resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.