resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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!
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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