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My granddaughter is 5 years old. Can a chiropractor help her? She is having breathing problems. She has had 3 visits in the hospital in the last 7 months with low O2 stats.
Dear Questioner,

Thank you for your question.
CF care is best delivered by a multidisciplinary team of health care workers. This team will usually include amongst others doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. This is because CF is a multi system disease which affects a number of different organ systems. A large part of the treatment focuses on respiratory care and maintenance of lung function. Your granddaughters breathing problems, low 02 saturations and hospital admissions are likely linked to a chest infection as part of her CF. These problems can be best investigated in hospital by the multidisciplinary team who regularly cares for CF patients.
Chiropractors specialise in the management of conditions that are due to problems with the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves, especially related to the spine. To my understanding, there are currently no published articles on any chiropractic treatments in CF specifically. A recent review (2013) investigated the evidence for manual therapy in a range of childhood respiratory diseases including CF. However, the review could not conclude that manual techniques were beneficial as there was a lack of studies and evidence.

Physiotherapists who make up part of the CF team at your granddaughters local centre, will be able to deliver a number of different treatments to help maintain your granddaughter’s lung function. Breathing problems can come about when there is more sputum in the lungs, when some of the airways in the lungs are not fully open, and when there is progressive damage to the lungs due to repeated infections. To maintain or improve lung function it is important that a person with CF clears his lungs of sputum regularly. These include the Active Cycle of Breathing Technique, the PEP mask, the Acapella, the Flutter, or Autogenic drainage. Aerobic exercise is also important to maintain or improve lung function as it can help open all the airways of the lungs and it also helps loosen secretions in the lungs which can then be cleared from the lungs more easily.
It is important that a person with CF also takes his medicine as prescribed to maintain or improve his lung function. DNase and hypertonic saline helps thinning the sputum making it easier to clear and bronchodilators help opening the airways. A physiotherapist can also give exercises for any muscle or joint problems your granddaughter may have.
The treatment of any person with CF is specific to that person and not all treatment techniques or medicines will suit everyone. Speak to your doctor or physiotherapist for further instructions in relation to your child’s specific needs.

Best wishes
Katherine O'Neill

Pepino VC et al J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2013 Jan;36(1):57-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.12.004.