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Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
September, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 09
Common Structural Oddities in the Human Body
By Neal Cross, PhD, NCTMB
There are a number of common anatomic variations and developmental changes related to aging. Some of these structural "oddities" can be mistakenly interpreted as abnormalities, or worse, a neoplastic disease of some sort.Usually these anatomic variations are nothing more than the result of normal developmental changes, daily activity patterns, or some genetic-based multivariate characteristic. Examples of each of these will now be discussed.
One common phenomenon is the presence of "extra" muscles or absence of common muscles. Perhaps the most well-known variation in this category is the palmaris longus in the anterior compartment of the forearm. This muscle lies superficial to the flexor digitorum superficialis and is roughly in the exact center of the forearm. Its tendon is long and thin and travels over the carpal tunnel to blend with the palmar fascia. You can easily determine if you have one or both muscles by flexing your wrist against resistance and looking for the prominent centrally located tendon.
This muscle is absent about 11 % of the time either bilaterally or unilaterally. More interesting for our purposes here is the fact that the position of the muscle belly can vary quite dramatically. The small muscle belly is usually situated proximally along with the muscle mass of the common forearm and digital flexors. Occasionally, however, the muscle belly of palmaris longus is situated distally just proximal to the flexor retinaculum. In this position it can be confusing. No muscle should be there -- what is wrong with this person? Nothing's wrong; these are just thoughts that might run through the mind of the naïve examiner.
Another similar example is the peroneus (fibularis) tertius. This muscle is commonly present but very variable in its presentation. Arising from the extensor digitorum longus, it runs to the lateral aspect of the ankle and foot and attaches at any number of places, usually including the fifth metatarsal. Palpation in this region of the foot will lead one to discover nothing; a rather dramatic muscle mass; and everything else in between. Unless these sorts of variations are accompanied by other clinically significant findings, they are usually just the result of normal anatomic variation.
Recently in a palpatory anatomy course I teach, one of the students became concerned because of a large and significant bulge right in the middle of her fellow student's popliteal fossa. She called me over, and I examined the young healthy male. My first impulse was correct. After asking a number of questions related to his medical history, I learned that he had a third head of gastrocnemius. This is often referred to as the gastrocnemius tertius. It was particularly prominent in this muscular young male.
Just yesterday in my medical gross anatomy course, I had two students approach me somewhat concerned about unusual muscle masses in the anterior forearms. In the first case, a young healthy male showed me large bilateral masses just medial to the tendon of the palmaris longus and three fingerbreadths proximal to the flexor retinaculum. They certainly did not look pathological at all. I simply asked what he did that might lead to this dramatic hypertrophy of the medial sides of both the flexor digitorum superficialis and the flexor digitorum profundus. At first, he couldn't think of anything; then suddenly he said, "Lacrosse -- I played lacrosse." The repetition of "twirling" the stick led to the muscular hypertrophy we were observing.
Not 10 minutes later, a young woman approached me and showed me the exact same situation, only just on her right forearm. I jokingly asked if she played lacrosse with one arm. She looked puzzled. Then I explained the situation with her classmate; she then saw the humor. I asked her if there was anything unusual about daily activities. She immediately put together her "anomaly" with the fact that her job as a pharmacy technician required her to inject solutions out of a 30ml syringe into a container. This was done hours on end and resulted in the observed muscular hypertrophy. I have found that many if not most of the muscle "abnormalities" I have witnessed over the last 25 years are in this category.
Of course, not all palpatory findings that might concern someone involve muscles. Another very common tissue that can fool us is lymph nodes. Normally lymph nodes are very difficult to palpate unless they are inflamed or the site of neoplastic disease. There are some exceptions to this, however. The superficial inguinal nodes lying along the inguinal ligament and surrounding the cribrifrom fascia in the femoral triangle can sometimes be very large. I distinctly remember a young female student in palpatory anatomy who had herself and her fellow students in a fit over her lymph nodes. Not only were they readily palpable, they were visible! After calming the group down, I discussed variability of lymph nodes with them. It turns out that her inguinal nodes were the largest I had ever seen in a healthy individual, but as the conversation continued, the "patient" described an interesting situation. She had been concerned about these "bumps" for several years, but was too scared to have a physician check them out. Had they been pathological, this could have been a terrible mistake. Palpable nodes can sometimes be felt in the axilla. A physician should always check these in female patients, but by far the most common nodes I have palpated are associated with nearby insect bites (we do have plenty of mosquitoes in Maine) or a recent cold.
As an example of a dramatic developmental change that can lead to unnecessary concern, let us consider the xiphoid process. This structure is found at the inferior end of the sternum. It begins as a pliable cartilage structure with an osseous core. Upon palpation in the epigastric fossa, one can feel the xiphoid give against digital pressure. However, as we age, the bony core enlarges at the expense of the cartilage. This can lead to a structure that feels like a bone growth -- which it is -- but it is part of the normal aging process. I always try to remember to tell the students in my palpatory anatomy class to be wary of such changes in their more mature classmates.
I never tire of the rich variation I experience in the cadaver lab or in the palpation lab. I always try to pass on this experience to my students and clients.
Click here for previous articles by Neal Cross, PhD, NCTMB.
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