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It's Time to Review
It is amazing to see the changes that are occurring in the acupuncture profession. Let's look at some of the news and events that have contributed to this growth and awareness.
The Modern Application of Ancient Mei Rong
Chinese Medical Cosmetology (Mei Rong) has a well-documented and venerated history dating back to the Qin (221-206 BC) Dynasty.
Acupuncture Rising: From Acupuncture Anesthesia to Assisted-IVF, Part 2
Acupuncture's cultural and historical roots go back to the emergence of Chinese civilization. For more than 2,000 years, acupuncture needling has been continuously practiced on the largest population in the world.
Mechanism: Experimental Approaches to Understanding Acupuncture, Part 1
The clinical benefits of acupuncture are difficult to ignore, but also can be difficult to explain to a Western audience. For nearly 50 years, relentlessly inquisitive scientists and physicians have been working toward a conceptual model to explain acupuncture.
One Size Does Not Fit All: Exercise and Nutrition According to Your Yin/Yang Body Type
There are countless new exercise and nutrition plans out there, emphasizing the latest ground-breaking research and claiming to revolutionize the way we view health.
Omega-3 Fish Oil: An Underappreciated Element of Men's Health
As a clinician with many male patients -- and as a man myself -- I am all too aware of the fact that we like to convince ourselves that we are doing great, when that may be the farthest thing from the truth.
Tailor-Made Knee Pain: The Sartorius Muscle
A patient was referred to my office after receiving treatment from various providers with no results. The patient was training for the Olympics as a marathon runner and was unable to run or walk without severe medial knee pain.
North Carolina Acupuncture Board Files Dry Needling Lawsuit
In early September, the NCALB filed a complaint against the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners over the issue of dry needling, a form of acupuncture that uses solid needles to puncture the skin and muscle tissue to relieve pain.
Footsteps of the Sages: An Apprenticeship with Dr. Kezhan Zhang
When I met Dr. Kezhen Zhang in May 2013, I was his translator and the integrity, creativity, and passion he demonstrated as a practitioner and advocate of the medicine convinced me to travel to Beijing to study with him.
Targeting the Bad Apples in the Bunch
While everyone was focused on the conversion to ICD-10, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services released a new report on chiropractic titled "CMS Should Use Targeted Tactics to Curb Questionable and Inappropriate Payments for Chiropractic Services."
Which Way is the Energy Going? Are You Burning Yourself Out?
One of the simple methods that I use to define Yin/Yang theory to patients is to ask the question, "Which way is your energy going?"
Chinese Herbs and Pulmonary Fibrosis: A Case Study
"Mary M."* recently celebrated her 90th birthday. Even the former sheriff dropped by to kiss the hand of this diminutive retired teacher, to honor the years she interpreted for him during interviews with Latinas and Latinos.
Your Billing Questions Answered
I hear a lot of the following questions: I am afraid I may doing something illegal. I have heard I cannot have different fees for the same service.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 1)
It doesn't matter if you come to my practice for pain relief, weight loss, healthy aging or something else. The formula I talk about for each patient's fitness strategy is pretty much the same.
Syncretism: Acupuncture and Public Health in Cuba
"Syncretism" is defined as a union of diverse tenets or practices. On a recent trip to Cuba designed to demonstrate the integration of Traditional Medicine and biomedicine, our group witnessed this union firsthand.
Diagnose Sprain Injuries in MVA Cases With Dynamic X-Rays (Pt. 1)
Am I the only person to notice hospitals are doing a seemingly insufficient job lately in their initial radiological workup of motor vehicle accident (MVA) victims?
The Concussion-Subluxation Complex
In the Aug. 1, 2014 issue of Dynamic Chiropractic, I reviewed some of the literature demonstrating the role of the chiropractic adjustment in post-concussive care.
Dietary Fat and Prostate Cancer: An Important Update
K.M. Di Sebastiano and M. Mourtzakis published a review paper examining the role of dietary fat on prostate cancer development and progression late last year that does a stellar job of summarizing the available data on fat and prostate cancer.
Pro-Con: Swaddling for Newborns
The practice of swaddling has been used for thousands of years and was popular until the 1700s, when it was slowly abandoned by many cultures that considered it old-fashioned or barbaric.
Too Many to Remember: Tips to Revive Your Ortho / Neuro Test Skills
When I was at Palmer in the mid-1980s, we were given a set of notes in one of our diagnostic courses. The notes covered approximately 70 orthopedic and neurological tests for various regions of the body.
Making Sense of an Increasingly Obvious Conclusion
Where's U.S. health care heading? Like it or not, the list of telltale signs is growing to a point that stands out to even the most myopic observer. Consider this list of facts as you look into the future of health care in the United States:
F4CP Making a High-Impact Impression
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has released details of its 2016 strategy, certain elements of which are already in play. The strategy includes ads, posters and other resources available to all F4CP members.
Born to Energize the Human Spirit: Recollections of Sig Miller
Sig Miller, longtime executive director of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC), passed away on Sept. 17 after a long battle with cancer.
June, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 06
Models and Evidence-Bases
By Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB
The techniques we use as massage therapists are increasingly coming under scrutiny and review. To an extent, this is part of a general movement in health care to review both the effectiveness of interventions and to compare what is actually done in practice with what accumulated evidence suggests would be the "best course".Two reports from the Institute of Medicine out this year underline this review: "Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust" and "Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews". The motivation from this introspection was noted by Joseph Padula in his blog "Managed Care Matters" — even many medical guidelines have had little or no solid evidence behind them, often resulting in less than optimal treatment.
In part also, the scrutiny of massage techniques and conceptual models behind the techniques stems from a cohort of massage educators looking to frame a more sound basis for massage therapy as a component of health care and to bring what's being taught into agreement with modern knowledge of anatomy and physiology. This has turned into an ongoing, international discussion across multiple social media: Facebook, Twitter, and ABMP's "Massage Professionals" forums, in particular.
Looking at evidence requires asking two types of questions; questions that I believe are separable. First, are there specific conditions for which we have evidence that massage techniques provide an effective treatment or co-treatment? If so, what can we say about the reliability of the evidence? Is it supported by research in addition to anecdotal (narrative) observations? In the best of possible worlds, we would like research and anecdote to reinforce each other and add to our insights. Enkin and Jadad provide a context for this delicate process of integrating experience and research.
Those who really follow the principles of evidence-based health care, "the conscientious and judicious use of current best evidence from clinical care research to guide health care decisions," understand that conscientious and judicious use does not mean blind adherence. They are making efforts to integrate research evidence with other types of information, values, preferences, resources and circumstances. Enkin and Jadad also caution about the interplay of belief with anecdotal "evidence," especially when anecdotes and research disagree, leaving the clinical practitioner to face a paradox.
Despite its low ranking in the evidence hierarchy, anecdotal information exerts a disproportionately powerful influence on clinical thinking and behavior. The paradox was well described by William Asher: "If you can believe fervently in your treatment, even though controlled tests show that it is quite useless, then your results are much better, your patients are much better, and your income is much better too... It is an almost insoluble problem, and the majority of worth-while doctors are driven to a compromise in which they muster enough genuine belief in their treatment to keep their patients happy and maintain their own respect, while preserving enough doubt to admit their inadequacy during transient bouts of uncomfortable honesty."
It's in trying to resolve the interplay between research and clinical anecdotes that we find the second kind of question. Do we have an explanation for the effectiveness of our techniques that doesn't violate laws of physics and is in accord with modern knowledge of anatomy, physiology and neurology? I explicitly add neurology because our body is not just physical. Our brain does an amazing computational feat in taking the myriad of sensory signals as input and providing us with a body sense as output. This second type of question brings us into the realm of conceptual models or maps for the actions of our techniques. Any such model is an approximation of reality. We can further subdivide questions about such a map into: "Is it useful?" and "Is it a correct approximation?"
Gregory Bateson, in "Form, Substance and Difference," from Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972), elucidates the essential impossibility of knowing what the territory is, as any understanding of it is based on some representation: "We say the map is different from the territory. But what is the territory? Operationally, somebody went out with a retina or a measuring stick and made representations which were then put on paper. What is on the paper map is a representation of what was in the retinal representation of the man who made the map; and as you push the question back, what you find is an infinite regress, an infinite series of maps. The territory never gets in at all. [...] Always, the process of representation will filter it out so that the mental world is only maps of maps, ad infinitum."
Elsewhere in that same volume, Bateson points out that the usefulness of a map (a representation of reality) is not necessarily a matter of its literal truthfulness, but its having a structure analogous, for the purpose at hand, to the territory. Bateson argues this case at some length in the essay "The Theology of Alcoholics Anonymous."
To paraphrase Bateson's argument, a culture that believes that common colds are transmitted by evil spirits, that those spirits fly out of you when you sneeze, can pass from one person to another when they are inhaled or when both handle the same objects, etc., could have just as effective a "map" for public health as one that substituted microbes for spirits. While treatments of the individual would differ between the two models, actions such as isolation and quarantining would not.
Our challenge as a health care profession in the modern world comes in the way we address these questions, identifying areas needing research, filtering out disproved myths and ensuring the transfer of knowledge into practice.
Click here for previous articles by Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB.
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