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The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
October, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 10
Working with Patients Who Have Hypothyroidism
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
In my last article on cerebral palsy, I was happy to find lots of material not only on the condition itself, but on how massage can play a part in the life of a CP patient.I duly related this latter point in my article, expecting little controversy, since this is a well-researched and well-understood condition. Well, duck, because the fallout is still coming down.
I made a few errors in the CP article that I'd like to clear up. First, I misstated the locations in the brain where the damage takes place. Unable to find any specific information on this issue in my pathology resources, I pulled out my anatomy texts and listed the movement centers I know about: the basal ganglia, frontal lobe, and cerebellum.
Gary Bruce, LMT, NCTMB, who works extensively with special needs individuals, corrected me in an e-mail he sent me:
Second, I referred to the tight muscles of a CP patient as a "spasm"- this is quite incorrect: the proper term is spasticity, and the way it responds to massage is quite different. (For more information, please refer to my spinal cord injury article in the May edition of Massage Today.) These are technical errors, and I take full responsibility for not catching them.
At this point I'd like to restate (or state for the first time) what my job is: I am a translator. I read through scads and scads of material: some boring, some fascinating. Then I try to translate that material into accessible terms, so I can share it with anyone who is interested. Sometimes I get lucky and I find people who help me understand a topic, either because they themselves live with it, or they work with people who do. Sometimes, unfortunately, I don't get in contact with a valuable resource until it's too late. Such was the case with the CP article.
I want to voice my appreciation to everyone who wrote me with their own opinions about this issue, which proves that we are people who take our work and the well- being of our clients very seriously. It also proves that what the mainstream medical community promotes is not always the last word. To illustrate this fact, I'd like to quote from another response I got to the CP article, from Mary Green, LMT. Her comment relates to the statement that CP is non-progressive, but nontreatable. (Remember, I just report this stuff, I don't make it up!)
And that's all I'm going to say about CP for the time being.
In my last article, I asked what people would like to read about next, and thyroid disorders won the election in a landslide. I had planned to combine both hyper and hypothyroidism into one article, but it's just too much information, so I decided to limit this discussion to one of the most frustrating and controversial issues in chronic disorders: hypothyroidism.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which circulating levels of thyroid hormones are abnormally low, or in which levels of thyroid hormones may be normal, but target cells have become resistant to their action. This interferes with the body's ability to generate energy from fuel.
Demographics: Who Gets It?
Hypothyroidism may be a fairly common condition, affecting about one-tenth of one percent of the population overall. Women are five times more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men. Statistics rise with age; within women over 65 the incidence of this disorder may be as high as 10%. These numbers reflect reported cases; many people may experience hypothyroid symptoms without achieving a diagnosis.
Etiology: What Happens?
Before we get into the specifics of this disorder, we need to discuss some massage school anatomy. You may remember that the thyroid gland, that butterfly-shaped structure that wraps around the trachea, is an endocrine gland that secretes hormones related to metabolism: the use of fuel for energy or growth. It does this under orders from the pituitary gland, which secretes thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
The primary hormone associated with the thyroid gland is called thyroxine. When thyroxine levels are high, metabolism is fast - hyperthyroid symptoms include weight loss, heart palpitations, minimal menstrual periods, and bulging eyes. When thyroxine levels are low, metabolism is slow. Weight gain, low energy, and hypersensitivity to cold may ensue. As with most things concerning hormones, this description is an oversimplification.
The thyroid actually secretes several different substances, including T4 (also called thyroxine, this is a molecule with four iodine atoms) and T3 (a molecule with three iodine atoms). T4 is generally secreted in greater amounts than T3, but T3 is more potent. Enzymes elsewhere in the body may help to convert T3 to T4, or vice-versa. In the etiology of hypothyroidism, it is the presence of T4 that is usually tested and treated with a synthetic version of thyroxine (Synthroid).
Beyond simple low levels of circulating hormones or cellular resistance, several other contributing factors to hypothyroidism have been identified:
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle but steadily progressive. A person may not realize the extent of the problem until someone points it out. The result of not being able to convert fuel into energy means that a person gains weight, feels fatigued and depressed, and has a sluggish digestive system with chronic constipation. The person will have poor tolerance of cold, and the skin will be puffy, but dry. Hair will be flat and brittle, and may even fall out. In women, menstrual periods tend to be heavy and long-lasting. Some hypothyroidism patients will develop goiter: a painless enlargement of the thyroid.
It is common for hypothyroid patients to develop atherosclerosis, as liver function to produce the chemicals that expel cholesterol from the body is sluggish. High cholesterol levels from hypothyroidism do not respond to cholesterol-lowering medications. Fluid retention in the arms and wrists raises the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome; fluid retention in the neck along with goiter may cause chronic hoarseness. Very severe cases may cause patients to become so cold and drowsy that they becomes unconscious. This is called myxedema coma, and it is a significant cause of death among elderly hypothyroidism patients.
Many people who fit the profile for hypothyroidism also have symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome, depression, candidiasis, or chronic fatigue syndrome. It can be a daunting and frustrating process to sort out which is which, since none of these conditions is well-understood or easy to treat.
Physical exams for hypothyroidism look for goiter, along with a significantly slowed heart rate. Reflexes are often slow in hypothyroid patients.
Blood tests may be conducted to look for elevated levels of antithyroid antibodies, which would point to a diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease. Levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) might also be evaluated. If the thyroid is underactive, the pituitary usually will pour more of this chemical into the bloodstream.
It is especially important for pregnant women to be tested for thyroid function. Pregnancy can hide some symptoms of hypothyroidism, which can create serious repercussions for the unborn child. Most newborns are tested for thyroid function as a matter of course; early intervention in the rare cases when thyroid function is subnormal can prevent stunted growth and mental retardation.
The most common treatment for hypothyroidism is to supplement thyroid hormone. In the early days of understanding this disease, desiccated thyroid glands of a variety of animals were prescribed to treat hypothyroidism. The doses were difficult to regulate, since potency could vary widely. Today, thyroxine is replaced with a synthetic version of the hormone, called Synthroid.
Some researchers, however, suggest that the symptoms of hypothyroidism may be related to other factors: general toxicity, for instance, or cellular resistance to thyroid hormones, or a need to supplement T3 instead of or in addition to T4. And of course the added challenge for treatment lies in the possibility of fibromyalgia syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, candidiasis, and any number of other chronic disorders that may mimic or accompany hypothyroidism. These factors, which are often neglected by some "mainstream" medical professionals, may account for why many people who have hypothyroid symptoms do not feel that taking synthetic thyroxine successfully treats their disorder.
Can Massage Help?
Outside of the risk of atherosclerosis (which is a risk for many mature clients regardless of thyroid function), massage is a perfectly appropriate choice for hypothyroidism clients. Although it is unlikely to restore the normal production of thyroid hormones or cellular sensitivity to them, massage can certainly improve the quality of life of people who feel chronically drained and lethargic.
In my next column, I'll examine hyperthyroidism. I'd love to hear from any readers who live with this disorder, or whose clients do. How has it impacted the quality of your life? What have you done, or what are you doing to treat it? What kind of impact has massage had on your situation? Share your experiences and wisdom - pathology readers want to know!
Ruth Werner, LMT, NCTMB
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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