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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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 12
By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB
I attended an event recently at which a large number of health care workers came together, and in the course of several days maintained current competency by availing themselves of continuing education on pathologies and assessment skills.They also took the time to network, socialize and obtain professional development on issues affecting business in the health care realm today.
These health care workers were not physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners or radiologists, but massage therapists. Perhaps because they were massage therapists, they also expanded their activities together to include picking out a stone from a basket that "seemed to be calling to them," then contemplating the mystery and meaning of keeping the stone with them. They also spent lots of time touching each other, forming circles, listening to drums, crying with each other and supporting each other. There were many shared hugs.
So, is this a dichotomy? Is it appropriate behavior for massage therapists? What does it say about massage therapy and its place alongside other caregivers? Are massage therapists "woo-woo" practitioners also trying to be "little doctors?"
When I first entered this field, I probably would have been extremely disenchanted by such a dichotomy of action. I likely would have thought the event's activities trivial, inappropriate and harkening back to summer camp adolescence.
But I don't think that way anymore. I think those who share my earlier views need to lighten up. I now think that massage therapists and bodyworkers can provide comfort to so many because of their abilities to expand the expected behavior models and build upon some incredibly unique strengths. By their very nature, touch therapies provide not just skilled care, but nurturing care. I don't think it's a coincidence that a preponderance of our profession has the ability to mother and nurture others. The approximately 80% of the field that is female enables the rest of the profession to develop and use their nurturing and caring abilities more than they likely would otherwise.
There are many qualities that make us unique in comparison to other caregivers, and I think this is what makes us so acceptable to so much of the population. I'm not suggesting that the stereotypical massage therapist in the tie-dyed muumuu and Birkenstocks should be expected in the critical-care ward of the local hospital, but that we have myriad strengths that allow us to function effectively in the society of caregivers. The fact that so many of us can integrate energy-based therapies alongside neuromuscular and myofascial work allows us to affect positive change that no other discipline of therapy can. Informed, thoughtful treatment need not be excluded from a heart-centered approach.
So, I have learned to enjoy and appreciate the juxtaposition of "Assessment and Treatment of Scapular Pathology," and contemplate the meaning and beauty of a stone that "spoke to me" from a basket. I'm primarily a clinical massage therapist, but I think I am much more effective with "rounded edges." It is my hope that many of us are able to listen to the story of a stone while advancing our clinical skills. No, it's probably not OK to overemphasize the group hugs when interacting with allopathic clinicians, but it's just fine (and most appropriate) when we're together and celebrating our awakening and growth as somatic problem solvers. Besides, I loved summer camp!
As we make our New Year's resolutions for 2003, let's resolve to blend skilled and compassionate touch for our clients. Let's also resolve to treat each other with the same nurturing intent. We'll make the world a better place!
Thanks for listening, and happy holidays!
Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to:
Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
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