Open Mon-Sat · (03) 9859 5059 · BOOK online OR call Reception
Open Mon-Sat · (03) 9859 5059 · BOOK online OR call Reception

Dr Tristan Joss - Osteopath

Changing seasons & Osteopathy

Working on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, Dr Elise came into my room and asked if a lot of my clientsover the last week or so had been coughing? and YES!!! They certainly had been. More than half of the clients I had seen lately have had a persistent cough throughout winter. Because the Winter is nearly over, and hay fever season isn’t far off, I thought I would write about sneezing as well. 

It got us thinking about what happens when we cough and what we can do as osteopaths to help.

A cough is a reflex that starts when the nerves working the respiratory system are stimulated.

There are 3 phases:

  • Inhalation (breathing in)
  • Increased pressure in the throat and lungs when the vocal cords closed
  • An explosive release of air when the vocal chords open.

Manual treatment of ribs and diaphragm can potentially settle down the irritation from your cough via your nervous system.

Sneezing occurs when something irritates the inside of our nose, the nerves are again stimulated around the respiratory system.

  1. Your chest muscles compress your lungs, which send a burst of air upwards.
  2. The throat shuts tight, which sends the air shooting through your nose.

We can’t do anything about the infection such as the common cold, the flu and laryngitis, we also can’t stop hay fever occurring. But what we may be able to do is treat some of the resulting effects caused after persistent coughing or sneezing.  Some of the lingering irritation that makes you sneeze & cough after an infection, funnily enough could be a result of all the sneezing & coughing you did during the illness.

There has been some evidence that osteopathy may be able to help with the treatment of Pneumonia, children with asthma, and chronic coughing from a patient with stomach reflux.

When we cough, we use our abdominal muscles, intercostals (muscles between the ribs) and the diaphragm. Then we have our accessory breathing muscles that try to help as well, these include the scalene and upper trapezius muscles that help move or brace the head and neck. Chronic coughing can cause that achy soreness and if violent enough could strain these muscles. If these muscles are tight, we can assume the joints they work on are also restricted, causing that lingering stiffness after having a cough for a few weeks.

Rib Pain | Osteopathy | Surrey Hills | treatment for rib pain

What can you do?

As well as popping in to come and see us, here’s some tips that you can use to help ease the coughing or the after affects of coughing.
  • BREATHING!!  Breathing from your belly rather than the chest. Have a look at Katie’s breathing blog here on how to breath from the belly at the end of the day.
  • HEAT!! Using a heatpack around the upper back and neck will give the muscle a chance to relax and recover.
  • STRETCHING!!  Check out our stretching videos on the Website, both neck stretches and the chest stretch will be helpful. our website and follow: Services>>Osteopathy>>Stretches.



PA Guiney et al. Effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment on pediatric patients with asthma: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2005 Jan;105(1):7-12.

  1. Brasileira. The Treatment of Chronic Cough by Osteopathy: A Case Study of a Patient with Refractory Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Gastroenterology & Hepatology: Open Access, Voulme 6 issue 6- 2017
  2. Golstein. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for pneumonia. The Journal of Osteopathic medicine and primary care. 2010 Mar 19.

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