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Avoid Random Treatment of Trigger Points (Part 2)
We must acknowledge that the fascia, which surrounds literally everything in our bodies, including every muscle fiber, is more than just a covering.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
A Reality Check – and a Chance to Educate
Imagine working in the public relations department of nutrition retailer General Nutrition Corporation (GNC) and reading the The New York Times announce...
B Vitamins Improve Memory, Prevent Brain Atrophy
The 2010 OPTIMA study showed that the accelerated rate of brain atrophy in elderly with mild cognitive impairment could be slowed via supplementation with homocysteine-lowering B vitamins, which included folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6.
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."
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.
Help Update the LBP Practice Guideline
The Council on Chiropractic Guidelines and Practice Parameters has announced the release of an updated Clinical Practice Guideline for Chiropractic Management of Low Back Pain for stakeholder review and comment.
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.
Expanding Access, Branch by Branch
The big news coming from Capitol Hill isn't merely the recent introduction of a pair of bills designed to expand chiropractic services in the Veterans Affairs and military health care systems; after all, similar legislation has made its way through Congress before, never reaching the Oval Office for presidential signature.
Low Back Pain: Posture and Movement Analysis
When performing static and dynamic movement analysis of the lumbopelvic hip area, begin with standing visual posture analysis of the pelvis, and then perform lumbar range of motion and assess what you might see during normal versus abnormal lumbar flexion motion.
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.
Atypical Femoral Fractures and Bisphosphonate Use: What to Watch For
Bisphosphonates (BP) are popular drugs, with more than 8 billion in sales in 2008; however, profits have declined as patents began expiring. Nonetheless, BP remain the most commonly prescribed drugs for patients at risk of osteoporotic fractures, with several million prescriptions written every year.
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.
Impacting Chiropractic's Future With Technology
When it comes to electronic health records (EHR), Robert Moberg and Dr. Steven Kraus are two of the leading industry experts on the topic.
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.
Interpersonal Skills 101: Enhancing the Value of Our Patient Interactions
Recently, I read an interesting article in our local newspaper titled "The Value of Human Interaction." The article presented comments from a senior editor for Fortune magazine who discussed "Civility in the Business World."
December, 2009, Vol. 9, Issue 12
By Elaine Stillerman, LMT
It was supposed to be a Sunday like any other Sunday: get up, go to the gym, do the shopping and chores, and enjoy the rest of the day with my son. Except on this June morning, I couldn't get out of bed.I put one foot down and the pain shot down from my knee to my toes. It was the same with the other leg. And both arms: pain, stiffness, swelling, and fire from elbows to fingers. All the connective tissues and articulations were inflamed. I recently had some dental work and thought that I was having an allergic reaction to the inlay. But that wasn't it at all.
My doctor suspected acute onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which blood tests later confirmed. For someone who has been practicing yoga since my teen years (let's not count how long ago that is) and works out regularly, this felt so wrong. The doctor prescribed heavy doses of prednisone which put out the fire and helped ease the stiffness, but this nasty drug has awful side effects and cannot be used long term.
RA & the Immune System
Generally affecting people 20-50 years of age, the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown although there are a number of viable theories. RA is considered to be, by Western standards, an autoimmune disease. In RA patients, the immune system seems to attack body cells that are mistaken to be invader cells. Elevated levels of white blood cells are present within the synovial membranes that line the body's joints. This results in swelling, pain, and limited mobility. Over time, joints can become deformed and rheumatoid nodules, or small lumps, may grow under the skin at pressure points.
In more serious cases, RA can also affect other body parts such as tear ducts, salivary glands, the lining of the heart, the lungs, and sometimes blood vessels. Women are two to three times more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis than men and the rates for women are increasing. After nearly four decades of steady decline, the tide has turned and the numbers are rising. From 1985 to 1994, 36.4 per 100,000 women suffered from this debilitating condition. In 1995 to 2004, that number rose to 54 per 100,000 women. The incidence for men, however, stayed the same. And no one can explain why.
At the turn of the 20th century, rheumatoid-like conditions (i.e. ankylosing spondylitis) were considered to be venereal diseases. A few short years later, urinary infections were deemed to be the cause. By the time steroids transformed treatment, these causes were largely debunked.
"Immunological crossreactivity" is currently the leading theory of RA. This view reinforces the autoimmune nature of the disease. Infectious agents are considered to be the major environmental factors involved in the inflammatory process. The production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, seems to have a major part in the inflammatory response. But the actual triggering mechanism is still unknown.
Other possible causes include hormonal factors which may explain the heightened risk factors for women. Reduced childbearing and breastfeeding (which seem to be contradictory) are associated with elevated prolactin levels.
In addition, there may be a genetic component to RA, abnormal bowel permeability, environmental and lifestyle factors, food allergies, and microorganisms all which lead to a multidimensional disease where any combination of factors may be culpable.
Treatment: Western vs. Eastern Thought
So how does Western medicine treat this painful, debilitating disease? Since the cause is unknown, standard medical therapy works by treating the symptoms - often times successfully. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often well tolerated and inexpensive.
If these drugs are not effective, corticosteroids are prescribed, with prednisone the most frequently prescribed oral corticosteroid. This drug is very effective in the short term in reducing the inflammatory response, but long-term use generally causes more harmful side effects than benefits. Long-term use suppresses the natural production of the corticosteroids by the adrenal glands, and sudden withdrawal of the drugs may lead to collapse, coma and death. Other side effects, over a protracted period of time, may include: depression and other mental/emotional disturbances (this occurs in 57 percent of patients being treated with high doses of prednisone over a long period of time); high blood pressure; diabetes; peptic ulcers; acne; excessive facial hair in women; insomnia; muscle cramps and weakness; thinning and weakening of the skin; osteoporosis; and increased susceptibility to the formation of blood clots.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as hydroxychloroquine, gold therapy penicillamine, etc., are used to slow joint erosion, but their effectiveness is still unproven. One drug that has proven to be effective in delaying joint damage and reducing the inflammation is methotrexate, a drug commonly prescribed for breast cancer and severe psoriasis. This drug works by inhibiting the body's ability to use folic acid which is required for cell production (which is why it is used in instances of cancer.). In RA, the dosage is much lower than for cancer patients, but the side effects still may include gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding; mouth and throat ulcers; hair loss; bone marrow suppression; liver, lung, and kidney damage; increased rate of infections; and higher risk for developing cancer.
Dietary considerations are strongly implicated in cases of RA. Some doctors posit that certain diets might even cause RA. It is interesting to note that the incidence of RA is practically non-existent in cultures and societies that eat a more "primitive" diet while it is found at a high rate in societies that eat a Western diet. A diet rich in whole foods, grains, vegetables and fiber and low in refined foods, sugar, and meat provides the best protection against developing RA. A vegetarian diet showed a substantial reduction in inflammation in many patients tested.
Another interesting factor in the development of RA is altered gastrointestinal gut flora. This is linked not only to RA, but other autoimmune diseases as well. Improper digestion is also suspect. Many patients with RA are deficient in digestive factors such as HCl and pancreatic enzymes resulting in incomplete digestion.
The Eastern interpretation of rheumatoid arthritis is quite different than the allopathic point of view. Arthritis is considered to be a "bi-syndrome" (pronounced "bee") which is a disorder resulting from blocked energy channels, the sluggishness of qi and blood circulation after wind, cold, dampness or heat. The symptoms of bi-syndrome are pain, numbness and heaviness of muscles, tendons and joints, joint swelling, hotness, and limited range of motion.
The wind-dampness-heat type of bi-syndrome is differentiated from the wind-cold-dampness type by its joint redness, swelling, hotness, and pain. An acupuncturist can determine the type of bi-syndrome it is and either disperse the wind and cold, dredge the meridians, and eliminate the dampness, or warm the meridians, disperse the wind and cold, and eliminate the dampness.
Chinese herbs may also be prescribed to support the related organs, nourish the blood and connective tissues, and eliminate the inflammation.
Massage & RA
Massage is never performed in cases of acute inflammatory RA, but can be very effective once the inflammation is controlled. A study by Field, Hernandez-Reif, Seligman, et al (1997) with children with mild to moderate juvenile RA showed that after the parents massaged their children 15 minutes a day for 30 days and a control group practiced relaxation therapy, the massaged group reported less stress and anxiety, less pain, and improved motor activities.
After including regular acupuncture, chiropractic care, dietary restrictions, herbal remedies, and stretching as part of my treatment along with proper medication, I am back on track. Perhaps not as agile and fluid as I once was (who is?), but I've got it under control. And I hope that this episode was my only one...one can hope.
Author note: I want to say a special "thank you" to Kellie White, senior editor, and Kelly Milford, editor, Elsevier Publishing, for their help in researching this article.
Click here for previous articles by Elaine Stillerman, LMT.
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