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resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Exploring and Learning from the Gift of Life
I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to teach cadaver dissection classes and workshops with Stephen Cina at the New England School of Acupuncture over the past seven years, first through the Sports Medicine Acupuncture Program and later as a NESA elective course.
Abdominal Acupuncture for Eye Healing: The Sacred Turtle and Ba Gua Map
Our ideas about western medicine have shifted in recent decades, while the public is asking more from health care providers.
Are You Making the Wrong Impression?
Taking a page from Stacy and Clinton of The Learning Channel's hit television program, "What Not to Wear," we recently published an article in the summer issue of Chiropractic History: The Archives and Journal of the Association for the History of Chiropractic, that explores the evolution of physician attire from prehistoric times to the present.
Colon Health and TCM
I still remember many years ago, the loud "Yuck" from my wife at the time when we were together watching the Chinese movie "Last Emperor."
Research: Know What You're Talking About
Have you ever seen a patient in your office with multiple serious health problems you weren't sure exactly how to address?
Melatonin: A Promising Natural Agent in the Prevention of ALS
A number of years ago, experimental studies suggested melatonin could block key steps in the development of Alzheimer's disease, primarily by acting as a brain antioxidant and inhibiting the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.
The Art of Creating a Healing Space
I always advise my graduates to examine their group practice or treatment rooms with fresh eyes after they leave my CE workshops. I tell them, "Ask yourselves - is your space qi filled, welcoming and healing? Or is it cold and clinical?"
An Unexpected Superfood: All About Eggs
About 40 years ago, excessive dietary cholesterol was labeled a public health concern. Specifically, it was thought that there was a causal link between consumption of cholesterol-laden foods and increased risk of heart disease.
Looking Back: Abstracts From Chiropractic History (Summer 2015 Issue)
The following abstracts are reprinted with permission from Chiropractic History, the official journal of the Association for the History of Chiropractic. Chiropractic History is the leading scholarly journal of the chiropractic profession dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of the profession's credible history.
Reverse Digit Span: A Useful Assessment Tool for Patients With and Without Concussion
Reverse digit span is an easily administered test of attention span. It is a component of the SCAT3 test, which is frequently used to assess concussion. It has been part of the armamentarium of cognitive assessment for many years.
Can Acupuncture Treat Knee Pain?
Recently, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that, "neither laser nor needle acupuncture conferred benefit over sham for pain or function" among older chronic knee pain patients.
Online Marketing Basics: Google Ranking, Part 1
We all know there is so much opportunity with online marketing. And, let's face it, if you don't have a presence online with a website and social media, you are probably not where you want to be.
Medicine as Metaphor
The practice of medicine is both an art and a science. We study and learn the system so that when the time comes to apply it, there is a greater possibility of successfully helping others.
The Roots of TCM in Depression Treatment
In traditional Chinese medicine, there is historical precedent for the treatment of so-called "Shen" (Heart-Mind) disorder, or disorder/dysregulation of the spirit, which is also considered as distinct but not separate from the cognitive function of the brain.
Merger Creates New Model of Care
Two San Francisco powerhouses of holistic healing, the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) and California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), are merging. Together they are building a visionary approach to applied integral health.
The Winter of Life: A Personal and Chiropractic Practice Perspective
Last November, my wife and I invited an elderly relative, Uncle Josh, to spend the winter with us. He was 82 years old at the time and turned 83 during his stay. As soon as he accepted our invitation, we began preparing.
Adding Microneedling to Your Clinic for Results and Profit
Microneedling has taken the beauty world by storm over the last 10 years. Under the names dermaroller, microneedling or skin needling you will see these treatments listed in the services of nearly every fashionable beauty salon and day spa in the country.
The Integrative Medicine Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together
The conversation is changing in the broader healthcare community with patients actually moving the discussion toward more integrative topics. Patients today want to know their options.
Exercise Recommendations for Healthy Aging
Aging is inevitable, but how you age is not. Common physical signs of aging include decreased muscle mass, decreased muscular power, increased body fat, and decreased aerobic (lung) capacity.
The Source-Luo Point Combination, Part 3
Dr. Nguyen Nghi (NVN) was born in Vietnam and is one of the most important scholars, writers, teachers and practitioners of modern time. Many of his theories and applications are the source of modern teachers from Europe and the United States.
Chiropractic Care and Risk of Stroke: The Shoe Moves to the Other Foot
For decades, numerous papers have linked upper cervical chiropractic care to the incidence of vertebral artery dissections and stroke.
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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