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Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
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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