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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Muscles as Team Players
Synergistic dominance occurs as "helper" muscles are recruited to take over function when a "prime mover" muscle fails, much like when a football coach calls in the substitute players when a key player is injured. These synergistic stabilizing muscles are designed to help, but not be primary contributors, to a particular movement. Synergistic may be defined as "acting together to enhance the effect of another force." Therefore, if muscles perform the same task at a particular joint, they are termed synergistic.
Altered reciprocal inhibition occurs when a muscle is activated (the agonist), when it should not be. Excessive stress on the agonist decreases the signal strength to the opposing muscle (the antagonist). In altered reciprocal inhibition, the agonist muscle is being activated even though it is not actively contracting. Altered reciprocal inhibition is often the culprit causing synergistic dominance. For example, in forward-head postures, the client's suboccipitals are often maintained in a hypercontracted state as they battle gravity to keep the eyes level with the horizon. As the head cocks back and moves forward on the neck, the antagonist longus capitis muscles - which bind the anterior surface of the upper cervical vertebrae to the occipital base, become overstretched and weak (Figure 1).
Sensing the longus capitis muscles can no longer carry out their duty as primary head-on-neck flexors, the brain calls on the powerful sternocleidomastoids (SCMs) as pinch-hitters. The SCMs are reliable neck flexors when allowed to fire in proper order. However, they serve as poor subs for longus capitis due to their insertion at the mastoid process. When reciprocally weakened from suboccipital hypertonicity, longus capitis muscles give way to the powerful SCMs causing them to fire first in an effort to hold the head upright on the neck. But, instead of holding the head upright, the SCMs "extend" the head on the neck, causing a forward head posture. Neural and vascular structures embedded under the posterior O-A joint aren't happy with this excessive compression.
When the neck's normal firing-order sequence is disrupted, synergistic muscles begin pulling the head in different directions, sending torsional and compressive forces through the facet joints and intervertebral discs. This often results in chronic degenerative conditions such osteoarthritis (spurring), degenerative disc disease and ligamentous laxity. The client may come in complaining of migraines, radicular pain in the arms or thorax, or even an unsightly dowager's hump (Figure 2).
At some point, the brain may get "fed-up" with the flood of noxious mechanoreceptor and possibly chemoreceptor input, and decide to lock the area down with protective spasm. Of course, this may further alter the firing order pattern causing a pain-spasm-pain cycle that's often hard to break. The client's gait may reveal certain body parts that appear frozen in time, as chronically embedded compensations have caused the brain to sacrifice complexity of movement for stability. Fortunately, simple tests help determine if synergistic dominance exists at a particular joint.
Forward bending of the head and neck with the client in a supine position should initiate the following firing-order sequence: longus capitis, longus colli, SCMs and anterior scalenes. The deepest intrinsic muscles must fire first starting with longus capitis (flexing the head on the neck) followed closely by longus colli, which initiates the beginning of neck flexion. Anterior scalenes and SCMs can then join forces to produce smooth head-and-neck flexion.
The most commonly seen substitution pattern (SCMs, anterior scalenes, longus colli and longus capitis) causes the chin to reach toward the ceiling rather than tucking into the chest during the first two inches of flexion efforts (Figure 3).
The neck flexion test alerts the therapist as to which musculofascial tissues need lengthening and which must be strengthened. By performing the head-raise test before and after each neck session, aberrant substitution patterns can be easily identified and corrected. Tension-length imbalances are usually easy to fix once proper assessment is made. The technique demonstrated in Figure 4 is one of my favorites for treating adhesions and contractures in the SCM muscles and accompanying fascia. Please visit http://youtu.be/UmS2pPZIFnw as I perform the neck flexion test and SCM release.