resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
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.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.