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Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
June, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 06
Freeing the Heart: Protection of the Hip and Shoulder Joints
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
As we continue with this current series of articles on Freeing The Heart, if we consider the basic physiology of the human circulatory system, it seems evident that when the heart and lungs reach full expansion with a minimum of resistance, the heart will eject more blood and at a greater velocity.When more blood exits the heart with greater speed, these variables increase the probability that freshly oxygenated and nutritious blood will reach all body tissues. Thus, as massage therapists, focusing our attention on reducing resistances to the expansion of the heart and lungs is one clear way that we may assist our clients with chronic somatic dysfunction; including those with either identified or unidentified cardiovascular disease.
In previous articles of this series, the major "intrinsic resistances" to the heart's expansion have been described. However, there are three additional "extrinsic" variables that reflexively contribute to the chronic tension of the thoracic cage. The first two are hip and shoulder subluxations, while the third is known as a Lateral Trauma Reflex.1,2
Typically, massage therapists do not use the word subluxation, yet this is what I consistently find in the hips and shoulders of most clients with chronic somatic dysfunction. To my perception, the generic definition of a subluxation in this regard is when the head of the femur or the humerus has moved far enough to the edge of its joint capsule so that the potentially unstable position stimulates the reflexive protection of the surrounding myofascial elements whose job it is to prevent dislocation. These subluxations may be mild, moderate or severe in my experience. Since first identifying and tracking these dysfunctions as significant variables to therapeutic progress some 25 years ago, more than 70% of my clients have presented with one or the other or both of these dysfunctions.
I have a theory about the reason why these subluxations occur as often as they do. My speculation is that our primate ancestors developed a more flexible anterior shoulder capsule and a more flexible posterior hip capsule as a functional adaptation to their day to day reality. Should they fall from a height, say from a tree, these joint capsule adaptations would assist their ability to tuck and roll suddenly (anterior shoulder going forward while the opposing posterior hip moves backward), creating a spin of their bodies such that upon impact their chances of survival would be enhanced and therefore their genes passed on.
When either femoral head slides posterior, then the job of weight bearing shifts to the sacroiliac joints and the lower three lumbar vertebrae with attendant splinting of the deep lateral rotator and gluteal myofascial structures of the pelvic girdle. Weight bearing also continues to shift up the kinetic chain to the deeper paraspinal structures which are designed to guide normal vertebral motions. This shift in weight bearing distribution has implications for the high incidences of low back dysfunction, sciatic syndromes, hip or knee degeneration and may also influence the internal function of the bowel, bladder or reproductive organs. These implications will be addressed in future articles.
My premise is that when a hip subluxation occurs, a subcortical reflex is set off that subtly stimulates the person to pull their arms against the sides of their chest. This, of course, becomes yet another resistance to the heart and lungs to reach their respective full expansions.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Thomas Hanna, PhD, for introducing me to the power of our subcortical human righting reflexes.1,2 And, what I have briefly described acknowledges the wisdom of Ida Rolf's famous statement that, "when the body is not supported from below, it will attempt to hang from above."3 Andrew Still, the father of osteopathic medicine, placed great value on the integrity of the hip joints inferring that all physiological processes worked better when their function was efficient and proper.4
In the shoulder joint, if the head of the humerus slips forward enough to stimulate the protective reflexes of either or both of these joints, then the result is the same. The body will pull the arm against the lateral chest and usually the same sided scapula will lose its ability to slide freely. The loss of ability of the scapulae to move freely has many implications for respiratory efficiency, as well as thoracic inlet inflexibility, cervical dysfunction and other upper extremity difficulties. Any or all of these symptoms contribute to an extrinsic resistance to heart/lung expansion.
The 3rd subcortical reflexive protection that I have clinically observed and treated repeatedly since 1988, is what Dr. Hanna called the Lateral Trauma Reflex. It is hypothesized that this reflex is most often stimulated by sudden movements like a severe fall or the act of being thrown through the air such as snow skiing, or being ejected from a car in an accident, being thrown off a motorcycle, bicycle, water skiing or jet-skiing.1,2 Certainly, other events may trigger this reflex as well.
One can easily assess whether this reflex is lingering in your clients by requesting that they out-stretch their arms over their head while grasping their wrists and gently pulling superiorly. If this reflex is present, then one side will resist normal elongation not only at the shoulder, but down along the full side of their body.
Dr. Hanna's explanation was when stimulated by sudden movements such as the ones described above, the subcortical elements within the brain stem reflexively contract tissues such as the latissimus and the abdominal oblique myofascial structures to create a generalized state of contraction.1,2 My clinical experience suggests that this reflex participates in the perpetuation of recurring hip and shoulder subluxations.
As it relates to the full expansion of the heart and lungs, the internal result is the same. The reflexive protection of the shoulder(s) or of an entire side of the body increases the resistance that these organs must overcome to reach toward full expansion and ultimately requires the heart to work harder.
I would speculate that as "successful adaptation" is the hallmark of our species, both the good news and the bad news is that the heart alone can only work harder for so long before the autonomic nervous system activates its back-up plan which is to systemically narrow the blood vessels (known as hypertension and high blood pressure) and finally resorts to racing the blood back to the heart. This final adaptation progressively is proposed to decrease the delivery of freshly oxygenated blood to various tissue sites usually the larger joints and various organ structures in a fashion that perhaps only genetic predisposition, psycho-emotional possibilities and a client's trauma or illness history might help us to understand.
The irony here is that the innate righting reflexes which evolution provided in order to survive long enough to reproduce may also "reduce our quality of life" as we age far beyond our childbearing years. The intention of this series has been to unravel the "mystic of cardiovascular disease progression" and empower us in our profession to realize and understand how we may positively contribute to our clients' quality of life.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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