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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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
January, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 01
The Facilitated Segment
By John Upledger, DO, OMM
The concept of the facilitated segment is highly relevant to neuromusculoskeletal and psychoemotional problems. The word "facilitated" usually has a positive connotation, implying that some process is made easier or more efficient.In the case of the facilitated segment, however, it means that the stimulus threshold in a particular spinal cord segment has been reduced. This means that the facilitated segment of the spinal cord is highly excitable, and that a smaller stimulus will trigger excessive impulse firing in the segment.
Depending on the tissues involved, this hypersensitivity may be detrimental to the body as a whole. For example, if the segment that innervates the stomach becomes facilitated, the stomach becomes hypersensitive. Mildly irritating foods may cause disproportionately large pains or stomach dysfunctions. A person who suffers from this problem may be said to have a nervous stomach, food allergies or intolerances. If the situation continues, gastritis or ulceration may follow.
The concept of the facilitated segment originated in the work of Dr. I.M. Korr and his associates, beginning in the 1940s at the Kirksville College of Osteopathy and Surgery. The word "segment" means "one of the parts into which something separates or divides." In the phrase "facilitated segment," the word can be somewhat misleading. It suggests that the spinal cord is naturally divided into pieces or segments. To some extent this is true, but bear in mind that the spinal cord is a longitudinal structure, both functionally and structurally. It connects the brain with the nerve roots, which branch out to form the peripheral nervous system.
The spinal cord can be compared to a freeway, and the spinal nerve roots to on- and off-ramps. The spinal cord is a continuous structure, but the nerve roots branch off at regular intervals, and can be viewed as delimiting "segments" of the spinal cord. In this sense, a spinal segment can be defined as a level of the spinal cord at which two dorsal nerve roots (sensory) enter, and two ventral nerve roots (motor) exit. In a facilitated segment, these roots are overly sensitive, or hair-triggered. The hyperactive ventral motor root from the segment passes through the intervertebral foramen and joins the sympathetic nerve chain, which thereby comes under constant bombardment. This keeps the sympathetic nervous system in a state of chronic overactivity, ultimately resulting in damage to the target organs and the patient's health. If the trophic-nerve-function hypothesis is true, this process may also result in protein deprivation in the target organs.
A facilitated segment produces a palpable change in tissue texture. The local paravertebral muscles and connective tissues develop a "shoddy" feel, and joints in the area are less mobile. The tissues are tender to the touch and often painfully irritable. I believe that the term "fibrositis" can be applied to the connective tissues in this situation. Sympathetic system dysfunction at the level of the facilitated segment also produces changes in skin texture, sweat gland activity, and capillary blood supply to the skin.
Dr. Korr compares the facilitated segment to a neuronal lens, in that it seems to gather nerve impulses. It does not pass on its sensory input; rather, it accumulates and hoards not only those stimuli that come into it directly, but also those that attempt to pass through to other segments. Experimental electromyographic work done by Dr. Korr and his associates has demonstrated that stimulus of the nervous system almost anywhere will result in increased electrical activity of the muscles serviced by nerve roots derived from a facilitated segment.
Facilitated segments seem to occur at areas of focus for postural stress, sites of trauma, and segmental levels related to visceral problems. Once established, a facilitated segment can continue for years, even contributing to death. A facilitated segment at T4, for instance, may cause decreased vitality of the heart, leading to a blockage of coronary arteries and myocardial infarction. A facilitated segment also tends to perpetuate itself; that is, the hyperactivity of the motor root causes the related sympathetic ganglion to become hyperactive, leading to dysfunction and deterioration of the target organs. A variety of sensory stimuli related to the dysfunction are sent back to the spinal segment, further increasing its level of facilitation, and so on.
Different types of problems are associated with facilitated segments at specific levels, e.g., T9/10 (gall bladder), T12/L1 (kidney), L5 (urogenital), etc. Once a segment becomes facilitated, all of the associated target structures (connective tissue, muscle, bone, blood vessels, skin, sweat glands and internal organs) will be adversely affected.
Therapeutically, any approach that interrupts the self-perpetuating activity of the facilitated segment is helpful. The sensory input to the segment must be reduced. Effective approaches, therefore, include those that: relax the muscles (massage, soft-tissue manipulation); mobilize the area, reducing stasis and edema (structural manipulative therapy); (3) reduce postural stress (Rolfing, Alexander Technique); and reduce the number of signals from higher centers of the central nervous system (relaxation techniques, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, tranquilizers).
CranioSacral Therapy is particularly helpful with facilitated segments, in that it reduces autonomic tone (sympathetic activity); reduces general stress and anxiety; enhances endocrine function; assists in postural balancing; and improves fluid exchange. It's also extremely helpful when used to mobilize the dural tube within the spinal canal, because restrictions of the dural tube, or its sleeves, contribute to segmental facilitation.
To locate these areas of restricted mobility, the therapist tests the mobility of the dural tube and releases restrictions as they're found, using gentle traction techniques. These releases are mandatory - if a peripheral restriction is released, but the dural tube restriction and facilitated spinal cord segment are not, the peripheral problem usually reoccurs.
Once the peripheral body and the dural tube have been treated for restrictions, the therapist can focus on the cranium and sacrum. During this time the therapist also helps correct both primary and secondary dysfunctions of the skull bones, facial bones, hard palate and sacrococcygeal complex. All related sutures and joints are gently mobilized. The therapist then focuses on correcting abnormal dural membrane restrictions, irregularities in cerebrospinal fluid activities, and dysfunctional energy patterns and fluctuations related to the craniosacral system.
It is at this stage that the patient often moves from a phase of having obstacles removed to one of self-healing, with the therapist simply facilitating the process. In essence, the patient moves out of the realm of fighting disease and into one of enhancing health. That's why CranioSacral Therapy is also a preventive-medicine modality - it mobilizes natural defenses, rather than focusing on the etiologic agents of diseases.
Click here for previous articles by John Upledger, DO, OMM.
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