resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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 Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
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.
May, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 05
The Progression of Airway Obstruction
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD and Thomas M. Walsh II, DDS
Subtle progressions that reduce the quality of our clients' lives and contribute to many of our clients' chronic somatic problems continues as a theme for this column. Thomas Walsh, DDS offers his 33 years of clinical experience as a general dentist and extensive orthodontics training to bring to light the progression of airway obstruction.
Air is one of our greatest needs for survival as human beings. The "airway is the tube" through which we breathe. It begins at the opening of the nostrils and continues all the way to the lungs. Visualize this tube as the snorkel through which we breathe. The diameter, shape and volume of this tube regulates the rate of exchange between oxygen entering the lungs and the exiting of carbon dioxide out of the lungs. A large diameter airway encourages an easy passage of air whereas a small diameter airway generates a greater resistance to airflow in both directions.
This essential airway tube is formed in utero and continues to develop from infancy until the teenage years. The airway is comprised of multiple spaces including the: nasal chamber; sinuses; and the upper, middle and lower pharynx. In normal growth, these chambers need to form in proportion to the size of the individual. That is to say that one needs a tube to breathe through that is large enough in diameter to support respiration during sleep and daily activity. The genetic design (preprogrammed in our DNA) mediates the enlargement of the bones, muscles, connective tissue etc., of our face and throat, to provide room for these spaces of the airway.1
Unfortunately, many times this airway tube does not form properly. A malformed airway can wreak havoc with muscle tone and head position. Research has clearly correlated head posture with mandibular position and temporomandibular joint disorders.2-7 Many of your clients will likely have these problems. They may complain of pain in the following muscles: masseters, sternocleidomastoid muscles (SCMs), trapezius, scalenes, splenius capitis and cervicis, medial and lateral pterygoids, temporalis and even the muscles of the low back. Simply put, if an airway is obstructed, a person will instinctively modify their muscle function to optimize or open the airway. This postulation reflects the essence of the Inside-Out Paradigm.
Clients rarely sense that they have a problem with their airway. (Dr. Walsh: "After 33 years of practicing dentistry, not one growing child or adult client has ever reported to me that they have a small airway.") The development of the airway is controlled by the autonomic nervous system of the growing child. Nature (your biologic engineer) detects this progressively developing constriction in the airway and makes alternate plans involving compensatory patterns of the musculoskeletal system.
For example, if the constriction is in the nasal cavity, the growing child will start to breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. The muscles of the face will pull open on the lower jaw, the mandible, and redirect the growth of this mandible to a more vertical or open position.8 If the airway obstruction occurs in the middle to lower oral pharynx (throat) the individual will likely extend their head forward to help open this airway tube.9-11 Again, this occurs without any conscious awareness within the individual. The head has now extended forward beyond the normal plane of vertical posture.
Forward head posture is very common and easily misunderstood. It is the opinion of these authors that many cases of forward head posture relate back to early childhood airway disorders, and improper muscle function of the oral cavity and have been clinically correlated to a congenitally short or an emotionally reactive esophagus.12
That being said, it is very difficult to separate the primary cause or etiology. We have the case of the proverbial chicken and the egg scenario, i.e., which came first? For some individuals the muscle function was altered first and in other children the airway obstruction occurred first.
There are many contributors to airway obstruction. Common influences include the following: improper swallowing habits developed from bottle nursing, air pollutants, food allergies, junk foods, broken nose, deviated septum, improper growth of the jaws (the maxilla and mandible), improper tooth position, imbalanced facial muscles, oral habits such as thumb sucking and many more. The thread that links all of these issues to you and your practice tends to be the compensatory forward head posture and associated muscle pain.
Feel this. Your head weighs about 12 pounds much like a bowling ball. Imagine if we placed a stick inside the hole of the bowling ball. Supporting this ball would not be difficult assuming the stick were directly under the bowling ball. Now, let's extend the bowling ball (your head) out beyond the stick (your spine) at a 45-degree angle. Suddenly the force on your spine from your head is dramatically increased. Forward head posture associated with airway obstructions places your neck and shoulders at a leverage disadvantage. It is reasonable to expect cervical bone remodeling and muscle pain to occur over time.
Airway obstructions and improper oral muscle balance commencing near infancy or in a growing individual have been linked to many systemic disorders later in life. These include the following: dental malocclusions, TMJ joint disorders, distorted faces, obstructive sleep apnea in children and adults, bed wetting, migraine like headaches, neck and back pain, lower IQ, stunted growth, criminal behavior tendencies, heart damage and increased risk of heart attack, arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis, stroke, acid reflux and digestive disorders, anxiety and depression associated with lack of proper REM sleep, increased risk of occupational accidents and the list goes on.13-18
The following images graphically display the difference between normal and obstructed airways. These images have been acquired through cone beam imaging technology similar to CT scanning but with dramatically reduced radiation exposure as part of a comprehensive dental examination to evaluate patients for temporomandibular joint, orthodontic and sleep disorders. Figure 1 depicts the size and shape of a normal airway from a side view (coronal) and figure 2 from a cross-sectioned view looking downward (transverse). Notice the area identified by the pointer. Figures 3 and 4 demonstrate the reduced airway from both a coronal and transverse view. Note the constriction of the airway.
The diameter of the constricted airway is equivalent to the diameter of drinking through a straw. "Imagine the experience of breathing through a straw" all day. This client was completely unaware of any obstruction in the airway yet suffered from many clinical symptoms including lack of sleep, grinding of their teeth, pain and spasms in the neck and shoulders.
In summary, many of our clients suffer from airway obstructions that progress and worsen through life. As massage therapists we see many individuals with underlying problems as have been described here. Clients with head and neck pain including forward head posture are likely to have airway obstructions and are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, a known contributor to decreased quality of life and reduced longevity. Your sharp observations can actually save lives.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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