resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
Business Lesson #1: Adapt or Else
My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant recommended by some friends. We often have concerns about restaurant recommendations, as many have been disappointing.
The IME System: A Current Public Health Risk and Solutions That Are Working
I strongly believe in the independent medical examination (IME) system. There are far too many doctors in every profession who are not following E&M protocols and never claim MMI (maximum medical improvement) has occurred for their patients, which has caused financial stress for many private and public carriers.
How to Find and Fix TL Nerve Impingements
The thoracolumbar junction (TLJ) and the peripheral sensory nerves that exit from it are frequent, important and rarely recognized sources of lower back, pelvic and hip pain. Let's outline a clear exam protocol for diagnosing the problem.
The Power of Eccentric Exercise: Hamstring Injury Prevention and Rehab
For almost 20 years, I've worked with professional athletes who make a living by running really fast. It goes without saying that hamstring injury (HSI) prevention and rehabilitation is a big part of what they expect from a sports chiropractor.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
Recording and Appropriate Billing of Timed Physical Medicine Services
There is a common misunderstanding about timed therapy services and although you do have some knowledge of timed service documentation, based on your comment on the 8-minute rule, your understanding is correct, but incomplete.
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Vitamin D Fails to Help Knee OA? The Proper Perspective
The March 8, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a study about vitamin D supplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee. This is a really weird study.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Musculoskeletal Disorders Take Center Stage
Looking for the latest on the musculoskeletal pain epidemic and the increasing premium placed on preventive strategies including chiropractic? Check out The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
Essentials of Assessment: The Squat
The squat is a simple, fast and functional tool to evaluate patient symmetry and function. As simple and easy as it is to implement, it can yield considerable amounts of valuable, clinically relevant information.
March, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 03
Clinical Reality for Pain and Injury Conditions
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Take a look through any of the popular trade publications in our field and you will find a wealth of advertising for courses that are teaching you new techniques. The extravagant claims for methods that provide "permanent pain relief" or "immediate results in one or two treatments" can certainly pique your interest and make you think this is something you must have. Clearly, learning new techniques is a great way to retain enhanced skills and abilities as well as provide more ways to address client problems. However, the emphasis on techniques can be misleading when you are working with rehabilitative massage approaches because technique is only a small piece of the puzzle. Clinical success in treating pain and injury conditions requires a much more comprehensive approach and that is what orthopedic massage is all about.
Orthopedic massage is not a technique, although you use a wide variety of techniques as you apply this approach. Instead, it is a comprehensive system for alleviating pain and injury conditions with massage. A brief story helps illustrate why a systematic approach like this is so important. In the first year of my professional practice, I rented a small space in a medical office building; to build my business, I began networking with some of the physicians in that building. One day a physician sent a patient to me who was having severe back pain. I realized as I began talking to her that I had no idea what was wrong with her and I was genuinely puzzled as to whether massage would help her or hurt her. I had been taking all kinds of new technique workshops, but they hadn't really helped me learn how to make important clinical decisions such as: Should I try to treat her or not? If so, what techniques or approaches would be the most helpful?
I wanted the physician who referred this patient to me to respect massage as a beneficial treatment approach, so I felt uncomfortable just sending her back to the doctor who had sent her, telling him I didn't know if I could help or not. It was at that point I realized I needed to learn more about clinical management. What I hadn't realized is that what I was really looking for was not just a particular technique. Instead, it was a comprehensive approach for applying clinical reasoning skills.
Clinical reasoning is at the core of all successful clinical practice in the health care professions. Yet, you don't hear much about it in massage education because it's much easier to sell a sexy new technique. Simply put, clinical reasoning is "...the sum of the thinking and decision-making processes associated with clinical practice."1 The more effective you are at using your clinical reasoning, the more effective and successful you will be as a clinician. Developing effective clinical reasoning is not as simple as just taking a course in it. It is a more complex process that calls upon your skills abilities in a variety of different areas. Let's take a look at some of the most important aspects of clinical reasoning and how to improve those skills.
Researchers have looked into what separates experts from novices when it comes to clinical management skills in the medical field. One of the main factors they have found is that experts develop certain shortcuts by recognizing patterns of information that novices might tend to miss.2 For example, suppose a client comes in complaining of foot pain and reports a recent increase in running on hard pavement and plantar foot pain that is most pronounced first thing in the morning. These are just two clinical factors that have been shared, but someone familiar with plantar fasciitis will immediately recognize them as fitting into the pattern of that pathological problem. It does not mean that we have determined the client's condition with just those two elements. Yet, the ability to see that symptom pattern gives us a significant advantage over someone else who may only hear the client rattle off an accumulation of symptoms and not be able to make any sense of them.
The practitioner using effective clinical reasoning will then take these recognized information patterns and apply deductive thinking to analyze the clinical problem further. Deductive logic is what occurs with an "if, then..." statement. For example, IF this client reports sharp shooting pain in the upper extremity along with paresthesia on the ulnar aspect of the hand, THEN there is a good chance the pain complaint is originating from some neural pathology, in either the neck or upper extremity. This deductive analysis helps us determine if massage is appropriate and if so, how we should apply it.
Clinical reasoning is crucial not only in clinical assessment, but in the treatment process as well. Often you will hear treatment recipes and routines given that describe how to address a particular pathology; they will say perform this treatment X number of times and your client will get better in two treatments, etc. However, this approach is highly problematic and doesn't reflect clinical reality. Each client is an individual and each individual has a unique presentation of his or her soft-tissue disorder. One person's carpal tunnel syndrome should be treated differently than the next person's, even though they may have been diagnosed with the same disorder. It is your use of clinical reasoning and decision-making skills that help you determine how to modify your treatment approach for each client's unique needs.
As with many aspects of health care delivery, clinical reasoning relies on both art and science. You need a comprehensive understanding of science (anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, etc.) to help in symptom pattern recognition, construction of treatment strategies, and proper application of rehabilitative concepts in massage. Use of effective clinical reasoning is an art and skill that is developed with constant practice and study.
Treatment techniques will help you fill your tool bag, but if all you do is amass a series of techniques you only have a bag of tools and no knowledge about how to effectively use them. A wrench is a great tool, but you don't want to try using a wrench when a screwdriver is the proper tool. Similarly, you will be far more successful and your massage technique skills will have much more effect when you expand your use of effective clinical reasoning.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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