A Simple Miracle: Treatment for Mysterious Foot Pain
Under the old ICD-9 diagnosis codes, there was actually a diagnosis for "adventures in medical mismanagement" to describe patients who had been run down the rabbit hole of poor case management and care. I encountered one of those patients in my office today.
Electrotherapy Gives Hope for Patients With Spinal Cord Injury
There has been little optimism for recovery from a spinal cord injury because the central nervous system does not repair itself well. The severity of the injury depends on the affected area.
2018 Gallup-Palmer Report: Key Findings
The fourth annual Gallup – Palmer College report is out; here are some of the key findings excerpted directly from the executive summary regarding Americans' experiences with chiropractic care relative to the management of neck and back pain:
VA Chiropractic Reduces Veterans' Use of Opioids?
Utilization of pain medication – particularly opioids – has been massively high in among veterans for decades, but Veterans Administration guidelines that recommend nonpharmacological first-line treatment options create a greater opportunity than ever for VA chiropractors to make a dent in the opioid and overall pain-management crisis.
The Top 5 Strategies to Manage Your Reputation Online
You don't need an acupuncture website anymore! Okay, maybe that statement is a little over the top. But it's not that far from the truth. A recent study on Google searches revealed that 34 percent of all searches resulted in no clicks at all.
Knocking Down the Doors: Big Media Success for F4CP
Three articles authored by a DC or a chiropractic organization and promoting the value of chiropractic care – par for the course if you're Dynamic Chiropractic, but if you're Forbes, BOSS Magazine and Becker's Spine Review, three media outlets tailored toward high-level executives and decision-makers, we're talking about an entirely different story.
A New President for AOMA: A Conversation With Mary Faria
Dr. Faria was formerly a health care executive for over 30 years, the last 17 of those years as vice president and chief operating officer of Seton Southwest Hospital in Austin. She chairs the board of Austin Mayor's Health and Fitness Council.
VA Choice Claims Denied? Here's How You Can Get Paid
The VA Choice Program (PC3 as well) indeed pays for chiropractic care including manipulation (CMT 98940-98943) and some physical medicine services.
Cynicism and Burnout: It Can Happen to You
Trying to achieve fulfillment as a doctor in today's health care environment is a "rigged game" and physicians are programmed to burn out. At least this is the opinion of Dike Drummond, MD, in his thehappymd.com blog.
News in Brief
A Comprehensive Model of Spine Care; Dr. Christine Goertz Appointed Vice Chair of PCORI Board of Governors.
Malpractice Insurance: Understanding the Cover Letter
Purchasing medical liability insurance is quick, easy and not terribly expensive. The benefits are clearly listed on a certificate—but do you really know what you are getting with that peace of mind?
Bad for the Back! Exercises That Can Prevent Healing
The questions "Who gets well? Who doesn't? Why?" prompted the following observations based on my close to 40 years of chiropractic practice.
A Guide to CBD Dosing: The Correlation Between Dose & Potency
There is an abundance of information available about the daily use of whole plant hemp CBD oil to help maintain and support a healthy lifestyle, however there remains a lack of sound guidance on CBD oil dosing.
Goodbye, Year of the Dog: Two-Thousand-Eighteen Comes to a Close
As Year of the Dog (2018) comes to a close we can look back and see the progress this profession has made. For example, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) added traditional medicine codes, which were released in June.
The Raw Food Debate: Practitioners Discuss Nutrition & TCM
Licensed acupuncturist and fellow blogger Elissa Gonda joins this month's column for a conversation about raw food diets. She brings her perspective on the healing potential of a raw primal diet.
The Truth About Malpractice Claims Against DCs (Pt. 1)
Over the past 20 years of active practice, I have seen a number of scary case scenarios regarding signs, symptoms and patient presentations in my office. These presentations scream, This patient is going through an event or This patient does not need chiropractic care, they need emergency care.
Dietary Supplements That Help Restless Leg Syndrome
It is estimated that 7-10 percent (possibly up to 15 percent) of the U.S. population has restless leg syndrome. It is a bit more common in women than men.
Year in Review: DC's Best of the Best for 2018
As 2018 winds down, let's highlight the most popular articles in Dynamic Chiropractic by month (December – this issue – excluded, of course).
A Soy Isoflavone That Packs a Punch: Genistein
Soybeans contains unique substances called isoflavones, most notably genistein and daidzein, which have been shown to block the buildup the dangerous type of testosterone in the prostate gland linked to prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.
Reaching for Our Roots: Healing Digestion With a Simple Traditional Therapy
Are you ignoring a powerful tool in your doctor's bag? Many acupuncturists realize that Spleen Qi deficiency has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. Yet, we don't prioritize educating our patients about the importance of warm, cooked foods.
Map It: Understanding the Customer's Journey
One of the biggest marketing mistakes most practice owners or administrators make is not putting themselves in their prospective or current patients' shoes. How do they think and feel about you and your practice? What makes them take action?
ACA Champions H.R. 7157; ICA Voices Major Concerns
While the American Chiropractic Association recently penned an open letter – signed by not only the ACA, but also the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations, Association of Chiropractic Colleges, Clinical Compass and a number of state associations.
Exercise Therapy Following Motor Vehicle Trauma (Pt. 2)
In cases of cervical spine trauma, particularly trauma related to a motor vehicle accident, my plan is to teach the patient one exercise per session and build a progression. This is an effective approach I call an "activation circuit."
Reality Check: Do We Need to Try Harder?
While waiting for a flight to a recent chiropractic event, I overheard the ticket agent at the gate next to mine on his cellphone. His side of the conversation went something like this: "Where are you now? How long before you think you can be at the gate? OK, that will work, see you soon."
When Computers Cause UCS: Adjusting Strategy
With the widespread use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, the incidence of "text neck" has reached almost epidemic proportions. But there is another challenge to the spinal health and well-being of our technology-driven society.
Acupuncture in Hospital Systems: Transitioning From Tolerated to Celebrated
I've had the pleasure of working with Susan Luria, Director of University Hospitals Health Systems Connor Integrative Health Network (CIHN) for the past year on the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) Board of Directors and Federal Policy Committee.
August, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 08
Searching for Trigger Points: Tips to Consistently Relieve Pain
By Valerie DeLaune, LAc
How much do you really know about trigger point therapy? Most likely you received 15 to 30 hours of training in trigger points in your massage school, or at least have purchased charts with referral patterns and books on trigger points.But did you learn a systematic approach to identifying likely culprits and resolving perpetuating factors – the things that cause and keep trigger points activated? Would you like to dramatically increase your success rate with resolving your client's pain? Since about 75% of pain is caused by trigger points, learning how to treat them is essential to a successful medical-massage practice.
Your Brain on Trigger Points
What you do with your brain is far more important than what you do with your hands. Massage therapists can successfully treat trigger points by applying pressure for eight to sixty seconds, by repeated stroking or with a combination of or variations on those techniques. But for any technique to work (whether manual therapy or needling), it must be applied in the correct place.
Trigger point therapy is like doing "detective work," you need to know how to use the "pain guides" to determine which muscles to search for trigger points. You also need to know how to assess your clients for perpetuating factors, the conditions that cause and keep trigger points activated. Teaching self-help techniques helps your clients participate in their healing process and provides them with tools they can use in the future.
Medical histories and pain mapping: get a comprehensive medical history from your client which at a minimum identifies all of the potential perpetuating factors that may be causing their trigger points. Go through the medical history at the beginning of the first treatment and ask questions to clarify the information they have given you; this should take about 1.5 hours for the first session. Continue to ask them questions as your treat them and spend a few minutes checking in with them and taking notes at the beginning of each subsequent treatment.
Have them mark their pain patterns on some kind of outline of the body before each treatment (known as "pain mapping") and ask them to rate the intensity and frequency of their symptoms so that you can track progress, or lack thereof. Try and get them to be as specific as possible so that you can match their referral patterns with common patterns on charts. Don't let them mark "x"'s or big circles, or color in large areas a solid color. Show them your trigger point referral pattern charts and explain to them that you are trying to match their pain patterns with some common patterns so that you will know where to start looking for the source of their pain.
Even if they are not improving, you can use that information to modify your treatment. Chances are you haven't located all of the trigger points that need treatment, there are perpetuating factors that still need to be addressed, or you need to refer them out for further evaluation since about 25% of pain is caused by conditions other than trigger points.
Use pain guides: about 74% of commonly found trigger points are not located within their area of referred pain. Unless you know where to search for trigger points, and you only work on the area where your client feels pain, they probably won't get relief. Familiarity with referral patterns gives us a starting point of where to look for the trigger points that are actually causing pain, but you must understand how to use the pain guides so that you will know which muscles to check.
For example, if your client has pain in their temple area, you need to know to check the temporalis, upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid and some of the muscles in the posterior neck. Of these muscles, only the temporalis may contain trigger points which are located within the area of pain referral, so most of the time, unless you know which muscles to check, you won't come across the trigger point by accident.
It's not sufficient just to have a set of charts on your wall to look at and try to find referral patterns, since none of them have all of the potential referral patterns diagrammed. You also need to keep in mind that the books and chart sets only diagram the most common referral patterns and trigger point locations. Your client may have an uncommon referral pattern and trigger point locations. Pain guides and referral pattern diagrams are only a starting point.
Also, keep in mind that trigger point referral patterns from multiple trigger points can overlap, causing a composite referral pattern, as is often the case with migraines and other headaches. Buy at least one comprehensive trigger point book that includes pain guides so that you can see a list of muscles to check for any given part of the body, and buy a set of referral pattern charts to keep on your treatment room walls.
Often trigger points in different muscles can cause very similar referral patterns. For example, common referral patterns caused by trigger points in the supraspinatus, infraspinatus and scalenes are almost identical. One way to narrow down the culprit(s) is to know the symptoms and perpetuating factors for each muscle.
Spend some time reviewing your clients medical history form, pain mapping diagrams, and your chart notes and compare them with information for each muscle found in a comprehensive trigger point book. Trigger points can cause many non-pain symptoms which can help you narrow it down. For example, if your client comes to you with symptoms such as headaches in the frontal area and/or base of the skull, but also reports eye or ear symptoms such as tinnitus or eyelid twitching, that would be a clue to check the sternocleidomastoid muscle for trigger points. Trigger points can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, urinary frequency, menstrual cramps, dizziness and buckling or locking knees – symptoms most clients or health care providers wouldn't think to associate with trigger points.
You should decide which trigger points to treat first. Doctors Travell and Simons, who wrote the two-volume set of medical texts on trigger point treatments, listed muscles in their book's pain guides in the order they found were most likely to be causing the pain referral. In the previous example, they list the trapezius first and the posterior neck muscles last. But keep in mind, that depending on your geographic locale and practice specialty, you may find the order might be different for your practice; your clients will have different patterns depending on their work and hobbies and underlying medical conditions.
You also need to be familiar with primary trigger points and satellite trigger points. Once a trigger point has referred symptoms to any given area for any length of time, trigger points will form within the zone of referral, known as satellite trigger points. Then the satellite trigger points will cause their own symptom referral pattern, causing what I call a "trigger point chain-reaction." For example, there are at least eleven muscles that may contain trigger points which refer pain to the posterior portion of the deltoid muscle (the levator scapula, scalenes, supraspinatus, teres major, teres minor, subscapularis, serratus posterior, latissimus dorsi, triceps and iliocostalis thoracis). If you only treat the satellite trigger points in the deltoid, the deltoid pain will keep returning because you didn't treat the primary trigger points.
If your client has multiple symptomatic areas, don't try to treat everything in one session. Have your client prioritize their two areas of most concern, and focus on those. If you try to do too much, you likely won't treat any one area well. If your client has widespread pain, chances are they have some kind of systemic perpetuating factor that needs to be addressed and you will need to refer out to a practitioner who can order laboratory or other tests. During subsequent treatments, you may decide to continue working on the same area before moving onto another symptomatic area, or you may decide that other areas of pain are related and need to be addressed before the primary area of pain can be completely resolved.
Any decrease in intensity and/or frequency of symptoms, or decrease in size of the symptomatic area is an improvement that indicates that you treated at least some of the pertinent trigger points. Be sure to ask how they felt immediately after the last treatment. If they felt better even for awhile, ask what they were doing when their symptoms returned. Often that is a clue to at least one of their aggravating perpetuating factors and an indication that it needs to be addressed for lasting relief.
Next, identify and eliminate perpetuating factors. Trigger points may form after a sudden trauma or injury or they may develop gradually. Common initiating and perpetuating factors are mechanical stresses, injuries, nutritional problems, emotional factors, sleep problems, acute or chronic infections, and organ dysfunction and disease, though there are many more. If perpetuating factors aren't identified and treated, your client may improve temporarily, but their symptoms will keep returning. Most clients will have multiple perpetuating factors. When you buy a trigger point book, make sure it contains extensive sections on perpetuating factors and become very familiar with each factor and its symptoms.
Because resolving these factors are crucial for long-term relief, you need to be familiar with all of the potential perpetuating factors and the symptoms of each. For example, if your client is suffering from fatigue, depression and insomnia, you might suspect anemia or hypothyroidism, and you may need to refer your client to a health care provider who can order laboratory tests.
Even if it is not within your scope of practice to diagnose and treat many of these perpetuating factors, as a massage therapist, it is important that you have some ideas of whom you can refer your client to, who can diagnose and treat particular perpetuating factors that you suspect.
Learn self-help techniques so you can teach them to your clients, if it is within the scope of your practice. Refer them to books that reinforce self-help techniques for perpetuating factors, pressure techniques and stretches, especially if it is not within the scope of your practice. Clients who use self-help techniques and eliminate their perpetuating factors get better at least five times faster than those who just have you work on them.
Be careful not to overwhelm your client with too many suggestions; if you give them too many, they likely won't do anything. My recommendation is to recommend to clients no more than two self-help techniques per session, typically one pressure and stretch combination and one perpetuating factor to resolve. Help them find a way they can be successful so they will want to do more. For example, if you think walking would be beneficial for your client, suggesting an hour per day five days per week might be unrealistic for that client. Ask them if they could manage 20 minutes per day for three days per week. At their next visit, ask them how it went. If they weren't able to do it, find out why and problem-solve with them to see if you can find something they can/will do. Once they feel the benefits, they will likely want to do more. Above all, don't criticize them for failing to follow your suggestions. Keep a problem-solving dialogue going with them to try to find something they can achieve and feel successful.
A Protocol, Not a Technique
The trigger point protocol developed by Dr. Janet Travel and Dr. David G. Simons includes additional diagnostic techniques such as range-of-motion evaluation and gait analysis, but the treatment tips given here are the most easily integrated into your existing medical massage practice and most likely within the scope of your practice.
While there is a lot of information to learn about trigger points and how they develop in each muscle and manifest symptoms, fortunately there are now several good sets of charts and reference books to choose from. Trigger point continuing education classes are offered around the country, including several 100+ hour programs that teach the full protocol. Learning about trigger points will improve both your assessment skills and your success rate.
Valerie DeLaune is a licensed acupuncturist and certified neuromuscular therapist. DeLaune has authored eleven books on trigger point self-help techniques. Pain Relief with Trigger Point Self-Help, a book on CD ROM was released in 2004 and the print format was released in 2011. DeLaune teaches workshops in the U.S. and currently resides in Alaska. For more information, visit www.triggerpointrelief.com.
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