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Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
November, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 11
By Erik Dalton, PhD
Most of the human race suffers some form of neck and back pain during their lifetime just as common as a headache, stomach ache or knee pain. "Until it was turned into a medical condition in the early 20th century, back pain was considered an inevitable human experience," said Canadian surgeon Hamilton Hall, MD."There is no simple cure because there is usually not a clear-cut precipitating trigger associated with many forms of musculoskeletal pain," notes Hall.
Despite the liberal use of the words "back injury" across modern societies, most episodes of back pain do not have an obvious cause. "Research indicates that approximately two of every three people who experience pain in the spine are unable to identify any specific event that may have caused their problems," states Hall. Back pain simply happens!
The modern perspective that neck and back pain is a variable, intermittent illness rather than a one-time condition should not be considered a threatening event for our clients. In the vast majority of cases, recurrences of these painful conditions are not signs of advancing disease, an omen of chronic disability or even a cause for significant worry.
Some researchers draw an analogy between back pain and upper respiratory infections. Many individuals get colds or respiratory infections several times each year, yet are typically not viewed as a significant threat to their health. Colds don't require high-tech diagnostic testing, heroic treatment interventions or significant absence from work. These conditions, like most cases of neck/back pain, simply are bumps in the road.
However, some have begun to question the possibility of previously unrecognized neurobiological processes that might unravel the question: Why are some people more susceptible to pain than others? One interesting new area of pain management research that is gaining a great deal of attention proposes alternative ways that nerve impulses are transmitted and learned by the central nervous system.
For decades, it was thought that spinal cord, brain and peripheral pain transmission pathways were hardwired circuits whose job was simply to communicate pain signals from injured or diseased parts of the body to specific message centers in the brain. But based on recent scientific research, new ideas are emerging on how pain transmission actually works and how the brain has the ability to create the conscious experience of pain.
A process called sensitization has become a topic of great interest to neuroscientists studying transmission mechanisms of painful stimuli. The puzzling question is: How are pain messages actually delivered? A discussion of sensitization might help somatic practitioners better understand why a client's chronic pain can be so severe, but in some cases, seem out of proportion to the degree of injury or disease in the affected body tissues. This understanding also might help explain why specific treatments directed at pain relief often provide'only limited benefit.
The neurobiology of sensitization is extremely complex, but the basic idea behind it is fairly straightforward. When pain signals are transmitted from injured or diseased tissues, these signals can then activate (sensitize) pain circuits in the peripheral nervous system, spinal cord and brain by burning a memory pathway (See Figure).
The process of sensitization can be compared to overly adjusting the volume control on a stereo system, thereby amplifying and sometimes distorting the pain message. This results in a painful condition that is severe and out of proportion to the actual dysfunction or original injury. Sensitization has the innate ability to alter all regions of the central nervous system that process pain messages. This includes the sensing, feeling and thinking centers of the brain. Here lies one explanation why chronic pain often is associated with, not only physical disorders, but also emotional and psychological suffering as well.
Phantom Limb Pain
A perfect example of the workings of sensitization can be found in the sometimes mysterious condition called phantom limb pain. In the presence of phantom limb pain, the client might feel intense pain in an area where the body part is missing. Common examples are seen in amputated arms and legs, as well as in women experiencing abdominal pain years after undergoing a hysterectomy. The difficult-to-treat problem of phantom limb pain is consciously actualized by persistent activation (sensitization) of the pain transmission pathways from the site of amputation up to the brain.
But what about the presence of sensitization in various pain conditions where amputation or surgeries to remove diseased organs don't exist? Too often, manual therapy treatments in such cases are directed to body areas that were once actual pain-generators, (i.e., where the injured or diseased tissues once existed). Regrettably, "chasing the pain" by directing therapy to where the client currently is hurting will have little effect on the sensitized pain pathways in the spinal cord and brain. As a result, little benefit is experienced.
Having said that, the author has found that application of specific deep tissue and assisted stretching techniques to torsioned and compressed joint-related soft tissues co-activates and desensitizes noxious mechanoreceptive activity leading to a reduction in pain. Successful outcomes require the therapist concentrate treatment to areas proximal to the previously injured or amputated tissues (usually beginning in the lamina groove). Proper treatment to deep intrinsic muscles, spinal ligaments, joint capsules, and visceral structures co-activates a wider range of neuro-receptors, which enhances the desensitization process.
Click here for more information about Erik Dalton, PhD.
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