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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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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!
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.
July, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 07
Human Silly Putty
By Erik Dalton, PhD
Although "creep" is an engineering term, it also applies to human tissue...the lumbopelvis in particular. Spinal and sacroiliac ligaments, joint capsules, facet cartilages and especially intervertebral discs are viscoelastic and are somewhat similar to silly putty.Leave a ball of putty on a table overnight and by the next morning it's deformed into a flattened pancake. So be it with humans. We're taller in the morning than at bedtime, primarily due to disc and fascio-ligamentous deformation that occurs throughout the day. Of course, silly putty is much creepier than discs, fascia or ligaments but, in time, gravity will deform and sometimes strain all these materials.
As ligamentous creep turns to strain, soft tissues are no longer able to prevent separation of bone and that's when our problems begin. Contrary to what many docs tell their patients, most low back and pelvic pain does not result from a single traumatic lifting, bending or sports injury, but rather from cumulative viscoelastic creep due to lack of rest between loading cycles. According to Bogduk and Twomey, "After prolonged strain, spinal ligaments, joint capsules, and IV discs of the lumbar spine may creep, and may be liable to injury if sudden forces are unexpectedly applied during the vulnerable recovery phase."1 Bottom Line: Once viscoelastic tissues are strained, they're less likely to return to their original length and, therefore, are more prone to future injury.
I often scratch my head in wonder when reading research that dismisses the effects of gravitational exposure on human viscoelastic tissues. It's even more frustrating when scientists and clinicians discount the role distorted postural faults such as pronated feet, crooked SI joints, and forward heads play in commonly seen pain syndromes.2 Each-and-every day, the weight of gravity (14.7 pounds per square inch) pushes straight down on our bodies. These compressive forces should be equally distributed throughout the neuro-myo-skeletal system...but are they? Prolonged one legged standing (excessive weight bearing on one limb, i.e., performing bodywork) is an oft-overlooked culprit creating ligamentous creep that might be a precursor to more serious conditions like joint laxity, lumbopelvic instability, sprains and osteoarthritis. To demonstrate the phenomena of creep, let's look at the myo-mechanics of a fairly common pain-generating disorder called iliosacral upslip or "shear."
What Is An Upslip?
In those presenting with true iliosacral upslips, joint apposition between the ilium and sacrum is altered, i.e., "the sacroiliac grooves ain't grooving". Since these superior shears are more affected by gravity than other iliosacral dysfunctions, they have almost a zero chance of self correction. During history in-takes, clients often report the symptoms to be much more painful than expected from the injury they describe. In fact, many can't recall any precipitating event.
Typically, when we see this upward shearing force of ilium on sacrum, the person's SI joints are lacking either form or force closure. In form closure, SI joint stability is dictated by a series of ridges and complimentary depressions that produce friction and help interlock the two bones. But synovial joints like a little movement (joint play), not only to provide spinal shock absorption, but also to enhance lower extremity torque conversions and transverse rotations that travel up the kinetic chain and propel the body through space.3 Fortunately, Mother Nature has accommodated this functional demand by installing a back-up system researchers call force closure. Force closure stability is generated by contractive action of core musculo-fascial tissues such as the pelvic diaphragm, transverse abdominis, multifidus and thoracolumbar fascia. Together, they provide a sophisticated neurologic feedback mechanism that reflexively interacts with the brain to provide joint stability and coordinated movement...or lack of it as is the case in chronic upslips.
In the presence of chronic upslips, prolonged cyclical loading can deform SI joint ligaments to a point where an act as innocent as slamming on the brake, tumbling on one hip, or clumsily stepping off a curb, can jostle the joint enough to cause the ilium to "jump-a-notch" on sacrum. Here's a good "upslip" case study of a client named Marion who called complaining of stabbing buttock and low back pain.
Marion The Hairdresser
I'd treated Marion off-and-on for several years for neck, jaw and rib pain resulting from a severe whiplash injury, but today was different...her low back and hip were in a world of hurt. This was her first visit since becoming a momma a year earlier and her history in-take revealed two related factors contributing to her injury: 1) Cumulative viscoelastic creep (hypermobility) left over from the relaxin birth hormone, and 2) Prolonged one-legged cyclical loading at her hairdressing job.
A classic upslip case, Marion presented with acute right-sided lumbopelvic pain, funky gait and anatomical landmarks showing a 1 1/2" short right leg, lax sacrotuberous ligament right, OL and psoas spasm right, and superior/posterior right ilium. Spring testing of the right ilium (supine and prone) revealed no inferior glide. Marion's right QL fired before gluteus medius on the hip abduction test and she lifted the swing leg with the spasmed QL as she tried to walk. Although all her anatomical landmark and gait evaluations pointed to an iliosacral upslip, why do you think she could not identify a traumatic perpetrating event?
The books tell us iliosacral upslips are traumatically-induced injuries, but Marion first felt the excruciating pain when she got out of bed. Turns out, the incident that most likely pushed Marion over the edge occurred the night before as she stepped off a foot stool. That slight jar caused the hypermobile pelvic ligaments and restraining muscles to collapse and explode into a full-blown crippling hip spasm. Over the years, I've seen many cases like Marion's and I've noticed that in the early stages of ligamentous creep, the brain down-regulates nociceptive pain signals. But when the joint finally jams, the brain lights-up the central nervous system with pain and protective guarding to prevent further insult to the damaged area.
Fixing The Fixation
Here are a couple of techniques that helped fix Marion's upslipped hip. In Figure 4A, she's pulling the knee to her chest to inferiorly drag the ilium while I slowly elbow my way through the lumbodorsal fascia, QL, and iliocostalis myospasm. Once these hypertrophied (hip-hiking) soft tissues regain flexibility and mobility, a maneuver is used to get the sacroiliac "grooves-a-groovin." But before proceeding to the upslip correction, Marion is asked to do a couple minutes of deep abdominal breathing to help neurologically reset and relax the deep spasmed core muscles.
In Figure 4B, Marion lies supine and I apply an inferior tractioning force to drag the ilium to the first restrictive barrier feeling for neutral leg and hip alignment. By taking the limb into a bit of internal rotation, I'm able to bony-lock the hip allowing the tractioning force to travel through the SI joint. Using my body weight with her thigh securely arm-locked, a distraction force is applied as Marion forcefully contracts the QL and hip-hikes against my resistance. After a few seconds, she is asked to cough vigorously to help jostle the joint and reposition the soft tissues. Traction combined with the forced exhalation allows Marion's ilium to drop down into the groove "from whence it came." Note: The pain should immediately ease except in those with hypermobility issues or core stability problems in which case a referral to a good functional movement therapist is recommended.
Lastly, here's an effective home-retraining exercise I gave Marion. Lying supine, with her heels circling an exercise ball, she lifts her buttock and slowly rolls the ball side to side. I've found this simple routine helpful in normalizing neuromuscular firing patterns while evenly tonifying damaged ligaments. Rest, ergonomic retraining and regular follow-ups are mandatory until pelvic stability is established. Remember, the first couple weeks are critical; even the slightest jar can turn the ligaments back into silly putty.
Click here for more information about Erik Dalton, PhD.
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