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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
March, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 03
Hip Abductors: A Pain in the . . .
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Pain in the lateral hip, thigh, and leg can cause serious, sometimes debilitating discomfort. These complaints are often diagnosed as an inflammatory joint problem such as trochanteric bursitis.Yet, the problem may revolve around dysfunction in the hip abductor muscles and not be bursitis at all. When the hip abductor muscles are the root of the problem, massage therapy is an exceptional way to bring your clients relief and get them back to full activity levels.
Anatomy & Physiology
The primary hip abductors are the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and the tensor fasciae latae muscles. (Figures 1, 2, 3) Each of the three muscles has a proximal attachment on the lateral aspect of the ilium. Distally, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles attach to the greater trochanter of the femur, while the tensor fasciae latae muscle inserts into the iliotibial band.
There are bursas underneath the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles to prevent excess friction between their distal tendons and the femur. People with lateral hip pain are often diagnosed with trochanteric bursitis, although the bursa is often not to blame.
There are some clear differences between an inflamed bursa and other muscular problems that help the practitioner make an accurate distinction.
All three hip abductors are innervated by the superior gluteal nerve. The superior gluteal nerve has its nerve roots at the L4 through S-1 levels. These spinal segments are also the most common levels for lumbar disc herniations. If a disc or other tissue is pressing on nerve roots, there may be corresponding weakness or atrophy in the hip abductors innervated by the superior gluteal nerve. Consequently, lumbar disc pathology could produce hip muscle dysfunction and should be considered in a thorough evaluation. The superior gluteal nerve can also be compressed by the piriformis muscle as a form of piriformis syndrome. Nerve compression by the piriformis would have the similar effect of hip abductor weakness.
The three muscles mentioned above are primarily hip abductors. However, they also have other important biomechanical functions. For example, the tensor fasciae latae has a primary role in maintaining tension on the iliotibial band to help with knee stabilization. The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are crucial for lateral pelvis stabilization. In fact, the primary function of the gluteus medius is to stabilize the pelvis during locomotion when weight is fully on the same-side lower extremity. If the gluteus medius and minimus are weak or atrophied, the pelvis will drop to the opposite side when you bear full weight on the same side during locomotion. This dysfunctional postural pattern is referred to as the Trendelenburg sign (Figure 4).
Biomechanical problems in other regions of the body can also cause problems for the hip abductors. The Morton's foot, which is indicated by a long second metatarsal and short first metatarsal, may lead to myofascial trigger points in the gluteus medius muscle.1 The trigger point development results from attempted compensations by the hip abductor muscles. Leg length discrepancies as well as other postural dysfunctions throughout the body can also cause myofascial trigger points or mechanical dysfunction with the hip abductor muscle group. Consequently, it is crucial to treat these muscles in many trunk, pelvis, or lower extremity complaints.
Hip Abductor Pathology
Chronic tightness or trigger points in the hip abductor muscles are frequently misinterpreted as other pathologies. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction produces pain in a region similar to the referred pain pattern from the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles. However, careful assessment strategies can help make a distinction. If the pain is reproduced by palpation of the muscle tissue, these muscles are more likely at fault. If pain is reproduced with tests that stress the sacroiliac joint, joint pathology is more likely the culprit.
When dysfunctional, the hip abductors produce pain with walking as well as pain lying on the affected side at night. The pain may be local in the lateral hip region or it may refer into the trigger point reference zone of the muscles. Interestingly, even though the gluteus minimus muscle is smaller than the gluteus medius, pain from the gluteus minimus frequently extends down the entire length of the lower extremity. The pain referral pattern from the gluteus medius is usually limited to the gluteal or thigh region only.
The pain pattern for the gluteus minimus muscle is surprisingly similar to the pain felt from sciatic nerve dysfunction. As a result, gluteus minimus dysfunction is often misdiagnosed as sciatic nerve pathology. If the client's pain complaint is reproduced when pressing directly on the hip abductor muscles, it is more likely a hip abductor issue. Other assessment processes apply stress to the sciatic nerve and if those procedures produce more pain, it would more likely indicate the sciatic nerve as the primary source of the problem.
However, keep in mind that it would not be uncommon to have hip abductor problems along with a sciatic nerve dysfunction.
Another potential problem that may be confused with hip abductor pathology is trochanteric bursitis. This bursitis affects either of the primary two bursas underneath the gluteus medius or gluteus minimus muscles. Trochanteric bursitis may occur from pressure or impact on the lateral hip or even from metabolic disorders that cause inflammation of the bursa. In bursitis complaints there is significant point tenderness directly over the lateral hip region when pressing near the greater trochanter of the femur and not as much pain directly in the belly of the muscles. If the hip muscles are at fault, pain is more significant when pressing directly into the belly of those muscles and less near their attachment points.
Hip abductor muscle pain frequently develops from long periods of immobilization with the muscles in a shortened position. Sitting at a desk for long periods (like me writing this article) is a good example of an activity that could aggravate the hip abductors.
However, long periods of sitting could also produce lateral hip pain from other causes such as meralgia paresthetica, which is lateral thigh pain from entrapment of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Clearly, it is paramount to be thorough in your assessment so you can accurately determine which tissues are primarily at fault and what type of massage treatment, if any, would be most helpful.
It is important to treat the hip abductor muscles in these different hip, pelvis, and lower leg complaints. Superficial applications will not address these muscles effectively. For example, the gluteus minimus and medius are deep to other thick muscles, so it takes specific techniques applied correctly to work effectively at those deeper levels.
Active engagement (AE) techniques are particularly helpful in situations like this where you have to work on a very deep muscle through thick muscle layers. By engaging the muscle actively in a contraction, its density increases, and the pressure you deliver is much more effective. You don't have to work as hard with your pressure and the technique is more effective in treating the muscle.
Two AE techniques that are particularly helpful in treating hip abductor dysfunction are compression with active engagement and a pin and stretch technique. There are different variations on each of these techniques, but they both use active contraction or movement of the muscle along with the massage technique in order to enhance the effectiveness and depth of pressure in the applied stroke. You can see narrated video clips of these techniques by visiting the following Web site: www.omeri.com/video.
The hip and pelvis region has crucial biomechanical and anatomical connections with many different regions of the body. The hip abductor muscles are often overlooked and should be addressed for thorough treatment of soft-tissue pain complaints in this region. Using sound assessment principles and these specific treatment techniques will greatly aid your ability to help numerous clients with these complaints.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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