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Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
June, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 06
The Phrenic Circuit
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Let's return to some basics in anatomy and physiology that support the notion that placing your awareness and working from the "inside-out" facilitates the healing process for our clients.Appreciating the influence of the phrenic nerves has assisted me to serve my clients with chronic problems. The very nature of chronic illness and pain requires that the body somehow distribute both the internal physiological pressures within it and the external musculoskeletal strain placed upon it.
My clinical experience has consistently demonstrated that the diaphragm muscle and its phrenic nerves together are one of the body's primary circuits for distributing strain. The phrenic nerves are the sole motor nerves of the diaphragm muscle; a direct efferent supply from the neck to the diaphragm. Its afferent system however is extensive as it receives sensory supply from all of the following sources; the peritoneal sac, the gall bladder, the capsule of the liver, the pancreas, the pericardial sac of the heart, the pleurae of the lungs and from the subclavius muscles1. Wow! That's a lot of current to handle.
Distribution of strain and allocation of resources are crucial components of physical healing. The notion of compensation within the musculoskeletal system when one has experienced an injury is a simple way to conceive of what is meant by distribution of strain. But it's only the tip of the iceberg. Allocation of resources refers to the body's remarkable genius to commandeer energetic and nutritional sources to support general physiology during times of increased demand. The body does all of this and more but, often at a price which lowers the quality of our lives.
What few have made sense of is that the pain in your client's neck actually might be emanating from their gut tube, heart or lungs, and might even be a major contributing source of their pain or the numbness in their shoulder, arms, elbow, wrist or fingers that just won't go away. How does that happen, you might ask? The phrenic nerves exit the spinal cord from C3, C4 and C5. This overlaps and shares the circuitry within the spinal cord of the brachial plexus C4 - T2, the origin of the neurocirculatory supply to the upper extremities.
Imagine water filling up within a sink, which, if not diverted back into the drain pipe, overflows the container. Thus, tensions within the organs of the "phrenic circuit" build to a tipping point and spill over into the relationships of the brachial plexus and are expressed as symptoms in the neck, upper back, and/or upper extremities. How many times have you used, or heard the phrase, "I've had it up to here" as an expression of feeling stressed, exasperated or overwhelmed? Often, people actually raise their hand to the level of their chin, which interestingly is approximately the level of the 4th cervical vertebra.
Let's remember, I previously have described the stereotypical effects of stress as the "cringing of the body's sacs and a shortening and narrowing of its tubes."2 Three of the four major sacs within the body feed direct sensory supply into this phrenic circuit.
Imagine what happens to body posture when the large sac within your abdomen cringes. Feel it within your own body. Next, add the cringing of the sacs of the heart and lungs, a shortening of the esophagus (the major tube between the head and the abdomen), and now, add the tightening of the diaphragm and a shortening of one or both of the iliopsoas muscles. Where do you feel the strain? Obviously, in the back and/or the neck. The head and neck literally are being pulled forward and down. The entire extensor reflex system is activated from the occiput to the sacrum. Little wonder our clients present so often with neck and upper, middle or lower back pain.
Make the connection within your own body. Tensions from within are distributed, expressed, and discharged into the musculoskeletal system from the "inside out." More specifically, these tensions are shared across as broad an area as possible for as long as possible until the pressure builds to where this distribution of strain affects the allocation of resources to the point that physical, energetic or psychological symptoms emerge and become chronic.
Psychologically, the physical symptoms you can now relate to the phrenic circuit are strongly correlated with anxiety and depression. The "mind" generates predictions which stimulate our emotions, which leads to the cringing of the sacs and the shortening of our tubes. Sadly, the mind is organized to predict negative outcomes under the guise of protecting us.3
Over time, we become tied up into knots, anxious about what might happen, then becoming depressed that we can't make any significant changes for ourselves. The cycle repeats itself over and over in so many of our clients' lives.
It is my consistent clinical experience that phrenic relationships are associated in most upper extremity dysfunction and pain syndromes. It's only a matter of degree. This includes cervical dysfunction and pain, frozen shoulder, encapsulitis, chronic rotator cuff problems and radicular symptoms (pain and numbness) into the arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. These reflect the build-up of the tensions within the phrenic circuit and the body's attempt to distribute the strain.
What is the source of our stress?
Please refer to the articles co-authored with Lansing Gresham, "Move Your Mind and Engage Your Brain" (see the February 2006 issue of Massage Today, www.massagetoday.com/archives/2006/02/01.html) and "Your Mind Is the Source of Your Stress" (see the April 2006 issue of Massage Today, www.massagetoday.com/archives/2006/04/02.html). In this article, I have endeavored to introduce the anatomical relationships that consistently have assisted me to serve my clients. More in-depth anatomical descriptions of the relationships of the phrenic circuit will follow.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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