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Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
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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