue, widespread pain (such as fibromyalgia), irritable bowel symptoms, chronic bladder problems, anxiety, allergies, chemical sensitivities, headaches, premenstrual syndromes, photophobia and hyperacusis. In many such conditions, BPDs rarely are causal (except perhaps where anxiety is a major feature), but they almost always are contributory, and sometimes have become a major obstacle to recovery.
As will become clear, the effects of BPDs are global, affecting all systems, having profound neurological, psychological, digestive and circulatory influences. BPDs commonly are habitual, and with a cooperative patient, usually are capable of significant improvement and are sometimes curable over a three to six month time-frame. Chronic HVS can present with respiratory, cardiac, neurological or GI symptoms, without any clinically apparent overbreathing by the patient.5
BPDs More Common in Women
HVS/BPD is female dominated, ranging from a ratio of 2:1 to 7:1 (peak ages 15-55 years). Women are more at risk possibly because progesterone is a respiratory accelerator. This also can have implications for women on hormone replacement therapy. During the post-ovulation phase, carbon dioxide levels drop about 25% and additional stress then "increases ventilation at a time when CO2 levels are already low."6
Blood Sugar and BPD
Feelings of faintness, cold sweats, weakness and disturbed consciousness are common to both hyperventilation and low blood sugar, and symptoms are far worse when both situations are present at the same time.
It also has been found that fluctuating blood glucose levels, even when these stay within normal limits, can trigger hyperventilation/BPD symptoms. People affected in this way are recommended to eat breakfast (including protein) and to avoid going without food for more than three hours or following a little-and-often, or grazing pattern of eating. This particularly is important to patients who experience panic attacks or seizures.9
Perspective of a Cardiologist
Peter Nixon a leading UK-based cardiologist reported: "When dysfunctional thoracic breathing predominates, a shift occurs towards excessive arousal, which as a catabolic state predisposes the soma towards pathology."10 Someone suffering from BPD could experience catabolic changes; protein, fat and carbohydrate synthesis halted; energy mobilized from increased breakdown of protein, fat and carbohydrates; blood levels of glucose, LDL and cholesterol increase; decrease in repair and replacement of bone; decrease in repair and replacement of skin and gut cells; decreased production of immune cells (thymus shrinks, less WBCs); decreased sexual function; increased blood pressure; and increased salt and fluid retention.
Why do people breathe this way? One of the major medical researchers into BPD, Claude Lum, discussed the reasons for people becoming hyperventilators, "Neurological considerations leave little doubt that habitually unstable breathing is the prime cause of symptoms. Why people breathe in this way must be a matter for speculation, but manifestly the salient characteristics are pure habit."11
Although an absolute diagnosis only can be made with CO2 monitoring using a capnograph that monitors carbon dioxide levels in exhaled air, a simple questionnaire (Nijmegen Questionnaire) is internationally accepted as being over 90% accurate in suggesting that hyperventilation exists as a contributory feature of person's symptom picture. This non-invasive test is a simple and accurate indicator of acute and chronic hyperventilation.12, 13
What Patient Signs MightAlert You to BPD?
Possible Treatment Sequence for HVS/BPD
Note: The sequence outlined below is one I have evolved for my own practice and is not a recommendation for others. It does however contain the elements I feel are necessary for a successful restoration of breathing. Treatment and retraining commonly involves eight to 12 weekly sessions, followed by treatment every two to three weeks, for approximately six months. An educational component should be included at each session.
First Two Treatments: (Not less than weekly): release and/or stretch of upper fixators of the shoulders/accessory breathing muscle (upper traps, levator, scalenes/SCS, pecs, lats) as well as attention to trigger points in these; soft tissue (NMT, MET, PRT, etc) attention to the diaphragm area (anterior intercostals, sternum, abdominal attachments costal margin, quadratus lumborum/psoas), as well as attention to trigger points in these. Retraining: pursed lip breathing, as well as guidance as to restricting shoulder rise during inhalation. Give an introduction of the capnograph biofeedback method.
Sessions (Weeks) Three and Four: As above, plus mobilization of thoracic spine and ribs (as well as lymphatic pump/drainage methods), plus address fascial and osseous links (cranial, pelvic, limbs). Retraining: anti-arousal breathing, plus specific relaxation methods, stress management, autogenic training, visualisation, meditation, counselling. Sessions of capnograph biofeedback training as required.
Sessions (Weeks) Five to Twelve: As above, plus focus on other body influences (ergonomics, posture). Retraining: additional exercises as appropriate.
Sessions (Weeks) 13 to 26: Review and treat residual dysfunctional patterns/tissues. Throughout: as indicated nutrition, psychotherapy and adjunctive methods, such as hydrotherapy, tai chi, yoga, Pilates, massage, acupuncture, etc.
Successful breathing retraining
There have been many reports and studies showing the value of breathing rehabilitation.14 Lum 15 reported on a study in which more than 1000 anxious and phobic patients were treated using breathing retraining, physical therapy and relaxation. Symptoms were usually abolished in one to six months with some younger patients requiring only a few weeks. At 12 months, 75% were free of all symptoms and 20% had only mild symptoms however, about one patient in twenty had "intractable symptoms."
Instructions for Anti-Arousal/Pursed Lip Breathing 16 17 18 19
Place yourself in a comfortable (seated-or reclining) position, and exhaleslowly and fully through pursed lips (as though you are blowing through a drinking straw), with your lips just barely separated. Imagine that a candle flame is about 10 inches from your mouth and exhale (blowing a thin stream of air) in such a way as to not blow this out, but to just make it flicker. When you have exhaled fully, without strain, close your lips and pause for a count of one and then inhale through your nose. The complete exhalation will have created a "coiled spring" so you do not have to try to control how you inhale. Then, without pausing to hold the breath, exhale fully and slowly through pursed lips once again, blowing the air in a thin stream until you feel the need to inhale. Close your lips, pause for a count of one, and then inhale freely through the nose again. Repeat the inhalation and the exhalation for not less than 30 cycles of in and out. Practice this exercise morning and evening. You might feel light headed after the 30 cycles, so rest for a few minutes before resuming normal activities.
Methods need to be taught to encourage the restraining of shoulder movement (accessory muscle activation) during breathing using one of a variety of methods. For example: The patient is seated at the edge of a chair with arms hanging down, palms facing forward. On inhalation, the patient gently turns the arms so the thumbs point slightly backwards, and on exhalation this is released and relaxed. The rhythmic breathing pattern, along with this gentle restraint of accessory breathing muscles, starts the process of separating the act of inhalation from their over-activity.
The information in this short article has focused on the background, appearance, assessment and rehabilitation of breathing pattern disorders these are not pathologies any more than poor posture is a pathology but they can profoundly influence emotions, chemistry and structure. I sincerely hope you can use the essential features of this message to benefit your clients and perhaps yourself.
Click here for more information about Leon Chaitow, ND, DO.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.