resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
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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