resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
September, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 09
Research Shows Acupressure Reduces Chronic Neck Pain
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed By Derek R. Austin, MS, CMT, April Neufeld, BS, LMT, NCTMB, Sandra K. Anderson, BA, LMT, ABT
In this month's Massage Therapy Foundation Research Column, we are taking a critical look at the effects of acupressure.Widely accepted in Japan, many Americans are unaware of the many benefits of manual acupressure. It is a noninvasive technique in which, instead of needles, the practitioner's fingers press on traditional acupuncture points. Acupressure has been shown to be calming, relieve pain and induce relaxation.
Lead author Dr. Takako Matsubara, PT, an Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation at Nihon Fukushi University, Japan, and his colleagues studied an area of interest to most massage therapists - chronic neck pain. Their research article, "Comparative Effects of Acupressure at Local and Distal Acupuncture Points on Pain Conditions and Autonomic Function in Females with Chronic Neck Pain" was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Matsubara and colleagues randomly allocated 33 female subjects (n=33) to three groups. Group one subjects received acupressure at three tender points consistent with local acupuncture points (LP) "Jianjing" (GB 21), "Jianwaishu" (SI 14), and "Jianzhongshu" (SI 15). These local acupuncture points align with tender points in the trapezius muscle with acupressure (see Figure 1). Group two subjects received acupressure at three distal acupuncture points (DP); in this study, distal meant points distal to the location of the neck pain. These points were "Hegu" (LI 4), "Shousanli" (LI 10), and "Quchi" (LI 11). These distal acupuncture points are traditionally associated with neck-shoulder-arm disorders in Chinese/Japanese traditional medicine (see Figure 2). A third group, termed the control, received no acupressure at all.
Subjects were assessed about pain intensity using a verbal rating scale (VRS); the intensity of neck pain or stiffness was evaluated on a numerical scale from 0 to 3 (0: no pain, 1: mild pain, 2: moderate pain, and 3: severe pain). Subjects were also assessed about pain-related disability using the Neck Disability Index (NDI), pain-related anxiety using State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-I (STAI-I), and about muscle hardness (MH) on bilateral trapezius muscles. Pain-associated stress was assessed using salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) activity and heart rate variability (HRV) to determine parasympathetic and sympathetic activity. Low electrical frequency fluctuations in heart are indicators of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, and high electrical frequency fluctuations are indicators of parasympathetic activity.
Parasympathetic and sympathetic activity in the test subjects was measured because several previous reports showed that the effects of acupuncture and acupressure are due to influencing the autonomic nervous system. The acupressure treatment lasted about ten minutes per session. Three sets of acupressure were applied with thumb pressure in a rotary fashion at 20-25 cycles per minutes for 30 seconds on each of the three assigned local or distal points on the right side of the subject's body; the same procedure was followed on the left side. The same investigator applied acupressure in all cases.
There were no significant differences among the three groups pre-treatment. There were no measured changes in pain, stiffness or autonomic activity in the control group throughout the study. However, in the LP and DP groups, the VRS, STAI-I, and MH significantly decreased immediately following treatment, indicating a decrease in pain and stiffness. The next day, the NDI was significantly lower compared with pre-treatment in the LP and DP groups. The subjects' heart rates significantly decreased and high frequency component of HRV significantly increased, indicating a parasympathetic autonomic response, only in the LP group.
This study is notable for its use of both local and distal acupressure therapy. Both appear to be effective in relieving chronic neck pain in only a single ten minute session, with significant next-day effects on the NDI, a validated measure of pain-related disability. Interestingly, reduction in pain in the LP and DP groups as assessed by the VRS were not significantly different from the control group at the one day follow-up.
This study by Matsubara et al., is limited by the lack of longer term follow-up beyond one day, the small sample size of 11 participants per group, and the inherent inability to blind the practitioner and participants from knowing which treatment was administered or received. As a primary measurement of pain intensity, the authors could have used a 10-cm visual analog scale (VAS), which may have been more sensitive to differences between groups at the one-day follow-up. Also, the addition of a "sham acupressure" group would have helped rule out the possibility of placebo effects or effects stemming from touch, not acupressure per se. Finally, the sample used in this study only included women; men might respond differently to acupressure applied to the points used in this study.
In conclusion, acupressure to both local and distal acupuncture points significantly reduces chronic neck pain in this randomized, controlled trial. The researchers point out that most clinicians combine local and distal acupuncture points in clinical practice, and they suggest that further research should assess combinatorial effects. This Open Access journal article is freely available in PubMedCentral at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952311/.
Author's Note: For additional research about accupressure, please see Robinson et al.'s 2011 Open Access review entitled, "The Evidence for Shiatsu: a systematic review of Shiatsu and acupressure" published in BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine and available at www.biomedcentral.com.proxy.library.vcu.edu/1472-6882/11/88.
Editor's note: For more information about massage therapy research, visit the Massage Therapy Foundation at www.massagetherapyfoundation.org.
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