resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
December, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 12
The Pelvic Floor Paradox
By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO
When I started writing this periodic column, I mentioned that every now and then, a "wow-factor" enters my life; synchronistic events and pieces of information coincide to illuminate what was previously foggy.As the fog lifts, simultaneous thoughts often occur. The first thought is, "It's obvious why I didn't see it before" coupled with "Is there evidence to support this?" As I hope you will agree at the end of this short article, "it" is obvious, and there is abundant evidence. So what is "it" and what is "the problem?"
Let's start with a clinical fact I have been aware of, but have been unable to explain. In recent years, more and more of my younger female patients have reported symptoms ranging from variable to acute pelvic pain to stress incontinence, interstitial (i.e., nonbacterial) cystitis, vestibulitis and painful intercourse (dyspareunia). Many of these patients had seen appropriate experts in genitourinary medicine and/or physical medicine, and most had been prescribed what can best be described as "toning" (Kegel-type) exercises for presumed laxity in their pelvic floor muscles, along with various forms of medication.
Now, clearly, the patients I was seeing were the ones in whom such treatment had failed. However, because the practitioners prescribing these methods continued to do so, I must assume they worked for many. But they had not worked for those distressed (mainly) young ladies consulting me, whose lives were in turmoil because of considerable and sometimes constant pain in a very intimate part of their anatomy. All too often, these women were socially incapacitated due to their incontinence; with many unable to have normal relationships. And most of these women were no older than their early 20s.
Structural evaluation often revealed very well-toned musculature. Many had a history involving athletics, gymnastics or dance, and it also was common to have a report of emphasis on Pilates toning exercises with insufficient emphasis on flexibility. Frequently, there was extreme shortness of some of the muscles attaching to the pelvis, particularly the adductors, hip flexors and the ("core stability") abdominals.
In the United Kingdom, my license as a doctor of osteopathy allows me to conduct internal examination and treatment with informed consent, but this was not part of my usual assessment protocol - until recently, that is.
Nowadays, with a clinical chaperone or member of the patient's family present, such examinations are always suggested (and sometimes declined) in such cases.
What changed my approach? Evidence that the problems in most of these unfortunate patients was not reduced tone, but increased and excessive tone, together with the wonderful work of (mainly U.S.-based) medical and manual therapy practitioners who rediscovered something demonstrated many years ago1 - that trigger points can cause all of these symptoms, and that the trigger points and the symptoms frequently can be removed manually.
Diversion to Australia
Before going more deeply into the high-tone/trigger-point connection, I want to take you to Melbourne, Australia, where a part of the complex picture began to fall into place.
The 5th World Congress on Low Back and Pelvic Pain (November 2004) was held in beautiful (magnificent might be a better word) Melbourne, where I was presenting a paper on the influence of breathing pattern disorders and motor control associated with back pain. On the same panel was the wonderful Diane Lee, PT, from Vancouver, B.C. In front of some 2,000 delegates, she was discussing and showing video clips of paradoxical behaviour of the pelvic floor in women with stress incontinence.2 Ultrasound images of the pelvic floor and bladder were shown in which, when asked to "retract" or "draw the pelvic floor upward," quite the opposite happened and the pelvic floor, along with the bladder, dropped toward the floor with the incontinence consequences.
In real life, such women would try to prevent from wetting themselves by the natural response of tightening and drawing up and in, but what if the muscles trying to tighten and draw up already were as tight as they could possibly be? Perhaps the better response would have been to learn to relax these clenched muscles (or to have them manually relaxed), and to be able to influence the pelvic floor via a relearned awareness of muscle control?
This was Diane's objective. To me, the "wow factor" was the recognition that these women were almost certainly also going to demonstrate paradoxical diaphragm behaviour and unbalanced breathing (and most do), which is one of my main areas of interest.3 It would be fair to say that, after that presentation, my area of interest moved south to incorporate that other diaphragm, the pelvic floor. My belief is that if normal diaphragm (breathing) function can be restored and the pelvic floor muscles relaxed, re-education can take place efficiently and relatively easily. A part of that process requires that active trigger points - in the lower abdomen, inner thigh and sometimes internally - be deactivated as the muscles are restored to their normal length and tone. Is there evidence for any of this?
Sometime before World War II, a physician named Thiele developed a technique in which coccygeal prostate problems were treated by means of massage of specific muscles, mainly levator ani.4 This approach (see description in the third bulleted item below) currently is used in major centers in the U.S. to treat prostate pain and the sort of pelvic floor problems discussed above.5 Examples include:
So, this story is not just about pelvic pain and incontinence, but possible irritable bowel disease and, in some instances, sacroiliac dysfunction. Is this not a remarkable conjunction of influences, often linked to hypertonicity and dysfunctional patterns such as breathing?
The Tennis Ball Trick
For many practitioners, the Thiele form of massage may be in contravention of their license. In such cases, a referral to an appropriately licensed and trained practitioner is one option. Even where this is seen to be a good clinical choice, focus on normalizing the associated pelvic muscles and breathing function offers a positive option.
Another option was offered to me by a therapist (ex-dancer) at a recent workshop. She reported she had suffered many of the symptoms outlined above, and had been instructed in Kegel exercises for her incontinence. She noted that these exercises had aggravated rather than helped her. A yoga therapist had then advised her to purchase a tennis ball and sit on it with the ball (placed on a firm surface such as a carpeted floor) strategically placed under the perineum, between anus and the vagina; and to allow the pressure onto the ball to deeply relax the pelvic floor muscles for five to 10 minutes daily. She reported that this procedure was somewhat uncomfortable at first, but that the effects were dramatic in terms of her symptoms. I have since recommended this to several patients for home use and all have reported benefit.
Don't Forget the Psychological Aspect
This is a complex story, and I don't want to leave you with the impression it can all be solved by a tennis ball, although this might offer symptomatic relief for many. It's essential to note that in many such cases of clenched pelvic floor muscles, there is a background of assault or abuse (although a great many seem to be caused by nothing more than mechanically-produced, excessive tone with a background of dance, athletics and bad Pilates). Where there is a psychosocial or psychosexual element to the condition, appropriate professional support usually is needed along with bodywork.
The information offered above should at least provide a sense of what might be happening in some patient's bodies. Those trained in neuromuscular therapy know that aspects of this work usually are a part of that training. Information on the inter-rectal NMT approach is provided in Clinical Applications of Neuromuscular Techniques, Volume 2 (pp. 384-387)11 for information only, unless the methods are within your scope of practice.
Working on relaxation of the region (adductors, etc., as a first focus!), possibly deactivating trigger points if they are readily accessible, along with breathing rehabilitation, offer practical ways forward. And the tennis ball trick might just be an answer for some.
Click here for more information about Leon Chaitow, ND, DO.
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