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Time to Address the Global Impact of Pain
More people may be living longer, but they're not enjoying it, particularly when it comes to musculoskeletal health, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.
Melatonin: A Promising Natural Agent in the Prevention of ALS
A number of years ago, experimental studies suggested melatonin could block key steps in the development of Alzheimer's disease, primarily by acting as a brain antioxidant and inhibiting the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.
Embrace the Necessity of Change
My son, David, and my daughter, Deborah, play high-school and club soccer. For those of you who aren't familiar with this lifestyle, each practices two to three times a week, 48-50 weeks a year. Between the two, they play approximately 70 games annually.
The Roots of TCM in Depression Treatment
In traditional Chinese medicine, there is historical precedent for the treatment of so-called "Shen" (Heart-Mind) disorder, or disorder/dysregulation of the spirit, which is also considered as distinct but not separate from the cognitive function of the brain.
Online Marketing Basics: Google Ranking, Part 1
We all know there is so much opportunity with online marketing. And, let's face it, if you don't have a presence online with a website and social media, you are probably not where you want to be.
The Integrative Medicine Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together
The conversation is changing in the broader healthcare community with patients actually moving the discussion toward more integrative topics. Patients today want to know their options.
Coding for Functional Performance Testing and Measurements
I have noticed a trend for medical necessity of chiropractic services to be defined with statements and language indicating "functional improvement" as one of the standards for efficacy of treatment.
Medicine as Metaphor
The practice of medicine is both an art and a science. We study and learn the system so that when the time comes to apply it, there is a greater possibility of successfully helping others.
Merger Creates New Model of Care
Two San Francisco powerhouses of holistic healing, the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) and California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), are merging. Together they are building a visionary approach to applied integral health.
Exploring and Learning from the Gift of Life
I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to teach cadaver dissection classes and workshops with Stephen Cina at the New England School of Acupuncture over the past seven years, first through the Sports Medicine Acupuncture Program and later as a NESA elective course.
The Source-Luo Point Combination, Part 3
Dr. Nguyen Nghi (NVN) was born in Vietnam and is one of the most important scholars, writers, teachers and practitioners of modern time. Many of his theories and applications are the source of modern teachers from Europe and the United States.
How's Your Bucket? Two Key Benchmarks to Help Plug the Holes
Just about every businessperson knows it's far less expensive to hold on to a repeat customer than it is to acquire a new customer.
The Art of Creating a Healing Space
I always advise my graduates to examine their group practice or treatment rooms with fresh eyes after they leave my CE workshops. I tell them, "Ask yourselves - is your space qi filled, welcoming and healing? Or is it cold and clinical?"
Adding Microneedling to Your Clinic for Results and Profit
Microneedling has taken the beauty world by storm over the last 10 years. Under the names dermaroller, microneedling or skin needling you will see these treatments listed in the services of nearly every fashionable beauty salon and day spa in the country.
Abdominal Acupuncture for Eye Healing: The Sacred Turtle and Ba Gua Map
Our ideas about western medicine have shifted in recent decades, while the public is asking more from health care providers.
Viewpoints: Pes Anserine Tendonitis vs. Medial Meniscal Tear
What do you think stiff golf shoes, playing with a child, riding a bike, running and swimming the breaststroke all have in common? Each requires knee joint involvement. To quote physical therapist Gary Gray, "The knee is just the dumb guy in the middle."
A Simple Exam Protocol to Assess Lower-Extremity Imbalance
One of the most common conditions of the human frame is excessive foot pronation, in which the foot rolls inward, creating a foot that is flatter, wider and longer. A resultant subluxation pattern of the various tarsals and metatarsals results.
Are You Using Your Professional Title Ethically?
Many faculty members teaching in the classroom or performing research within academic institutions have earned doctorates and use the title of "Doctor" or "Dr." They are usually referred to as professor or doctor within the classroom by students.
Sacroiliac Pain: A Complex Puzzle
I don't think we manage SI misalignment properly. First, we tell our patients they have an SI problem. I am not convinced this is accurate, and I will speak to that issue. Second, I think repetitive mobilization of the SI joints is not useful.
Can Acupuncture Treat Knee Pain?
Recently, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that, "neither laser nor needle acupuncture conferred benefit over sham for pain or function" among older chronic knee pain patients.
Colon Health and TCM
I still remember many years ago, the loud "Yuck" from my wife at the time when we were together watching the Chinese movie "Last Emperor."
March, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 03
Learning How to Track Anterior Knee Pain
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
How many times have you heard someone say "Oh my aching knees?" It happens with frequency among athletic populations, but just as frequently plagues individuals who are not highly active. Unfortunately, people may have their condition dismissed and told it is just arthritis and they can live with it or perhaps take anti-inflammatory medications.Yet, in many cases, anterior knee pain is a soft-tissue problem that involves complex biomechanics of the knee that are not thoroughly evaluated and could be effectively treated with soft-tissue approaches like massage. A deeper look at these structural and mechanical issues helps in developing a better plan for using massage in addressing anterior knee pain.
There are several key anatomical structures that play a role in anterior knee pain. The quadriceps muscle group has the primary role of producing the power of knee extension for locomotion. Knee pain doesn't usually derive directly from the quadriceps muscle. More often, dysfunction lies in the distal tendon of the quadriceps muscles or the other connective tissues that connect the muscle group to the tibia.
The majority of quadriceps fibers attach to the tibia by way of the patellar tendon. However, the connection of the quadriceps with the tibia is not limited to the patellar tendon alone. The quadriceps retinaculum, also called the extensor retinaculum, has a key role in helping transmit the contraction force of the muscles to the distal tibia (Figure 1). The retinaculum is often overlooked as a pain producing tissue, but it is frequently the cause of anterior knee pain when patellar tracking disorders are present, which are discussed below.
The patella is another structure that is crucial to knee function, but often misunderstood. It is commonly thought that the primary function of the patella is to protect the knee. But that's not really its role. Its primary function is to improve the power of the quadriceps. Because the patella is embedded within the patellar tendon, it acts like a fulcrum to pull the tendon farther away from the joint's axis of rotation making the quadriceps group more powerful (Figure 2).
Biomechanics and Tracking Disorders
The patella has a ridge on the underside of it and this ridge fits in the groove between the two femoral condyles (Figure 3). As the knee moves in flexion and extension the patella tracks in a superior and inferior direction. The ridge of the patella must stay centered between the femoral condyles for proper knee mechanics.
Unfortunately, in many cases the patella does not track straight up and down in the groove. Muscle imbalance and other alignment factors such as a large Q angle can lead to problems in correct patellar tracking. When the patella is tracking incorrectly it is most commonly pulled in a lateral direction. This is called a lateral tracking disorder.
If not corrected, tracking disorders in the patella can cause long-term degeneration of the knee. If the patella is being pulled to one side it causes excess friction between the underside of the patella and the femoral condyles. The excess friction produces a softening and degeneration of the articular cartilage on the underside of the patella, which is a condition called chondromalacia patellae.
Tracking disorders of the patella cause anterior knee pain, but there is still some controversy as to which tissues are the source of the primary pain. For example, it was once thought that tracking disorder pain was caused by the cartilage degeneration of chondromalacia. However, the articular cartilage has very little innervation, so it is unlikely that cartilage degeneration is a primary source of knee pain. The layer of bone just underneath the articular cartilage is called subchondral bone. It is richly innervated and it is likely that tracking disorder pain may result from damage that has extended all the way to the subchondral bone.
There is another likely explanation for anterior knee pain resulting from tracking disorders that does not appear as frequently in much of the orthopedic literature. The patellar retinaculum and other connective tissues that help attach the quadriceps to the tibia are also richly innervated. An imbalance of tensile forces on these retinacular tissues can cause anterior knee pain in the soft tissues.
An effective way to identify if the retinaculum and other extensor mechanism connective tissues are a key factor in the anterior knee pain is to stress these tissues while palpating them. The most effective way to do this is to perform a resisted knee extension and palpate with moderate to deep pressure all of the connective tissue structures around the knee while the contraction is held. This same procedure could be done by engaging an eccentric contraction of the quadriceps muscles while these structures are being palpated. The eccentric contraction has the tissue being lengthened at the same time it is being deeply palpated, which exaggerates the stress on the tissue and makes it easier to identify problem areas.
Many tracking disorders originate from imbalance in the pulling forces between the different quadriceps muscles. Massage can be a highly effective means of helping to restore normal biomechanical balance in the knee. Unfortunately, it is greatly underutilized in the traditional rehabilitation community for addressing this problem. Invasive techniques such as cutting the lateral retinaculum surgically so it doesn't pull the patella so far laterally are often used before all conservative measures been attempted.
Massage treatment can be very helpful in balancing the excess pull from the lateral side of the patella. Once the key areas of tightness and sensitivity have been identified they can be addressed with very specific stripping techniques and those involving active engagement as well. By applying deep specific elongation techniques with a small contact surface like a thumb, fingertip, or pressure tool, the practitioner is able to provide a highly specific treatment strategy that is more focused than many of the other general approaches such as relying only on strengthening techniques to restore balance in the region.
Many practitioners have shown and demonstrated excellent clinical results with soft-tissue treatments for tracking disorders. Now we need to compare those treatments with more traditional methods and see if they are clinically effective across the board. If they are found to be more successful, and it is likely that they would be, there would be a greater body of supporting evidence to encourage a different treatment approach that includes massage.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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