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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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in the West
We know acupuncture and Oriental medicine as the indigenous medicine of East Asia; in particular China, Korea and Japan are the countries of origin of this wonderful healing system.
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 previous articles by Erik Dalton, PhD.
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