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A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
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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