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Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
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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