resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
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.
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.
February, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 02
Sources of Neck Pain
By Anita Boser, LMP, CHP
Clients usually think that pain is the "X" that marks the problem spot. As therapists, we know the source of pain is often somewhere else. In other words, "Where it is, is where it ain't," a colloquialism attributed to Ida P. Rolf. In the realm of a connective tissue matrix, internal pulls and compensations often create a symptom distant from the source of dysfunction.
As the pinnacle of the spinal cord, the neck has to accommodate for every weakness, imbalance and misalignment below, in addition to resolving direct trauma such as whiplash. There literally are thousands of sources of neck pain. In my practice, two are the most common: limited range of motion in the shoulder girdle and restrictions in the thorax.
Scapular Restrictions Limit Arm Flexion
When raising the arm overhead, the scapula must rotate 60 degrees to achieve full range (180 degrees of flexion). Not only does scapular rotation make full flexion possible, the glenoid cavity is then also in the proper position to provide support to the humerus. See Figure 1. The serratus anterior and upper and lower fibers of the trapezius contract to rotate the scapula. The costal fibers of the pectoralis major, the latissimus dorsi, and levator scapula also need to lengthen.
If the scapula can't fully rotate, the body will get the job done another way, usually by elevating the entire shoulder girdle. The levator then activates when it should release, and the scalene muscles often contract in an effort to assist. See Figure 2. The result is rigidity in the neck at the trapezius, levator and scalene cervical attachment sites, and often trigger points in the rotator cuff muscles which have to work through abnormal alignment.
Allow for Extension, Latissimus Dorsi
With your client on your table in a side-lying position, ask him to raise his upper arm in front of him and then up alongside his ear. Observe the rotation of the scapula. When the inferior angle stops moving anteriorly and superiorly assist the movement with a stroke to lengthen the latissimus and increase proper rotation of the scapula as you direct your client to rotate his elbow toward the ceiling. See Figure 3. (If the client's movement is very limited and/or his arm is weak, place a pillow under the upper arm to help support the weight.)
Scapula Coordination, Serratus Anterior
Turn your attention next to the serratus anterior. Have your client bend his elbow and place his hand on the table in front of his face or even under his head. With the back of your hand or soft fingertips, contact the fibers of the serratus on the lateral ribs. Ask your client to press into his entire hand so that the elbow moves slightly away from the shoulder joint. Feel for where the serratus is stuck or inhibited and use your touch to facilitate functional involvement. See Figure 4.
That's the Spot, Levator Scapula and Trapezius
Your client will certainly appreciate it if you address the adhesions that have most likely developed between the upper trapezius and the levator scapula. First release the superior edge of the trapezius from any underlying adhesions. Then, as your client extends his arm overhead again, release the levator, starting at its tendinous attachment to the scapular superior angle and directing it inferiorly. It also helps to work the length of the levator to its attachments on the transverse processes of the cervical spine, which are just posterior to the attachments of the scalene muscles, which will want some attention, too.
Thoracic Spine Immobility
While restrictions in the shoulder girdle place extra stress on the neck, lack of mobility in the thoracic spine often causes the cervical spine to exceed its range of motion. For example, if all of the motion to look over the shoulder, to side bend, or to look down comes from the neck, then the cervical spine muscles and ligaments get overworked and overstretched. The result is increasing stiffness as a means of protection.
Get in the Laminar Groove
The answer is to mobilize the thoracic spine and ribs, usually from T1 to T8. With your client in a sidelying position, you can use your knuckles to extricate the spinalis and paraspinal muscles at their attachments to the transverse and spinous processes. As you work, have your client make small unstructured movements under your hands. Use your pressure to stimulate the erectors and paraspinals and encourage more glide in the layers of tissue. Follow through to release restrictions in the myofascia between the ribs from their attachments to the transverse processes all the way to the sternum.
Shoulder restrictions and thoracic spine immobility are obviously not the only sources of neck pain, but adding these two assessments to your tool chest will expand your therapeutic potential and maybe even your reputation as a miracle worker.
Anita Boser graduated from the Institute of Structural Medicine and practices in Issaquah, Wash. She is the author of Relieve Stiffness and Feel Young Again With Undulation and Undulation Exercises. The exercises in this article are excerpted from her book. You can contact Anita at
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