resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
November, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 11
The Progression of Cervical Stenosis Toward Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy (CSM), Part 3
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Since beginning to describe the progressions of chronic dysfunctions last year, I propose that my research and intuitive extrapolations have tripped over many of the default settings of the human aging process.1 My instincts suggest that there are more progressions than what has occurred to me. Six appear to be clear.
I have already proposed and described how gallbladder difficulties may underlie many of the gastrointestinal difficulties and their somatic expressions that accompany aging.2 Included in part 2 of that series, the connection between the progression of gallbladder dysfunction and the emergence of type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus was noted. In this present series, I am describing and postulating how many motor-coordination and chronic sensory complaints are likely to be associated with cervical stenosis progressing toward cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).3
The other four proposed progressions include: osteoporosis, atherosclerosis (deposition of fatty materials in arterial walls), desiccation and dehydration, and senility (the cognitive decline associated with dementia and Alzheimer's). I plan to explore these in future articles, so I invite you to consider what other progressions may exist and either let me know or write about them yourself. Please send me a copy. Let's combine our profession's capacity for astute observation, our willingness to listen to our clients and, our collective common sense to make a lasting contribution to humanity.
One of the most reliable indicators that one or more progressions may be occurring is that a client presents with one or more chronic somatic complaints without a recent precipitating event. My clinical experience has repeatedly shown that for a large majority of clients, chronic difficulties are the "canary in the coal mine" of underlying degenerative progressions. These fly under the radar of medical testing because they take decades to undermine physiologic function until reaching a tipping point of degradation and clinically detectable expression. Understanding such progressions will add to our collective ability to assist clients to make more informed medical and lifestyle choices.
All of these subtle progressions contributing to declining capacity, function and pain have two common denominators: the body's capacity for delivering nutritious oxygenated blood and the length of time it takes for the return of venous and lymphatic fluids to deliver the raw materials so that the lungs and heart can make new blood. As massage therapists, facilitating the movement of bodily fluids is at the core of our training. We are uniquely oriented to assist our clients to maintain the quality of their lives as they age.
Returning to the progression of cervical myelopathy, let's begin with my own cervical MRI from the previous article. The process of having an MRI is fairly simple and painless, especially one that allows you to sit or stand. Reading the radiologist's report however, was more of an emotional experience than I had anticipated. Even though I have reviewed thousands of medical reports, to read one that described what is going on inside of my own neck was sobering yet very educational. Early detection translates into an increased field of choices for us all.
My report described C4-5, C5-6, and C6-7 as having moderate to severe disc compression with posterior bulging of the discs, one of which is impinging upon the left side of the thecal sac (the meninges). It also noted left-sided and right-sided foraminal narrowings (where the spinal nerves exit) between each of these vertebrae. The report certainly helped me to understand how and why my upper extremity pain and numbness could express itself on either side or bilaterally and why my left lower extremity has been more symptomatic over many years. There was no evidence of frank spinal cord compression, only the stenosis or pinching of the left-sided thecal sac at C4-5.
In a discussion with my personal physician, he noted that he has seen many such MRI reports that reflected more significant stenosis along with frank spinal cord compression, but without accompanying symptomatic pain or numbness; instead, the patient's motor coordination was generally more the presenting problem. I also requested that a retired radiologist take a look at the films to confirm what the report stated. His response was, "What are you going to do, Dale? You're 55; it's not bad enough for surgery." My response was a declaration that I was going to attend to the integration of my soul and personality, seek out excellent bodywork, refrain from working with my neck in extension and arms over my head, as I do trimming the tropical trees and plants in our yard, and seek out nutritional sources to quell the activation of the inflammatory process. "That makes sense," he concluded. He also noted that more information would have been obtained had the MRI been done with my neck in extension as this would more directly activate the cervical ligaments. So, do pass this on to any clients who might seek out such information for themselves.
When I subsequently asked an orthopedic physician who is a client and has had surgery for CSM himself for his opinion of my MRI results, he advised me that what he saw did warrant surgery. I didn't want to hear that. This is what our clients are very often faced with - real dilemmas with differing medical opinions. I took to heart my personal physician's distillation of the human condition from his many years of medical experience: "Clots and inflammation are what disable us leading to our eventual deaths." Thus, based on his advice, the course of action I am pursuing is to contain the inflammatory process through the use of prescription-strength omega-3 salmon oil, baby aspirin and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication at the first sign of an escalation, and regulating more judiciously the number of hours I work each day in my clinic. This approach has reduced my daily upper extremity pain and numbness dramatically.
I am pleased that I followed my instincts in seeking out more information. I consistently offer this caveat to clients: "If you don't look, you don't know." Medical tests have their place and they are not always conclusive. However, with additional information we all have more perspective from which to make a choice.
Based on my research thus far, my current guidelines for encouraging clients to explore a surgical option for CSM include the following somatic profiles (individually or in combination): unrelenting upper extremity/neck pain or numbness, atrophy of the deltoid muscle group or muscular hand wasting (usually associated with the muscles of the thumb or the central portion of the palm), the development of an ataxic gait pattern (a clumsy and jerky walking style), and an escalating frequency of urinary or bowel urgency or episodes of incontinence. This last symptom is the one that slides under the radar for many.
It is important to consider that more than one degenerative progression may simultaneously co-exist in the same body. This was the case for both of the clients with CSM for whom I was unable to stem the tide of its progression. One was a male client who has been chronically overweight for years and I suspect has gallbladder dysfunction and/or progressed into a pre-diabetic state. For the other, a female client, her osteoporosis had insidiously accelerated despite her best efforts to track it with periodic bone density tests.
Researching this progression has been a humbling and rewarding personal and professional experience. Humbling to experience the "zone of limits" that my genetics and trauma history may be signaling in my own aging process. Rewarding in the vast appreciation for how well our bodies do adapt overall and in the realization that the progression of CSM is truly a broad symptomatic continuum that affects some more than others, both functionally and clinically across a wide spectrum of somatic expressions.
In my next installment of this column, I will touch on the issue of gender and CSM, and finish up by discussing my studies of CSM.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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