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Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
August, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 08
A New Model for Low Back Pain and Dysfunction
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
In my 33 years of clinical experience, it has been my observation that chronic low back pain and spinal dysfunction are one of the most prevalent contributors to human suffering and reduced quality of life. I was truly surprised when my research discovered that 95% of all spinal surgeries occur at L4-5 and L5-S1.1
So, how might we enhance our capacity as massage therapists and bodyworkers to assist people with these ailments? One way is to have an expanded and clearer understanding of the anatomical variables that have clinically shown themselves to be related to the persistence of these problems. Let's explore a few of the anatomical relationships that are structurally and physiologically related to low back function. The understanding of these relationships have assisted me in helping many.
In 1987, Dr. Jean-Pierre Barral, DO and Frank Lowen, LMT, an amazing anatomical artist, detailed that the mesenteric root suspends the small intestine from two lumbar vertebrae: the anterior bodies of L2, the disc between and L3.2 If the balanced suspension of the small intestine is spasmed, might this mean that the 20 to 25 feet of the small intestine could be a variable influencing the chronic nature of low back dysfunction?
A year earlier, in my first muscle energy technique course with Dr. Richard MacDonald, DO, he proposed two exceptionally useful concepts of how biomechanics function in the human body. First, that the feet, ankles, knees and hips are all designed to carry weight. Secondly, that from the SI joints on up through the kinetic chain of the axial skeleton, the transfer of weight is designed to go through the joint spaces of the respective facet joints in the cross-crawl pattern of walking, "without loading the bones or their discs." Thus, these facet joints were theorized to function as a relay team, passing the baton of force through their respective joints spaces, thereby creating momentum and decreasing effort after the first few steps of forward motion.
However, in the presence of spinal motion dysfunctions affecting this baton hand-off, the forces of standing and movement shift from being channeled through the joint spaces and instead become "load bearing" especially to the lumbar vertebrae and the sacrum. This osteopathic theory also suggests that such shifts add compression to the discs and distorts the motions of the facet relationships, often compressing the exiting spinal nerves. Could this be a factor in the frequency of sciatica with its nerve roots beginning at L3 with contributions from L4, 5 and S1?
Over the course of my early clinical practice, the understanding and practical application of these concepts had served me very well for many years. Then, another important clinical discovery occurred that broadened the scope and depth of my understanding of how low back dysfunction occurs and so often becomes a chronic problem.
One day in 1996, an 11-month-old infant was brought to the physical therapy clinic where I was working in Eastern Ohio. The presenting problem was that an infant was developmentally beyond the time when humans naturally begin to crawl. As the infant had a deformed head, neurological reasons were suspected as the reason. After a thorough examination by the head PT, I was asked to evaluate the infant boy and after checking his GI track and palpating his iliopsoas muscles, I was holding his knees and feeling through his femurs into his hip sockets and suddenly there was an audible sound that was a cross between serial clicks and multiple soft pops. My brain flashed an amazing number of sensory pictures through my hands into my visual cortex and I turned to the head PT and softly said, "I wonder if this little boy's femoral heads just recaptured their sockets?"
Three days later, his mother called the office with great excitement that her son was crawling "up a storm" and was actually trying to walk. My subsequent clinical experience has correlated the prevalence of posterior subluxation(s) of the hip and the anterior subluxation of the shoulder joints. A recent article in my Massage Today column describes these in more detail.3 However, in summary, the principle is that when one or both hips sublux, the weight bearing and the transfer of the forces of standing and movement are shifted to the SI joints and the lower lumbar segments.
My clinical experience suggests that low back pain and dysfunction often follow. Shoulder subluxations may also participate in perpetuating such dysfunctions via the latissimus dorsi myofascial fibers.4 Now consider that the mesenteric root of the small intestine has become taut for many possible gastrointestinal reasons including chronic stress. Further, consider that the ability of L3 and then L2 is unable to make the baton pass of the forces of standing and movement up the kinetic chain. Which lumbar segments are going to carry the load? The answer is almost invariably L3, L4, 5 and S1. Maybe it is not a surprise that the discs of these segments and especially that of L4-5 and L5-S1 discs so frequently bulges or herniates.
Another revealing anatomical caveat from Dr. MacDonald's functional anatomy courses was that for women, the iliolumbar ligament extends from the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS) to L5 and L4 whereas, for most men, it connects only to L5. You can reflect on the clinical frequency of occurrence between men and women presenting with an obvious low back side shear pattern. My experience is clearly more males than females.
So, please stop and consider how often this pattern may have exhibited itself in your clients. Unstable support from below... and a blocked ability to distribute the forces of standing and movement along the full length of the axial skeleton... concentrates these forces to bounce back down toward the most common segments associated in low back pain and dysfunction episodes... L3-4-5-S1.
A key concept of the Inside-Out Paradigm is that distribution of forces is an essential component of understanding how the body balances itself in response to traumatic mechanical distortions and in response to neurological viscero-somatic reflex arcs which use the spinal cord to express their distress and/or the onset of pathological changes. Many models of evaluation and treatment imagine that the human body is a system of guy-wires. My clinical experience suggests that many more variables need to be considered as outlined in this article. No model is complete, including this one.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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