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Mind-Body in Motion
A central goal of low back pain treatment involves the correction of dysfunctional movement patterns believed to be responsible for spinal overload.
Let's Speak With One Voice in 2015
For the longest time, the chiropractic profession has attempted to achieve some form of unity. On a political level, this was characterized by an ultimately unsuccessful two-year merger effort between ACA and ICA leadership from 1986-1988.
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
Connecting the Dots
In 2002, I published a book on patient examination procedures that included information on the procedural coding of the recommended examinations. The book should have been published in 2000, but I had trouble finding a publisher. Why?
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Cell Health (Part 2)
Dr. Barsten, your book is about restoring "cell vitality." Can you briefly define the term? Cell vitality is more than the mere absence of symptoms or pathology, but optimum structural, physiological and energetic health.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Leaving Footprints on Capitol Hill: Tribute to Dr. Kenneth Luedtke (1930-2014)
It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Dr. Ken Luedtke.
Unlevel Pelvis in the High-School Athlete: Exploring Causes and Effects
The unlevel pelvis is all too common in the high-school athlete and if not detected, will likely cause a lifetime of musculoskeletal issues. Any provider who doesn't look for this common finding is missing critical information.
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
News in Brief
An Encouraging Sign at Palmer; NBCE Announces Retirement of Longtime Director of Testing.
The CDC came out with a report in March 2013 that suggests 1 in 50 children will be diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum – significantly higher than the 1 in 86 figure that came out in 2007. What does this mean moving forward, particularly for children?
Help Your Parents Stay Engaged
As much as parents may wish it were so, children do not come with an instruction manual. There's no "how to" that can be followed and no two children are alike, so what works with one generally won't work with the next.
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
July, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 07
The Risks of Vascular Compression in Soft-Tissue Therapy
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
The muscles in the anterior neck can become hypertonic or develop myofascial trigger points as a result of injury, poor posture, or simple overexertion. Some anterior cervical muscles are superficial and easily accessible, while others are deep and difficult to access with soft-tissue therapies.Because of sensitive neurological and vascular structures in the neck, it is important to reconsider the wisdom of applying treatments to the deep anterior neck muscles.
The two main muscles that lie closest to vascular structures in the anterior neck are the longus colli and longus capitis. Practitioners applying manual treatments to these deep neck flexors could run the risk of causing a serious injury to their client, such as stroke or drop in blood pressure, due to the proximity of the vascular structures.
One of the structures that can be impacted with pressure from soft-tissue treatment to the anterior neck is the carotid sinus, which is located at the division between the internal and external carotid arteries (Figure 1). There is a slight enlargement of the arterial diameter at this juncture where the two arterial branches separate. A group of very important sensory cells, called baroreceptors, are also located in the carotid sinus. The baroreceptors play a primary role in the regulation of blood pressure and heart rate.
Carotid Sinus Hypersensitivity
In a condition called carotid sinus hypersensitivity (CSH) or carotid sinus syncope, the carotid sinus develops an increased sensitivity to pressure. Syncope is a term meaning loss of consciousness or postural tone caused by a decrease in blood pressure to the brain. Unintentional pressure on the carotid sinus from massage treatment of deep anterior neck muscles could cause adverse effects on blood pressure or heart rate in a person with CSH.
For a person with hypersensitivity in the baroreceptors, even a mild stimulation to the neck can result in bradycardia (reduced heart rate) and a drop in blood pressure.1 However, CSH is not common so clients may not have any problem with pressure applied in this region. For the few that do have this sensitivity, the consequences of pressure on the baroreceptors could be serious. Unfortunately, a massage practitioner would not know if their client had this sensitivity in advance. It is also unlikely that the client would know they have the condition either. Consequently, it is a bit of a statistical gamble to perform massage on the deep anterior neck muscles. There are many practitioners moving away from this type of treatment for safety reasons.
There is another concern with pressure applied in the region of the carotid sinus. In addition to housing the baroreceptors, the shape of the carotid sinus allows this structure to be a repository for arterial plaque buildup. Plaque that has collected on the inner walls of the arteries is a well-known danger. Unintentional pressure applied to the carotid sinus could dislodge some of these plaque concentrations causing them to migrate through the arteries and cause a stroke.
Practitioners may think that by avoiding pressing on tissues with a pulse, they can feel confident that they are not pressing on vascular structures. However due to the multiple layers of soft-tissues, massage can put pressure on other nearby structures that subsequently press on the arteries, so this method is by no means foolproof.
The possibility of adverse affects for anterior neck treatment should lead the practitioner to explore alternatives in soft-tissue treatment for the deep anterior cervical muscles. Reducing hypertonicity can be accomplished by techniques that do not apply direct pressure, such as facilitated or static stretching. Facilitated stretching can be very effective in reducing tightness in the deep neck flexors without putting pressure on the carotid sinus. A position such as that shown in Figure 2 is used for these facilitated stretching methods.
However, the practitioner should be cautious even with stretching. Ironically, there is a risk of a different arterial compression with the neck flexor stretching position shown in Figure 2. The vertebral arteries run through the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae on each side of the neck. They join to form the basilar artery, which then extends into the cranium to supply blood to the brain (Figures 3,4).
When the head is held in hyperextension or rotation (or a combination of both) the vertebral arteries can be compressed, causing a reduction in blood flow to the brain.2 Compression of these arteries is a condition called vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI). Symptoms of VBI include vertigo, dizziness, seeing stars, disorientation, ringing in the ears, or general feelings of sensory disturbance. If the practitioner is working in this area or moving the client's head into rotation or hyperextension and they report any of these symptoms, treatment should immediately cease and the client's head should be brought back to neutral.
The majority of problems with VBI result from hyperextension or rotation movements of the head. However, due to the location of the vertebral arteries it is possible that VBI could also occur from common massage techniques in which pressure is applied to the suboccipital region. While it is a rare occurrence, some people could have VBI from techniques such as those depicted in Figure 5, with only the weight of the head applying pressure. Techniques such as those used in CranioSacral Therapy where pressure is on the occiput and not the suboccipital soft tissues will not cause VBI. Problems occur when pressure is applied directly into the suboccipital soft tissues.
There is a way to test for the possibility of vertebral artery compression prior to performing massage techniques. This procedure is called the vertebral artery test and it is considered an accurate means of predicting VBI.3 To perform the test, the practitioner has the client in a seated position and instructs the client to hold their head in extension or extension with rotation (as if looking over the shoulder). If within about 30 seconds, the client reports the beginning of VBI symptoms, the practitioner should consider the client susceptible to arterial compression. Techniques that would put the client in a position that could aggravate the compression should then be avoided.
Massage is one of the safest interventions for treating soft-tissue pain and injury conditions in the cervical region. However, soft-tissue therapy is not benign. As these examples show, there are times when massage or other soft-tissue therapies could have serious detrimental effects and that requires the practitioner to think carefully about appropriate treatments to these sensitive areas.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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