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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
June, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 06
When Are Symptoms Not Symptoms?
By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO
Have you noticed how buzz words and key phrases are emerging from the powers that be in the increasingly regulated application of health care? Evidence-based medicine is one of these and there's a lot to be said about this topic - but not in this article.Another phrase that is emerging is informed consent. At its heart, this phrase, and what it entails, simply tells us that patients need to know what a particular form of treatment involves, as well as the drawbacks, possible side effects, success rates, etc.
How could anyone take exception to this you might ask? Surely it's everyone's right to know if there is a risk attached to a treatment method, so they can make an informed decision to accept or decline? The risk-benefit ratio can only be considered once the relative benefits, as well as potential risks, are made available to the patient/client in the form of objective information.
I would say the answer to this question is not as clear-cut as it may seem. Let's look at this in relation to manual forms of treatment. The most invasive form of manual therapy is arguably the high velocity, low amplitude (HVLA) thrust technique, as used by chiropractors, osteopaths and increasingly by physical therapists, to manipulate (adjust) joints.
Many experts have suggested there are risks attached to this form of treatment,1 particularly when applied in the cervical region. The most serious possible negative effect is stated as being a risk of stroke (vertebral artery dissection). The problem with the statistics used to demonstrate damage from manipulation of this sort is that they seldom make clear just what type of manipulation is involved, and they seldom describe the competence of the individuals applying the manipulation.
Gibbon and Tehan,2 in regards to this very issue, report that in a study of Australian Manipulative Physiotherapists, who are required to undertake specific postgraduate study in manipulative therapy, there were no major complications in 4,601 physiotherapist years of manipulative practice. Despite allegations3 the evidence actually is that a causal connection between cervical HVLT manipulation and subsequent stroke is unproven, and when applied carefully the risk is virtually nil.4,5
To be absolutely clear, there are risks in all treatment (even massage), but these risks reduce to the point where they become statistically invisible when the methods are used safely, by well-trained people, in the correct situation (for the patient)! But in the informed consent model, every patient about to receive such treatment would need to be informed that there is a defined and explained risk (and in some countries would be required to sign a form saying they had been informed, and have consented to the treatment).6 Ask yourself whether such a protocol is likely to be conducive to the individual staying calm and relaxed during the procedure? In many instances is it not likely to result in a refusal of extremely effective modes of treatment?
Despite these reservations, I am bound (in the U.K.), by a legal requirement to obtain such informed consent before manipulating any part of the body. This also is true of application of soft tissue manipulation methods, including muscle energy techniques and neuromuscular techniques. And all this takes valuable (to the patient and to me) time, and creates (I believe) unnecessary bureaucratic management burdens, as well as anxiety for the patient.
This preamble brings me to what I really wanted to discuss in this article - the meaning of symptoms, including "reactions" to treatment (such as soft tissue manipulation). I would imagine there is very little disagreement with the basic premise that all healing is endogenous (i.e., the body is self-regulating and treatment, of whatever sort, is designed to either enhance that process or to remove obstacles to it). All treatment of the body demands an adaptive response.
Whether the response is helpful and health-enhancing or not, depends on whether it's appropriate for that particular individual/condition, at that particular time.
If a "therapeutic response" is forthcoming following treatment - manual or otherwise - there is bound to be some degree of a sense of change, as homeostatic modifications work their way through the systems, and these likely are to be reported as "symptoms," or "reactions."
In many therapeutic traditions, a "therapeutic response" is regarded as desirable, as evidence of self-regulating processes in action. It's easy enough to recognize that without inflammation, we would not recover from injury (and also that excessive or inappropriate inflammation is harmful). It's also not hard to grasp the idea that if you have ingested contaminated food, the rather undignified and unpleasant symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea are life-savers (or that excessive elimination of these types can be dangerous).
Understanding that effects of (or reactions to) treatment might fall into the category of "good symptoms" should be something that can easily be explained to patients. In homeopathy, the "law of cure" suggests that recovery of health occurs in a reverse order, so the most recent symptoms are likely to be the first to go. Reactions and response to homeopathic remedies are therefore keenly assessed and are seen as positive indications of healing in process. In naturopathy, the self-regulating responses looked for as treatment is initiated (e.g., fasting, nutritional reform or supplementation, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine) are thought of as being representative of the "healing power of nature." These changes are commonly eliminative, and are not considered to be "side effects" but are evidence of healing in action.
In chiropractic and osteopathy, similar processes to those mentioned in the homeopathy discussion may occur, as symptoms reappear and are then normalized by the body itself, in reverse order to their original appearance. In many forms of psychotherapy, and in somatic branches of those methods such as somatic experiencing, reintegration of dysfunctional adaptive states might well involve the reappearance of symptoms as part of the process of normalization, discharge of the effects of trauma, and restoration of health. These "side effects" are not side effects at all but signify change, part of the body/mind's adaptation towards a more balanced state.
In the "informed consent" model, we likely are to spend a great deal of time having to explain these concepts. My main concern is that people might not grasp the concept of "symptoms being good for you" or "symptoms as evidence of healing in action," and might decline what they need most once they have been "informed." Even worse, having been informed there is a risk of stroke following manipulation of the neck, what will go through a person's mind when normal responses to treatment such as deep tissue massage, or neuro-muscular technique, or trigger point deactivation, or muscle energy stretching (a degree of discomfort for 24 hours for example, or a slight degree of light-headedness perhaps) are experienced? A phone call to me (or you) at 2 a.m. might be the patient's reaction. I'm not sure what mine will be when that happens though. What do you think?
Click here for more information about Leon Chaitow, ND, DO.
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