(The case reports section of this website represent actual cases treated in this practice. Only the names have been changed in keeping with rules of patient privacy.)
Patrick, 4 years old, had been suffering from bronchial asthma for the past 2 years. His attacks were now coming daily and he was on increasing doses of medication, which included the bronchodilator, Ventolin, and steroids. Patrick's mother was very concerned about her son's condition. She had just been told by Patrick's pediatrician that his medication dosage could not be increased any further at his age, even though his asthma attacks were occurring daily and were quite debilitating.
"Is there anything chiropractic can do for my son's asthma", Patrick's mother, a nurse, asked her chiropractor almost in desperation. The chiropractor explained that not all cases of asthma responded to spinal adjusting but that enough did, that would suggest that Patrick should at least be evaluated and have a thorough spinal examination. The chiropractor explained that in his experience, the cases that responded best to spinal adjusting were those which commenced at a young age, like Patrick's.
Chiropractic seeks simply to restore normal function to the spine and nervous system and if that is part of Patrick's problem then we should see some appropriate response. The chiropractor further explained that working with the spine was not always a quick solution for asthma and that improvement in Patrick's condition might come gradually over a period of weeks or months. During this time Patrick would probably need to be evaluated each week and should certainly continue with his prescribed medications. Well to a parent, and especially a nurse, who had cared for her son through the many helpless nights of asthma, the slightest prospect of success was acceptable.
Patrick's spine was evaluated by the chiropractor. Like so many patients with chronic bronchial problems, Patrick was found to have a forward dishing of his spine in between his shoulder blades; a phenomenon which had been identified by the British MD, Pottenger, many years earlier (1). In Patrick's case, his spinal problems were mainly confined to this area known as the thoracic region.
Asthma is typically caused by swelling and constriction of the bronchial tubes which secrete mucus in response to triggers such as a viral infection, an allergen, exposure to cold air or physical activity. Other possible causes may still to be uncovered. When the trigger is no longer a factor or has passed, the body has a nervous system response that should correct the constriction of the bronchial tubes. This area of the nervous system is called the sympathetic nervous system. It just so happens that the area of the nervous system responsible for this bronchodilating action is just beneath the spine in the area between the shoulder blades. The dishing of the spine in this area can be a contributing factor to a prolonged asthma attack.
Patrick's response to the treatment showed a gradual improvement in his condition. After four weeks of treatment, his mother reported that the asthma attacks were now less intense and that they occurred only once or twice each week. After eight weeks of chiropractic visits, Patrick returned to his pediatrician for further evaluation. To the delight of his mother, Patrick's steroid medication was ceased. Chiropractic care continued on a weekly basis, for several more weeks after which his asthma symptoms had completely resolved.
Patrick's case is not an unusual one. It is one of many similar case reports on file in chiropractor's offices throughout the country.
1. Pottenger, Symptoms of Visceral Disease. Moseby 1910