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Some physical therapy asthma management techniques may be problematic

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Asthma management is a concern for about 15 million people in the United States. There are many different medications and other treatments that have been used successfully for asthma management. However, some of the methods used have not been fully proven to be effective.

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Some physical therapy clinics claim that massage can be used for asthma management. They state that it is effective in relieving the symptoms of wheezing and breathlessness. They use massage on both young and old patients. However, there is no substantial evidence that massage is more beneficial for asthma management than for stress relief.

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One alternative physical therapy method that has been used for asthma management is acupuncture. There is some indication that this technique does have some benefit in relieving the symptoms of asthma.

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Acupuncture does seem to help the immune system fight the disease. This is important in the treatment of asthma. Illnesses such as colds or flu can aggravate asthma. If acupuncture can reduce this, that is a great help. However, acupuncture is still only recommended in conjunction with other treatments. It cannot be used alone.

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Some acupuncturists use other methods to manage asthma. They may burn herbs on the acupuncture points. They may give the patient some kind of massage or teach them breathing exercises. These treatments have no known effectiveness.

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Chiropractors rely on spinal manipulation to manage asthma. Reviews of this theory are mixed. One study compared the type of sham, or faked, spinal manipulation performed on a group of asthmatics. Another group got real manipulations. There was little, if any, difference between the two groups. This would suggest that chiropractic is not effective in the treatment of asthma.

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However, another study has been done. Eighty-one children were followed for a period of time in a chiropractic clinic for asthma management. Overall, these children experienced a 45% reduction in asthma attacks after treatment. Thirty percent were able to significantly reduce their asthma medications. Therefore, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of chiropractic medicine for asthma management.

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For those who wish to pursue a career in asthma management, there is a physical therapy professional certification. Physical therapists can take the exam to become certified asthma educators who help people manage their condition. More importantly, Medicare and Medicaid pay for their services.

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There is also some evidence that asthma management should involve physical therapy for those who must be admitted to a hospital for treatment. There was a study of respiratory patients who received range-of-motion exercises during their hospitalization. Their average length of stay was three days less than those who did not do exercise.

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One of the challenges of traditional physical therapy for asthma management is that dehydration can easily occur. People with asthma are more likely to become dehydrated and it affects them more severely. It can even bring on an asthma attack. Any exercise program must take this into account.

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There are ways that physical therapy can be used for asthma management. Of course, there are other methods, and research may prove that they have value. In the meantime, some methods are best saved for use in addition to medications and proven physical therapy methods.