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News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
January, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 01
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season has been peaceful, fulfilling, inspiring and rejuvenating to help get you through winter's months ahead.
After a prolonged departure from my usual "What's on Your Table?" fare, we return today to a discussion of a particular pathological condition - one that several practitioners have requested more information about - post-polio syndrome (PPS). Polio itself is almost an anachronism; but to understand PPS, we need to revisit a few key features of this infection.
Poliovirus is a pathogen spread most efficiently through oral-fecal contamination. When a person picks up some virus through contaminated water, it concentrates in the gastrointestinal tract and the feces. If any symptoms develop at this time they include high fever, aches, headache, nausea and diarrhea (which helps spread the virus), and then for most people the infection is completely over. Less than 1 percent of all people exposed to poliovirus in this way progress to develop a second-tier infection. The motor neurons begin in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and control muscle function. The resulting destruction to motor neurons leads to muscle atrophy and paralysis. This often occurs in the lower extremities, but a particularly serious form of the infection affects breathing muscles. (One interesting mystery about polio is that we have never figured out how the virus migrates from the intestines to the central nervous system.)
Even with such a low rate of serious infection, polio traditionally has been viewed as a significant public health threat. After all, if 1,000 children swim in a contaminated lake or drink from a contaminated well, this means 10 could become partially paralyzed. And because young children are especially vulnerable, this disease has also been called "infantile paralysis."
People familiar with the history of massage may remember that Sister Kinney, an Australian nurse, pioneered the use of hydrotherapy and intense rubbing to help her polio patients recover some muscle function in the 1930s before polio vaccines were available.
The good news for us is that wild polio (polio that is not connected to a vaccination series) is practically extinct. The last recorded case of wild polio in the Western hemisphere was in Peru in 1991; the last case in Europe was in 1998. As of 2003, wild polio was endemic to only India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt. One of the consequences of the extremely successful world-wide polio eradication program is that a bodywork practitioner working in the U.S. today is extremely unlikely to have a client with an acute polio infection. However, we estimate that some 440,000 people in the U.S. had polio infections during childhood and these people are vulnerable to a long-term complication related to the virus: post-polio syndrome.
Post-Polio Syndrome: No New infection!
When a person develops polio-related paralysis, some of his or her motor neurons have been destroyed and the muscle cells those neurons controlled are likewise prone to atrophy. However, remaining functioning nerve cells have a tendency to develop new axon tips to support some muscle fibers. In other words, the motor unit (a single functioning motor neuron and all the muscle fibers it supplies) becomes larger. Over the course of years, this can lead to cumulative fatigue, stress and wear-and-tear both on the overworked motor neurons and on the under-stimulated muscle cells. The result is that anywhere from 10 to 40 years after an initial polio infection, a person may experience a sudden onset of symptoms that include muscle weakness, pain, breathing and sleeping problems, and debilitating fatigue; this is PPS.
It's important to emphasize that while a polio survivor has new symptoms, often with a sudden or specific onset, PPS definitively is not a resurgence of the virus as a new polio infection. It's simply the result of decades of overuse of tissues that have limited capacity for growth and adjustment. The most typical pattern for PPS is that a middle-aged person who had polio as a child develops the symptoms listed above and the symptoms tend to run in cycles: During flares the person loses function, and during remission the person is stable, but may not regain lost function. People most at risk are those who followed their original polio infection with a rigorous and aggressive physical therapy program to rebuild strength in damaged muscles. We see now that the nervous system can't keep up with long-term demands in this way.
Massage for Post-Polio Syndrome
Polio itself involves motor paralysis but no sensory deficit. This makes it safe for bodywork, since the client can accurately report how intense or safe the pressure feels. Post-polio syndrome is the same: it involves pain and weakness related to neuromuscular dysfunction, but the pain is not related to any attack or inflammation of sensory neurons. Furthermore, numbness is not a reported symptom of PPS. Typically, people with this condition are counseled to adjust their posture and movement patterns to take advantage of their strongest muscle groups, rather than the ones that were damaged and then overworked after their infection. This may mean using or adapting tools like braces, crutches or canes. Massage certainly can help in this area to de-stress overworked areas and to support and refresh muscles that are newly being pressed into service. Massage won't eradicate the problems behind PPS, but by focusing on taking the workload off the weakest muscles and supporting the strongest ones, bodywork can be part of a helpful coping strategy for our population of polio survivors.
I've had some interest expressed in exploring polymyositis: an autoimmune disease that affects muscle function. If you have experience working with clients who have this condition, be sure to share. Until then, many thanks and many blessings.
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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