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News in Brief
New President / CEO Takes Office at Yo San University. Electroacupuncture for Constipation?
6 Steps to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet
People often ask me what defines success. Success, for me, is simple: doing exactly what you want to do in life. Whether it's the kind of practice you run, your life at home, your hobbies or something else, it's achieving anything you put your mind to.
Molecular Motors: Tiny Machines Behind the Rhythm of Life
In the clinic, we aim to restore healthy patterns of movement for qi that has gotten trapped or misdirected, or may have even collapsed. We may be focused on freeing stagnation, releasing heat or redirecting counterflow qi, but it often comes down to helping re-establish a flow of sorts.
Herbs for Digestion: The Power of Bitter
Many cultures (and indeed herbal clinicians) around the world have long respected the role of bitter herbs and foods for promoting digestion. For example, aperitifs – drinks consumed before a meal to stimulate appetite and digestion – were originally derived from bitter herbs.
Little Sticker, Big Impact
It's the end of an election year. Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump were the subject of conversation for everyone, everywhere for the entire 2016 calendar year. I don't think any of us can deny that this election affected us all very deeply on a personal level.
A Letter to the Profession from the New President at AAAOM
Volunteering for a national, nonprofit organization brings with it such highs, lows, and accomplishments, as well as a steep learning curve.
Assessing Core Stability and ROM: 5 Basic Checks
One of the first steps in addressing core stability is assessing static posture, ranges of motion, and motion of the pelvic bones, sacrum, femurs, lumbar spine and thoracic spine.
Chiro School Reunion: Whatever Happened to...?
I opened the door to the closet slowly, carefully, since I knew it contained a large number of precariously stacked file boxes. It also held numerous outdated gizmos with electrical cords of various lengths that could trip or strangle a person.
Another Chance to Make a Difference
Just a few months ago, "the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy" hit Louisiana. During this storm, one area experienced 31 inches of rain in 15 hours as almost 7 trillion gallons of water rained down in just one week across the state.
Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes (Pt. 2)
Most overuse injuries are benign, but there are some high-risk injuries that, if unrecognized or inappropriately treated, can result in significant loss in time from the sport or even require leaving the sport.
What We Can Learn From Spine Surgery
Patients with lumbar stenosis presumably present for conservative care to improve their quality of life and avoid surgery. However, providing clear guidance to these patients can be difficult for a number of reasons.
A Q & A About Updated Codes
Yes, indeed there was an update to ICD-10 on Oct.1, 2016. This is a regular update to the diagnosis coding system and this type of update will occur every Oct. 1, just as it did when the ICD-9 system was in place.
Can a Multivitamin Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence?
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multivitamin supplements in cancer prevention. However, with respect to preventing breast cancer recurrence, an important study was published in the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in 2011 by Kwan ML, et al.
A First for the Profession: CCE Accredits First Chiropractic Residencies
The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) has awarded accreditation to all five chiropractic residency programs currently administered at Veterans Administration facilities, "the first residency programs in the nation ever to be awarded this distinction, a significant advancement in the evolution of chiropractic education," according to a VA press release announcing the milestone.
Meshing TCM With Environmental Pediatrics: Where's the Overlap?
Pediatrics has a long history within Chinese medicine dating back to the late Han dynasty (i.e., the late 200s CE), with the two primary areas of emphasis being herbal medicine and xiao er tui na (pediatric massage).
Dedicated to Defending Chiropractic
Whether you're a veteran DC or a first-trimester student, the name George McAndrews should be part and parcel of your professional vernacular, as familiar as the word chiropractic.
A Simple Protocol for Holiday Stress
It's winter, a time when we should be deep in reflection, eating warming foods and sleeping long hours. Following nature's rhythms, we restore our bodies and minds in preparation for the renewal of spring.
Branding: Set Your Practice Apart
Dr. Brad started his practice seven years ago on a shoestring budget. He created his generic logo in five minutes using a website because he didn't have the time to figure out how to make something special.
2016: A Year in the Life of Acupuncture
Happy Holidays, may you, your family and friends have peace, joy and blessings throughout this special time of year. As 2016 comes to a close, we can look back and celebrate the many events and accomplishments for the profession of acupuncture.
End of an Era Looms at NYCC
New York Chiropractic College recently announced that Dr. Frank Nicchi will retire in August 2017 after 36 years with the college, the past 17 as president.
DVT: Know the Signs and You Could Save a Life
I lost a friend several months ago. He died from a pulmonary embolism (PE) secondary to a deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) that originated in his lower leg. Bobby was in his mid-60s, soft-spoken and had a big heart.
Southwest Acupuncture College Brings It to Division 1 Athletes
When Michael Phelps' photograph with the distinctive round marks left by cupping went viral, the Division 1 student athletes treated through the Dal Ward Athletic Center at the University of Colorado (CU) could relate.
May, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 05
Adhesive Capsulitis: Freezing, Frozen, Thawing Shoulders
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
My last column on reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS) seemed to hit a chord. It seems many of us work with clients who live with chronic pain - clients who feel they have limited options in the mainstream medical community.While massage is unlikely to be a curative for this frustrating and potentially debilitating disorder, it is clear we have some benefits to offer. The following is an excerpt from a letter I received from Cynthia van der Smissen, RMT, who achieved some success in treating a client with this condition:
As the title promised, this month's column is about another painful and frustrating condition, but one that has a much brighter outlook than RSDS: adhesive capsulitis, sometimes called "frozen shoulder."
Adhesive Capsulitis: What Is It?
Adhesive capsulitis is the currently accepted term for one of several disorders grouped under the umbrella heading "frozen shoulder." This group includes any combination of shoulder conditions that contribute to reduced range of motion (ROM) at the glenohumeral joint, including arthritis; bone spurs; bursitis; rotator-cuff tears; and impingement syndrome. These problems occasionally lead to secondary adhesive capsulitis, but require different types of intervention for complete resolution.
Adhesive capsulitis is an idiopathic (of unknown cause or origin) problem with a peculiar and unique presentation. It typically has a long, slow, painful onset ("freezing"), followed by a period during which pain is reduced, but function is severely restricted ("frozen"), and finally, a period during which all pain subsides and function is fully or nearly fully restored ("thawing"). The entire process can take anywhere from a few months to well over a year.
Adhesive capsulitis can afflict anyone at any age, but it is seen most frequently among women in their 50s. Some researchers suggest that it affects as much as 2 percent to 3 percent of the population at some point, and somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent of those patients may have it bilaterally.
Etiology, Signs and Symptoms
Because the shoulder joint has less supporting connective tissue than most joints in the body, it has unparalleled mobility and a huge normal range of motion. Even the capsular ligament that links the humeral head to the glenoid fossa is looser than most joint capsules. This increases mobility, but it leaves the shoulder vulnerable to a number of injuries other joints typically don't face, because they're better protected.
Stage I: Freezing
When the process of adhesive capsulitis starts, the joint capsule begins to adhere to the humeral head. Sometimes, this process is secondary to another injury that limits shoulder use, but it also can occur without any discernable trauma or trigger. This time frame, during which the adhesions between the humerus and the capsular ligament progress and worsen, is the first of three stages, sometimes referred to as the "freezing" stage. The first stage of frozen shoulder can last for two to four months, and is acutely painful in both active and passive movements of the shoulder. Typically, range of motion is lost in medial rotation first, but may progress to all directions.
Stage II: Frozen
The second or "frozen" stage of adhesive capsulitis lasts anywhere from four months to a year. During this time, the joint capsule thickens and essentially glues itself to the humeral head - particularly the anterior portion. Although range of motion is severely limited during this time, much of the pain usually subsides.
Stage III: Thawing
Perhaps the most mysterious thing about adhesive capsulitis is that after many months of severely limited movement in the shoulder, and progressive formation of connective tissue adhesions between the joint capsule and humeral head, the condition begins to resolve spontaneously. The joint capsule becomes free, pain is eradicated and movement is restored. This process may take a long time; a year or more is not unusual. If completely untreated, it is likely that range of motion at the shoulder joint may not be fully re-established, but the percentage of lost function (again, this is usually in internal rotation) is often not significant enough to warrant further interference. The goal of many treatment options is to ensure that when the adhesions begin to melt, the fullest possible range of motion is recovered.
At this time, no single factor has been identified as a direct cause of adhesive capsulitis. Certain statistical relationships have been traced, however, that raise interesting questions. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing this problem than the general population. The same is true for people with chronic fatigue syndrome; people recovering from heart attacks or strokes; and people with hypo- or hyperthyroidism. Adhesive capsulitis has been investigated as an autoimmune disorder; however, while some immune cell abnormalities occasionally have been observed, this does not seem to be a universal situation. If there is a single reliable causative factor for adhesive capsulitis, it has yet to be identified.
Generally, adhesive capsulitis is diagnosed based on patient history and clinical tests. The end-feel of the joint is firm, but not as hard as joints with a bony end-feel. Its pattern of progression is predictable enough that it can be identified without a specific blood marker or diagnostic test. X-rays and MRIs may be conducted to rule out other possible scenarios (bone spurs, osteoarthritis, tumors, tuberculosis, etc.), but they are not diagnostic for frozen shoulder. Arthrograms (tests in which a contrast medium is injected into the joint space), give useful information; not only do they show where adhesions may have developed, they also reveal how much fluid the affected joint can accommodate. A healthy shoulder will accept 20-30 mL of dye for an arthrogram; a shoulder with adhesive capsulitis will only be able to take in 5-10mL.
The results of various treatment options for adhesive capsulitis are not exactly cause for celebration. Studies of various interventions show that while they may be successful at restoring full, or nearly full, range of motion, they may not shorten the process. Indeed, overly aggressive physical therapy and exercise, while being painful, also increase inflammation and prolong the freezing or frozen stages. Interventions for adhesive capsulitis typically start with NSAIDs or other anti-inflammatories, then progress to home exercises, physical therapy and perhaps surgery. Cortisone injections may be prescribed to limit inflammation, and allow for the possibility of manipulation under anesthesia to detach adhesive material. This treatment can improve range of motion if successful, but the possible complications are serious: fracture of the humerus; rupture of the joint capsule or subscapularis muscle; and neurovascular or cartilage injury. Surgery to mechanically separate adhesions also can improve ROM, but carries the risks associated with surgery, and significant postsurgical pain.
Can Massage Help?
As always, this is where things get interesting. Nothing in the literature suggests massage can directly affect any of the tissues in which pathological changes are taking place. After all, we can't friction the inside of a joint capsule to reduce adhesions. Furthermore, passive stretching, while important to reduce the risk of permanent loss of ROM, is painful and may exacerbate symptoms if overdone.
So, if you have a client in any stage of adhesive capsulitis, what are your options? A few readers sent me some interesting suggestions. All of them deal with the secondary restrictive effects of adhesive capsulitis, but that makes sense, since muscular restriction reinforces joint restriction, leading to the vicious "use it or lose it" cycle of immobilization.
Kathleen Beruman of Bar Harbor, Maine, wrote the following about working with a client diagnosed with adhesive capsulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome:
Terry Solomon of Los Angeles, Calif. contributed these suggestions:
While neither of these stories can function as a fully performed research project, they do point out the fact that just because the "common wisdom" about frozen shoulder predicts pain and limitation for one year or more, doesn't necessarily mean that's what a client has to endure. Thoughtful, educated, sensitive, imaginative massage therapists are finding ways to "break the rules" with intractable disorders all the time. If you're one of them, I hope you'll share your story with the rest of us.
The topic for my next column is again your choice. Would you like to read about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) - the "new flu" that is spreading rapidly in Asia and somewhat more slowly in the U.S.; various types of depression; or something entirely different? Let me know what's on your table, so we can share it with everyone.
Until then, blessings,
Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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