resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Spinal-Cord Injuries: Saying No to Steroids
With steroids, epidural and otherwise, in the news lately for their overuse when treating back pain (and their danger when tainted by fungal meningitis), it was high time for a policy change, and we've got one, from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
Covering Chiropractic as a Profession, Not a Single Service
Recently Dynamic Chiropractic published a front-page article about various state essential health benefits and referred to Oregon and four other states not currently providing chiropractic as a covered benefit.
Happenings in Our Evolving Profession
Good things seem to be happening for our profession and recent developments show we are all on board. Talking about being on board, this September The Veterans Express-Purple Heart Tour is expected to make its way out of the station.
You are What You Eat Part II: Integrative Protocols
In the previous installment of this article I discussed important ideas concerning gastrointestinal health and foundational ideas from TCM, which can provide key insights into creating effective protocols for healing the gut.
In a previous column, I discussed the history and definition of evidence-based practice (EBP), and expressed concerns with how the concept has been narrowly construed by some academics and payers.
Telecommuting and Technology: Ergonomic and Worker's Comp Considerations
As our world becomes more and more reliant on technology, equipment becomes more dependable and we become increasingly more comfortable with e-mail, the fax machine, the Internet and the smartphone, it is becoming easier and easier to work away from the office.
Business Building: What's Your Strategy?
I know some in our profession love to debate about whether or not spinal curvatures change as a result of our chiropractic adjustment, but I have a question that hits a little more close to the belt than that: Are chiropractors capable of change?
Let's face it – patient evaluation takes time. Unless you are really into the diagnostic evaluation game, you probably have found the formal exam protocol tedious if not downright annoying.
Wisconsin Exam in the Spotlight
You've passed your national boards with flying colors, including Part IV, the practical examination, at a combined cost of more than $3,000.
Helping Infertility Patients with the Spirit Essence
As many of you know, when it comes to treating infertility, we are dealing with a patient population that is, generally speaking, in emotional turmoil. These patients often experience fear, anxiety, despair, hopelessness, grief and anger.
The Spirits of the Points: The Gall Bladder Official
The Gall Bladder is known as The Official of Decision Making and Judgment. In any given day, this Official makes countless decisions – conscious and unconscious, which influence every aspect of our being.
News in Brief
Cancer Treatment Centers of America Continues Support of Chiropractic; ACBOH Announces 2013 Practical, Written Exam Dates; PCORI Approves Funding for Research on Spinal Stenosis; Macquarie University to Cease Offering Chiropractic Program.
Peer Points: Stories of Practice Success
When patients go see Arizona-based acupuncturist Jing Liu, it is to get top care from an practitioner well versed in all aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The Pallof Press for Core Stability Evaluation
Many people become injured because of instability, weakness and poor neural-sequencing patterns in the core. Lack of bracing and support from the inner core cylinder during coronal and transverse movements makes the body vulnerable to compensation injuries.
Herbal Medicine: Go Mainstream
When it comes to practicing herbal medicine in a mainstream setting, there are a number of important points to understand when it comes to prescribing formulas. Some important questions to ask are - what method of prescribing and dispensing is most effective in this setting?
Exercises for Back Pain: Low-Compression Training Program
This program is intended for two groups of people: 1) those who want to engage in resistance exercises for the major regions of their body without developing back pain in the process; and 2) those who already have back pain and want to do resistance exercises, but consistently re-irritate their back when trying to do so.
There Are No Secrets: Treating Complicated Conditions with TCM
Including standardized extra points, there are just over 400 acupuncture points on the body. You get 400 and I get 400 - same. Yet, time and time again treatment protocols are coveted as if they were some secret formula only intended for the right and privileged.
Energy is a hot commodity. Society pays dearly for it and for the expertise of those who know how to cultivate it.
Medical Payola (Part 2)
Not only has Medtronic made billions selling expensive screws and hardware for highly controversial spine fusions, but a Senate investigation also found Medtronic felt compelled to write and edit medical journal articles attributed to outside physicians that downplayed the risks of the company's best-selling bone graft, Infuse.
Repeating Bone-Density Tests
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women older than age 65 undergo bone-density testing. However, organizations in general have not stated when repeat bone-density testing should be done.
Economics of Complementary/Integrative Care
Although this column doesn't usually feature a book review, we're going outside of our usual public health format to discuss a new book written by Patricia Herman ND, PhD.
Helping Patients Through Pregnancy Loss
There is a lot of focus in the acupuncture world on fertility and helping women get pregnant. It's exhilarating to hear the news that a patient is expecting a baby. The other side of that is pregnancy loss. That includes abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth.
History Repeating Itself in Wisconsin?
Thirteen years ago, the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association (WCA) "agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that [the association] orchestrated a conspiracy among WCA members to increase prices for chiropractic services and to boycott third-party payers to obtain higher reimbursement rates."
Chiropractic Research: A Moral Issue
This year I've had the opportunity to go to three great chiropractic research conferences; the ACC-RAC, the Fédération Internationale de Chiropratique du Sport (FICS) Congress and the World Federation of Chiropractic Congress.
Calcium Supplements and Mortality
When the National Institutes of Health's AARP Diet and Health Study reported that men who took calcium supplements had a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared those who didn't, it was the third large cohort in six months with alarming findings regarding calcium supplements.
June, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 06
What You Should Know About Corticosteroids
By Rita Woods, LMT
Corticosteroids are steroid hormones made naturally by the body and are classified as either mineral corticoids or glucocorticoids. Artificial corticosteroids are used as medications. You might be familiar with the most commonly prescribed synthetic steroids which are triamcinolone, cortisone, prednisone, dexamethasone and methylprednisolone.Many of our clients may be undergoing some treatment which includes the use of steroids. (The common term 'steroids' used here should not be confused with the male hormone related steroid compounds that are used predominantly to build muscle mass.)
It is very important to do a thorough medication/medical intake evaluation. It is also important for you to be proactive in reading about and researching your client's conditions and medications so that you can customize the massage sessions appropriately. An excellent website for researching medications is www.drugs.com. Other websites that provide easy to understand information and offer insight are the Cleveland Clinic at my.clevelandclinic.org and the Mayo Clinic at www.mayoclinic.com and www.webmd.com. These are excellent sites to recommend to your clients to research their own conditions and medications. You can also find some great complimentary sites that are packed with helpful knowledge. In my practice, I have found that the more familiar a client is with their condition and medications, the more effectively they communicate with their healthcare providers.
Steroids are used to treat a variety of conditions and manage pain. Steroids work by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity of the immune system. More specifically, steroids reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in order to minimize tissue damage. Steroids also reduce the activity of the immune system by affecting the function of white blood cells. Another common use of steroids is in conjunction with chemotherapy. The primary benefits when used in cancer treatment include: reduced nausea associated with chemotherapy and radiation, kills some cancer cells and shrinks tumors as part of chemotherapy, and decreases swelling and reduces allergic reactions (before transfusions, for example). And since one of the side effects of steroid use is increased appetite and weight gain, this can also benefit the client undergoing traditional treatment for cancer. Additionally, they can excite the system so they can be effective fatigue fighters.
Let's take a look at some of the side effects and see how they might impact your massage session. Keep in mind that not all patients will develop side effects and the side effects will be different for each individual. The occurrence of side effects depends on the dose, the type of steroid given and the length of treatment. The following list includes the more common side effects of systemic steroid use given either through pill form or IV administration. These circulate through the blood stream. This is only a partial list. As already mentioned, the client may be experiencing wakefulness or agitation, nervousness or restlessness and increased appetite and weight gain. They may bruise easily, the skin may become thin, and they may develop streaks or red spots. They may experience changes in body fat distribution, water retention and swelling. Steroid use can also cause or worsen diabetes, increased blood pressure, cause cataracts or glaucoma, and blurred vision. Of particular interest to massage is possible muscle weakness, corticosteroid induced myopathy, and osteoporosis/osteonecrosis. We'll look at bone loss and muscle weakness in a minute.
Steroids can be administered locally in a variety of ways. Inhaled corticosteroids are often prescribed for asthma. They are used in lower doses to reduce inflammation in the airways. Corticosteroid nasal sprays are sometimes used to relieve allergy symptoms. Topical corticosteroids are rubbed on the skin, where they help relieve the itch and redness of inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. Injected corticosteroids can be given to reduce or relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, plantar fasciitis and such. Typically, these cause fewer side effects than oral corticosteroids. When reviewing your client's list of medications, keep this in mind and think through the process. So, let's go back and look at some specific musculoskeletal issues that you need to be aware of.
"High-dose cortisone is the second most common cause of osteoporosis, and we currently have no real treatment for this serious side effect," says senior author Steven L. Teitelbaum, MD, Messing Professor of Pathology and Immunology. "Given how frequently these drugs are used to treat many different conditions, that's a major clinical problem." The femoral head is the most commonly affected area. Common sense tells you that if your client fits into this category, you must never use the deep pressure during the massage. One study, published in The Lancet medical journal in 2000, stated that high doses of inhaled steroids used by asthma patients caused significant loss in bone density. The key here is high dose versus low dose and the length of treatment. The study used patients on high doses for at least six years. Think it through. Look it up. Talk to your client.
Corticosteroids inhibit intestinal calcium absorption and increase urinary calcium excretion leading to bone resorption and bone loss. People taking oral steroids also double their risk for severe vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to further bone disease or muscle weakness. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, in New York City, said in September 2011, steroids might increase levels of an enzyme that inactivates the vitamin, resulting in osteomalacia (softening of the bones), rickets (softening of bones in children) or clinical myopathy (muscle weakness). They recommended that physicians monitor vitamin D levels of patients being treated with oral steroids.
Corticosteroid induced myopathy is damage to the muscle fibers caused by treatment with corticosteroids, such as prednisone, cortisone, dexamethasone and fludrocortisone or overproduction of steroids associated with Cushing's disease. Myopathy causes changes in muscle fibers, including atrophy (shrinkage), lipid (fatty) deposits, necrotic (dead) areas and increased interstitial (connective) tissue between fibers. You may have severe damage to the muscles while the muscles appear normal in size. This happens because the connective tissue increases in the space surrounding the muscle fibers so no noticeable difference in the anatomy is obvious. Everything "looks" normal. However, these clients will experience increasing intolerance to exercise because the muscles start to weaken with use and pain increases. The muscles most affected are those in the arms and legs and the pelvis (hips). Weakness usually starts in the proximal (upper) portion of the muscle and progresses to the distal (bottom) portion. You may have increased difficulty standing, walking up stairs and reaching upward.
The potential impact on bone, muscle and skin with high dose steroid use should send up a red flag in your massage therapy brain. Additionally, because of the possible fluid changes in the body, the circulatory system could be overloaded so try to minimize the movement of fluids with gentle work unless you are trained to specifically work with this. Refer them to a massage specialist or get permission (in writing) from their doctor.
In summary, I think it's safe to say that gentle work is the best way to go with clients on steroids. The exception to this may be in working on the feet. The feet are made to take a pounding like nothing else in the body. The small muscles in a tendon rich environment are designed to withstand pressure that our larger muscles are not designed to do. So, even if your client is undergoing chemotherapy and suffering with chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, the deeper work on the feet to address this issue is generally acceptable. Another (and additional) option for these clients might be stretching. One therapist I spoke with suggests beginning Tai Chi to all of her oncology clients. I think that's a great suggestion. Keep up the good work!
Click here for more information about Rita Woods, LMT.
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