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Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
News in Brief
National Chiropractic Health Month: Be Proactive; Collegiate Roundup: Academic Appointments at Parker, Logan.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
MPA Media Wins 7 Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Dynamic Chiropractic and DC Practice Insights, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecedented seven publishing awards by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
Chiropractic Research in Review
Chiropractic Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis; Cost / Benefit Analysis: Different Doses of SMT for Low Back Pain; Imaging for Occult Rib and Costal Cartilage Fractures; Treating Neck Pain: Thoracic Thrust Manipulation vs. Non-Thrust Mobilization.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
A Vibrating Capsule for Constipation? Relevance to Your Chiropractic Practice
The relationship between gastrointestinal (GI) complaints and back pain is not typically written about or discussed.
Why Young People Need Chiropractic Now More Than Ever
According to a recent study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, "It is now widely acknowledged that neck pain (NP), mid back pain (MBP), and low back pain (LBP) (spinal pain) start early in life and that the lifetime prevalence increases rapidly during adolescence to reach adult levels at the age of 18."
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Don't Turn a 2 Into a 10
The Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale1 is so useful because it can be used by almost anyone. Patients can use the numbers associated with the faces depicted on the scale or select the face that demonstrates their current level of pain from 0-10.
Waking Up the Gluteus Maximus
In previous articles in this series, we expounded on the importance of the gluteus maximus (GM) in athletic performance and protecting the knee from injury. We also know there is a link between iliotibial band syndrome and GM weakness.
9 Common Causes of Thyroid Imbalance and How You Can Help
How you sleep, how easily you wake up, and how much energy and stamina you have during the day are directly related to levels of the thyroid hormones.
Pain Underfoot: Metatarsalgia
Foot pain can interfere significantly with normal activities and severely limit participation in sports. Metatarsalgia is foot pain involving the metatarsal bones in the forefoot – the complaint of pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
December, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 12
By Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB
In a previous column, I touched on medical applications of massage that appeared in the indexed medical literature from 1997 to the present. Of 213 instances of medical goals addressed by massage, 155 (73%) were systemic rather than tissue-specific (clinical/orthopedic) interventions. Systemic treatment goals included increased well-being, stress and pain management, and improvements in self-image. These "systemic" effects of massage also are well-represented in the research reported by Tiffany Fields and the Touch Research Institutes (TRI).5 The TRI home page highlights observations that massage therapy: facilitates weight gain in preterm infants, reduces stress hormones, alleviates depressive symptoms, reduces pain, improves immune function and alters EEG in the direction of heightened awareness.5 With the above observations in hand, it seems time to consider mechanisms for the effectiveness of massage.
Tissue specific interventions (TSIs), while requiring understanding in anatomy and movement to implement effectively, are simpler conceptually. TSIs largely can be understood by reduction to specifics. The practitioner needs to be able to listen to client history, assess active and passive range of motion limitations, look-up and implement special orthopedic tests as needed, and thus gain a working hypothesis of the location, extent and nature of injured tissue i.e. the "lesion" resulting in pain or limitation. I differentiate active and passive range of motion limitations because they differentiate between pain felt in a musculotendinous unit when it's actively contracting and pain produced in ligaments, joint capsules and antagonist muscles when they are passively stretched. I note "looking up" special tests because I am a believer in having and knowing how to use information resources rather than in memorizing everything in sight (or reach). Procedures frequently used will be memorized. I define the result of assessment as a "working hypothesis" to clarify that it's not a medical diagnosis.
With TSIs, the techniques follow from assessment and isolation of the lesion(s). Tendinosis on tendinous attachments benefits from the stimulation of inflammation by local friction.1,2 Adhesions between fascial layers release under slow separating pressure. Trigger points succumb to ischemic pressure combined with various methods to lengthen the affected tissue. Muscle hypertension can be lowered by methods of positional release and post-isometric relaxation. The assessments and treatment might be intricate, but they are not inherently complex in the sense that we can conceptually connect the treatment goals and the intervention.
Understanding how non-tissue-specific touch affects the state of our human systems has not been so easy. We are able to record the effects, as has the Touch Research Institutes, but we haven't had a sound mechanism to explain them. My opening quote from Ashley Montagu motivates why touch would be expected to have profound effects on us, but it, too, stops short of mechanism. The answer, however, is starting to take shape in diverse venues of science and mathematics.
Over the last two decades or so, a new area of research has evolved. There are systems in which important properties lie, not in the individual parts alone, but in the interaction and communication between the parts. These properties have become known as "emergent properties," be cause they literally emerge from the complexity of interactions.6 In 1984, the Santa Fe Institute was founded specifically to study such complex systems.4 The April 2, 1999 issue of the journal Science was devoted to interdisciplinary viewpoints on research in complexity. These included papers on "Complexity and the Nervous System," and "Complexity in Biological Signaling Systems." Numerous papers and books have come out of studies of things describable as "information networks," including studies on organization spontaneously emerging in the structure of the Internet. We slowly are gaining the tools and the understanding that seemingly simple appearances can arise out of the complexity of interactions. We also are finding understanding that such systems can have multiple stable states and flip between them depending on input from outside.
Thus, we come to the human body as a system of systems a system with neurological, chemical, immune, emotional and sensory interactions all communicating. Sensory input includes touch in a big way. We come back to the observations of TRI and Ashley Montagu, with the understanding of massage and touch as a major input to a complex system. We don't understand the details, but we understand the basis for touch to create profound changes in the homeostasis of the human system. There are important structures of the human body that are not physical; they exist only in the fluid interchange of information within the living system.
In the end, it's not the complexity of the touch being done, but the complexity of the human system being touched that is most profound. Someday, we might be able to model the complexity of neurological-chemical-emotional-sensory interactions to determine patterns of sensory input that are most effective at inducing positive change. We still are far away in the infancy of such concepts. The best tool we have to bring to bear today is the equal complexity of the observational instrument known as the human practitioner. The human ability to learn from practice and observation and then to react in real-time to sensory input remains unmatched. We are slow at consciously processing input, but rapid at "unconsciously" matching patterns. There is great value in being able to initiate a simple touch, judge the response and adjust our input toward assisting the client's system toward a better place. We've known this intuitively for a good while. We are just beginning to develop the scientific finesse to explain it.
Click here for previous articles by Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB.
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