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A Chiropractor's Guide to Yoga
"Doctor, can I continue to do yoga while undergoing your care?" "Is it OK for me to go back to yoga while I'm getting my back treated?" "It is safe to start my yoga classes again after my neck pain improves?"
The Short Leg Dilemma
When evaluating a new patient, it is common to note a relative shortening of one leg to the other. Some patients will even tell you they have one, and then pull out the store-bought heel lift they read about online.
Oriental Medicine on the World Stage
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." This simple, yet powerful statement was lived out time and time again by so many of the athletes from around the world during the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
Harvard Health References Flawed AHA Position Paper
In its special health report, "Stroke: Diagnosing, Treating, and Recovering From a 'Brain Attack,'" Harvard Health Publications includes information from the American Heart Association's 2014 position statement on cervical manipulation and cervical dissection – a statement the American Chiropractic Association emphasized in a letter to Harvard Health mixes "scientific facts with half-truths."
Do Some Good and Grow Your Business with Cause Marketing
Cause marketing is truly one of the best ways that you can promote your services as a acupuncture professional. Cause marketing refers to a type of marketing where a business partners with a non-profit organization to help bring awareness to a charitable cause.
Practice Policy (Gone Bad): The Sign
Every once in a while, you see something and think to yourself, That's a really bad idea. Case in point: I went to see my medical doctor the other day. Just after being "roomed," as they say, the nurse checked my vital signs. Then she left.
Modernization of Chinese Medicine
Language – written, spoken, signed, or otherwise is learned as a means to express our individualized perceptions about the world around us. Language is designed to communicate our personal experiences.
Change Lives by Supporting Chiropractic Research: Are You In?
The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR), in celebration of its 20th anniversary, has announced it is spearheading a fund-raising campaign to support chiropractic research.
Fish Oil: A Key Component of Positive Clinical Outcomes
Patients seem to be presenting with more complex problems, and many are responding to care more slowly or have completely unexpected results. Why?
News in Brief
Call for Abstracts Announced - Parker Las Vegas 2016; Logan Adds Doctorate Degree; New Role for Dr. James Edwards.
What's Chiropractic Research Worth to You?
The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR), in celebration of its 20th anniversary, has announced it is spearheading a fundraising campaign to support chiropractic research.
Practicing with Authenticity
To extrapolate from the above quote, patients love healthcare providers they can trust. One way to earn the trust of your patients is by practicing with authenticity. What does that mean, exactly?
Acupuncture Rising: From Acupuncture Anesthesia to Assisted-IVF, Part 1
Acupuncture's cultural and historical roots go back to the emergence of Chinese civilization. For more than 2,000 years, acupuncture needling has been continuously practiced on the largest population in the world.
Patient-Centered Care vs. Payer Restrictions: Your Ethical Obligation
Do you have an ethical obligation to evaluate your patients, make a diagnosis and provide evidence-based, patient-centered health care, irrelevant to the payer restrictions?
Surprising Reasons for Orthotic Efficacy
Clinical outcome studies show orthotics are effective in the management of a wide range of injuries, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis and patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Improving Communication Between AOM and Biomedical Providers
How comfortable do you feel talking to Western medical providers? If you are like me, you may not feel as comfortable as you would like. Some of my interactions with MD's haven't been the fruitful steps toward integrative medicine for which I had hoped.
Dorsiflexion Dysfunction: Evaluation & Manipulation Techniques
Almost every condition from the foot to the hip can be attributed to the inability to dorsiflex the ankle mortice and other joints that participate in dorsiflexion. Let's start by understanding normal versus abnormal dorsiflexion.
Healing Trauma: Cultivating Resilience and Presence Through Mindfulness, Part 2
In the last issue of Acupuncture Today, the first part of this article introduced the topic of trauma and resilience, and their relationship to the autonomic nervous system response and the concept of the spirit being grounded in the body, and suggested the importance of mindfulness as a tool for healing.
The Food Conversation: Nutrition and Your Practice
It's morning and your first patient rolls in with a triple espresso steaming in one hand and a frazzled, desperate look in her eye. "You gotta help me, doc, I am constipated unless I drink one of these, and I am exhausted and anxious all the time."
An Acupuncturist's View of Medicinal Marijuana
The use of cannabis for medical purposes is very controversial. Use as a panacea by physicians uninitiated to the proper application of herbal medicine, as well as an excuse for recreational use have greatly confused the issue.
Help: A Need at Every Level
One of the great gifts of training in acupuncture is the ability to take good care of oneself. I recently had a bout of frozen shoulder — an inflammatory syndrome which can be debilitatingly painful and take years to resolve.
The New Age of Communication
In the age of technology, everyone, including the patient, is seeking faster, easier ways to communicate. With a wealth of social media, blogs, websites and videos, we are constantly barraged with information – to the point of overload.
The Zen Art of "One Point"
We were always told in our Zen Shiatsu training (by Japanese and Japanese American instructors) that our ultimate aim was to to find that "One Point." To be so focused we could touch just one point to transform Qi throughout a client's body.
Getting a YES: An Effective Strategy for Overcoming Patient Objections
Patients make more excuses for declining care from an acupuncturist than perhaps any other type of doctor. Various reasons hold them back from making a commitment to care.
More Chiropractors Required
An intriguing study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine examines how "chiropractic care affects use of primary care physician (PCP) services."
Fertility and Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Starting or expanding one's family is a major milestone. It's something that more and more people seek out health care advice and support for.
June, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 06
The 42-Pound Head
By Erik Dalton, PhD
"For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds." Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3
It's not uncommon to have clients walk into your office sporting a 12-pound head that's migrated three inches forward of their shoulders. You know prior to palpation that their cervical extensors (semispinalis, splenii, longissimus and upper traps) are in a losing battle attempting to isometrically restrain 42 pounds against the unrelenting force of gravity. (Fig. 1) Rene Cailliet, MD, former director of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Southern California wrote:
The body follows the head. Therefore, the entire body is best aligned by first restoring proper functional alignment to the head".1
The effects of poor posture go far beyond just looking awkward. In fact, the January, 2004 issue of the American Journal of Pain Management reported on the relationship of poor posture and chronic pain conditions including low back pain, neck related headaches, and stress-related illnesses. "The extra pressure imposed on the neck from poor posture flattens the normal cervical curve resulting in abnormal strain on muscles, ligaments, fascia and bones."2 Research presented at the 31st International Conference of the IEEE EMBS Minneapolis (2009) stated; "Over time poor posture results in pain, muscle aches, tension and headache and can lead to long-term complications such as osteoarthritis. Forward head carriage may promote accelerated aging of intervertebral joints resulting in degenerative joint disease."3 (Fig. 3). It appears posture impacts and modulates all bodily functions from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the many conditions influenced by faulty posture.
Additionally, Dr. Roger Sperry demonstrated that 90 percent of the brain's energy output is used in relating the physical body to gravity. Only 10 percent has to do with thinking, metabolism, and healing.4 Consequently, a FHP will cause the brain to rob energy from thinking, metabolism, and immune function to deal with abnormal gravity/posture relationships and processing. The March 2000 Mayo Clinic Health Letter expounded on Sperry's findings by reporting that prolonged FHP also leads to "myospasm, disc herniations, arthritis and pinched nerves." Degenerative neck pain goes hand-in-hand with balance problems especially in the elderly. Sensitive cervical spine mechanoreceptors govern the body's ability to balance and must be perfectly coordinated with the inner ear's vestibular balance system to stabilize equilibrium in both static posture and gait. Keeping the eyes looking forward is a basic life-preserving reflex, and as such, dominates nearly all other postural considerations. Proprioceptive signals from the first 4 cervical vertebrae are a major source of stimuli for regulating the body's pain-controlling chemicals (endorphins). FHP dramatically reduces endorphin production by limiting the cervical spine's range of motion. Inadequate endorphin production up-regulates the central nervous system causing non painful sensations to be experienced as pain. Figure 4 shows a couple of good mobilization techniques to restore joint-play to upper cervical fixated facets.
Dr. Alf Breig, a Swedish neurosurgeon and Nobel Prize recipient coined the termed 'adverse neural tension' to describe the mechanism by which loss of normal cervical lordotic curve creates dysfunction and disease.5 Through cadaver studies, Dr. Breig demonstrated that neck flexion could stretch the spinal cord 5-7 cm causing tensioning of the meninges (covering of the brain and spinal cord) and elicit measurable pressure on brain-stem nuclei (nerve control centers) which control all basic life functions. The increased compression led to dysregulation of basic metabolic control functions. Recall that the spinal cord is actually only "tethered" to the bony skeleton in the upper cervical and lowest sacral areas (top and bottom ends of the spine). In between these polar attachments, the spinal cord is relatively free to move up and down. Free-floating mobility of the cord is essential in allowing bending and twisting of our bodies. Anything that reduces that freedom, i.e., exaggerated or flattened spinal curves, dural impingement, etc. increases cord and brain stem tension. Increased tensile stress on the cord and brain stem not only interferes with the control of basic body processes such as breathing and motor control but in cases of dural impingement, may encourage painful cervical radiculopathies.
Identifying Common Compensatory Patterns
Fortunately, the legendary biomedical researcher Vladimir Janda, MD has helped simplify assessment of commonly seen muscle imbalance patterns consistent with FHP. Janda's Upper Crossed Syndrome (Fig. 5) is characterized by overactivity or tightness in the upper trapezius, levator, suboccipitals. sternocleidomastoids and pectoralis major and reciprocal weakness of the deep neck flexors and lower scapular stabilizers. Trained therapists visually recognize this aberrant pattern through postural and gait analysis and kinesthetically through tissue palpation and muscle length testing. Unfortunately, as normal movement patterns are altered by persistent pain, joint fixations or muscle imbalances, new neuronal pathways are burned into the central nervous system and gradually memorized as normal (neuroplasticity). Any deviation of normal head and neck movement alters precise firing order patterns causing the prime mover to be slow to activate. Substitution patterns develop as synergistic stabilizing muscles are recruited to do the job of the prime mover. Some believe the first step in restoring proper muscle balance is to mobilize dysfunctional joints to help reprogram these garbled neuromuscular pathways. Once normal joint play is established and muscle splinting removed, structural integrative soft tissue work creates functional length/strength balance. Correction of Upper Crossed neck posture is key to stopping and possibly reversing decay, degenerative changes and pain from headaches, rib dysfunction, TMJ, and Dowager's Humps...but it takes time and a concerted effort to repair the damage caused by faulty neck posture.
Often seen as a structurally subtle body segment, the neck is burdened with the challenging task of supporting and moving the human head. Because of tension, trauma and poor postural habits inherent in today's workplace, it comes as no surprise that head-on-neck and neck-on-thorax disorders rank high among the most common pain generators driving people into bodywork practices. When spinal tissues are exposed to continued compression, they deform and go through a transformation that can become permanent. Correction of Upper Crossed neck posture is key to stopping and reversing degenerative joint disease and pain from headaches, rib dysfunction, TMJ, and Dowager's Humps. English philosopher Bertrand Russell once stated, "A physical system expresses its energy through function". Any loss of function sets off reactions within the body's open, dynamic system which manifests as structural abnormalities...and vice-versa. When treating functional problems such as loss of joint play, therapists must look beyond the symptoms and the artificial dividing of the body into systems and treat the whole.
Click here for previous articles by Erik Dalton, PhD.
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