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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.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
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.
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.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
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.
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.
February, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 02
The Continuum of Progression
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
The progressive continuum linking stress and pathology is theorized to move initially from adaptation to compensation and substitution. It then moves toward injury or illness, finally accreting in degeneration, disease and, ultimately, death.Of course, injury and illness might precede compensation and substitution.
Understanding the paradoxes of this progression allows the practitioner to serve clients with greater clarity. The central paradox is that some clients respond immediately to therapeutic touch, while others take a very long time to even begin to turn the corner and, there also are those, who are beyond our capacity to functionally assist without medical care.
Previously, I have described the physical response of the body to "stress" as the cringing of the sacs and the shortening and narrowing of its tubes (both the tubes within the organs and between them), such that the internal suspension of the organ systems is pulled toward the middle of the body. This cringing, shortening and narrowing reduces the surface area for the activities of physiology. Blood and lymph drainage becomes labored and congested. Arterial pumping requires more effort.1
Physiology struggles in its prime directives to distribute strain and allocate resources equitably. Needless to say, the external structure of the body goes into distress when this occurs. The flexor and extensor reflex systems become confused and, over time, forget how to cooperate with one another. An insidious discoordination emerges to the point where our very sense of balance in gravity is subconsciously in question with every movement we make. Succinctly, this often is the degenerative progression of the human structure in movement as we grow older.
When a client's somatic profile is principally the result of "stress-related" difficulties they will make some - no matter how slow or stuttering - progress along the dimensions of perception, energy and movement capacity. The most reliable markers for the initiation of healing are when clients shift the focus and sites of their ailments and report a positive change in their perception, energy level and movement capacity. What I propose underlies such shifts is that the body and psyche are re-prioritizing the allocation of resources and re-organizing the distribution of the internal strain patterns.
The good news is that the body can get used to damn near anything. Adaptation as a concept infers that one is able to adjust to changing circumstances internally and externally, such that all functional activities of living remain the same. Adaptation infers that one's capacity has not been drained. Compensation and substitution are notions that the body is able to maintain its function, but at a potentially high price.
The price typically is reflected by how we perceive ourselves and the world (usually more negatively); the sense of energy we experience to do what we want (usually less); and by the degree to which our movements become limited or painful. In short, the quality of our lives becomes insidiously, and sometimes drastically, reduced. It's a continuum.
Let's explore this further. When one becomes ill, we slow down, do less and rest more. This allows the body time to catch up with itself such that the surface area within the organ systems and within their tubes re-expand and lengthen again. It also allows our consciousness to reflect upon our lives: who we've become and questions related to "Do I like my life?" and "Where do I want to go from here?" Sometimes, new and radical decisions are needed.
When we injure ourselves, we discharge energy and, depending on its severity, we also reflect, slow down, do less, and rest more.2 I would propose that both injury and illness are nature's way of assisting our bodies to re-organize whatever compensation and substitution patterns have become too rigid. They function to throw the marbles up into the air so that a new pattern may emerge.
The Oriental healing arts suggest that it's very interesting where people hurt themselves and/or which illnesses emerge, and they relate this information within their philosophy and maps of healing.3 In my recent phrenic circuit articles, I was endeavoring to describe a set of relationships that has helped me to serve my clients. Other maps and systems to explore include: The Body's Map of Consciousness®, chiropractic and osteopathic spinal correspondences, applied kinesiology relationships, reflexology, Travell's trigger point maps, craniosacral relationships, visceral manipulation relationships as well as many others.
Using a map, however, can be like painting by numbers, where we have a pre-conceived notion of the outcome. Though incredibly useful as a starting point, maps are not the actual territory. Chronic problems defy such simple external representations by the fact that they persist. They keep us on our toes, searching for and distilling information from all the maps as we broaden our perceptual skills and deepen our capacity to touch with compassion as well as grace.
Degeneration and disease reflect the two prevailing theories of evolution - subtle changes over a very long time and sharp cataclysmic changes that happen abruptly. Usually the former precedes the latter and we simply didn't notice, don't want to notice, or haven't developed the perceptual skills to notice. This is what learning and education are all about for us, as well as for our clients.
I would further assert that we are actively in the process of turning nature's emphasis on survival toward a more inclusive willingness to become aware. The common sense of "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is increasingly becoming cost-effective. Our profession is part of this shift in consciousness, assisting our clients to develop the ability to notice and to relate to the basics of physiological processes. We are on the "front lines" as educators in the health care delivery system not because we know so much, but rather because we genuinely care.
Let us consider death as we explore degeneration and disease. Basically, most humans expire as a result of some kind of cardiopulmonary disease, cancer or trauma. What's important to learn is how the tributaries flow into the rivers of these processes. To develop ways to describe the relationships, which are the subtle events that so often go unnoticed. Nature's emphasis on survival contributes to the veiling of degenerative and pathological declines. Consider that part of the healing partnership we forge with clients includes becoming part of their early detection team.
When a client senses that something is amiss internally or you instinctually do so yourself, become a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader for them to have a well-baby check. Swing those pom-poms. Express concern and a desire for them to be thorough. Acknowledging our limitations enhances their trust of us rather than decreasing their confidence in us. It's the information, education and compassionate reflection offered to clients that distinguishes the therapeutic touch profession. The simple process of taking the time to be "in presence" with clients, to touch with open hearts, and to listen without preconceived notions is often under-estimated in the healing process and is a necessary ingredient to assisting clients to unravel the knot of their chronic problems.
Hold the paradoxes of how problems progress over time. Place your consciousness, intent and willingness "inside the body." This is where the action really is happening. Shift from "doing to," and begin to allow the body to guide you. Build a library with each client from the "inside-out." Give their body access to your library of all that you have learned. The contribution of reflecting back to the client takes many forms. Dedicate yourself to reflecting their wisdom because it's their life. It's the inherent gift of conscious touch.
Osteopathy stuck a flag in the ground more than 120 years ago in its creative distillation that the relationship between disease and healing is largely defined by "who gets the blood." This central intention relates to any therapeutic touch style, approach or technique orientation. What's important is to assist the body's capacity to circulate its fluids, all of them, everywhere. It's at the core of physical healing. Tissues denied their fair share of blood do not heal.
In conclusion, I would like to publicly honor Dr. John Upledger, DO, and Dr. Richard MacDonald, DO, for the actual personal and professional risks they, and others, took to open the libraries of osteopathy through their personal teaching, and for Dr. Upledger's continuing commitment to invite innovative teachers from around the world to share the many dimensions of healing with our profession and others. True to another central tenet of healing, their efforts have embodied a clear intention to be inclusive of all who are sincere in their desire to assist the healing process.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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