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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.
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?
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.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
July, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 07
Giant Cell Arteritis
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
My previous column looked at polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), an idiopathic condition affecting mainly Caucasian women from 50 to 80 years old and characterized by sudden onset of muscle and joint pain, especially around the shoulders and hips.This month, we will address a very different condition, giant cell arteritis (GCA), which has a very different etiology and symptomatic profile, but occurs so often in the same people affected by PMR that many researchers wonder if the two conditions might be connected.
What Is It?
Giant cell arteritis, also called granulomatous arteritis, is a condition in which medium and large-sized arteries become inflamed. This inflammation might be body-wide, but symptoms often center around the face and head, so synonyms for this condition are temporal arteritis and cranial arteritis.
GCA usually affects a specific population: Caucasian women between the ages of 50 and 80. (Men can have it, too, but they account for a small percentage of diagnoses.) In this group, the incidence of the condition ranges from 0.5 to 27 per every 100,000 people. The further north, the higher the incidence. Scandinavia has the highest rate of GCA in Europe, while Mediterranean countries have a low rate.
The causes of GCA are not well-understood. Most experts agree it probably is a combination of genetic predisposition and dysfunctional immune response that might be triggered by a pathogenic exposure.
A high overlap exists between people who have GCA and people who have had polymyalgic rheumatica. Statistics vary, but about 15 percent to 25 percent of those with PMR have GCA and vice versa. This raises the question about whether these two conditions truly are freestanding, or if they indicate different stages of progression in immune system anomalies.
The vessels most at risk are the superficial temporal arteries, the ophthalmic arteries, and more rarely, the aorta, subclavian and brachial arteries. The inflammation permeates disconnected patches of the tunica media of these arteries, and biopsies reveal characteristic abnormal "giant cells" that give the condition its name.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
The most predictable sign of GCA is a slow or sudden onset of a headache in a new pattern. It usually is restricted to the temporal-occipital area of one side, but it can be diffuse and bilateral. The pain feels superficial rather than deep. Sometimes, simply stroking the hair on the affected side can elicit symptoms.
The headache seen with GCA might be preceded by "prodromic" symptoms that resemble polymyalgia rheumatica: general muscle and joint pain, especially at the shoulders and hips. The jaw might become extremely painful, leading to problems with chewing and swallowing. Loss of appetite, weight loss and fever also might be present, but these are not consistent for every patient.
Perhaps the most alarming symptom of GCA is a change in vision including blurring, double vision or complete vision loss in one eye. It's important to act on this symptom immediately, as the vision loss with GCA might be permanent.
How Is It Diagnosed?
GCA is diagnosed through several measures. Blood tests look at the erythrocyte sedimentation (SED) rate and levels of C-reactive protein as indicators of inflammation. These tests are informative, but not conclusive; a biopsy of the temporal artery is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. This is a simple procedure that can be performed in an outpatient setting, but because the complications of GCA are so serious, treatment might be initiated before the results of the biopsy are obtained.
What Are the Complications?
The most common complication of GCA is permanent vision loss. This usually is the result of a condition called anterior ischemic optic neuropathy. In other words, the optic nerve is damaged because of ischemia. This occurs in up to 50 percent of all people diagnosed with GCA. In addition, inflammation of the major blood vessels can cause blood clots in the brain (leading to transient ischemic attack or stroke) or the larger arteries can weaken and bulge (aortic aneurysm).
How Is It Treated?
High-dose steroidal anti-inflammatories are the first recourse for someone with GCA. The sooner this regimen is begun, the better the chance of saving the patient's vision, so it's worth being aggressive. Low-dose aspirin often is recommended as well, to reduce the risk of forming dangerous clots in inflamed arteries.
The steroid prescription for GCA typically is a long-term commitment: two years or more, tapering off when inflammatory markers in the blood come back to normal ranges. The consequences of prolonged steroid use, especially for mature women, can be serious. They include bone loss (which might be mitigated with medications to increase bone density), hypertension, muscle weakness, cataracts, hyperglycemia, risk of diabetes, immune system suppression and thin skin with easy bruising.
What About Massage?
A client in her 50s or older who reports a headache in a new pattern, especially with vision changes, should go to a doctor before going to a massage therapist. A client with polymyalgia rheumatica must be vigilant about visual disturbances, as this is considered a medical emergency. Because the vision problems with GCA can be permanent, it's important to begin anti-inflammatory therapy as quickly as possible.
A client being treated for GCA might be a candidate for massage, but here the concerns shift to the consequences of long-term steroidal anti-inflammatory use: bone density loss, skin damage, hypertension and other side effects. Furthermore, these medications can interfere with pain responses (their job, after all, is to suppress inflammation!), so the practitioner must be conservative to avoid the risk of overtreatment.
For Next Time
The table is clear and I have no specific requests in the pipeline. So, dear readers, I leave it up to you. What would you like to talk about? What's on Your Table?
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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