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The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
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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