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Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
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 more information about Erik Dalton, PhD.
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