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Don't Ignore the Lower Half of the Pelvis (Part 1)
When your patient complains of lower back or pelvic pain, but your usual treatments are not getting the job done, what do you examine and treat? You may be missing important structures in the lower half of the pelvis.
Are Probiotics Doing More Harm Than Good?
Considerable controversy exists concerning the efficacy of probiotic supplements. Very few human studies show any real positive impact on the microbiome or health. The "promise" of probiotics is based on the few animal studies that suggest a positive effect.
Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes (Part 1)
More than 45 million children ages 6-18 participate in some form of organized athletics, and 75 percent of American families with school-aged children have at least one child participating in organized sports.
Illuminating the Hidden, Freeing the Source
Amongst the Primary Channels, from a classical point of view, the small intestine is perhaps the most important channel to understand. It is one of the least used acupuncture channels in modern acupuncture, yet it within it can be found a wealth of theories from the Ling Shu.
Adventures with the Pericardium
My previous column on the San Jiao deserves equal time for SJ's loving partner, the pericardium. I nicknamed SJ the travel meridian – but pericardium can also play a crucial role in air travel.
What are the Meridians?
The meridian and collateral system (jing luo, hereinafter referred to as "Meridians") is comprised of the main meridian channels (jing mai) and the collateral vessels (luo mai). Jing takes from meaning of the Chinese word pathway (also jing) and are the main branches of the system.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists more than 80 common autoimmune diseases including asthma, Crohn's disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
Analyzing Acupuncture Case Studies
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Take this case study as an example. After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse during cold weather.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine in Taiwan Hospitals
This spring, a team of Western medical doctors and TCM practitioners from Cleveland Clinic traveled to Taiwan to visit Kaiser Pharmaceutical Co. (KP), and China Medical University (CMU), Taiwan's leading integrative medicine hospital.
Lessons from Functional Neurology
Chiropractic neurology, also known as clinical neuroscience or functional neurology, is moving the chiropractic profession forward by leaps and bounds.
What's New in the NCCIH Strategic Plan
The NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) released its draft strategic plan 2016-2021 for public comment in early spring of 2016.
Know Your Research: Tips for Evaluating Literature Reviews
Clinical and experimental studies are not the only types of published research we might encounter as we look for evidence to inform our practices. One of the most useful types is the literature review, which summarizes a group of studies.
A Study of Relationships
Sa-Ahm's five element acupuncture method is known to be one of the most effective acupuncture techniques in Korea because it gives an instant response at the time of treatment and has a high success rate in resolving chronic problems.
Time to Fight for Your Medicare Right
I have heard a lot of noise and a lot of debate about what is going on with Medicare. As an ACA delegate, I often get asked: 'What is the ACA even doing?'
Work Stress and Musculoskeletal Health: Do Your Patients Get the Connection?
Most people underestimate the impact their job has on their health, especially if that job isn't particularly physically demanding. Big mistake.
The Professional and Practice Benefits of Political Activism
Welcome to election season, a vital part of our American culture. Every two years, without fail, we are bombarded with TV, print materials and phone messages seeking our vote.
Code Connection: Guidelines for the Use of Modifier -52
Modifier -52 identifies that a service or procedure has been partially reduced or eliminated at the physician's discretion. This is to indicate the basic service described by the procedure code has been performed, but not all aspects of the service have been performed.
Less Time Than Required
Q: When is it appropriate to use a modifier -52? Can I use it for a timed service when I do less than the time required by the code?
Chiropractic in the Eyes of the Public: 2nd Gallup-Palmer Poll
The second Gallup / Palmer College poll has been completed, yielding significant additional data regarding Americans' experiences with and perceptions of chiropractic care.
MPA Media Wins More Publishing Awards
The American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) has honored Dynamic Chiropractic with a national award and two regional awards for editorial excellence, and sister publication DC Practice Insights with two regional awards for graphic design excellence.
International Congress on Integrative Medicine
"Bridging Research, Clinical Care, Education and Policy" was the theme for the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health 2016 (ICIMH).
October, 2009, Vol. 9, Issue 10
Red, White and Black Reaction
By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO
In the current edition of my book, Palpation & Assessment Skills, there are 12 "special topic" sections, where subjects that don't quite fit into the regular chapters, have been placed. The special topic I want to bring to your attention is the so-called "red and white" reaction - the name of which has been expanded to "red, white and black" reaction. Mysterious? Not really - but it's a catchy name for a simple but useful assessment method that dates back well over 100 years. The name refers to superficial responses that take the form of red, white and sometimes blue-black lines following skin-friction, applied by a finger or probe, usually running down each side of the spine.
In the early days of osteopathy in the 19th century, the assessment method was already in use. Carl McConnell, one of the original osteopathic pioneers wrote this in 1899: "I begin at the first dorsal and examine the spinal column down to the sacrum by placing my middle fingers over the spinous processes and standing directly in back of the patient, draw the flat surfaces of these two fingers over the spinous processes from the upper dorsal to the sacrum in such a manner that the spines of the vertebrae pass tightly between the two fingers; thus leaving a red streak where the cutaneous vessels press upon the spines of the vertebrae. In this manner slight deviations of the vertebrae laterally can be told with the greatest accuracy by observing the red line. When a vertebra or section of vertebrae are too posterior, a heavy red streak is noticed and when a vertebra or section of vertebrae are too anterior, the streak is not so noticeable."6
Much more recently, another osteopathic physician, Marshall Hoag, discussed the same phenomenon: "With firm but moderate pressure the pads of the fingers are repeatedly rubbed over the surface of the skin, preferably with extensive longitudinal strokes along the paraspinal area. The blunt end of an instrument or of a pen may be used to apply friction, since the purpose is simply to detect color change, but care must be taken to avoid abrading the skin. The appearance of less intense and rapidly fading color in certain areas as compared with the general reaction is ascribed to increased vasoconstriction in that area, indicating a disturbance in autonomic reflex activity."3
On the same theme, Upledger and Vredevoogd wrote: "Skin texture changes produced by a facilitated segment [localised areas of hyper-irritability in the soft tissues involving neural sensitisation to long-term stress] are palpable as you lightly drag your fingers over the nearby paravertebral area of the back. I usually do skin drag evaluation moving from the top of the neck to the sacral area in one motion. Where your fingertips drag on the skin you will probably find a facilitated segment. After several repetitions, with increased force, the affected area will appear redder than nearby areas. This is the 'red reflex.' Muscles and connective tissues at this level will:
De Jarnette, the chiropractor who developed the sacrooccipital technique (SOT), wrote extensively on the subject of the red reaction, suggesting some complex interpretations.2 He used such assessments as part of a process of evaluating the particular category of patient he was treating. In one variation he describes the process as follows: "Making a firm pressure, draw fingers down the spine, with a fairly slow motion. You should be able to count to 15 while drawing the fingers from the seventh cervical to the coccyx, by counting steadily. With a good light on the back, the results should show a line which becomes red, some portions brighter and some very faintly colored. Now watch the lines fade. The area which shows the whitest is marked as the major [lesion] for this is the most anaemic spinal muscle area. It will be paler than any portion of skin on the patient's body."
Eminent physiologist Irvin Korr described how this red reflex corresponded well with areas of lowered electrical resistance, which themselves correspond accurately to regions of lowered pain threshold and areas of cutaneous and deep tenderness (termed "segmentally related sympatheticotonia").5 He cautioned: "You must not look for perfect correspondence between the skin resistance (or the red reflex) and the distribution of deeper pathologic disturbance, because an area of skin which is segmentally related to a particular muscle does not necessarily overlie that muscle. With the latissimus dorsi, for example, the myofascial disturbance might be over the hip but the reflex manifestations would be in much higher dermatomes because this muscle has its innervation from the cervical part of the cord."
By use of a mechanical instrument that quantified the pressure applied at a constant speed, followed by measurement of the duration of the redness resulting from the action of the frictional stimulator on the skin, Korr could detect areas of intense vasoconstriction which corresponded well with dysfunction elicited by manual examination.
But was the opportunity to feel the tissues being ignored during all these strokes? Marsh Morrison discussed this: "Run your fingers longitudinally down alongside the dorsal and lumbar vertebrae (anywhere from the spinous processes extending laterally up to two inches [5 cm]) and stop at any spot of tissue which seems 'harder' or different from normal tissue. These thickened areas, stringy ligaments, bunched muscle bands, all represent indurated tissue; they are usually protective and indicate irritation and dysfunction. Once these indurated areas are palpated press down and almost always they will be sensitive, indicating a need for treatment."7
Osteopathic researchers Cox, et al., wrote: "'Red reflex' cutaneous stimulation was applied digitally in both paraspinal areas [T4 and T9-11] simultaneously briskly stroking the skin in a caudad direction. Patients were divided arbitrarily into three groups.
Hruby, et al. describe the thinking regarding this phenomenon. "Perform the red reflex test by firmly, but with light pressure, stroking two fingers on the skin over the paraspinal tissues in a cephalad to a caudad direction. The stroked areas briefly become erythematous and almost immediately return to their usual color. If the skin remains erythematous longer than a few seconds, it may indicate an acute somatic dysfunction in the area. As the dysfunction acquires chronic tissue changes, the tissues blanch rapidly after stroking and are dry and cool to palpation."4
Newman-Turner described the research of osteopath/naturopath, Keith Lamont, who first described the "black line" phenomenon: "It is a common observation of osteopaths...that pressure on either side of the spine with a hemispherical probe of approximately 0.5 cm diameter, will, in some patients, elicit a dark blue or black line. Local engorgement of the capillary bed with de-oxygenated venous blood causes the appearance of the line which slowly fades as the circulation returns."8
I hope these glimpses onto different interpretations of the red reflex will stimulate you to explore the concepts described, remembering that what you feel and see is not the basis for a diagnosis; only an indication of dysfunction that may be local or reflex, chronic or acute, or significant or not.
Click here for more information about Leon Chaitow, ND, DO.
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