Vaccines & Autism (Part 1)
It turns out chronic inflammation is the driver of autism expression. Unfortunately, those who emotionally embrace the vaccine issue rarely, if ever, consider this relationship, which hinders a rational view of the vaccine issue.
UnitedHealthcare Can't Seem to Keep Chiropractic Down
AA decade ago, UnitedHealthcare announced changes to its chiropractic services policy that declared manipulative therapy for headache unproven.
The Secondary Insurance Plan
I have a patient that has Medicare, but also has a secondary insurance plan that does cover acupuncture. How do I bill Medicare to get a denial so that I may bill this secondary payer?
Why Take X-Rays When You Already Have an MRI?
Let's clear up the issue regarding the efficacy of plain-film studies when an MRI study has already been performed. I review imaging studies primarily for chiropractors, and often their patients have been to other health care providers before finding their way to a DC.
The Classical Texts & Integrative Medicine
The acupuncture profession has been undergoing many changes in the past years. There has been a shift towards a more integrative approach to medicine as more hospitals include integrative departments.
"Community Care" for Vets: It's Really a Big Deal!
As a preamble, while I regrettably never served in the military, I have the highest respect for those who did and those who currently serve.
It's All About That Ki
As an industry are we shifting too much toward a Western mind set? We strive to understand how acupuncture works using imaging and extensive studies. We spend numerous hours of our training learning Western medicine and learning to speak their language. What happened to our core though?
News in Brief
WFC Among Founding Members of Global Rehab Alliance; HealthSource Selects GoChiroTV as Exclusive Digital Signage Partner; Western States' Online Degree Programs Among Best in the Nation; Logan University, University of Missouri-St. Louis Forge Partnership.
End of Life Treatment
TCM looks death in the face. We do not camouflage it as if it were poisonous. "We must allow our patients to die but we cannot allow them to perish," was my first lesson the day I met my teacher as a teenager.
Why the Automatic Denials for Modifiers 25 and 59?
Your experience is one shared by many chiropractic providers who bill through those plans. It appears to be the national trend, but by far is more prominent in Texas and Illinois.
A Resting of the Soul
In my pursuit of being a skilled health care provider, I focus on reading journals, attending classes, staying current on medicinal research, and choosing the correct billing codes. However, most of us would never have started down this career path if there wasn't something more.
Does Dairy Cause Dampness?
The topic of dairy consumption was brought up at a scalp acupuncture seminar I recently attended.
Confessions of a Former Drug Rep: Statins Are Endangering Your Overweight Patients
As I sit at my desk on the sixth anniversary of my successful liver transplant, I can't help but reflect on what caused that life-threatening ordeal. Looking back on my personal situation, I want to offer my insight into what is happening routinely to many patients.
Reducing Hip, Knee & Shoulder Replacements (Part 2)
In the first article in this series, "Early Detection Reduces Hip, Knee, & Shoulder Replacements," I described time tested screening procedures and perspectives as indicators of when to encourage your patients to seek further medical evaluation.
The Certified Practitioner
Certified Chinese herb practitioners often identify themselves with the credentials "LAc" (Licensed acupuncturist).
Doc, Are You a Social Media Holdout? Your Future Is Now
Whether you like it or not, to compete in any business, even chiropractic, you really should know and consider using social media. It is no longer a small, sleepy, local world we live in; it has become a far-reaching community.
Autoimmunity, Gut Health and Diet: Connect the Dots
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), autoimmune disease is recognized in approximately 24 million individuals in the U.S., consisting of more than 80 various disorders that contribute to the top 10 causes of death in female children and women of all age groups.
Valuable Adjunctive Therapies
Based on the latest CDC statistics, more than 795,000 Americans have strokes per year, 140,000 of which are lethal. Approximately 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic with an estimated health care and missed work cost of $34 billion annually.1
A Bold Strategy to Take Chiropractic to New Heights
Building public awareness of an entire profession requires strategic planning – especially when it pertains to the exploration of ground-breaking marketing tactics that target new audiences with key messaging about the value of chiropractic care.
Treating Pain With Nutrition
Back in 1910, when D.D. Palmer published The Chiropractor's Adjuster and introduced the world to what he called the "triad of health" – thoughts, trauma and toxins – he explained that the body can only be made optimally healthy if all three aspects of health are addressed.
#TechPain: Causes, Solutions
For the past several decades, the science of ergonomics has blossomed. The workplace is much safer and life is generally more pleasant thanks to the application of ergonomic principles.
The Hidden Hip in LBP: Critical Screening Tests
In 1998, Harvey used this test on 117 elite athletes and found excellent interrater reliability to differentially assess iliopsoas, quadriceps or TFL/ITB tightness.
Facebook Marketing 101
Many of the health care practitioners we work with have smaller practices. The provider tends to wear many hats – office manager, salesperson and healer.
Blockchain Health Records?
Keeping data secure has become a nightmare for the average consumer. Just consider general user account hacks on Yahoo (3 billion records compromised), eBay (145 million records compromised) and Facebook (87 million records compromised), to health record breaches involving Anthem Blue Cross (78 million records compromised) and TRICARE (almost 5 million records compromised).
Art of the Associateship: It's OK to Trust, But Verify
Trust is a valuable part of any business relationship. It serves as the foundation for all business operations and ultimately long-term success for owners, employees and customers. This is especially true in the world of health care.
Trending: CBD / Hemp Oil
A recent survey of DCs regarding cannabidiol (CBD) / hemp oil provides food for thought as to the viability of CBD-based products as a component of chiropractic patient care. Here are some observations from the executive summary of the survey:
Help Shape the New Neck Pain Best Practices Guideline
The Clinical Compass (originally the Council on Guidelines and Practice Parameters – CCGPP) has issued a call for interested chiropractic clinicians to help shape a new best practices guideline for chiropractic care of neck pain.
NCCAOM: A Route to National Certification
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is offering a route to achieve national certification—without having to take any of the NCCAOM exams. This is specifically for California licensed acupuncturists that meet the eligibility requirements.
February, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 02
Learning From the Largest Study on Cancer and Massage
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
The body of research on cancer and massage is growing. One study often cited to support massage therapy programs for cancer patients was performed by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City.Authored by Barrie Cassileth and Andrew Vickers, it's titled "Massage Therapy for Symptom Control: Outcome Study at a Major Cancer Center," and is the largest published study on cancer and massage to date. MSKCC is not new to the massage arena. Therapists have provided Swedish massage, light-touch massage and foot massage since 1999, and both inpatients and outpatients receive the work.
The "Big Five" Cancer Symptoms
Health care for cancer patients focuses on what some people call "The Big Five" symptoms patients face: pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Medications can help somewhat, but these five symptoms still can cause much suffering along the cancer journey. Massage therapists have offered anecdotal reports of symptom relief in their clients. If their experiences turn out to be true for significant numbers of people, this indeed will be news.
So far, only small studies have suggested a link between massage and symptom relief, and it's too early to claim "proof." Cassileth and Vickers strengthen the suggested link with this observational study of their clinical offerings, documenting their patients' responses to massage in a systematic way.
In this study, symptom cards were distributed to patients. These cards asked them to rate their symptoms on a 0-10 scale at baseline (pre-massage) and post-massage, five to 15 minutes afterward. Three years' worth of patients led to a large sample size.
Cards were returned for several thousand massage sessions, and the study staff pared them down to only the initial sessions for 1,290 different patients. Because of when the cards were completed, they supplied data only on immediate effects on symptoms, if any. To see about sustained effects on symptom relief, investigators followed up with approximately one-quarter of the patients by phone, 24 to 48 hours after their massage session. A large amount of data was collected.
Control Group or No Control Group?
It's important to note the absence of a control group in this study. This was not a "randomized, controlled clinical trial (RCT)." In an RCT, patients in the study are randomized to either an intervention (massage) group or a non-intervention (control) group, the intervention is applied (or not, in the case of the control), and the same measurements are taken from both groups for comparison. A control group is a key feature of a study because, if treatment X appears to be effective for symptom Y, it's extremely important to know whether symptom Y would have improved without treatment X. Symptoms tend to come and go, and symptoms improve for all sorts of reasons. Thus, a control/comparison group is vital if you want to isolate any effects that are specific to massage.
In class, I often am asked, "Why did this group carry out such a large study without bothering to include a control group? Isn't it a lot of wasted work?" This is an important question. For the goals of the study, a control group wasn't necessary. One goal was to see whether existing clinical services seemed to be helping people. Another was to check feasibility: whether massage therapy could indeed be delivered at high volume in a major cancer center. Even though the massage program had been up and running and was theoretically feasible, because it already was happening, numbers like this make feasibility real. This observational self-study was the perfect design for these particular goals.
A controlled clinical trial of this size would be very costly. However, such an observational study lays a foundation for one, paving the way for funding. The authors mentioned their plans for an RCT in the paper, and a look at the MSKCC Web site shows that one currently is underway on massage at the end of life. Moreover, the data from this observational study support not only the researchers themselves, but also the rest of us in seeking funding and support for RCTs on cancer and massage. So, their efforts were in no way wasted.
What Did They Find?
The researchers found what you might expect − immediate, dramatic reductions in all five symptoms. Notably, in patients who initially scored a given symptom at 4 or more, the average improvements in that symptom ranged from 42.9 percent in fatigue to 59.9 percent in anxiety. Patients who had Swedish and light-touch massage had stronger responses than those who received foot massage, but there was little difference in the outcomes between Swedish and light-touch massage.
Those were the immediate, post-massage effects. Follow-up scores looking for sustained effects were obtained from inpatients two to five hours after treatment and from outpatients 24 to 48 hours later. Improvement in outpatients' symptoms persisted over that time period. In contrast, inpatient scores, which initially had improved, started to worsen in just a few hours after massage treatment. This is an interesting difference!
Although it's tempting to focus only on massage benefits, other data about the massage protocols and other factors also were interesting. For example, investigators found that Swedish massage and foot massage were more commonly administered than light-touch massage, and that foot massage was used more often for inpatients than outpatients. The latter may reflect practical issues in massage with inpatients − being able to easily reach the feet of a patient surrounded by equipment, no need for repositioning, and so on. Swedish massage and light-touch massage were balanced between in- and outpatients. Moreover, the average length of the massage session for an inpatient was just 20 minutes, while the average session for outpatients was 60 minutes in length. This is a wide range in dose, an important clinical factor. In my experience, massage therapists are good for some lively conversation about the needed, tolerated and best massage dose for any given symptoms!
These data provide rich opportunity for speculation. Why did the outpatients seem to do better than the inpatients? Is it a function of the difference in massage dose? Is it a function of the type of massage protocols or how ill the patients were in the first place? Is it harder to sustain the benefits of massage in a hospitalized patient in an acute health crisis than in an outpatient? These questions call for further study.
The investigators themselves stated, "Major, clinically relevant, immediate improvements in symptom scores were reported following massage therapy. Given the observational nature of this study, we cannot make conclusions about the cause of this effect." Their caution is well-advised. If you cite this study in support of massage therapy for this population, always mention it was an observational study, rather than a controlled trial that would establish clearer cause and effect. Use the word "suggest" rather than "prove." However, also note that this study offered clinical outcomes similar to smaller controlled trials in this population. See my summary of two such massage trials in the May 2006 and November 2006 issues of Massage Today.
Even without a control group, this study offers therapists, hospital administrators and health care providers a stronger foundation for massage. If you are building a case for a massage therapy program in your facility, note that MSKCC found it feasible for inpatients and outpatients at high volume. If your prospective client is nervous about receiving massage during cancer treatment or isn't sure it would help, a study like this suggests other people found it safe and helpful. This study gathers together 1,290 valuable, individual stories of massage into one place and offers them to us to scrutinize, learn from and appreciate. Studies such as this move the work forward. They inspire us by their example, move us to ask further questions and help us to envision a future when massage therapy is part of regular cancer care.
Author's Note: The article is indexed at www.pubmed.gov. Search the author to yield the abstract and ordering information, or request a reprint from the author in writing at MSKCC. Cassileth BA, Vickers, AJ. Massage therapy for symptom control: outcome study at a major cancer center. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2004;28(3):244-9. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Integrative Medicine. "Our Research." Available at www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/1990.cfm. Accessed 12-06.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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