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Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
February, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 02
Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome
By Erik Dalton, PhD
In the early 20th century, sacroiliac joint syndrome was the most common medical diagnosis for low back pain, which resulted in that period being labeled the "Era of the SI Joint." Any pain emanating from the low back, buttock or adjacent leg usually was branded and treated as SI joint syndrome.However, this medical mindset came to a screeching halt in 1934, when Jason Mixter, MD, published an article on the intervertebral disc lesion in The New England Journal of Medicine.1 His landmark report changed the popular understanding of sciatica and helped establish surgery's prominent role in the management of sciatica at the time. Over the next few decades, discectomy surgery increased in popularity, causing many to define that period as the "Dynasty of the Disc."
SI joint syndrome continued its fall from fashion due to the lack of reliable clinical studies confirming its very existence. Although many manual therapists quietly continued treating this disorder with some success, no one was able to put forward a convincing biomechanical theory explaining how the sacrum becomes stuck "crooked" between the two innominate bones. Physicians were hesitant and reluctant to envision a joint with so little movement causing so much pain, while manual therapists countered that its limited motion is vital to proper lumbar spine functioning. So, the SI joint controversy raged until the late 1970s, when renowned manipulative osteopath Fred Mitchell Sr. introduced an innovative and practical biomechanical model that clearly demonstrated normal and aberrant SI joint movement patterns occurring in most individuals.2 Using muscles as levers to correct lumbopelvic restrictions, Mitchell's muscle energy technique spurred a renewed interest in the SI joint as a source of back pain. Figure 1 and Figure 2 demonstrate a modified muscle-energy assessment and correction routine for a painful left unilateral extended sacrum.
Since most SI joints only move about 2 to 4 millimeters during weight bearing and forward bending, they are described as a gliding-type joint. This motion is quite different from the hinge-type articulation at the knee or the ball-and-socket motion of the hip. Considered a viscoelastic joint, the SI's major movement comes from ligamentous stretching. Therefore, its primary function within the pelvic girdle is to provide shock absorption for the spine by stretching in various directions. When sacroiliac joints work in perfect harmony with the third bony articulation of the pelvis (symphysis pubis), a marvelous self-locking mechanism develops that helps us walk. Aided by power generated by the hip abductors (gluteus medius/ minimus, TFL and piriformis), the pelvic joints brace the weight-bearing side during gait. This locking system, termed force closure, allows smooth transference of body mass from one leg to the other (Fig. 3). Although no muscles directly bind down the three pelvic joints, when working synchronously with the SI ligaments they provide the pelvis − "the great adapter" − with a remarkable antigravity springing system that can absorb both ascending and descending forces (Fig. 4).
During the aging process, there is an increase in the grooves on the opposing surfaces of the sacrum and ilium, which reduces available motion of the SI joint. This is a perfect example of the body's innate wisdom attempting to sacrifice complexity of motion for stability. An interesting note is that the age with highest incidence of disabling back pain (25-45 years) is the same age at which the greatest amount of motion is available in the sacroiliac joints. It's not uncommon for an SI joint to become stiff and permanently lock as we age. This may be a good reason for massage therapists to begin incorporating specialized soft-tissue mobilization techniques on a regular basis, to maintain joint-play and prevent agonizing arthrosis and arthritis from developing. Due to the small amount of sacroiliac movement and the joint's inherent biomechanical complexity, proper assessment can be tricky.
Frequently, muscle imbalance patterns develop as tissues become strained from overuse, underuse or abuse. In the early stages of a typical SI pain episode, protective muscle spasm arises as the sacrum gets stuck side-bent and rotated between the ilia, usually from a forward-bending and twisting incident (Fig. 5). Sustained isometric contraction produces muscle toxicity and weakness causing increased SI ligament loading and overstretching. As the articulating joint surfaces become jarred loose, ligament microtearing creates an inflammatory response. Sensitive chemoreceptors bombard the spinal cord and brain with noxious stimuli, causing the brain to layer the area with protective muscle guarding. This is the beginning of a therapeutically challenging pain/spasm/pain cycle that often is hard to break. It's possible, however, to eliminate pain emanating from hypermobile joints by restoring proper pelvic alignment, frictioning the loose ligaments and addressing core strengthening exercises.
The Sacroiliac, Iliosacral and Hip Joint Connection
Although the three bones of the pelvis frequently are at the seat of a "primary" lesion, I have found that a missing key in successful correction of recurrent SI pain is motion-restricted hip joints, i.e., poor alignment of the femur in the acetabulum. For the pelvis to effectively absorb the forces imposed upon it, the hips must be aligned and functioning properly. Normally, it's not the gross motions creating dysfunction within the hip's truncated joint capsule, but restrictions of minor movements such as iliofemoral ligament adhesions (Fig. 6). Therefore, a rational treatment approach would begin with mobilization of the adhesive hip capsule, followed by step-by-step restoration of iliosacral alignment (movement of ilia on sacrum) and sacroiliac alignment (movement of sacrum between the two ilia).
Vladimir Janda, MD, reminds us that: "Any alteration in joint function caused by capsular restriction or loss of joint play affect muscles that cross the dysfunctional joint either through inhibition (weakening) or facilitation (tightening)."2,3 Following this line of thought, a fibrosed hip capsule (usually right) could reflexively spasm and shorten the neighboring iliopsoas muscle, causing reciprocal weakness in its antagonist gluteus maximus. This commonly seen muscle imbalance pattern produces a right anterior inferior rotated (AIR) ilium that refuses to stay aligned no matter how much "psoas-beating" the therapist performs (Fig. 7). Many in today's flexion-addicted society suffer from anterior hip capsule adhesions and tight psoas muscles that "glue" the femur into a flexed position, preventing adequate hip extension during gait. But we have to walk ... so what happens? As the right leg swings back into extension, the short iliopsoas and fibrosed hip capsule drag the already anteriorly rotated right ilium more forward and down, causing increased lumbosacral angle, facet joint and disc compression, greater ligament laxity, compensatory lumbar scoliosis and pain (Fig. 8).
Figures 9-11 demonstrate a nice pelvic balancing routine I've found effective for releasing adhesive hip capsules, lengthening iliopsoas and correcting iliosacral alignment. Competing athletes suffering recurring unilateral hamstring pulls always should be evaluated for hip capsule restrictions that might be causing iliopsoas facilitation and glute max inhibition. The most common cause of persistent hamstring injuries results from an altered firing order pattern, whereby a weak gluteus maximus fires late during hip extension, forcing the hamstrings to do all the work. Since motion-restricted joints can reflexively weaken associated muscles, it's a good idea to mobilize all capsular restrictions and lengthen tight postural muscles before attempting to strengthen muscle groups perceived as weak.
Once optimal hip range of motion and iliosacral alignment are restored, sacroiliac problems often spontaneously correct themselves ... but not always. If low back, buttock or leg pain persists, the therapist must be equipped with proper assessment and treatment tools to effectively deal with SI joint syndrome. Of the 10 or so ways the sacrum can become stuck crooked between the two ilia bones, usually only the flexed, extended and torsioned sacroiliac dysfunctions prove to be pain-generators. In the next "Toolbox of Touch" column, I will discuss and demonstrate six useful deep-tissue myoskeletal techniques for assessing and correcting sciatic symptoms caused by backward sacral torsions and lumbar scoliosis.
Click here for more information about Erik Dalton, PhD.
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