resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
Vitamin D Fails to Help Knee OA? The Proper Perspective
The March 8, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a study about vitamin D supplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee. This is a really weird study.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
Musculoskeletal Disorders Take Center Stage
Looking for the latest on the musculoskeletal pain epidemic and the increasing premium placed on preventive strategies including chiropractic? Check out The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
How to Find and Fix TL Nerve Impingements
The thoracolumbar junction (TLJ) and the peripheral sensory nerves that exit from it are frequent, important and rarely recognized sources of lower back, pelvic and hip pain. Let's outline a clear exam protocol for diagnosing the problem.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
Recording and Appropriate Billing of Timed Physical Medicine Services
There is a common misunderstanding about timed therapy services and although you do have some knowledge of timed service documentation, based on your comment on the 8-minute rule, your understanding is correct, but incomplete.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
The Power of Eccentric Exercise: Hamstring Injury Prevention and Rehab
For almost 20 years, I've worked with professional athletes who make a living by running really fast. It goes without saying that hamstring injury (HSI) prevention and rehabilitation is a big part of what they expect from a sports chiropractor.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Essentials of Assessment: The Squat
The squat is a simple, fast and functional tool to evaluate patient symmetry and function. As simple and easy as it is to implement, it can yield considerable amounts of valuable, clinically relevant information.
Business Lesson #1: Adapt or Else
My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant recommended by some friends. We often have concerns about restaurant recommendations, as many have been disappointing.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
The IME System: A Current Public Health Risk and Solutions That Are Working
I strongly believe in the independent medical examination (IME) system. There are far too many doctors in every profession who are not following E&M protocols and never claim MMI (maximum medical improvement) has occurred for their patients, which has caused financial stress for many private and public carriers.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
January, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 01
Introduction, With a Response to AMMA
By James "Doc" Clay, MMH, NCTMB
Clinical massage therapy has been around a comparatively long time.(Ben Benjamin has certainly been practicing it quite a while.) The various schools of myofascial release are clinical in intent. Bonnie Prudden, after being treated by Dr. Janet Travell, published a number of books and established her system of myotherapy. The Rolfers, Hellerworkers, and CORE myofascial therapists, with their approaches to structural alignment, practice what has to be considered a type of clinical bodywork.
Clinical massage therapy/bodywork is the product of a number of converging streams. The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who began as a disciple of Freud, postulated the expression of character in body structure, and was certainly one of the first to develop an approach to treating mind and body together. Dr. Reich's system lives on in bioenergetics, an approach developed by his student, Alexander Lowen. Ida Rolf pioneered the manual treatment of the fascia to restructure the body. Traditional massage therapy began to expand to address specific pain problems. Travell and Simons explored myofascial trigger points and pain. Osteopaths such as Leon Chaitow contributed many procedures and techniques from the osteopathic tradition. We are heirs to all these ideas and practices that came before us, and are putting them together in a "bodywork synthesis"called clinical massage therapy.
But the perceptions of the public in general, and the medical profession in particular, have been limited largely to relaxation massage. I recently talked with Dr. Kathi Kemper, a pediatrician and the author of The Holistic Pediatrician, about massage therapy and pediatrics. She's quite interested in the topic, and thoroughly familiar with the work of Dr. Tiffany Field at the Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami Medical Center, but I found it nearly impossible to interest her in the effects of clinical massage therapy in the treatment of specific problems of myofascial pain and dysfunction (I haven't stopped trying!). Neonatologists know how effective massage is for helping premature babies gain weight, but pediatricians in general are utterly ignorant of the effectiveness of clinical massage therapy for treating headaches, earaches, and other childhood problems with myofascial components.
There are signs that the situation is changing. Recent articles have reported favorably on the effectiveness of clinical massage therapy for such problems as low back pain and neck pain, one even appearing in Reader's Digest. (I strongly recommend that anyone interested in keeping up with such studies subscribe to the newsletters from WebMD.com - they report such items on a regular basis.) Perhaps we needed some time for the public to become comfortable with massage therapy in general, before they were ready to accept clinical massage therapy as an option for pain treatment.
The purpose of this column is not to deal with clinical issues themselves - that's what we have Ben Benjamin for - but to address the variety of issues confronting clinical massage therapy as it develops and evolves. I want to do this in an interactive way, by soliciting your input. What do you think the issues are? What are your opinions about various aspects of the discipline we will have to deal with as therapists? How does clinical massage therapy differ from traditional relaxation massage in such areas as:
My decision to write a column on clinical massage therapy was well-timed, as it followed the publication of the American Medical/Manual Massage Association's (AMMA) guidelines for a medical massage curriculum in the September 2002 issue of Massage Today. This first column is an ideal place to reflect on that article. I find much in it to agree with, such as the recommendation for more thorough training in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, more intensive clinical exposure during training, internships in clinical settings, and a greater emphasis on problem-oriented therapy. However, I also found a number of points to take issue with.
1) I've heard the term "medical massage" used for several years, and have never been quite comfortable with it, for a variety of reasons. In Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment, I wrote:
Not only has our field rediscovered and revived a number of therapeutic techniques from the distant past and borrowed many techniques from other disciplines, we have taken advantage of our independence from traditional health care to explore and develop new techniques and new ways of understanding and applying old techniques. I can't help feeling that the use of the word "medical" in designating our profession betrays a desire to enhance our prestige by diving headlong into the medical field. We have seen what has happened to physical therapy as a result of just such a merger: the stifling of creativity and imagination. Although there are many outstanding and creative physical therapists in practice, the vast majority have been inexorably absorbed into the black hole of insurance and managed care, and have succumbed to the pressure to work "by the book." If we are to continue to explore and discover, and increase our effectiveness through creativity, we would do well to maintain our independence from more traditional disciplines.
2) AMMA may have already crossed that line. The article suggests that the training proceed from one body part to the next, learning the anatomy and typical pathology of each area before proceeding to the next area. The examples used are first the hand, then the elbow. Surely the authors are aware that most problems of the wrist and hand are traceable to muscles in the forearm, some of which cross the elbow - not to mention the common possibility of pain in the hand referred from the shoulder or chest! Yet we find the statement, "The medical massage treatment model is, however, neither a 'medical model,' nor is it 'allopathic.' Since it is massage therapy, the medical model is based on a natural and holistic philosophy of care." But the description we are given of a suggested curriculum is entirely reductionistic. Massage is not inherently holistic, and calling something holistic does not make it so. I see no reference anywhere in the article to posture as a causative or aggravating factor in myofascial pain, yet even the most authoritative physicians in the field of myofascial pain and dysfunction, Janet Travell, David Simons, and Robert Gerwin attribute a great deal of responsibility in this area to posture. I believe that most massage therapists are committed to a holistic view of health and the body, but such a view is not apparent in the AMMA statement.
3) The article says that, "Currently, massage education is fixated on 'hours in training,'" and later that "Time in training is not the central factor in developing good medical massage therapists; it is simply one factor." I certainly agree with that concept. However, a quick trip to AMMA's Web site (www.americanmedicalmassage.com), reveals that graduation from a 600-hour program is a requirement for membership in AMMA. Why 600 hours? Most programs I have come across span 500 to 600 hours, and I'm quite certain that most therapists practicing clinically are essentially self-taught, having gained the necessary knowledge and experience after massage school by attending workshops, reading books, watching videos, and working with clients. Among them are probably outstanding clinicians, but they would be ineligible for membership in AMMA.
4) AMMA tells us that, "It is important that the techniques and treatment protocols being taught conform to current and correct applications of medical massage therapy." What are those techniques and protocols? Is the jury already in? Am I to understand that all the research is done, all the exploration finished, our knowledge complete, and we now have a set of "techniques and treatment protocols" that are not only current, but even "correct?" Why wasn't I told? Since I'm just beginning work on my textbook on advanced clinical massage therapy, I hope someone will let me know about this. I'd hate to suggest incorrect approaches.
I find this statement from AMMA frightening. It suggests that we are in a great hurry to become frozen, petrified, closed-minded and institutionalized as a profession. And we should be duly warned that, if "correct" clinical techniques are established beyond question, we are not professionals, but technicians.
5) Finally, I can't overlook the article's reference to a "sore bicep [sic] muscle." Whether on the arm (biceps brachii) or the leg (biceps femoris), the singular of the word is "biceps" (the plural, in the unlikely event you should ever need it, is "bicipites") - there is no such word as "bicep." Perhaps that seems niggling and pedantic, but words are important, and for a group that emphasizes technical education, it's a point worth making.
It really isn't my intention to start a fight with AMMA. I encourage them, and I wish them well. But it is my intention to start (and maintain) an open conversation, because what we are doing is far too important to be left to a single individual or group to dominate or dictate. Having offered my criticisms this month, I will devote my next column to my own thoughts and ideas about clinical massage therapy education and standards, and welcome any feedback. Meanwhile, primum non nocere, and keep an open mind.
Click here for more information about James "Doc" Clay, MMH, NCTMB.
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