resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
How Many of Your Patients Have Sarcopenia?
Figure 1 demonstrates the typical appearance of sarcopenia in the paravertebral muscles. Have you considered evaluating your patients for this problem? Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function that affects the older population.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 4): Blending Pain Relief With Healthy Aging
Pain relief is still the No. 1 reason patients come to my office. However, most of my patients have other goals as well, such as: "I want to lose 10 to 20 pounds"; "I feel old and want to slow down the aging process"; "My doctor says I am becoming a diabetic and need to exercise"; or "I'm tired and want more energy."
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
An Alarming Lack of Accountability
Accountability seems to be a lost quality today. The simple act of taking responsibility and doing the right thing just doesn't happen as often as it should. Maybe it is the litigious nature of our society.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Day in the Life of an Advanced-Practice DC
Can you tell us a little about your background in the profession? Why did you want to become a DC? I studied at Boston University from 1968-1972 as a pre-med student majoring in biology.
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators: 21st Century Inflammation Fighters
Specialized pro-resolving mediators, or SPMs, are a portion of the omega-3 fatty-acid spectrum that have been shown to have a powerful effect on reducing inflammation.
Let's Streamline Your Front Desk
Your front office can be your greatest source of efficiency or a constant bottleneck. Increasing the productivity of this area without sacrificing the quality of patient interaction can be a little tricky.
News in Brief
Northwestern Student Honored for Addressing Concussions Head-On; Northwestern Announces New CFO; Life U. to Provide Unique Opportunity.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
F4CP Launches New Social Media Campaign
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has launched a new service to help member doctors: a social media campaign called "Accelerator."
Identify & Adjust the Apex Posterior Sacrum
Low back pain involving an apex posterior sacrum (+θX-axis misalignment) typically presents with signs of lumbosacral joint impingement or facet syndrome.
Excited to Share the Science of Chiropractic: An Interview With Dr. Heidi Haavik
Dr. Heidi Haavik has become known in the circle of chiropractic researchers as not only a rising star, but also one willing to do research that can have a major impact in the scientific world and how chiropractic is perceived.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
February, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 02
Dealing with Fibromyalgia
By Stuart Taws
It is estimated that between two to four percent of the population are now suffering from fibromyalgia, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome and TMJ. Perhaps our massage school education did not include how to successfully deal with fibromyalgia.Massage therapists often express a lack of confidence, some fear and anxiety along with the lack of a clear program for how to go forward and help their clients diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) established the definition of chronic widespread pain and the 11 of 18 tender point test to diagnose this "mystery illness." Interestingly, for most people, these points are naturally a little tender. This protocol has proved to be somewhat of a tragedy. A male MD "prodding" a female in pain looking for tender points then announcing that she has fibromyalgia has a negative downside. Once a medical practitioner determines that you have a certain condition and names it, then you get to keep it. You become like Alice in Wonderland going down the "Rabbit Hole" of a series of elaborate and sophisticated medical tests. The results confirm your symptoms and perhaps your worst fears, but along with the diagnosis there is no forward looking answer to your pain free recovery. Please note: the ACR 11-18 tender point protocol was for study criteria only and was never meant to be used as a diagnostic tool.
After decades of research, there is still no satisfactory answer by the medical profession for chronic pain syndromes. You receive prescriptions for painkillers, sleeping medication and anti-depressants. These deal with symptoms, not the cause of the condition.
When you're in pain for many years, you change physiologically. In one study by the University of California, they found that persistent stress shortened the length of the telomeres in the DNA. If stress can affect your very DNA, imagine what it can do to your sensitive molecules. Stress changes you at a molecular level. When you are in pain, life changes and you change. All the happiness of life has been put into the mortar and pestle of life, crushed like chaff and blown into the wind of despair. Sleep is continually disturbed so the REM phase, where all emotional stresses of the day are processed keeping mental health and stability, is rarely achieved.
In 1997, F. Wolf (University of Minnesota) published an article looking at some of the data collected in population-based studies. He found "that the number of tender points an individual has is highly correlated with the number of measures of distress. High threshold tender points are a sedimentation rate for distress."
In the mechanism of pain, it is observed that after injury the nervous system can delay it's response to that injury by a day, week or a month. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, the oncologist often asks what happened in their lives two years previously. When you ask a similar question of your fibromyagia clients, surprisingly I have found there was a serious illness or a vehicle accident, death in the family or a bitter divorce and custody battle over the children, all within the last two years. As the manifestation of pain is delayed, the connection is not made and falls into the mystery illness category.
"Information regarding pain is immediately transmitted from the injured tissue to the cerebral cortex," according to Dr. Linda Sorkin. Notice that pain quickly becomes a matter of the higher centers. She continues, "The peptides and injury products activate the pain fibers, sensitize and excite the nociceptors. There 'silent nociceptors' that signal well after tissue damage and that inhibition of this activity diminishes the perception of pain. There are spinal cord sensory cells, that when activated by injury refers pain to portions of the body that share these neurons, or cell cross talk. These fibers release glutamate and peptides from their central terminals and this biochemical cascade magnifies and enhances the response, becomes triggered into a long lasting spinal sensitization and the resulting hyper sensitization to pain even spills over into un-injured tissue."
This biomechanical cascade throughout the body over a period of developing hyper-sensitivity means you can have sites of pain all over where there is no injury. This understanding is vital. Similar to many MD's, some massage therapists fall into the trap of being judgmental, supposing their clients are somewhat neurotic and using an imaginary pain as a secondary benefit in life. You must always believe everything they tell you. "When they tell you the pain is real, it is real," said Dr. Daniel Clauw, Professor of Rheumatology and the director of the University of Michigan Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, is the country's leading expert on Fibromyalgia and the author of many studies. "In people without pain, these structures encode pain sensations normally. In people with fibromyalgia, the neural activity is increased."
"It is time for us to move past the rhetoric about whether these conditions are real, and take these patients seriously as we endeavor to learn more about the causes and most effective treatments for these disorders," said Richard Harris, a Research Investigator.
These studies indicate that fibromyalgia patients have abnormalities within their central brain structures. Clauw states, "this is a diffuse, central problem with pain processing, a problem with the way people are processing pain or sensory information." Pain, he says, "is a miscommunication between the brain and the spine. It's as though someone has increased their volume control center, turning the volume up."
How do we use this information? The brain, spinal cord and the CNS are described as listening systems. The new neuro-sciences when referring to the brain and CNS use the expression plasticity. They are not fixed but are plastic; the input from the extremities can be changed. We do this by giving the listening systems new information and changing the direction of the input back into the higher centers. This remodels how the brain and CNS modify how they process pain.
The handmaidens of chronic pain syndromes are fear, anxiety and underlying anger. Pain in itself is harmless.
It is how the brain and CNS process and respond to perceived injury insult that cause the alarm. There is not the software to do an MRI, CAT scan, PET scan and X-Ray of the sensitive nervous system. The sensitive nervous system has gone off like a fire alarm, every fire department in the region has been mobilized, lights flashing, loud sirens piercing the night, and guess what, there is no fire! I tell the client that rightly or wrongly their "silent alarm has been tripped" and their brain and CNS believes they are under attack. They only response the body has to protect them is the inflammation response with the end result of pain.
Now here comes the tricky part, especially for a male therapist talking to women in pain. I compliment them on being so sensitive, as the truly caring and compassionate souls of this world often end up in pain. I try to change the context of the pain from not being some sort of divine punishment, but rather an unfortunate random reaction to a very stressful world. If your intention is good and kind, that shines through. When you carefully and gently suggest there is nothing physically wrong with them, rather they have a lovely kind friend deep inside trying so hard to help them, maybe too hard, they seem to accept that. Not only are you the only one that has patiently listened to them, but you also are the only one that is actually going to gently touch them for an hour, a rarity in the medical profession.
Listen to your client; but you must have a specific program in mind. If this is done seamlessly, moving back to the original site of pain briefly, there is not the time for the client to work out what you are doing, so there is a certain amount of distraction. I really like a side lying position with the client at the very end of the table. This is not working on soft tissue only; my intention is to dramatically change the input into the CNS. If you get the nervous system on your side first, then any therapy you use will be infinitely more successful.
Remember, during all this time you are talking to the sensitive nervous systems, re-assuring these delicate systems they are safe and secure and to desist in their protective mode. That is what getting the nervous system on your side first means. This is the most important part of any treatment.
Stuart Taws is a Sports Rehabilitation Therapist originally from England, now living in California. Stuart is the developer of Soft Tissue Release - the Taws Technique. For 20 years he has been teaching through Massage Schools and Weekend Workshops. For more information, visit www.softtissuerelease.com or
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