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It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
Adjusting the Occiput on the Atlas
You may never see a particular set of patients in your office – the ones who are either afraid of neck adjustments or have had a bad experience. A vast majority of those who had a bad experience did not have a life-threatening vascular event.
We Get Letters & E-Mail
We Have Come a Long Way – But There's a Long Way to Go; Grounded and Connected.
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
Leg Length and Pelvic Fixations
A common component of low back pain is sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Signs of SIJ dysfunction can include fixation with reduced range of motion, and localized pain or joint laxity and inflammation.
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
Joint Supplements for Athletes (Part 1)
Maintaining joint health should be a daily focus for athletes. Joint health is a complex issue for everyone, but for athletes it poses a greater concern.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
A New Era of Injury Awareness Means a New Focus on Prevention
Despite a dramatic Super Bowl last month, the National Football League has taken quite a few hits lately concerning player injuries, particularly concussions.
What's Triggering That Point?
An orthopedic friend recently saw a patient of mine. He felt an injection of a trigger point (TP) at the upper trapezius and surrounding areas was necessary, since that was the patient's area of chief complaint and there was a tender, radiating nodule.
The Easy Way to Learn How to Document ICD-10
The 2015 Work Plan for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) includes a focus on chiropractic services. This means chiropractors can expect to see more audits and reviews in the coming year because private payers pay attention to the OIG's focus as well.
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Online Efforts That Convert Traffic Into Patients
Most chiropractors are using "dinner with the doc," "refer a friend," customer appreciation days, grand openings, health fairs, chamber of commerce meetings, and other networking events to get new patients.
Connections Worth Making
"If most doctors are like me, [they are] isolated physically and professionally. I do not make the time to connect with other doctors and also a lot of doctors do not want to be connected for a lot of reasons. Dynamic Chiropractic keeps me grounded and connected.
May, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 05
Understanding Central Sensitization and Pain
By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO
Central sensitization is defined as 'an augmentation of responsiveness of central pain-signalling neurons to input from low-threshold mechanoreceptors' (Nijs 2009). The evolution of chronic pain has been shown to have strong association with the process of central sensitization, in which there is enhanced sensitivity to various modes of painful and non-painful stimuli (Buchgreitz et al 2006).
Staud (2006) has described the ways in which peripheral pain impulses can lead to central sensitization. In many chronic pain states, including chronic migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia syndrome, repetitive, persistent or recurrent peripheral nociceptive features can lead to neuroplastic changes in the spinal cord and brain, that results in central sensitization and consequent pain.
Yi-Meng Xu et al (2010) have explained that even the nociceptive input from latent trigger points can contribute to central sensitization, and that only minimal nociceptive input (resulting from touch, pressure or heat) may be required to maintain the chronic pain state, once central sensitization has evolved.
A generalized central sensitization is identified as operating in fibromyalgia syndrome which is also common accompanying diagnosis in patients with chronic headache. Yunus (2007) has described the overlap of a number of chronic pain as Central Sensitivity Syndromes - asserting that in such conditions hyperexitability exists of central neurons resulting from the influence of various neurotransmitter and neurochemical activities, with this (central sensitization) itself being contingent - for both development and maintenance – on abnormal or continued peripheral inputs.
Background to sensitization
Selye (1984) defined both the general adaptation syndrome (GAS) affecting the individual as a whole, and the local adaptation syndrome (LAS), affecting a local area of the body that is subjected to stressors demanding adaptation. The GAS and LAS models explain how adaptation progresses, over time, with modifications to function occurring, leading eventually to adaptive capacity becoming exhausted, and symptoms emerging.
Neuromusculoskeletal adaptive changes involved in such processes can be seen to represent a record of the body's attempts to adapt and adjust to the multiple and varied stresses which have been imposed upon it, over time. The results of repeated postural and traumatic insults over a lifetime, combined with the somatic effects of emotional and psychological origin, will often present a confusing pattern of tense, shortened, bunched, fatigued and, ultimately, fibrous soft-tissues. Some of the many forms of biomechanical stressors that affect the body include the following (Lewit 2009).
Widespread functional changes develop – for example, affecting respiratory function and posture – with implications for the total economy of the body. (Timmons & Ley 1994) In the presence of a constant neurological feedback of impulses to the CNS/brain, from neural reporting stations, there will be increased levels of psychological arousal and a reduction in the ability of the individual, or local hypertonic tissues, to relax effectively, with consequent reinforcement of hypertonicity, and inevitably relative ischemia – an environment ideal for myofascial trigger point evolution (Shah 2005).
Functional patterns of use, of a biologically unsustainable nature, are likely to evolve, leading to chronic musculoskeletal problems and pain. (Crockett et al 2002) At this stage, restoration of normal function would require therapeutic input to address both the multiple changes that have occurred, as well as there being a need for re-education of the individual as to how to use the body, to breathe, and to display posture in more sustainable ways.
For more on the topic of adaptation the following two links will take you to some of my blog postings on this subject:
Soft tissue changes
Soft-tissue changes involving pain, hyper- or hypotonicity, joint dysfunction, antagonist muscle imbalances, overactive synergist muscles, lead to localized areas of hyper-reactivity, in the form of myofascial trigger points, and/or neural entrapment. (Lewit 2009) Additionally, pain due to damage or inflammation of peripheral tissues is clearly capable of causing chronic widespread pain. Another example of a local musculoskeletal disorder associated with chronic pain, frequently seen in manual therapy practice, is arthritis, possibly causing continuous activation of local nociceptors that initiate or sustain, central sensitization.
Reducing the nociceptive barrage Yunus (2007) has suggested that effective manual therapy in sub-acute cases of musculoskeletal dysfunction should be capable of limiting the afferent barrage of noxious input to the central nervous system, so preventing chronicity. Nijs et al (2009) goes further and affirms the importance of decreasing the afferent nociceptive barrage of trigger points, by means of soft-tissue mobilization, in comprehensive care of cases of chronic pain.
Neuromuscular therapies (NMT) aim to reduce the effects of adaptation/compensation as described above, by enhancing musculoskeletal function – including improved posture, respiratory function, and general mobility and stability, and by reducing noxious inputs resulting from the active presence of, for example, myofascial trigger points.
Recognizing Central Sensitization in patients Nijls et al (2010) have summarized the many associated features of central sensitization;
The presence of some or all of these symptom, together with information gathered during the history taking and the medical diagnosis, and confirmatory results from assessments listed below, can all help in recognition of the existence, in a given patient, of central sensitization. In this assessment the following tests have been suggested (Yunus 2007):
Symptom exacerbation, at both symptomatic and distant sites, indicates central sensitization. It is important to note that a variety of other indications may also suggest this, including increased pain during, or following, exercise
A fundamental principle emerges from current understanding of the sensitization process – sensitization can be reversed.
Affaitati et al (2011) have clearly demonstrated – in fibromyalgia - that therapeutic strategies that reduce the overall stress burden, whether these relate to biomechanics, biochemistry or psychosocial features, will reduce central sensitization.
Click here for more information about Leon Chaitow, ND, DO.
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