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They key feature that defines a restrictive respiratory conditions is the inability of the patient to effectively fill their lungs with air. The type of restriction can result from various mechanical restrictions either in the chest muscles or the lung structure and tissues. The resulting effect is that insufficient air enters the lungs with each breath, leading to increased respiratory rate and the use of accessory muscles during breathing. This compounds the problem by making the act of breathing less efficient and tiring.

Many of the symptoms of obstructive and restrictive respiratory illness are similar. Shortness of breath is the most common and has the most immediate effect on the patient. For most people the restriction is only evident with exertion, however, with severe conditions shortness of breath can occur even at rest. A persistent cough, excess sputum production and low mood are also common symptoms.

Active cycle of breathing exercises  and postural drainage exercises supervised by a specialist physiotherapistAbove: Active cycle of breathing exercises and postural drainage exercises supervised by a specialist physiotherapist

Common examples of restrictive respiratory conditions that are frequently treated with physiotherapy include;

How is a Restrictive respiratory condition diagnosed?

Your doctor will typically diagnose your respiratory condition following a series of tests to rule out alternate issues. If your condition is severe or shows little signs of recovery then further investigation may be necessary using x-ray or endoscope. Depending on the diagnosis and severity of your condition your doctor may then refer you to see a specialist respiratory physiotherapist.

For more information on how physiotherapy can help treat restrictive respiratory conditions, or to book yourself an appointment, please contact us via email at or call us on 0330 088 7800.

What would treatment for Restrictive respiratory conditions involve?

One of the principle methods of opening the airways affected by restrictive respiratory illness is through the use of bronchodilators. This group of medications relaxes the smooth muscle that lines the airways. Various type of anti-inflammatories help reduce swelling in the lung tissues, further opening up the airways. Respiratory Physiotherapy is an important part healthcare for serious lung conditions. Some of the benefits include

  • Clearing excess secretions from the chest reducing risk of secondary infections and making the work of breathing easier.
  • Breathing control techniques to reduce the work of the accessory breathing muscles, reducing tiredness and anxiety.
  • Rehabilitation programs can help improve exercise tolerance and reduce the demand put on the respiratory system during activity.
  • Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (BIPAP) and can assist the patient with the work of breathing and passively inflate restricted airways.

You can contact us directly to arrange an assessment and we can advise you if further treatment is recommended, and give you advice on self-management. To arrange an appointment please email or call 0330 088 7800.

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