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Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Teach Your Patients About External Healing Applications
Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
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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