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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
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?
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.
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.
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.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
September, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 09
Soft Tissue Pain: Calcific Tendinitis
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Calcific tendinitis in the shoulder is a soft-tissue pain complaint that may be acute but is usually chronic, and affects the rotator cuff tendons. Its symptoms somewhat mimic other conditions such as adhesive capsulitis, rotator cuff disorders, shoulder impingement syndrome, or traditional tendinitis characterized by tendon fiber inflammation.Because of these similar symptoms, knowing the evaluation procedures that will distinguish this condition from others is a priority for treatment. Treatment strategies also differ so attention to the particular treatment protocols for this condition is necessary for pain resolution or management.
Calcium deposits can accumulate in any tendon, but occur most often in the supraspinatus, but also the infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis tendons (in that order) (Fig. 1). Calcium deposits develop for no apparent reason (idiopathically), and may disappear and reabsorb without intervention.
Sometimes the tendon tissue gradually returns to normal and the calcium deposits reabsorb. In chronic calcific tendinitis, the healing process is interrupted and the condition becomes exacerbated, prolonged, and deposits may continue to develop. In some cases, there may be compression of the supraspinatus tendon fibers against the underside of the acromion process. However, there is controversy about whether the impingement process contributes to tendon pathology.
Some cases of calcific tendinitis have an active inflammatory process, but research has yet to provide a cause. It may be that it is the inflammatory process that produces the calcium deposits, but inflammation may also result from their development. In either case, inflammation may not be apparent as it may reside under the acromion process. Anti-inflammatory medications, both oral and injected, are often successfully used to provide pain relief, so this would indicate some inflammatory process.
Calcific tendinitis can be mistaken for other shoulder pathologies including adhesive capsulitis, shoulder impingement, bursitis, rotator cuff tears, or other disorders. Evaluating for calcium deposits is usually done through the history and physical exam because they may not show up in X-rays. However, both X-ray and ultrasound are sometimes used for diagnosis.
The relationship between calcium deposits and pain is unpredictable, as there are people who have deposits yet no symptoms of pain or limitation in movement. Nor does there seem to be a direct correlation between the size of the calcium deposit and the amount of pain it produces. For those who do have symptoms, pain can present rapidly - frequently within 24-48 hours - and be severe. Pain is usually described as deep or throbbing in nature (similar to a toothache).
This presentation is in sharp contrast to overuse conditions in the shoulder where symptoms emerge gradually and are more clearly a result of repetitive overuse. Calcific tendinitis pain usually increases in a short period of time, and motion of the shoulder may aggravate the pain. In addition, resting the affected joint often resolves the pain of classic impingement and tendinitis complaints. With calcific tendinitis pain may persist even with a significant period of rest from activities that are painful.
With classic supraspinatus tendinitis, pain is most likely to be exaggerated with abduction of the shoulder, either with active motion or resisted abduction. In calcific tendinitis, pain is not as dependent on activity or movement; though movement can increase the pain, it can also occur when the arm is motionless at the client's side.
Particularly notable with calcific tendinitis is pain with palpation over the greater tuberosity of the humerus (Fig. 2). Pain is not predominant at the greater tuberosity of the humerus with other types of rotator cuff problems. For example, with shoulder impingement syndrome pain may be felt under the acromion process with the arm abducted. But if the greater tuberosity is palpated with the shoulder in a neutral position, there won't be as much discomfort if shoulder impingement is the problem. In contrast, palpation of this area is likely to be very painful with calcific tendinitis.
Calcific tendinitis can be distinguished from adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder as there is no capsular pattern with this condition. The capsular pattern of restriction (greatest motion limitations in lateral rotation and then abduction) is a primary criteria for evaluation in the frozen shoulder. Shoulder bursitis can produce pain with various motions, but is usually not aggravated with resisted shoulder abduction. The resisted abduction usually increases discomfort in calcific tendinitis.
Treatment for calcific tendinitis differs from treatment of other shoulder disorders. A predictable pathological process has not been identified, and natural resolution of the condition can take years (3 to more than 10, with sometimes no improvement). It is generally dealt with conservatively, using non-operative modalities and with many cases responding positively to some of these approaches. Anti-inflammatories and steroid injections are usually recommended, along with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and physical therapy, but these have limited benefit for this condition. Rest from offending activities also doesn't result in much improvement.
Ultrasound has shown the most positive results, but recent research indicates higher levels of ultrasound are required for improvement and that little to no improvement results from lower levels. Another recent study resulted in complete dissolution of the calcium deposits in 86.6 percent of treatment subjects with application of radial shock wave therapy, which is an application of a low- to medium-energy shock wave to the affected tissues.1 These modalities both aim to break up the calcium deposits.
A role for massage for calcific tendinitis has not been determined at this point. A study from 1999 found deep friction massage treatment combined with phonophoresis to be beneficial.2 Phonophoresis uses ultrasound to drive medication (usually anti-inflammatory medication) into the skin. More research is needed to evaluate the two treatments individually. Even if deep friction massage could possibly function to break up calcification in the tissue, it would likely be uncomfortable for the client.
Further, massage could aggravate the client's condition. For this reason, applying direct massage on tendons with calcifications is not recommended. If calcific tendinitis is suspected, the massage practitioner should refer the client to a physician. However massage could be used for general pain relief in associated tissues and general relaxation, unless it produces pain. Because calcific tendinitis can lead to frozen shoulder from restricted mobility, massage (in the non-calcified tissues) and passive range of motion may be used as prevention by keeping the shoulder mobile.
Finally, complicated cases may be treated by a physician with a needling technique if conservative treatments have provided no pain relief or benefit. This is a technique in which a hypodermic needle is inserted into the calcium deposit. The needle is then used like a probe to break up the calcified deposits in the tendon tissue. A local anesthetic or corticosteroids are used in conjunction.
An individual with calcific tendinitis may seek the help of a massage practitioner believing they have some other type of pain condition in the shoulder. If the pain pattern for that individual is similar to that described above, calcific tendinitis should be considered. Thorough assessment and evaluation will be helpful to discriminate between calcific tendinitis and other soft-tissue disorders such as rotator cuff pathology, impingement, or adhesive capsulitis. Making these distinctions is important for this condition. Clients suspected to have calcific tendinitis should be referred to a physician, even if the client chooses to continue massage for mild pain relief.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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