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Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Keep Seniors Safe: Age-Proofing the Home
I want to give Dr. Claudia Anrig kudos for her Dec. 1, 2014 column, which highlighted safety issues youngsters might encounter in the home.
What Do You Know About Physician Compare?
Physician Compare is a website that allows consumers to search for and obtain information about physicians and other health care professionals who provide Medicare services.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Viewpoints: Massage Reduces Nonspecific Shoulder Pain, Improves Function
While seemingly universal, pain and stiffness in the shoulders can be a significant cause of disability. Often a pain that does not go away on its own, shoulder complaints tend to linger, sometimes for 12 months or longer.
God and the Chiropractor
My wife went to church last Wednesday night and brought home a CD of the pastor's message. As she handed it to me, she said, "You should listen to this; you'll like it." Our family regularly goes to church and our faith plays a major role in our lives.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
How We Can Help the Injured Brain
The majority of patients with mild traumatic brain injuries recover within seven to 10 days. If concussion signs and symptoms continue beyond seven days, the diagnosis changes from acute concussion to post-concussion syndrome.
News in Brief
ACA Exec. Vice President Out, Acting EVP In; F4CP Executive Director Retires; New ED Named.
Joint Supplements for Athletes (Part 2)
A fairly recent discovery in nutrition supplemental medicine has proven to be a breakthrough in maintaining athletic joint health. Research suggests a combination of undenatured type-II collagen and tetrahydro-iso-alpha acids helps revitalize joint function and performance in athletes.
Treating GERD and Incontinence: Focus on Trigger Points
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is defined as the regurgitation of stomach acid in the esophagus. Previously, it was thought that GERD was caused by a hiatal hernia, but recent trials suggest the cause is an inability of the hiatal sphincter to contract normally.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Older Patients, Stroke Risk and Manipulation
The first population-based study in the United States to evaluate stroke risk following spinal manipulation – and the first involving older adults – suggests that "[c]hiropractic cervical spine manipulation is unlikely to cause stroke in patients aged 66 to 99 years with neck pain.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Managing Tibialis Posterior Tendon Injuries
The tibialis posterior is the deepest, strongest and most central muscle of the leg, with fibers originating from the tibia, fibula and interosseous membrane.
Striking a Blow to the Medical Monopoly
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a landmark ruling in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v Federal Trade Commission.
Pain Is Only a Piece of the Puzzle
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint: headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel, etc.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
May, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 05
A Study on Massage and Symptom Relief
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
This column is devoted largely to the rewards and challenges of working with people who have been diagnosed with cancer. To that end, I will discuss clinical practice, research and education, all of which are important to this work.In particular, because people have a keen interest in the research on massage and cancer, I've compiled research on the topic and made it available in a bibliography at http://tracywalton.com/id8.html.
The number of studies on this topic is growing, but the quality of research varies, as it does in any discipline. Some studies show good, solid research methods, and others suffer flaws that compromise the integrity of the investigators' findings. In this column, I'd like to share one of my favorites. The work by Janice Post-White and her colleagues, based at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and the United Hospital in Saint Paul, is wonderfully designed.1
The investigators studied 230 people in chemotherapy. They looked at immediate symptom relief just after a session, and at overall effects from a course of four weekly treatments. They compared massage therapy to three other types of care: Healing Touch (HT), a specific type of energy therapy derived from therapeutic touch, including both off- and on-body components;2 Caring Presence (P), in which a provider was present in the treatment room with the patient, but with no touch involved; and a control condition of Usual Care (UC), consisting of standard medical care provided to patients, but with no special intervention.
To best describe the design of the project, I ask you to imagine you were a patient recruited for it. After consenting to the study, you were randomized to one of three groups - MT, HT, or P - receiving a 45-minute session of the intervention each week over four weeks. Although you had free choice to join up with the study, and were free at any time to leave it, you did not get to choose your group assignment - it was chosen for you randomly. Your vital signs were taken before and after each session, and you were asked questions about your symptoms at those time points to determine the immediate effects of the intervention. At the beginning of the first session and the beginning of the fourth session in the series, researchers asked you additional questions about pain, nausea and mood, and questions about your use of other complementary therapies. You were asked to keep a log of your medication use, and it was collected from you at each weekly session.
One interesting feature of this study is that investigators used a "crossover design," meaning each research subject served as his or her own control. You went through two, four-week periods in this study - one week getting an intervention such as MT, HT or P, and one week as a "control subject," in which you completed the same kinds of measurements but received no intervention, just your usual medical care (UC). The order in which you spent time in the control and treatment conditions was random: some of you had the four weeks of treatment first; some of you had the control period first. A several-day "washout period" took place in between, to be sure the first period didn't influence the second one.
One thing I admire about this study is how researchers timed the sessions. Because the patients were in chemotherapy, they were subject to the ups and downs of strong medical treatment, which can follow a cyclical pattern after the drug is delivered. Symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, profound fatigue and pain can ebb and flow during chemotherapy, depending on how the patient responds to it. How someone feels depends a lot on when you ask. Unfortunately, this variability can significantly "confound" or muddy the outcomes of a research study. What if fatigue is measured at a particularly bad point in one chemotherapy cycle, but at a better point in another? It would make it hard to assess the true effects of massage on fatigue.
The authors anticipated this and made sure that the two sets of measurements, one over a four-week control period and one over a four-week treatment period, occurred at the same time point in identical chemotherapy cycles. Their care with this timing is one key to the solid design of this study.
After all this, what were their findings? Some highlights: They found that MT and HT reduced pain, improved mood and increased relaxation more than presence or the usual care control. These modalities also lowered respiration rate, heart rate and blood pressure. These were immediate effects of the sessions, but they were consistent across all four sessions. Only massage significantly lowered anxiety, and only HT significantly reduced fatigue. No intervention lowered nausea, but investigators found that the timing of the weekly sessions was such that the patients' nausea scores were already low, and it's difficult to significantly reduce a symptom that is low in the first place. This is called a "floor effect," and since nausea typically is worse in the few days following chemotherapy and then resolves, higher nausea scores didn't get picked up in the weekly sessions (the first massage right before the first infusion; the second a whole week later). Finally, over a four-week course of massage therapy, patients used less pain medication than those in the other groups, and less than they did during their control group experience.
Does this study "prove" that massage helps? In general, it's good to steer clear of that term until we have enough additional well-designed studies to provide convincing numbers. The field needs a large body of evidence for such a strong statement. Certainly, the findings suggest benefit and the authors cite other studies that corroborate their findings. The most consistent finding among studies on massage and cancer is its effect on anxiety, which is supported by this paper. In my own promotion of massage, whether speaking or teaching, I'm finally starting to feel the support of those numbers. And, if you're an individual in chemotherapy, finding symptom relief with massage, you feel supported no matter what the numbers show. You're not likely to stop what you're doing to wait for the data to catch up with your experience.
This is a wonderful study, worth reading closely. In the growing body of research on massage therapy, this is one of the largest, strongest works to date. I'm planning a research update, including this study, at the Atlanta AMTA convention this fall. I appreciate the dialogue that flows from this work.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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