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Musculoskeletal Disorders Take Center Stage
Looking for the latest on the musculoskeletal pain epidemic and the increasing premium placed on preventive strategies including chiropractic? Check out The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
Essentials of Assessment: The Squat
The squat is a simple, fast and functional tool to evaluate patient symmetry and function. As simple and easy as it is to implement, it can yield considerable amounts of valuable, clinically relevant information.
Business Lesson #1: Adapt or Else
My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant recommended by some friends. We often have concerns about restaurant recommendations, as many have been disappointing.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Recording and Appropriate Billing of Timed Physical Medicine Services
There is a common misunderstanding about timed therapy services and although you do have some knowledge of timed service documentation, based on your comment on the 8-minute rule, your understanding is correct, but incomplete.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
The Power of Eccentric Exercise: Hamstring Injury Prevention and Rehab
For almost 20 years, I've worked with professional athletes who make a living by running really fast. It goes without saying that hamstring injury (HSI) prevention and rehabilitation is a big part of what they expect from a sports chiropractor.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Vitamin D Fails to Help Knee OA? The Proper Perspective
The March 8, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a study about vitamin D supplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee. This is a really weird study.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
The IME System: A Current Public Health Risk and Solutions That Are Working
I strongly believe in the independent medical examination (IME) system. There are far too many doctors in every profession who are not following E&M protocols and never claim MMI (maximum medical improvement) has occurred for their patients, which has caused financial stress for many private and public carriers.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
How to Find and Fix TL Nerve Impingements
The thoracolumbar junction (TLJ) and the peripheral sensory nerves that exit from it are frequent, important and rarely recognized sources of lower back, pelvic and hip pain. Let's outline a clear exam protocol for diagnosing the problem.
August, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 08
Short Leg Syndrome, Part One
By Erik Dalton, PhD
Leg length discrepancy, or as it has been alternatively termed, the short leg syndrome, is by far the most important postural asymmetry. Limb length discrepancy is simply defined as a condition where one leg is shorter than the other. If a substantial difference exists, disruptive effects on gait and posture can occur.
Leg-length discrepancy can be divided into two etiological groups:
Faulty feet and ankle structure profoundly affect leg length and pelvic positioning. The most common asymmetrical foot position is the pronated foot. Sensory receptors embedded on the bottom of the foot alert the brain to the slightest weight shift. Since the brain is always trying to maintain pelvic balance, when presented with a long left leg, it attempts to adapt to the altered weight shift by dropping the left medial arch (shortening the long leg) and supinating the right arch to lengthen the short leg.1 Left unchecked, excessive foot pronation will internally rotate the left lower extremity, causing excessive strain to the lateral meniscus and medial collateral knee ligaments.
Conversely, excessive supination tends to externally rotate the leg and thigh, creating opposite knee, hip and pelvic distortions.
Most structurally oriented bodyworkers have learned hands-on routines for separating adhesive fascial bags of the 11 lower leg muscles to lift (or lower) dysfunctional foot arches. To insure proper foot functioning, tone must be stimulated in weakened arch muscles using fast paced muscle spindle techniques. As the myofascia regains lost elasticity, blood flow and vital nutrients permeate the fatigued tissues, allowing the muscles of supination (tibialis anterior, peroneus longus, tibialis posterior, etc.) to regain strength and mobility. In addition to myofascial work, one also must focus on restoring alignment and motion to the subtalar joint commonly stuck in a valgus (pronated) position (Figure 2). The subtalar or talocalcaneal joint forms the articulation where calcaneus and talus meet and allows foot inversion and eversion. To restore normal subtalar alignment, the therapist decompresses, abducts, plantar flexes and inverts the foot using myoskeletal contract-relax-
Biomechanical Relationship of Feet to Pelvis
Ilial rotation is coupled with leg length discrepancy. In Figure 4, the femoral head on the long leg side "drives" the ilia upward and backward. Conversely, the ilium on the low femoral head side drops down (anteriorly rotates). The concurrent rotation of both ilia in opposite directions produces a left-on-left sacral torsion (Figure 5). This complex ilial rotation coexisting with sacral rotation usually is described as pelvic obliquity. Weight bearing on the right leg will produce this common compensatory pelvic pattern. Ilial rotation can be palpated by placing your fingers under each ASIS and shifting weight from one leg to another. Now place your thumbs on each sacral base and shift side to side. Right leg weight-bearing should cause the right sacral base to go deep (anteriorly rotate).
For efficient locomotion, a symmetrical and well-aligned body is essential. When the three bones of the pelvis are distorted by limb length discrepancies, gravitational forces wreak havoc on weakened SI joint and accessory pelvic ligaments (sacrotuberous and iliolumbar). These structures find themselves desperately struggling to maintain structural balance. Left untreated, a diverse array of symptoms appears as the short leg destabilizes the pelvis by unleveling the sacral base. Painful lumbar compensations often travel all the way up through the atlantooccipital (A-O) joint, as the spinal column is forced to rotate and side-bend to accommodate the uneven sacral base.
In the lower limbs, short leg compensations can be summarized as follows:
Compensatory (functional) scoliosis commonly is reflected as a low shoulder on the high ilium side, as seen in Figure 7. A short "C" curve is common in the cervical spine, due to a "stuck" occipitoatlantal joint unable to tilt the head on the neck to level the eyes with the horizon. Elbow and hand positions can appear shorter on the short leg side, with the opposing arm swinging more on that side. Some authors suggest that there is a rotation of the pelvis toward the long leg side, possibly due to hyperpronation and medial leg rotation.2 These authors describe a typical gait when the short leg steps down and the long leg compensates by "vaulting."
Walking on the toes on the short side and flexing the knee of the long side seems to be a fairly consistent compensatory movement pattern. As the center of gravity unevenly shifts, the smooth sinusoidal motion of gait is disrupted. Thus, the cosmetic effect of walking also can contribute to the compensatory mechanism and eventual injury. For example, walking on the toes can lead to contracture of the Achilles and calf muscles, creating conditions such as Achilles tendinitis and plantar fascitis.
Other functional scoliotic compensations include shortening of the quadratus lumborum on the long side, and a shortening of scalene, levator scapulae, sternocleidomastoid, and upper trapezius muscles on the contralateral side. This typical adaptive muscle imbalance pattern helps maintain erect head position with eyes level. Regrettably, prolonged muscle shortening "crams" vertebral and rib articulations, compounding the problem. The spine's neuronal pool overflows as subthreshold stimuli progress to full-blown efferent nerve discharge, triggering increased muscle guarding. Thus, a vicious pain/spasm/pain cycle sinks its neurological tentacles deep into old intrinsic spinal groove muscles (rotatores, multifidus, intertransversarii and levator costalis), resulting in central nervous system overload, limbic system hyperactivity ... and dis-STRESS.
The presence of a limb length discrepancy usually is easily recognizable during gait by observing the following:
Note: During running, it has been suggested that limb length discrepancy makes no real difference, due to the fact that only one foot strikes the ground at any given time. However, Blustein and D'Amico's extensive research finds that leg length discrepancy is the third most common cause of running injuries.3
The importance of limb length discrepancy cannot be ignored and often is the key feature in lower limb and back pathologies. Thus, the use of proper visual and anatomic landmark evaluations is paramount in distinguishing between a functional and a structural limb length discrepancy. If in doubt about your ability to adequately and consistently distinguish leg length differences, have a three-dimensional radiographic postural study performed by a qualified manual medicine physician.
Proper limb measurement is essential. Unfortunately, there is no single hands-on method proven completely reliable in its own right. It is for this reason that therapists should develop a holistic approach that includes systematically eliminating aberrant lower limb myofascial strain patterns while restoring joint play to all feet and ankle bones. Although presentations do differ from client to client, most of the previously discussed patterning theories will prove accurate. During the assessment phase, the most important feature for the beginning therapist to recognize is that asymmetry exists. From there, more specific details emerge with experience.
Integral parts of treating the condition are identification, comprehension of each individual's compensatory adaptations and their relationship to resultant symptomatology. Today's touch therapist must be aware of the fundamental importance of limb inequalities, particularly the "short right leg" controversy featured in my next column.
Click here for previous articles by Erik Dalton, PhD.
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