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Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Positional Release Self Care for Soreness and Other Pains
If your patients are anything like mine, they will report to you that there is commonly a degree of discomfort, soreness or stiffness a day or so following manual treatment no matter how gentle or appropriate that treatment might have been. As a result, I offer advice regarding home care of such problems, and I tend to repeat a mantra to most patients who have received treatment for musculoskeletal problems as they depart. I ask them to largely ignore any soreness they might feel the next day. I tell them that it is perfectly normal for there to be an adaptive reaction/response to treatment for a day or so of their knee, neck, or whatever focal point of distress brought them to see me and that it will probably not be until around 48 hours later that they will know whether today's treatment was helpful.
And of course, if your patient happens to have a chronically painful problem, it's highly likely that a degree of sensitization will have occurred, making their responses and reactions to treatment far less predictable and potentially excessive. For more on that subject please see my May 2011 article, "Understanding Central Sensitization"
How common are short-term adverse effects following manual therapy? Bronfort et al (2010), conducted a major review of the effectiveness of manual therapies and it also looked at negative effects: "Adverse events associated with manual treatment can be classified into two categories: 1) benign, minor or non-serious and 2) serious. Generally, those that are benign are transient, mild to moderate in intensity, have little effect on activities, and are short lasting. Most commonly, these involve pain or discomfort to the musculoskeletal system. Less commonly, nausea, dizziness or tiredness are reported."
Carnes et al (2010), also conducted a detailed review of the evidence relating to the safety and side-effects following use of manual therapy modalities and concluded that: "Nearly half of patients after manual therapy experience adverse events that are short-lived and minor; most will occur within 24 hours and resolve within 72 hours. The risk of major adverse events is very low, lower than that from taking medication."
Even in relation to muscle energy technique (MET), one of my favorite modalities because of its extreme versatile efficacy, gentleness and safety, there are commonly minor degrees of discomfort for a day or two following treatment, even when appropriately applied. Greenman (2003) has explained some of the processes leading to post-MET-treatment discomfort: "All muscle contractions influence surrounding fascia, connective tissue ground substance and interstitial fluids, and alter muscle physiology by reflex mechanisms. Fascial length and tone is altered by muscle contraction... The patient's muscle effort requires energy and the metabolic process of muscle contraction results in carbon dioxide, lactic acid and other metabolic waste products that must be transported and metabolized. It is for this reason that the patient will frequently experience some increase in muscle soreness within the first 12 to 36 hours following MET treatment. Muscle energy procedures provide safety for the patient since the activating force is intrinsic and the dosage can easily be controlled by the patient, but it must be remembered that this comes at a price. It is easy for the inexperienced practitioner to overdo these procedures and in essence to overdose the patient."
In other words, when correctly applied, MET will commonly lead to mild discomfort for several days, BUT, when incorrectly applied (contractions too strong, stretching too vigorous, etc.) more severe reactions may result and without the bonus of benefits that correct usage might offer! For more on muscle energy techniques, you can visit my web site, www.leonchaitow.com/muscle.htm.
Are there strategies that you might be able to teach patients to manage this adaptive stage? What else might you offer your patients as self-care for minor reactions to treatment? Depending on the specifics of the individual's problems, a number of options are available, ranging from simple hydrotherapy (hot and cold compresses, ice massage) to relaxation methods, self-stretching (if appropriate) and from my perspective the most potent self-care we can teach patients in pain is self-applied positional release.
Derived from osteopathy, Positional Release Technique (PRT), or that version of it known as Strain-Counterstrain (SCS), can relieve pain by relaxing tight (shortened) tissues and improving local circulation. Unlike massage and stretching, PRT is safe to apply even on damaged or inflamed tissues. If painfully shortened (hypertonic) soft tissues can be gently placed into a position in which they are made even shorter, pain is usually temporarily removed. If that "position of ease" is maintained for a minute or so, the tight, tense muscle (and often trigger points housed there) are likely to release and relax, sometimes permanently, but at least for a while with pain diminishing subsequently.
Try the following exercise, self-treatment of tense suboccipital muscles, and consider teaching it to patients as an example of this remarkable method of self-care. This is adapted from Chapter 5 of my book, Positional Release Techniques.
Patient instructions for suboccipital self-treatment using SCS:
General Guidelines For SCS Self-Care Of Pain Anywhere Else
If a painful point/local area is on the front of the body, bend forward to relieve it; the further it is to one side, the more you should slowly turn toward that side. If the point is on the back of your body, bend slightly backward until the pain reduces a little, then turn away from the side where you feel the pain, and "fine-tune" to release the discomfort. If the point is on a limb, try to shorten the relevant muscles (don't stretch them) by slowly moving the area to find the position in which the pain is most reduced. When there are many areas of pain it is often best to start with those nearer the head and nearer the middle of the body, using this extremely noninvasive and effective form of treatment.