Winter Cough: How Can Osteopathic Treatment Help You?

As the temperature continues to drop and the days draw to a close earlier, doesn’t Summer feel like a strange, distant memory?

It’s no surprise that as Winter fully kicks in many people begin to suffer with terrible colds and coughs.

Why do we cough?

Coughing is usually caused when an irritant stimulates your nerves and sends a message to your brain. It is a reflex action that helps to clear your airways of irritants like mucus, dust or smoke. Whilst a new cough might worry you, it isn’t always a sign of anything serious. Most coughs clear up within 3 weeks and don’t require any treatment. An occasional cough is normal and healthy, if your cough is concerning you or lasting longer than you think it should, it is advisable that you go and get yourself checked over just to be sure.

What happens when we cough?

When we cough, we use our abdominal muscles and respiratory muscles. We also use our accessory breathing muscles. These particular muscles help us move or brace our head and neck. Over time, a chronic cough can cause aches, stiffness, and soreness. If violent enough, a cough can actually strain your neck muscles. If your neck muscles are tight, this could mean the joints they work on are also restricted. 

The reflex of coughing can also cause your respiratory muscles, such as your diaphragm, to become increasingly sore and fatigued. If you’re coughing a lot, the muscles can become tight and pull on your ribs causing strains in the ribcage.

How can osteopathy support you when you have a cough?

Osteopathy is the science of human mechanics. It’s an established, recognised system of diagnosis and treatment that lays emphasis on the structural integrity of the body. Essentially, it’s a natural and holistic therapy. Osteopathy uses many of the diagnostic procedures used in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis. Its main strength, however, lies in the unique way we assess our patients from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint and the manual methods of treatment applied to suit the needs of each individual patient.

Osteopathy may help to alleviate the symptoms of your cough and speed up your recovery by looking at the causes of your cough. An osteopath will focus on the stimulation of your lymph and blood circulation, which will help to improve your immune function response. Treatment may consist of soft tissue massage, muscle stretching, joint mobilisation and lymphatic drainage techniques.

An osteopathic practitioner might also suggest treatment that will help to release spinal joint restrictions. The aim of this is to normalise the function of your nervous system, reduce muscle spasm pain and mucus production. This can help with congestion by improving venous and lymphatic drainage, ultimately helping your body to return to a more optimal level of health.

Osteopathic treatment is also a fantastic way to soothe and settle any stress, tension, or anxiety that your cough might be causing you. As this type of treatment focuses on your joints, muscles and spine, it will help you relieve the physical symptoms stress can leave you with. 

When it comes to patients who visit us for stress related issues, we pay particular attention to the muscles around your thoracic spine, this is where your sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response, is located. By focusing here, we can identify exactly where your stress is impacting you and will be able to provide you with techniques you can practise which will help you manage the effects of your stress.

Overall, osteopathy can help to aid a greater sense of wellbeing and relaxation within you which will help to relax the muscles that are used when you’re coughing.

If you’ve been suffering from a cough that’s disrupting your peace of mind and causing you physical symptoms that are impacting your day-to-day life, the Enfield Osteopathic team would love to hear from you. We will work together to get you in the best shape possible so you’re able to lead a pain-free and comfortable life.

Leave a reply