resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
November, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 11
Reflex Mechanisms of Massage Therapy, Part II
By Ross Turchaninov, MD
Editor's note: Part I of this article appeared in the October 2001 issue of Massage Today, available on line at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/10/05.html.
Why do stimuli from the stomach that are delivered to the central nervous system (CNS) radiate to somatic structures, and why in turn are the stimuli from reflex zones activated by the flow of motor impulses to the stomach? The phenomenon of convergence is responsible for this effect. The number of afferent sensory neurons delivering information from peripheral receptors to the spinal cord is greater than the amount of spinal neurons in the posterior horns of the spinal cord. The posterior horns accept and primarily process this information (see figure 2).
In other words, there is more than one sensory neuron in contact with each spinal neuron in the posterior horns of the spinal cord. In this instance, the information brought to CNS by sensory neurons from the stomach excites the entire neural plate of the spinal neuron. The sensory information delivered by sensory neurons from the peripheral receptors in the skin or skeletal muscles also excites the entire neural plate of the same spinal neuron. This stimulation by sensory stimuli from the stomach or reflex zones activates the lower motor cells in the anterior horns of the spinal cord. They generate motor input not only to the location of the original abnormality (the stomach, in our example), but also to the somatic structures innervated by the same segment of the spinal cord.
Simpler mechanisms of reflex zone formation are applied in cases of somatic abnormalities. This mechanism is responsible for the reflex zones' formation along the pathway of irritated or compressed peripheral nerves. For example, the chronic irritation of the sciatic nerve by overtensed piriformis muscle will produce pathological symptoms through the entire lower limbs. In this manner, irritation of peripheral nerves in the upper part of the body will cause the formation of reflex zones in the lower extremities, supported by the affected peripheral nerve.
Finally, reflex zone formation can be caused by direct compression of the spinal nerve by a herniated disc. As a result of irritation or compression of the spinal nerve, various areas of pathological excitement develop in the spinal cord, especially in the lower motor centers in the anterior horns. Abnormal impulses flow from the spinal cord to the inner organs, and to other parts of the body that are innervated by the affected spinal nerve. Further development follows the same pattern of relation between reflex zones and inner organs or parts of the body as mentioned previously.
Let's now look at another important issue, and ask another important question: "What local events lead to the formation of reflex zones?" First, let's briefly review the physiology of excitation and the conduction of nerve impulses. A nerve impulse or "action potential" is a propagated electrical disturbance originating in the peripheral receptors or in the upper nervous centers; it is conducted through afferent, ascending sensory or efferent, descending motor neurons. Both ascending information to the central nervous system about any kind of peripheral receptors activation, and descending motor commands from the central nervous system, are delivered as a series of action potentials. Any single action potential is the result of changes in the conductance of sodium and potassium through the membrane of the nervous cells. Every action potential has a threshold. A threshold is the firing level of the action potential. This means that if applied stimuli are weak, they are unable to evoke an action potential. In this case, full action potential is replaced by a local response.
A local response is a weak electric excitement that stays within the stimulated receptor, rather than propagating along the neuron. As soon as the stimuli are strong enough, the action potential is generated and conducted through the neuron. This mechanism protects the nervous system from overflow with useless information. Normally, the threshold activation of peripheral receptors has stable electrical magnitude. The continuous radiation of motor impulses to the reflex zones in skin, connective tissue, muscles, or periosteum evokes unusual phenomena in these tissues. The magnitude of the threshold is reduced in all receptors located in these areas. As a result, receptors start to generate action potentials as a response to even the weakest stimulus, even those that normally had subthreshold levels and have never produced action potentials. (Korr, 1947). This phenomenon is called hyperirritability. The affected soft tissues respond by building up tension, especially in contractile elements. Vasoconstriction and local edema are formed, further diminishing blood circulation and decreasing tissue metabolism.
The decrease of the threshold of peripheral receptors, i.e. the condition of hyperirritability, is the starting point of reflex zone formation (Korr, 1947; Glezer, Dalicho, 1955; Kunichev, 1985; Shterngertz, Belaya, 1994; Loginova, 2000). Figure 3 shows how the action potentials are generated, both in the receptors of the normal parts of the body and in the areas of reflex zones.
In 1947, in a series of brilliant clinical experiments, Prof. I. Korr showed that hyperirritability is a key to understanding reflex zone formation. In his experiments, Korr inserted microelectrodes in muscles with clinical symptoms of hypertonic abnormalities, then exposed his subjects to different types of stimulation: physical activity, decreased and increased temperature, loud sounds, bright light, etc. When subjects were exposed to each of these stimuli (even visual and auditory) the skeletal muscles in the area of reflex zones reacted with increased tension, which was detected by electromyography. This caused the additional decrease of peripheral circulation in already-affected areas. Thus, as Prof. I. Korr showed, any type of sensory stimulation of the CNS causes the further development of reflex zones in the tissue which are no longer protected from theactivation of peripheral receptors by subthreshold stimuli.
A number of clinical abnormalities can be found found in the areas of reflex zones in the skin, connective tissue, skeletal muscles and periosteum. During diagnostic examination, the practitioner should detect all abnormalities and record them on prepared diagrams of the body. At the end of the diagnostic examination, the practitioner will have a complete picture of somatic abnormalities for the patient. Such an approach to diagnostic examination allows the practitioner to formulate the optimal treatment protocol.
I. Cutaneous Reflex Zones
II. Connective Tissue Zones (CTZ)
Connective tissue zones are also examined by palpation. Several diagnostic techniques target the CTZ in the each level. In general, the practitoner is looking for following abnormalities in the areas of CTZ:
III. Reflex Zones in Skeletal Muscles
Reflex zones in the skeletal muscles are examined by palpation and direct compression. The moderate compression of muscular tissue elicits sharp pain in the area of hypertonic muscular abnormalities. Patients show the so-called "jump symptom." Sharp pain elicited during moderate compression is another example of hyperalgesia.
IV. Periostal Reflex Zones
The periosteum is the thin connective tissue membrane covering all bones. It supports bone metabolism and remodeling. The periostal reflex zones are available for diagnostic examination only in the areas at which bone structures are covered by skin only. Examination of periostal reflex zones is conducted by palpation and direct compression.
Following diagnostic examination, the practitioner will able to formulate the proper protocol of medical massage therapy. The formulation of a correct protocol is of course key to successful treatment. As mentioned, this protocol is a combination of different methods and techniques. For example, connective tissue massage is the best way to work on the connective tissue zones, but it is useless in the areas of periostal reflex zones, where periostal massage is the most effective therapy. The practitioner must utilize the particular methods and techniques created for the treatment of particular type of reflex zones. For example, if the patient does not have abnormalities in the periosteum, periostal massage techniques must be excluded from the protocol. However, if one measures the clinical validity of different methods of medical massage, I believe that segment-reflex massage is as appropriate as all known methods of Western medical massage therapy. The major advantage of segment-reflex massage is its integrative approach to treatment.The modern protocol of segment-reflex massage includes therapeutic massage, connective tissue massage and periostal massage, as well as its own therapeutic techniques and approaches. This unique combination allows the practitioner to target the reflex zones precisely and deliver an effective therapeutic impact to the affected areas of the body. In any case, the protocol of medical massage therapy must be individually adjusted to each new patient, because there are no two identical cases.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize that reflex mechanisms of massage therapy allow the massage practitioner reach a completely new level of professional expertise. At first, the clinical application of reflex mechanisms of massage therapy is a challenge. However, the professional benefits are far more rewarding than the time spent by the practitioner to achieve this level of expertise.
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