Chest x-ray

The respiratory diaphragm is the main muscle you use to breathe.

Osteopaths treat your whole body, not just the sore spot.  You might wonder why we often assess your respiratory diaphragm by feeling underneath your ribs.  It is because the diaphragm influences several other regions of your body.

The diaphragm is a big muscle, shaped like an open umbrella, it attaches to the inner surface of your lower six ribs and it has parts that attach to the internal surfaces of your upper lumbar vertebrae.  Apart from being the main muscle you use to breathe, the diaphragm also separates your thoracic (containing lungs and heart) and your abdominopelvic (digestive and reproductive organs) cavities.

When you breathe in your respiratory diaphragm moves downwards and outwards, (your tummy should move outwards), this changes the pressure within your lungs and this helps to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen.  When you breathe out, it moves back upwards and inwards.  This up and down movement of the diaphragm also helps to pump fluid around your body.

Openings within the diaphragm muscle allow your oesophagus (food tube), aorta and vena cava (blood vessels) to pass through.  The nerves that supply your diaphragm begin in your neck, and as the diaphragm attaches to your ribs and vertebrae, any of these areas can influence its function.  Equally, if your diaphragm muscle is too tight, the bones, joints and structures passing through it may not move freely.

So, if you have a condition that affects your breathing (e.g. asthma), or just feel as though you are not breathing quite right, come in and see your osteopath for a treatment. 

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