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The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
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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