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Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
November, 2009, Vol. 9, Issue 11
Fixing Achy Hips
By Erik Dalton, PhD
Structurally oriented therapists are keenly aware of the crucial role proper iliosacral alignment plays in preventing compensatory low back and SI joint pain. During the 10-step screening evaluation, therapists usually compare anatomical landmarks such as anterior and posterior superior iliac spines and iliac crests.A commonly observed pattern reveals an anterior/inferior right rotated ilium accompanied by a high left posterior rotated ilium. Scientists have developed fascinating theories (motor dominance, cerebral lateralization and genetic potential) to shed light on the possible origins of these frequently seen patterns.1-6 Although most manual therapy clinicians agree that the foot's architecture plays a major role in iliosacral rotation, many remain unsure of the link between foot posture, pelvic obliquity and hip/back pain (aside from lengthening or shortening of a limb).
For demo purposes, let's "mock-up" a postural foot assessment with the client standing. Using the finger pads of your right hand, palpate the medial arch of the left foot. Contact the navicular bone and with two fingers, attempt to lift the arch, checking for joint play. (Fig. 1) If the navicular and cuneiforms resist this spring test and the mid-foot appears flat, the arch is pronated. As we recall, the most common lower-extremity asymmetry is foot pronation. Weakness of tibialis anterior, peroneus longus and the plantar aponeurosis (Stirrup Spring System) results in a valgus subtalar joint (STJ) accompanied by a dropped navicular bone. (Fig. 2)
When palpating the navicular on the opposite foot, one discovers a high rigid arch that feels stuck in a supinated position. By viewing the Achilles tendon and calcaneus bone from behind, one observes the subtalar saddle joint cocked in a varus position with body weight shifting laterally and compressing the cuboid. This is the precursor for such conditions as plantar fasciitis and fibular stress fractures. Ideally, at heel strike, the foot and ankle ligaments give to the pressure allowing the arch to flatten and the tibia to internally rotate. During toe-off, the arch springs open and the tibia externally rotates. Stored potential energy is released in a powerful pulse driving kinetic energy back up through the system to help counter-rotate the torso and pelvis to propel the legs forward.
Recall that the term "kinetic chain" describes how we move our bodies. We move in either an open kinetic chain or closed kinetic chain. The difference lies in whether the moving part is loose in space or fixed against a hard, unrelenting surface such as the ground. Pronated and supinated feet are an unstable platform and soon encounter resistance further up the kinetic chain. Loss of antigravity spring leads to compensations that torsion and compact the knees, hips, low back and trunk. (Fig. 3)
Femoral Positioning & Pelvic Rotation
In my experience, the most overlooked and least appreciated area of compensation arises as the femoral heads become asymmetrically positioned in the acetabula. For example, when the pronated left foot internally rotates the thigh and the supinated right foot externally rotates the thigh, one would be walking sideways with each step. (Fig. 4) Of course, the body's sensitive proprioceptors immediately begin left-rotating the trunk with the axis of rotation primarily focused at the hips. As the femoral heads reposition in the acetabula, a great amount of stress is placed on the joint capsules, articular cartilages and supporting ligaments.
Use a plastic skeleton and pronate the left foot noticing how it internally rotates the left lower extremity, causing the femoral neck to follow. This closed-chain movement crams the femoral head posteriorly against the back of the acetabulum. (Fig. 5) Conversely, supination of the right foot externally (right) rotates the femoral neck allowing the head to migrate into the anterior part of the acetabulum. With the right femoral head pushing anteriorly and the left pushing posteriorly, the bony pelvis is forced to left rotate. In this scenario, the high (left) femoral head becomes the axis of rotation as it drives the anterior portion of the pelvis upward and backward, causing the pelvis to rotate to that side. Thus, the right ilium reacts by dropping on the low femoral head side, resulting in an unleveling of the sacral base and a buckling of the lumbar segments.
During a screening evaluation, therapists often stop their assessment and begin treating the right anterior/inferior rotated ilium via hip flexor work followed by QL-lengthening techniques designed to drop the elevated left ilium. The "fix it as you find it" approach defies sound structural integrative methodology and is doomed if the torsioned pelvis has roots in foot dysfunction. Notice in Figure 6 how combined pronation and supination not only torsion the pelvic bowl, but initiate a functional lumbar scoliosis that spreads its tentacles through the thoracic and cervical spines.
Experiment by doing the following: place fingers under each ASIS, pronate your left foot, supinate the right, and feel the right ASIS drop anteriorly/inferiorly as body weight side-shifts over the left posterior/superior rotated innominate. In the absence of hip or lumbar pathology, you should feel the pelvic bowl left rotate.
This mechanism of anteroposterior femoral head positioning also helps explain other clinical findings. For example, we often have clients presenting with bilateral foot pronation (pes planus) complain of back pain. Bilateral pronation increases lumbar lordosis and lumbosacral angle, causing excessive compressive force through the L4-5 and L5-S1 facets and intervertebral discs. With these individuals, both femoral heads are positioned posteriorly allowing the pelvic contents to "dump" forward and sway the back. Conversely, bilateral supinated feet position the femoral heads anteriorly in the acetabula resulting in decreased lumbar lordosis, flat back, flat butt and loss of kinetic energy into the ground during gait. Although various aberrant combinations of femoral positioning exist, some are considerably more detrimental than others.
Femoral Positioning & Hip Impingement
The "godfather" of femoral acetabular impingement (FAI), Reinhold Ganz, MD, has stated, "Surgical management of hip impingement syndromes is one of the most exciting developments in the entire field of hip pathology and hip disease in the last decade. The key to recognition of FAI is that even minor abnormalities in positioning of the proximal end of the femur can lead to difficult motion and possibly to impingement within the well-constrained hip joint."8 During the physical examination, Ganz recommended checking the hip's internal rotation in flexion using the anterior impingement test. If limited or highly painful when range of motion is executed, this could indicate femoral acetabular hip impingement.
Orthopedists theorize FAI could serve as a major cause of damaged hip joints in adults and the primary reason behind the escalation of hip replacements. Treating FAI impingement should involve techniques for balancing femoral head/neck positioning relative to the acetabulum. Since FAI arises from bony or mechanical abnormalities of femoral head placement in the acetabulum, manual therapists often have the best shot in preventing or correcting this anomaly and would benefit greatly by attending workshops designed to assess and treat this pervasive condition.
A prerequisite need for all pain management, sports, and structural integration therapists should involve a basic understanding of the relationship of iliosacral unleveling and foot posture. Since most therapists are not privy to radiographic measurements, we must develop keen palpatory and visual skills to properly evaluate bony and soft tissue landmarks. As Sir William Osler eloquently stated, "In order to treat something, we must first be able to recognize it."
Any attempt to tackle iliosacral rotational patterns armed with inadequate assessment and treatment tools will undoubtedly end in failure and frustration. From a functional standpoint, there is strong evidence of an associated increase in the incidence of low back pain and hip joint osteoarthritis if foot posture and femoral rotational patterns are not addressed in a timely manner.
In my next column, I'll present theories on why we encounter common compensatory patterns; discuss cerebral lateralization and motor dominance, and share myoskeletal techniques to address the strain patterns falling within the FAI realm.
Click here for more information about Erik Dalton, PhD.
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