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Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Managing Tibialis Posterior Tendon Injuries
The tibialis posterior is the deepest, strongest and most central muscle of the leg, with fibers originating from the tibia, fibula and interosseous membrane.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
God and the Chiropractor
My wife went to church last Wednesday night and brought home a CD of the pastor's message. As she handed it to me, she said, "You should listen to this; you'll like it." Our family regularly goes to church and our faith plays a major role in our lives.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Older Patients, Stroke Risk and Manipulation
The first population-based study in the United States to evaluate stroke risk following spinal manipulation – and the first involving older adults – suggests that "[c]hiropractic cervical spine manipulation is unlikely to cause stroke in patients aged 66 to 99 years with neck pain.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Keep Seniors Safe: Age-Proofing the Home
I want to give Dr. Claudia Anrig kudos for her Dec. 1, 2014 column, which highlighted safety issues youngsters might encounter in the home.
Viewpoints: Massage Reduces Nonspecific Shoulder Pain, Improves Function
While seemingly universal, pain and stiffness in the shoulders can be a significant cause of disability. Often a pain that does not go away on its own, shoulder complaints tend to linger, sometimes for 12 months or longer.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Treating GERD and Incontinence: Focus on Trigger Points
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is defined as the regurgitation of stomach acid in the esophagus. Previously, it was thought that GERD was caused by a hiatal hernia, but recent trials suggest the cause is an inability of the hiatal sphincter to contract normally.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
How We Can Help the Injured Brain
The majority of patients with mild traumatic brain injuries recover within seven to 10 days. If concussion signs and symptoms continue beyond seven days, the diagnosis changes from acute concussion to post-concussion syndrome.
Striking a Blow to the Medical Monopoly
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a landmark ruling in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v Federal Trade Commission.
News in Brief
ACA Exec. Vice President Out, Acting EVP In; F4CP Executive Director Retires; New ED Named.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Pain Is Only a Piece of the Puzzle
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint: headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel, etc.
Joint Supplements for Athletes (Part 2)
A fairly recent discovery in nutrition supplemental medicine has proven to be a breakthrough in maintaining athletic joint health. Research suggests a combination of undenatured type-II collagen and tetrahydro-iso-alpha acids helps revitalize joint function and performance in athletes.
March, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 03
Know What to Look for in That Other Tunnel in the Wrist
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
When a client comes in complaining of pain, numbness/paresthesia or weakness in the hand, it is likely that carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is what comes to mind first. Yet, there is another fibro-osseous tunnel in the wrist where nerve compression occurs, called Guyon's canal or Guyon's tunnel. The ulnar nerve travels through this tunnel and is susceptible to compression here.
There are some key factors to understand about the anatomical arrangement of structures in Guyon's canal that govern the most effective treatments. The first place to begin is with a solid understanding of the anatomical structure of Guyon's canal. Treating compression in this canal differs from treating median nerve pathology (CTS).
The flexor retinaculum, also called the transverse carpal ligament, traverses the base of the hand between the pisiform and hamate on the ulnar side and the scaphoid and trapezium on the radial side. Some anatomy textbooks don't show it, but the flexor retinaculum actually splits into two divisions toward the ulnar side of the hand. There is a broad, deep band and a superficial short band. The space between these two bands is Guyon's canal (Figure 1).
The ulnar nerve artery and vein pass through this canal. Unlike the carpal tunnel which houses numerous tendons, there are no tendons traveling through Guyon's canal. The lack of tendons in the tunnel plays a prominent role in distinguishing ulnar nerve pathology from median nerve pathology.
Guyon's Canal Syndrome
In CTS, structures within the carpal tunnel, such as the flexor tendons, become inflamed and compress the median nerve. Because median nerve compression results from structures within the tunnel, the focus of treatment is on reducing inflammation and compression from these intrinsic (within the tunnel) structures.
In Guyon's canal syndrome (GCS) the only structures within the tunnel are the ulnar nerve, artery and vein, so nerve compression in this condition does not result from intrinsic factors but from those outside the tunnel (extrinsic factors). The nerve compression experienced in GCS is most likely associated with activities where there is either excessive pressure on the base of the hand or pressure applied to the region for prolonged periods.
This condition is frequently referred to as handlebar palsy because of the frequency with which it occurs in long distance cyclists who have their hyperextended wrist pressing on the handlebars and absorbing road vibration. Another common reason for GCS is walking with a cane where body weight pressure is put on the cane handle right over the ulnar nerve in the canal. Falling on an outstretched hand or hitting something hard with the base of the hand can also produce an acute onset of GCS.
The key difference between these situations and that of carpal tunnel syndrome is that in each of the ulnar nerve compression situations, pressure is placed on the base of the hand by some external factor, not compression from within the tunnel. The fact that these causes are all from extrinsic and not intrinsic compression is important when constructing appropriate treatments.
The client with Guyon's canal syndrome may present with both sensory and motor symptoms. Sensory symptoms include pain, paresthesia or numbness in the ulnar nerve distribution of the hand (Figure 2). Motor symptoms include weakness or atrophy in the hypothenar muscles at the base of the hand or in the adductor pollicis muscle of the thumb. The motor symptoms of weakness or atrophy are the most common presentation with this condition.
Visual observation of the base of the hand often reveals an indication of ulnar nerve compression. If there is significant atrophy of the hypothenar muscles, they will appear far less developed than the unaffected side (the other thumb) if there isn't bilateral nerve compression.
The adductor pollicis muscle plays a key role in evaluation of this pathology with a simple orthopedic test called Froment's sign (Figure 3). Have your client hold a thick piece of paper or business card between the thumb and index finger with the fingers folded in as shown in the picture. Instruct the client to hold the paper firmly as you attempt to pull the paper from the client's grip. If you are able to easily pull the paper from the client's grip, it is likely that there is significant weakness in the adductor pollicis muscle and ulnar nerve pathology is likely to blame.
The most important strategies in treatment involve removing any factors that are compressing the nerve and giving the nerve proper time to heal. The client interview is key for determining what the precipitating factors are. Find out what the client's activities are or were that lead up to the symptoms and ask about any changes (use of a cane for example) in their behavior or lifestyle. The reasons for the compression problems are not always obvious, so ask more questions if the symptoms fit the condition but the activities don't initially.
In any nerve compression pathology, the primary goal of treatment is to reduce pressure on the affected nerve. This goal is the same for Guyon's canal syndrome. However, because the primary cause of nerve compression is extrinsic, massage techniques should not be applied directly to this area as they could cause further compression of the nerve and prolong the pathology.
Massage treatment in other portions of the upper extremity can, however, provide significant benefit. Much has been written in recent years about the key benefits of neural mobility.1 Therefore, working all of the tissues along the path of the ulnar nerve will enhance full neural mobility and give the nerve the best possible environment for healing, which sometimes is lengthy with nerve conditions.
Without knowing and understanding some of these key facets of Guyon's canal syndrome, the practitioner may inadvertently aggravate a nerve compression problem by attempting to work around the wrist and hand for someone experiencing hand pain or weakness. This is a valuable reminder that while massage is highly beneficial in most cases, there are instances in which our intervention could be problematic or cause a condition to get worse if we apply it inappropriately.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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