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Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
February, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 02
Chasing the Pain, Part 2
A Look at Depression
By Rita Woods, LMT
In my past article "Chasing the Pain", I reported that pain (especially leg pain) may be the result of medications your clients are taking. A thorough medical intake questionnaire that includes medications is imperative for customizing and evaluating your massage plan for each client.Identifying the cause of pain and plan of treatment involves more than subjective and objective observations.
You must begin to look beyond the obvious and consider a wider range of potential causes for their pain. This is especially true if you are not getting the positive results you had expected with your treatment plan. Today, I'm adding another perspective to chasing the pain: depression.
You've probably seen the TV commercial with the slogan: "Depression Hurts". It's an advertisement for a medication used to treat depression. Pain and depression are closely related. They share many of the same neurotransmitters and nerve pathways. Major depression and chronic pain can become a vicious cycle.
On average, 65 percent of depressed people also complain of pain. Chronic pain can lead to depression as it disrupts your daily activities, eating habits, personality and behavior and sleep patterns. In the U.S., 32 million people report pain lasting longer than one year, often without a known physical cause. In primary care practices, up to 80 percent of depressed patients present exclusively with physical symptoms that can include: headache, abdominal pain, and musculoskeletal pains in the lower back, joints, and neck.1
The following is a typical post I found when researching what people actually feel when they are depressed:
"I don't even know where to begin. I'm finding myself getting mad over the smallest things. I find myself crying afterwards because I feel I'm hurting my family. I don't think I'm a good husband or father and I don't understand why my family even wants me around... I would like to add I have this lower back pain that came from nowhere, meaning I didn't do anything physical to cause it, and it is pretty bad."
The low back pain described by this man is not uncommon in people suffering from depression. If he were to come into your massage practice hoping that you could ease or alleviate his low back pain, it would be helpful for you to know he suffers from depression.
Remember that some of the overlap between depression and chronic pain can be explained by biology as they share some of the same neurotransmitters (chemical messengers traveling between nerves). They also share some of the same nerve pathways. According to a Harvard Health publication, almost every drug used in psychiatry can also serve as a pain medication. This is a true mind-body connection.
Massage Therapy and Depression
For the purposes of this article, I will over-simplify that process and focus only on issues that fall within our scope of practice. As massage therapists, we do not deal with emotional and psychological issues but we know from research that massage can help lessen feelings of anxiety, stress and depression. The neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin (among others), help regulate mood and the perception of pain. Neurotransmitters follow both an ascending and descending pathway, some traveling through the brain and some through the spinal column.
When the regulation of these neurotransmitters fails many things can happen including depression and the sensation of pain. Even if there is no physical reason for the pain, the brain senses pain due to the disruption of the neurotransmitters following the nerve pathways. The NIH reports that clinical investigators have tested chronic pain patients and found that they often have lower-than-normal levels of endorphins in their spinal fluid.
Let's be clear, I'm not saying that all people with pain are automatically depressed, nor all people who are depressed have physical pain. But with the predominance of stress and depression in today's world, you will certainly have some clients suffering from pain that is related to their neurochemistry and not a physical injury. Your treatment plan should include types of massage geared at reducing stress chemicals and increasing the pain-relieving and mood-enhancing chemistry. Instead of chasing the pain, you should reevaluate your treatment plan if the client is showing no signs of improvement.
Swedish massage in particular may enhance well-being by stimulating the release of endorphins (natural painkillers and mood elevators) and reducing levels of certain stress hormones. Additionally, the researchers at the School of Medicine at UCLA found that participants who received a single Swedish massage session had a significant decrease in the hormone arginine-vasopressin (which plays a role in regulating blood pressure and water retention).
In a group of studies by the Touch Research Institute which included about 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage. Massage therapy lowered levels by up to 53 percent. Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help reduce depression. Massaged subjects were less depressed and anxious and showed behavioral and stress hormone changes including a decrease in anxious behavior.
Once again, it's important to emphasize the importance of your client's intake form. Include questions about anxiety, stress and depression. Having this knowledge may help you establish a more successful treatment plan and achieve greater benefits for your client. January and February are typically the worst months for people who suffer from a specific type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). So now is a good time to call your clients and remind them to make an appointment.
Click here for previous articles by Rita Woods, LMT.
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