Chiropractic Treatmant for Pectus Excavatum

Evidence Based This post has medical citations

Nowadays, the non-surgical methods for treating pectus excavatum are mostly used in patients with a moderate chest deformity. These are the cases where you can see that the chest is indented.

Chiropractic is a part of the physical therapy for pectus excavatum. That’s mostly used when the patient declines to undergo a surgical procedure.

The success of this form of treatment generally depends on the deformity severity, patient’s age, and patient motivation to fix the abnormality.

Even though the non-operative treatment is less invasive, and has lots of clear benefits over surgical procedures, it still has some limitations.

Therefore, patients need to prepare for this. Non-operative treatment includes several different treatment parts:

  • Psychological and emotional support
  • Natural treatment and postural exercises
  • Application of vacuum bells
  • Use of posture improvement orthoses

In the non-surgical treatment, the most important thing for successful healing is motivation and dedication. Medical monitoring can also help. A timely and adequate response in case of complications is needed.

What is a Chiropractic Therapy

The word “chiropractic” means “to be done by hand.” It originates from the Greek words cheir (meaning ‘hand‘) and praktos (meaning ‘done‘). The name was chosen by the inventor of chiropractic, Daniel David Palmer.

Chiropractic is a health care practice that focuses on disorders in the muscles and the nervous system. Additionally, it helps with the consequences of certain disorders on overall health.

Chiropractic services are mostly used in treating general musculoskeletal difficulties, including back pain, neck pain, pain in the bones of the arms or legs, and headaches.

Chiropractic is considered as an alternative remedy. It is a non-surgical, drug-free method that tries to fix the structural problems with the whole body.

Chiropractic care treatment is still a choice when the patients don’t suffer from any spinal difficulties or any nerve compression syndrome.

D. D. Palmer founded chiropractic in the 1890s. He said he took it from “the other world”. His son B. J. Palmer helped to develop chiropractic in the early 20th century.

Throughout its history, chiropractic has been controversial. But today, it is approved and used worldwide. You can find a chiropractor everywhere near you.

Chiropractors manipulate the body’s alignment to reduce pain and increase function to help the body repair itself. While the main idea of chiropractic is spinal manipulation, chiropractic care may also include other treatments.

It includes manual or manipulative treatments, postural, exercise education, and ergonomic training. Spinal manipulation is a generic name used for each kind of therapeutic movement of the spine.

Often, it involves applying a quick but strong pressure on a joint between two vertebrae of the spine. The goal of the chiropractic method is to help patients better control their pectus excavatum condition at home.

The patients with slight to moderate severity of the pectus excavatum deformity can see the best results with this type of non-operative treatment. It is often related to natural therapy.

Success Depends on Deformity Severity

The therapeutic effect of this treatment depends primarily on the type and degree of deformity, the patient’s age, as well as the patient’s motivation.

It’s important to note that the studies so far have shown that there is a significant negative relationship between the angle of thoracic kyphosis from one and inspiratory capacity, vital capacity, and lateral chest expansion on the other hand.

Also, airway resistance is mainly conditioned by the patient’s posture. The type of adequate exercise selection is based on an individual patient approach.

Fundamental principles in designing chiropractic exercises are based on known facts about muscle attachment, the direction of providing muscle fiber, muscle function, as well as biomechanics of respiration.

Non-surgical treatment includes:

Breathing and aerobic exercises are performed at specific time intervals, with a certain number of exercises repetition. The goal of natural healing is achieved by an increased number of returns and length of exercise.

During exercise, the onset of dyspnea is continuously monitored. Breathing exercises involve diaphragmatic breathing and sidelong rib expansion.

Retention breathes and placing the patient with support on both arms and legs during stretching and exercise are used to increase chest expansion. While performing the exercises for strength and stretching, patients are monitored for pulse values.

The wanted result of physical treatment of the pectus excavatum is an improvement in the mobility of the spine and chest, extension and relaxation of shortened and tightened structures, which otherwise increase the deformity.

Last but not least, establishing as more as possible the correct posture of the patient. Many patients have benefits during chiropractic remedy as to a part of physical therapy. The benefits will be long-term.

Purpose of Chiropractic Therapy

When it comes to corrective exercises to improve pectus excavatum deformities, the main question in treating these patients is how to lift the “sunken” front wall of the chest.

To address this, one should consider the function of inspiratory musculature, which, by its action, helps to pull the chest wall. Intercostal muscles contribute to the chest wall’s elevation only when the first ribs are fixed and elevated.

During the daily exercise program to improve the condition of the front chest wall, the patient should follow these next steps:

  • Increase the mobility and flexibility in the spinal support and thorax
  • Elongation and tightening of shortened muscle structures
  • Strengthening the muscles that counteract the depression of the chest
  • Working on the healthy posture of the body

The first two steps are achieved by mobilizing the joints and elongating the chest wall’s soft tissues. This reduces the impedance during chest depression elevations.

Exercises in the first two steps can also serve as an exercise warming up the musculoskeletal machinery and preparing it for the next exercises with more vigorous intensity.

The following exercises will be performed to strengthen the inspiratory muscles, which is necessary for chest wall elevation. Activation of the large pectoral muscle, especially its sternocostal fibers, is of the utmost importance.

Mobilization and stretching exercises primarily include:

  • Rotation of the upper torso in a standing position
  • Flexion of the upper body in a sitting position
  • Stretching your arms forward in a kneeling or crouching position
  • Lifting weights in a prone position on the back
  • Stretching the torso in the supine position at the abdominal positions

There’s no special preparation before chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic therapy may require a series of appointments, but the most usual number of treatments is between 6 to 10 visits.

Muscle and Tissue Warm-up Methods

Electrical Stimulation

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a painless electrical flow through the patient’s skin to specific nerves. The effects are done by a mild heat that helps to relieve stiffness and pain, with a chance to improve range of motion.

It may be used to control acute and chronic pain. This method uses electrical pulses to simulate the action of signals coming from the neurons.

These gentle electrical drifts target either the muscles or the nerves. This therapy for muscle recovery sends signals to targeted muscles to make them contract.

By causing repeated muscle contractions, the blood flow, and rehabilitation of injured muscles improves. Those muscles also improve their energy within repeated cycles of contraction and relaxation.

This method can even “train” muscles to respond to the body’s natural signals to contract. This is an especially valuable benefit for those who must relearn basic motor functions.

Electrical stimulation can block pain receptors from being sent from the nerves to the brain.


Ultrasound is a sound wave that creates deep heat applied to the soft muscles and joints.

Micro-massaging the soft muscles and joints, ultrasound treatment can help reduce pain, stiffness, spasms, blood flow, and stimulating the healing process.

Physical therapists also use this ultrasound technique. First, a gel is applied to the patient’s skin to help spread the ultrasound waves into the tissues. The ultrasound inquiry is gently swirled over the wanted area.


With massage, the soft tissues improve circulation, reduce swelling and pain. It also speeds up the natural healing process. Massages stimulate blood circulation that helps with removing toxins.

Deep Tissue (Swedish) Massage

The massagers use their fingers, thumbs, and elbows to massage muscles and connective tissue. Swedish massage uses long strokes and light pressure to give relaxation to the patient’s pain.

Deep tissue massage is a forceful way that frees tension deep in the muscles and connective tissues while relieving pain.


Acupressure is a massage technique based on the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Finger pressure is applied to mobilize or drive energy at specific spots on the body named as acupressure points or acupoints.

These acupressure points are physical spots that can be located to release blocked or congested energy centers in the body. Acupressure system requires this therapy to open blockages allowing energy or Qi (chee) to flow freely.

The Vacuum Method

In carefully selected patients conservative non-operative vacuum bell treatment can be applied.

The results of this treatment are adapted primarily by the patient’s age, deformity type (symmetrical, asymmetric), degree of deformity, and patient motivation.

The vacuum bell is a silicone ring with a transparent window made of polycarbonate. An adapter is attached to the window area to connect the suction balloon.

The balloon is used to evacuate the air below the bell and create negative pressure that pulls the chest and breastbone forward. Over time, the chest wall and breastbone stay forward on their new shape.

Heat and Ice Therapy

Chiropractic most used methods may shift between heat and ice therapy. Ice packs may be used to anesthetize the back for a 10 to 15 minute period and then switched to heat.

Heat Therapy

There are two kinds of heat therapy:

Dry Heat

This is done with electric heating pads and in saunas. This draws out moisture from the body, and there is a chance of skin dehydration. But, some patients feel that dry heat is the easiest to apply, and feels the best.

Moist Heat

This includes hot baths, steamed towels, or moist heating packs can help in the heat’s entrance into the muscles, and some patients feel that moist heat gives better pain relief.

The most useful heat treatments are the ones that can keep their heat at the proper temperature (that’s warm). You must be careful with the heat to prevent the burning on the skin.

The wanted effect is for the heat to enter down into the muscles. In many instances, the longer the heat is applied, the better. For minor back tension, short amounts of heat therapy may be enough (from 15 to 20 mins).

For more severe pains, longer sessions of heat may be better (from 30 mins to 2 hours).

Ice Therapy

In this massage, a standard ice cube may be used, but it’s more useful to do it with a bigger ice piece. You can let someone else give this ice massage to you.

It would be best if you lay on your stomach in a comfortable position. Placing a pillow or towel under the hips will help you to keep tension off the lower back.

You can also give yourself ice massages by lying on your side and reaching and moving in circles throughout your sensitive places.

Other common techniques


This method uses water. By changing its temperature, hydrotherapy focuses on the body’s response to hot or cold stimuli.

In chiropractic, hydrotherapy may reduce the sensitivity of pain through cold incentives that numb the pain, and the use of thermal stimuli increase blood movement and start the healing process.

Infrared Radiation

A thermal camera is being used to present by coloring hues indicating the blood flow. For example, red hues would indicate higher IR radiation.

Infrared radiation is used by chiropractors to adapt regular temperature changes from abnormal differences and to assess underlying conditions that are creating pain.

Cold Laser Therapy

Bits of energy are sent by a laser and received by the cell membrane’s photoreceptors after entering the skin surface. The cells and muscles then convert this light energy into biochemical energy, reducing pain and swelling, and improving circulation.

Don’t Seek Chiropractic Therapy If

  • Numbness, tingling or loss of strength in an arm or leg
  • Cancer in your spine
  • Heightened risk of stroke
  • Bone abnormality in the upper neck


The price depends on what chiropractic technique you are using. Your first chiropractic appointment may take 45 minutes, up to 2 hours. You must show the chiropractor an exact picture of your deformity.

It will require time for explanations and information on what and how it has to be treated. It may cost from $50 to $500. However, many other things affect the cost of chiropractic treatment.

For example :

  • Diathermy is a type of electromagnetic therapy to heat and relax the tissue cost from $10 to $40,
  • Hydrotherapy systems cost from $50 to $500.

About chiropractors

A chiropractor is a therapist who uses chiropractic techniques to treat functional disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The purpose is to relieve pain and restore normal mobility, especially in the spine.

A chiropractor is a doctor or naturopath who has received further training in chiropractic. With the help of unique hand movements, the chiropractor tries to remove joint blockages, which are usually associated with muscle tension and pain.

Any pressure on nerve tracts should also be reduced, and ultimately the body’s self-healing abilities should be activated.

The general goal of chiropractic care is to normalize joints and muscles’ functionality through alternative pain relive procedures.

Before starting the chiropractic treatment, the chiropractor asks your medical history. This includes orthopedic and neurological tests to discover the origin of the dysfunction.

An essential part of successful chiropractic treatment is subsequent physiotherapy, which serves to stabilize and strengthen the musculoskeletal system.

It also includes home exercises that you can do by yourself after brief instructions from the chiropractor. The chiropractic benefit is notable and safe when it’s performed by someone trained and licensed to deliver chiropractic care.


After the treatments, some people experience minor side effects for a few days. These may include headache, tiredness, or pain in the parts of the body that were treated.

In general, chiropractic has few risks. The chiropractor can only treat complaints with a functional cause. In sporadic cases, complications such as nerve failure symptoms (such as feeling disorders or paralysis) can happen if the chiropractor works inadequately.

Damage to the vessels in the areas of the cervical spine is less common. However, if that happens, it can lead to blood clots’ formation and, thus, leading to a stroke.


The goal of Chiropratcic therapy is to help the patient restore the proper structure of the body. Chiropractors manipulate the body’s alignment to relieve pain and improve function and help the body heal itself.

It enables you to improve your pectus excavatum condition, relieve annoying symptoms, and improve your overall wellbeing. Chiropractic, compared with other methods for pectus excavatum treatment, is often a more affordable alternative.

It is for everyone. So, if you choose to treat yourself non-surgically, chiropractic is an excellent method for you. With proper therapy, exercises, breathing techniques, and a good chiropractor near you, your deformity may be fixed.

Analyse your deformity well, and with the help of your doctor and chiropractor, you can choose the right form of treatment for you.

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