resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
November, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 11
Adaptation Perspectives and Low Back Pain
By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO
A prospective patient arrives with a problem for you to manage – say a backache (a not uncommon scenario!). Where do you begin? I would suggest you begin by viewing the problem through a broad lens.The tissues of your (and your patient's) body respond to applied demands (stressors) deriving from backgrounds of overuse, misuse, abuse (trauma) and disuse, overlaid onto a combination of developmental and maturational experiences of life – the inherited and acquired habits and patterns of use (for example postural or respiratory), ergonomic, work and leisure stresses, as well as the results of injuries, surgeries, emotional burdens and more.
These features and experiences will have blended to create tissues that may gradually have changed from a state of normotonicity to a palpably dysfunctional state, at times involving hypertonicity, and at others hypotonicity, along with altered firing sequences, modified motor control, abnormal postural and/or movement patterns and ultimately dysfunctional chain reactions. What emerges is a picture of impaired or altered function of related components of the somatic framework; skeletal, arthrodial, myofascial, as well as related vascular, lymphatic and neural features, all examples of adaptational overload.
But to the patient, it is simply "a backache." Such changes almost always demonstrate functional, sometimes visible, often palpable, evidence, that can frequently be assessed in order to guide you towards clinical decision-making, as to what form of management may be most appropriate. What therapeutic and rehabilitation strategies, in the context of acute and chronic somatic dysfunction, may be able to assist in normalization of dysfunction, pain management and rehabilitation? Parsons & Marcer (2005) note that "it is through the summation of both quantitative and qualitative findings that one obtains an indication of the nature and age of the underlying dysfunction"
Repetitive Lumbar Injury: An Example of Adaptation Overload
In discussing a form of low back pain that they describe as Repetitive Lumbar Injury (RLI), Solomonow, et al (2011a), outline the etiology of a complex multi-factorial syndrome that fits the model of adaptive overload. This involves an adaptation sequence, in which prolonged cyclic loading of the low back can be shown to induce a process of creep – defined as continued deformation of a viscoelastic material under constant load over time - in the spinal tissues (Sanchez-Zuriaga 2010), reduced muscular activity, triggering spasms and reduced stability, followed by acute inflammation and tissue degradation (Fung et al 2009), as well as muscular hyperexcitability and hyperstability (Li et al 2007).
These adaptive changes are seen – in animal studies (Solomonow 2011b) and in humans (Solomonow 2003) - to be a response to rapid movement, high loads, numerous repetitions and short rest periods. Behaviours that are not uncommon in many common work and leisure/athletic activities. The conclusion is that viscoelastic tissues ultimately fail via a process involving the triggering of inflammation, due to overuse, a process that appears to initiate the mechanical and neuromuscular characteristic symptoms of the disorder.
In contrast, Solomonow, et al (2011a), found that low magnitude loads, short loading durations, lengthy rest periods, low movement velocity and few repetitions do not constitute significant risk factors, yet nevertheless triggered transient stability deficits and pro-inflammatory tissue degradation. It is suggested that it might be more appropriate to designate these conditions as low risk instead of no risk. In perspective, Repetitive Lumbar Injury – manifesting in your patient with backache - is seen to be a complex multi-factorial syndrome. A clear example of adaptation to imposed demands that exceed the ability of the tissues involved to respond. Repeated bending activities in daily living appear to change both structure (ligaments, discs) and function (protective spinal reflexes).
Therapeutic interventions in such a spectrum of progressive dysfunction (such as myofascial release, muscle energy technique etc) need to offer various potential benefits, for example improving restricted mobility (Lenehan et al 2003), possibly reducing excessive inflammatory responses (Fryer & Fossum 2010), while simultaneously enhancing motor control (Wilson, et al 2003). But, unless the patterns of use that fuelled this degenerative process are modified, the manual interventions will offer short-term symptomatic relief at best.
Grieve's Decompensation Model
In 1986, Grieve presciently offered a perspective on the evolution of chronic dysfunction. He described the example of a typical patient, presenting with pain, loss of functional movement, or altered patterns of strength, power or endurance and suggested that, all too commonly, this individual would either have suffered major trauma which had overwhelmed the physiological tolerances of relatively healthy tissues or might be displaying "gradual decompensation, demonstrating slow exhaustion of the tissue's adaptive potential, with or without trauma." As this process continued, Grieve explained, progressive postural adaptation influenced by time factors and possibly by trauma, would lead to exhaustion of the body's adaptive potential, resulting in dysfunction and ultimately, symptoms.
Grieve correctly noted that therapeutic attention to the tissues incriminated in producing symptoms often gives excellent short-term results, however "unless treatment is also focused towards restoring function in asymptomatic tissues responsible for the original postural adaptation and subsequent decompensation, the symptoms will recur."
A Therapeutic Formula: Reduce Adaptive Load And Enhance Function
A therapeutic formula is proposed for the clinician who is confronted with chronic adaptive changes, of the sort highlighted by Solomonow or Grieve, who may well walk into your office with a backache. It is suggested that the focus should be on both reducing adaptive demands; altering the patterns of behaviour that have produced, or which are maintaining, dysfunction, while at the same time focusing on enhancement of function, working with the self-regulatory systems of the body, so that those adaptive demands can be better managed by the body (Chaitow et al 2005). The only other therapeutic possibility would seem to be symptomatic attention.
In simple terms, musculoskeletal tissue absorbs or adapts to forces applied to it and many manual and movement approaches are capable of modifying these changes – for example the use of Muscle Energy Technique (MET) in dysfunctional shoulders of the elderly (Knebl 2002); following sporting injuries (Bolin 2010); hamstring problems (Smith & Fryer 2008), or even in backache (Licciardone et al 2010)! Why do I emphasise MET? Because its track record is excellent (see citations) and because it is safe and easy to use. But I admit to being biased – and acknowledge that other modalities may be equally useful, but not unless underlying stressors are also dealt with.
Click here for more information about Leon Chaitow, ND, DO.
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