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News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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 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?
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.
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.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
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.
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.).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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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