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Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
July, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 07
Exploring the Anterior Pelvic Tilt
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Lumbopelvic pain is a common complaint that is not always remedied with many standard low back pain treatments. For many people, some treatments have been helpful, but the condition still persists.Frequently, the pain problem exists because an underlying postural or structural deviation has not been properly addressed. One such postural problem that might be considered is an anterior pelvic tilt, which can contribute to lumbopelvic pain in a number of ways.
The upright posture and locomotion of humans poses biomechanical balance challenges for the pelvis. The weight and force loads of the upper body are transmitted and distributed to the two lower extremities through the pelvis. When the pelvis is not aligned properly numerous biomechanical problems result, which can be painful and debilitating. Let's take a look at what constitutes an anterior pelvic tilt, some of its detrimental effects, and what role massage can play in helping to resolve it.
For the sake of this discussion, the pelvis will be addressed as a whole, even though it is composed of two separate halves, called innominates. The left and right innominate can move independent of each other, but most postural distortions occur when the left and right halves are both out of alignment in the same direction.
An anterior pelvic tilt occurs when the pelvis rotates anteriorly in the sagittal plane. The sacrum is tightly wedged between the two innominates so when the pelvis tilts anteriorly, the sacrum moves with it. The sacrum is tightly bound to the L5 vertebra, which is bound to adjoining vertebra. When the sacrum tips forward, the lower lumbar vertebrae are subsequently tilted forward, creating an increase in the lumbar lordosis at the same time.
There is a natural degree of anterior tilt in the pelvis that is necessary for proper movement and shock absorption. When the degree of tilt is too much, it is considered a dysfunctional anterior tilt. However, it is difficult to get an accurate determination of the exact degree of anterior tilt without a goniometer. Consequently, many clinicians use approximate alignment references to determine if the tilt is excessive.
However, just because it is challenging to define the anterior tilt, doesn't mean we should ignore it. Although massage therapists may not have the training to make accurate goniometer measurements, there are some simple tips for determining if a pelvic tilt could be a contributing factor to a clients pain. One way to evaluate the tilt with visual examination is to look at your client from the side. Place one finger on the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS) and the other finger on the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS). If the ASIS is more than a half inch lower (and slightly more in females), this would be considered a dysfunctional anterior tilt (Figure 1).
A degree of lordotic curvature in the lumbar region is necessary for proper shock absorption in the spine. However, too much lordosis causes multiple problems. As the lordosis is increased, there is increased pressure on the facet joints of the spine (Figure 2). The increased facet joint compression can lead to pain, irritation and even early arthritic changes in the spine.
An increased lordosis is frequently caused by excessive hypertonicity in the lumbar extensor muscles. Tightness in this muscle group is both a cause and an effect of the exaggerated anterior tilt. The lumbar extensor muscles are often tight in conjunction with the iliopsoas in a postural pattern known as the Lower Crossed Syndrome (Chaitow, Delany vol 1, 2000). A vicious cycle of muscle tightness and postural distortion ensues because muscle tightness contributes to the anterior tilt and is perpetually reinforced as a postural pattern. Myofascial trigger points in the lumbar extensors are also likely to develop as a result of the chronic tightness.
The increased lordosis may also decrease the opening of the intervertebral foramen which could lead to nerve root compression in the area. The risk of nerve root compression is increased if there are bone spurs or other obstructions along the edge of the foramen which encroach on the nerve with the exaggerated lordosis.
Another detrimental effect of the anterior tilt occurs at the Sacroiliac (SI) joint. There is only a slight degree of movement at the SI joint. For the most part, this joint is tightly bound so that the sacrum and ilia on both sides are almost locked into position with each other. The anterior pelvic tilt alters the force loads at the SI joint and is a frequent cause of SI joint pain and dysfunction.
Most of these potential effects are somewhat obvious, but another one that is not quite as clear is the increased risk of hamstring strains. When the pelvis tilts anteriorly, the ischial tuberosity rises in a superior direction, putting greater tensile stress on the hamstring muscle group. The elevated tensile load can lead to an increased incidence of hamstring strains, especially in active individuals.
So, is there a role for massage therapy in addressing this problem? There is a role for soft-tissue treatment, but there is also controversy and misunderstanding in constructing the most helpful treatment plan.
One of the biggest mistakes that clinicians make in attempting to treat the anterior pelvic tilt is to over-simplify the treatment strategy. For example, if you look at a person with an exaggerated anterior tilt from the side, it would appear that the lumbar extensors are tight and the abdominal muscles are weak and elongated, which is true. The mistake comes in attempting to address this distortion by strengthening the abdominal muscles with standard abdominal muscle exercises like sit-ups or crunches performed with the feet rigidly held in position.
When the feet are held rigidly in place for a sit-up exercise, it is called a closed-kinetic chain exercise. Unfortunately, performing a sit-up in a closed kinetic chain position strongly recruits the iliopsoas muscle. Since tightness in the iliopsoas is a contributing factor with this condition, further strengthening is counter to the intended treatment goal.
The key goal in a treatment strategy for the anterior pelvic tilt is to reduce tightness in the lumbar extensor muscles and iliopsoas. In many cases, the abdominal muscles, which appear weak and overstretched, are not weak because they lack sufficient exercise, but are instead weak because they are being neurologically inhibited by the tight lumbar extensors (their antagonists). Reducing tightness in the lumbar extensors will often allow the abdominal muscles to resume a normal level of tonus. A variety of massage techniques can be directly aimed at the lumbar extensors to reduce their hypertonicity.
One of the biggest mistakes that massage therapists make when attempting to address an anterior pelvic tilt is to focus just on the soft-tissue treatment with the idea being that reducing the muscle tightness will restore the proper pelvic position. Unfortunately, that rarely occurs. Postural distortions like the anterior pelvic tilt have developed from chronic habitual reinforcement. Even if you perform excellent massage work on these muscles, the person is likely to quickly slip back into the postural distortion if certain habitual patterns are not addressed.
Dysfunctional postural patterns need to be changed by constant reinforcement of new and more correct postural adaptations. Certain treatment systems like Alexander Technique, yoga or Feldenkrais are aimed at improving awareness of posture and position in order to make changes and reduce dysfunctional positions. However, it isn't always imperative that the client adopt one of these practices.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as teaching new postural positions and encouraging the client to be aware of his or her own postural positions and to reinforce that change as much as possible. Having the client explore the ergonomics of his or her home and work activities is also important. Does their work set up inspire a slumped position at a desk? Do they stand a lot, could they put one foot up on a small block? Can they take more breaks for stretching and be shown good stretching solutions?
As clinicians, our goal is to understand each individual's biomechanical stresses as best we can so we can craft a reliable treatment strategy most likely to achieve beneficial results. At the same time, keep in mind that the presence of an anterior pelvic tilt is not a guarantee of any of the above adverse outcomes. There are people who have an anterior tilt that do not develop any issues. That is why it takes a thinking practitioner to determine when the pelvic tilt might be a contributing factor to a client's pain.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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