resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
March, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 03
Spondylolisthesis: An Elusive Cause of Low Back Pain
By Whitney Lowe, LMTLow back pain (LBP) is one of the most prevalent orthopedic problems in the world. Yet, the cause of much LBP is poorly understood, which sometimes leads to improper treatment. Many times LBP is caused by muscular tightness or myofascial trigger point activity, and is effectively treated with massage. However, serious structural problems can exist in the spine. These conditions need to be referred to a physician for proper evaluation. Spondylolisthesis is just such a problem.
The term spondylolisthesis is derived from the Greek spondylo, meaning "spine," and listhesis, "to slide down an incline." Spondylolisthesis results from a stress fracture in a region of the vertebra called the pars interarticularis (Figure 1). Left untreated, the stress fracture might fully separate, causing one vertebra to slip forward in relation to another (Figure 2). The slippage is most common at the articulation between L5 and S1 junction due to the downward pull of gravity and the anterior and inferior sloping of the L5-S1 junction. If only a stress fracture exists without the vertebral sliding, the condition is called spondylolysis. Because the stress fracture occurs before the forward slippage of the vertebral body, spondylolysis generally is a precursor to spondylolisthesis.
The compressive forces that aggravate the condition are magnified if the individual has an exaggerated lumbar lordosis. When the lumbar lordosis is increased, the posterior vertebral arch bears a greater percentage of the upper body weight.
In addition, the exaggerated lordosis tilts the lower lumbar vertebrae even farther in an anterior and inferior direction, making forward slippage more likely.
Individuals engaged in certain sports or occupations are particularly susceptible to spondylolisthesis, especially if it involves repetitive flexion and extension of the spine. It is common in gymnastics, rowing, diving, swimming (especially the butterfly), tennis, wrestling, weightlifting and football. An increased incidence also has been identified in loggers and soldiers carrying heavy backpacks.1, 2 The condition is prevalent in adolescents due to the extremes of physical exertion in athletics and bones that are not fully formed.3 Females are affected more often than males, possibly due to strength differences in bone structure.
Hamstring tightness is evident in many individuals with spondylolisthesis. The hamstrings tighten in an effort to posteriorly rotate the pelvis. The posterior pelvic rotation decreases the potential for forward slippage of the lower lumbar vertebra and helps stabilize the lumbar region.1
The most common symptom in spondylolisthesis is dull, aching pain in the lower lumbar or upper sacral region. Pain also extends into the buttocks or posterior thigh in some cases. The client generally reports some repetitive flexion or extension activity prior to the onset of symptoms. Consider the client's report of recent activities that might produce aggravating stress on the posterior vertebral arch, especially if there is a corresponding exaggerated lumbar lordosis.
There usually is tenderness in the soft tissues in the lower lumbar and upper sacral region. However, the tenderness usually is not the primary pain-producing sensation of the stress fracture or vertebral slippage. Attempting to palpate tissues in this region also can produce pain because there is anterior pressure being applied to the vertebral structures. The anterior pressure might push the vertebra further into the position of slippage and aggravate the pain. In addition to tenderness, hypertonicity in the lumbar erector spinae, quadratus, lumborum, gluteals and hamstring muscles is likely.
In spondylolisthesis, pain increases with lumbar extension. Flexion decreases the pain, as this motion pushes the vertebra back toward the normal position. Pain might be aggravated during either lateral flexion or rotation, although there is not a clearly established pattern of this pain. Hip flexion with the knee in extension generally is limited due to hamstring tightness.
A special test called the one-leg lumbar extension test might help isolate spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. To perform this test, the client is standing on one leg and balancing. While in this position, the client attempts to bend backward, thus extending the spine (Figure 3). The test is repeated on the opposite side. If back pain is felt during the spinal extension, there is a strong likelihood of a stress fracture in the pars interarticularis. If the stress fracture is only on one side, standing on the ipsilateral leg produces more pain.
If spondylolisthesis is suspected, the client should be referred to a physician for appropriate evaluation. Forward slippage of the vertebra has to be confirmed by X-ray and is not testable with physical examination alone. Soft-tissue therapies like massage can be helpful in reducing overall muscular hypertonicity associated with spondylolisthesis, but it's important to consult with the client's physician about appropriate treatment goals. For example, working on the hamstrings to relax their hypertonicity actually could be detrimental to the condition because the hamstring tightness is helping reduce forward vertebral slippage. Awareness of conditions such as spondylolisthesis highlights the importance of proper assessment so an appropriate referral and/or treatment approach can be developed.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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