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Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
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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