Sinusitis causes inflammation of the tissues surrounding the sinuses, which are eight hollow cavities in the skull. Sinuses are located in the cheekbones, in the forehead, between the eyes, and behind the nasal cavity. Approximately 37 million Americans suffer from at least one episode of sinusitis each year. The most common form of sinusitis, acute sinusitis, occurs when fluid blocks the tissues lining the sinuses and often leads to a bacterial infection. Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose and headache, accompany acute sinusitis and last for a maximum of four weeks. Treatments for acute sinusitis include decongestants and nasal sprays.

Who Gets Sinusitis?

Sinusitis can affect individuals of any age, yet it most commonly occurs in individuals who are 18 to 45 years old. Individuals have a higher risk of developing sinusitis if they have nasal mucous membrane swelling, drainage duct blockage, narrow drainage ducts due to structural abnormalities, nasal polyps, or conditions that increase the risk of infection, such as immune deficiencies. Children also have a possibility of developing sinusitis if they are exposed to allergens, illnesses from other children, pacifiers, or a smoking environment. The most common contributing factors of sinusitis in adults are bacterial infections and smoking.

Chronic Sinusitis

While acute sinusitis symptoms dissipate after four weeks, individuals who suffer from chronic sinusitis may suffer from symptoms for eight weeks or longer. Symptoms often include facial congestion, nasal blockages, pus, fever, and nasal discharge. If you seek treatment for these symptoms, your doctor may perform a nasal endoscope. This procedure involves your physician inserting a tube-like instrument into your nose to observe your sinus passages. This will allow your doctor to determine if nasal polyps or structural abnormalities exist. While sinusitis may be uncomfortable, delayed treatment could lead to severe pain, and it could cause meningitis in some cases. There are many treatments to alleviate symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis, including chiropractic sinus adjustment.

Chiropractic Sinus Adjustment: What to Expect

During your initial exam, your chiropractor will discuss your medical history and perform a physical to assess where the pain mainly occurs in your body. The physical exam may be accompanied by x-rays to help your chiropractor determine the areas to be targeted. Treatments will target the bones and mucous membranes that line the sinus cavities. The chiropractor will use his or her hands to apply pressure and force to the affected areas. Often you may hear popping and cracking sounds as the chiropractor performs the adjustment. These sounds are normal. However, if you experience any excruciating pain, you should let your chiropractor know immediately.

Chiropractic Manipulative Therapy

One treatment method of chiropractic adjustment is chiropractic manipulative therapy. During this treatment, your chiropractor will adjust your joints beyond their normal limitations to correct a possible misalignment. This method could also involve your practitioner applying pressure or a gentle thrust to stimulate the nervous system and restore function to the affected areas. Your chiropractor may target bones in your facial region or in other areas of your body, including the spinal column, depending on your symptoms and location of the sinus pain. If you have a history of an arthritic condition, fractures, dislocations, or cancer, chiropractic manipulative therapy may not be your best option for chiropractic sinus adjustment. You should discuss these issues and any other relevant medical history with your chiropractor before treatment begins in order to reduce the risk of injury or permanent damage.

Trigger-Point Therapy

Trigger-point therapy is another form of chiropractic sinus adjustment. Using this technique, your chiropractor will apply pressure to a specific trigger point, other than the sinus region, in your body to relieve pain. Your chiropractor may target areas around your neck and brain stem to relax and drain your sinus passages of excess fluid. The buildup of extra fluid allows your sinuses to develop bacteria. By eliminating this fluid, you are often cured of your sinusitis symptoms. In addition to chiropractors, many acupuncturists will perform trigger-point therapy on the facial, neck, and cranial areas.

Light-Force Cranial Manipulation

In this chiropractic adjustment method, your chiropractor will adjust your skull bones, including bones in your nasal passages, to relieve pressure within the affected sinus cavities. Unlike chiropractic manipulative therapy, during light-force cranial manipulation your chiropractor will solely focus on the sinuses and bones in your facial area. Your chiropractor will utilize this method if he or she discovers that your cranial bones are misaligned. By determining the location of the misalignment and applying light force and thrusts, your symptoms could be resolved. Light-force cranial manipulation may be a bit uncomfortable, since your chiropractor will physically manipulate the bones directly touching your sinus cavities.

Additional Treatments

In addition to chiropractic adjustment treatments, your chiropractor may recommend supplementary therapies for you to perform at home as part of your physical rehabilitation. Approaches may include applying a warm or cold compress to the affected areas to reduce swelling, or stimulating the areas through massage or stretching. If you are discussing symptoms with your primary physician, he or she could prescribe nasal sprays or oral decongestant medicines to assist with your treatments. Your doctor could also prescribe oral steroids if your symptoms do not improve with the use of other medications. You may also be advised to quit smoking during the span of your treatments in order to clear the nasal passages and sinuses. In extreme cases of chronic sinusitis, and if chiropractic adjustments are not effective, your physician could discuss the option of surgery to relieve your pain.