Sleeping can Take Your Breath Away…Literally – Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Chiropractic

Many individuals experience breathing difficulties during sleep. Such difficulties may include snoring, choking, or a form of sleep apnea. Of particular interest in today’s article is a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which causes abnormal pauses in breathing that are typically the result of obstruction of the upper airway. Some symptoms of OSA include excessive daytime sleepiness, unrefreshed sleep, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue. In addition, several factors increase one’s risk of developing OSA such as obesity, male gender, age, family history, menopause, craniofacial abnormalities, smoking, alcohol use, and more.

Moderate and severe cases of OSA are typically treated with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This machine provides continuous pressurized airflow to individuals with OSA in order to promote an open airway during sleep. Other common methods of intervention include lifestyle changes, surgery, and dental appliances.

The prevalence of OSA continues to rise along with the demand for alternative treatments. As the following case study suggests, chiropractic adjustments may be quite effective in providing positive outcomes for OSA patients.

Case Study: A 34-year- old male with OSA presented to the chiropractor with the following symptoms: daytime drowsiness, lack of energy, loud snoring, and difficulty breathing during sleep. The use of a CPAP machine as prescribed by his medical doctor provided some relief but nevertheless, he sought chiropractic consultation. The patient’s treatment plan began with 3 visits per week for the first 3 months which was later decreased to 1 visit per week. Some of the techniques that were utilized are known as Diversified Technique, Full Spine Technique, and Pettibon Technique.

The patient’s number of visits per week was reduced at the 3 month mark in light of the following improvements: increased energy, cessation of snoring and daytime drowsiness, increased cervical curve, reduction of forward head placement, decreased paraspinal hypertoniciy, and finally, termination of CPAP machine use.

OSA can greatly diminish one’s quality of life. In this particular case, the patient experienced improvements in symptoms as well as in other aspects of his life. More specifically, in addition to the positive outcomes listed above, the patient reported that his anxiety and acid reflux had subsided which; in turn led to discontinuation of associated medications. Further research is required to support current findings.

Jockers, D., & Waite, H. (2014). Resolution of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in a Patient Undergoing Corrective Chiropractic Care: A Case Study. Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.