resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
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.
Teach Your Patients About External Healing Applications
Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing.
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.
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
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.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
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.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
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.
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.
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.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
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.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
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.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.