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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?
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 12
The Progression of Cervical Stenosis Toward Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy (CSM), Part 4
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
There is an assumption that the progression of CSM emerges in males more often than females, according to my Google searches of the literature.1 My own clinical experience with clients since beginning to recognize and research this progression eight years ago is fairly 50/50 in terms of gender occurrence.
Richard MacDonald, DO, explains an osteopathic distillation in his functional anatomy courses suggesting that, based on his profession's cadaver studies, males have a tendency toward lower back weakness because the iliolumbar ligament generally does not extend to L4 as it does more typically in women. The inferred evolutionary implication of this anatomic difference is that this extended stabilization represents a pragmatic genetic selection providing women with more low back, pelvic stability for birthing a child. Correspondingly, the first rib and sometimes the second rib of most women tend to be less stable in their unifacet mooring to the T1 and T2 spinal vertebrae.2
These anatomical gender-specific differences have been cited as a possible explanation as to why males experience more low back pain and dysfunction, while females tend to experience more craniofacial, neck and upper extremity pain and dysfunction. A further inference based on personal speculation is that these gender differences have functioned in our human evolution as sexual stimuli - the quality of power that is reflected in the strut of a male as he walks and the elevated positioning of the breasts in females. Nature is relentless in its drive for the genders to notice each other and to reproduce. In my opinion, both of these anatomic tendencies can feed into the eventual expression of CSM.3
The principle assertion in the orthopedic literature is that men have larger cervical vertebral bodies relative to the space for the spinal canal (canal/body ratio) that may encroach upon the circumference of the spinal canal more easily than for females; thus they have a greater tendency to exhibit the more acute symptoms of CSM. In numerous Google searches, I was unable to verify with recent studies that this gender difference in etiology is generally accepted. My speculation is that CSM is simply less often diagnosed in females because it is more often diagnosed in its acute expression in males. The orthopedic notion that a congenitally smaller spinal canal in either gender is highly correlated to the expression of CSM was verified.
Let's now add to the theories about how and why CSM begins and progresses, beginning with the obvious - the carriage of the head. Wherever the head goes, the rest of the body must follow.4 There exists within human neurology an exquisitely fine-tuned sense of tracking where the head is in relationship to the field of gravity. The subcortical flexor/extensor relationships are intimately linked to two of nature's most crucial imperatives - "don't fall" and "live long enough to reproduce." The writings of Thomas Hanna are one of the few places where you will find a comprehensive description of these righting reflexes.5 With gratitude, I had the opportunity to study and receive many treatments from him shortly before his too-youthful passing.
What I have found to be missing in the orthopedic theories of CSM are four principles of anatomy and physiology that have evolved from my trainings and my clinical experience with clients:
Based on my clinical experience, what is totally neglected is the capacity of the esophagus to pull the head down onto the neck and thus add direct compression to the cervical discs. The fascial mooring of the esophagus, the pharyngeal raphe, attaches to the basilar portion of the occipital bone just posterior to the sphenobasilar junction.9 The influence of a shortened esophagus is completely overlooked in most whiplash/impact injuries and as an influence in progressive anterior kyphosis of the spine. Additional soft-tissue structures that I find to be locked in a state of contracture or spasm include the CSMs, the longus colli muscles and the scalenes. Diaphragmatic and iliopsoas contracture or spasm adds strain to the extensor musculature.
The most commonly spoken somatoemotional statements of my clients over the years mirror this strain pattern. These include that someone or some situation is a prevailing "pain in the neck," that they feel an overwhelming sense of pressure within their body, or that they feel "all twisted up inside." Trace the pattern down and forward from the neck ... pressure strains the cervical vertebrae given its build-up within the thoracic and abdominal/pelvic cavities. The gut tube is suspended directly from the craniocervical junction. Both of these influences are speculated to directly contribute to the how and why cervical stenosis can progress toward spinal cord compression and CSM symptomatic expressions. I am admittedly postulating an interface between anatomy, physiology and consciousness, so please do consider these as theories.
In part 2 of this article series, I encouraged you to release the tension and lengthen the fascia of any muscular structures that have attachments to the back and the front of the body, to ease the tensions of these myofascial elements. The sternocleidomastoid muscle is a clear example of this.
Massage therapists who desire to become more comprehensive in their work with clients need to seek out training in how to therapeutically work with the visceral suspension of organs and also explore how consciousness can participate in escalating the tensions of visceral organs themselves, thus adding a significant strain to the musculoskeletal system. The educational resources that provided me with such training gave me dynamic insights, leading to my most significant leaps in comprehension of how the dance between psyche and soma expresses itself. (Contact me for information on educational resources.)
My intention has been to draw open the curtain of CSM neurological progression, which is highly correlated to diminishing the quality of life during the aging process and is often not considered, diagnosed or treated until it reaches an acute expression. Many clients will end up on your doorstep in the early and moderate phases of the progression.
In conclusion, the possibility that CSM may underlie many of the chronic somatic complaints of our clients ages 50 and older is what we want to anchor in our awareness. Do remember to inquire as to whether the client has or is currently experiencing any difficulty with urination, ranging from urgency to difficulty initiating a stream. Share with them that it is your understanding that an inability to interrupt the urinary stream is one possible clinical indication that warrants a visit to their physician.
The somatic complaints of CSM tend to come and go, sometimes being expressed in upper extremity problems and then switching to lower extremity difficulties commonly expressed as sciatic pain or the internal feeling of heaviness in the thigh or leg. Often they will bounce back and forth between the upper and lower extremities. As noted in earlier articles, when the complaints involve the same-sided upper and lower extremity, there is a high probability that the CSM progression is expressing itself. Another significant caveat is that in a study that followed patients who had undergone surgery for CSM, the degree and longevity of a successful outcome was based on the symptom profile being discovered earlier than later in its progression.10
Our job is to enhance both the functional capacity and coordinated mobility of our clients. This translates into quality of life. Allow your perception to become a therapeutic modality. Sense, feel and touch from the "inside-out." When I teach classes, I often draw upon an agrarian analogy that emerged early in my career - we plow the field, plant the seeds, weed the field and sometimes are there to assist in the reaping of a harvest of healing. May this continuum reflect your daily opportunity with clients.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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