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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.)
June, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 06
Is That Really Frozen Shoulder?
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
It is easy to get excited about being able to help a client that comes to you with a specific pain condition. In fact, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of doing clinical massage.With only your hands you can perform therapeutic procedures that help relieve the pain and suffering that your client has been experiencing. However, in our enthusiasm to help as many people as possible we must avoid a common clinical mistake: oversimplification and overgeneralization of our client's complaints. This can lead to inaccurate identification of the problem, improper treatments, and unsubstantiated claims about clinical efficacy, which simply aren't true. These mistakes are detrimental to all of us in the long run.
One of the most frequent situations where I have seen this occur is with shoulder pain that is commonly labeled "frozen shoulder." Practitioners will show treatment methods and make claims for healing a frozen shoulder in one or two treatments. Healing a true frozen shoulder in one or two treatments is highly unlikely due to the nature of the pathology. In order to understand why this is unlikely, it is first necessary to understand a little more about frozen shoulder.
CAP Underside of the capsule that will adhere to itself in adhesive capsulitis. Figure 1: The glenohumeral joint capsule slackened on the underside when the shoulder is in a neutral position. Mediclip image (c)1998, Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.
The term "frozen shoulder" is a clinically inaccurate term because it doesn't specify the nature of the pathology in the shoulder, only that there is some limited motion at the glenohumeral joint. The true frozen shoulder is a pathology called adhesive capsulitis. This is a situation where a pouch of tissue on the underside of the glenohumeral joint capsule becomes adhered to itself and prevents full motion at the shoulder (Figure 1).
A person that has shoulder pain and limited abduction is often described as having a frozen shoulder; however, there are a number of problems that may actually cause shoulder pain and limited range of motion in abduction. For example, subacromial bursitis, shoulder impingement syndrome, arthritis, supraspinatus tendinosis, calcific tendinitis, or rotator cuff tears may all cause shoulder pain and limited motion in abduction, just like adhesive capsulitis. This is why the term "frozen shoulder" is so misleading. There are other conditions, such as paralysis of the trapezius or serratus anterior muscles that may also cause limitation in abduction although they are not likely to produce pain sensations, as some of these other problems will.
Adhesive capsulitis is a problem that does not resolve quickly. Due to the adhesion of joint capsule fibers, it usually takes more than one or two treatments to encourage capsular stretching and breaking of the adhesions that hold the sides of the capsule together. So, how do we determine if this is a true adhesive capsulitis, one of the other problems mentioned above, or something we might not have thought of? Luckily, there are a number of assessment procedures that can help us make that distinction.
First, and most importantly, is the client history. There are unique characteristics in the onset of adhesive capsulitis compared to some of these other conditions. It will often come on slowly for no apparent reason, or it may be associated with some other traumatic event in the shoulder. In addition to information from the history, one of the most important characteristics to evaluate is whether or not the client is demonstrating a capsular pattern of restriction for the shoulder.
The capsular pattern is a concept that was first described by the well-known British orthopedic physician, Dr. James Cyriax. The joint capsule has certain motions that it limits more than others. If there is a problem in the joint capsule, the limitation in these motions will usually follow a common pattern. For example, the capsular pattern in the glenohumeral joint is such that motion will be most limited in lateral rotation, second in abduction, and third in medial rotation. This is due to the way the capsular tissues are stretched during those motions. For instance, if there is a problem like adhesive capsulitis involving the joint capsule, the motion that will be most restricted is lateral rotation. Abduction will be the motion next most likely to have limited range, and limitation in medial rotation will be less likely. The worse the condition gets, the more limitation you will see in all those different motions.
In most of the other conditions described above, the primary problem exists because of compression or irritation of various soft tissues underneath the coracoacromial arch. Therefore, motion in abduction is painful and limited, as these structures get pinched in abduction (Figure 2).
However, if the arm is laterally rotated from a neutral position, there is not likely to be pain because there is no increase in compression or tension on these structures. Yet, if there is a capsular problem, lateral rotation should be the first motion to show restriction. Therefore, if there is pain and limitation in lateral rotation from a neutral position, this is more indicative of a capsular problem like adhesive capsulitis.
It will be important to go through other assessment strategies, such as active motion, passive motion, manual resistive tests, and any other special orthopedic tests that might help you either identify or rule out other problems. If, after performing a thorough evaluation, you are convinced that you are dealing with a true adhesive capsulitis, then your treatment strategies should reflect methods that will reduce capsular adhesions and encourage elongation of the inferior portion of the capsule. This is usually a long process, because it requires the capsule to stretch tissues that have been stuck together, and is unlikely to occur over just one or two treatments.
CAP Compression of various tissues during abduction. Figure 2: Compression of tissues on the underside of the coracoacromial arch. Mediclip image (c)1998, Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.
It is essential that we be as accurate as possible when evaluating these problems for several reasons. First, it is crucial you know as much about who and what you are dealing with so you can construct a beneficial treatment plan. In addition, it is essential that we are accurate in our descriptions and claims about what we are able to do in treatment. Making inaccurate or unsubstantiated claims about miracle recoveries is one sure way to decrease our credibility in the eyes of our fellow health care professionals.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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