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TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Just the Facts: Opinion vs. Data in the Therapeutic Relationship
In today's society, people experiencing pain or discomfort can look to countless different sources for help and advice. Often, when clients come to us, they've already received a lot of information from physicians, chiropractors, acupuncturists, or other practitioners — not to mention their friends, the Internet, and the evening news. Much of this information comes in the form of opinions, the personal viewpoints of specific individuals. Invariably, different individuals have different viewpoints, so a client who consults several sources is likely to hear several conflicting opinions.
Here are just a couple of examples:
No wonder so many people get confused and frustrated when exploring their health care options. How can they know which source to believe? Should they trust the person they like the most? The one who has the most letters after their name? Or the one who seems most confident? There's no easy answer. And how can we, as massage therapists, share what we know without becoming just another voice in a cacophony of opinions?
One solution is to give fewer opinions and more data. In contrast to opinions, pieces of data (i.e. facts) are either true or false. For example, if I say, "I treated Mr. Burke every week for six months," that's a data-based statement. Either I treated Mr. Burke for that period of time or I didn't. However, if I say, "Those treatments helped him a lot." Or, "He should have kept coming for a little while longer," I'm giving an opinion. Someone else might agree or disagree with my opinions, but they are neither accurate nor inaccurate. Compare this with data-based statements about the client's progress: "Mr. Burke reported that his back pain decreased from a level 10 to a level three over a six-month period. If he continued improving at the same rate, he would have been pain-free within another three months of treatment."
Not all data pertains to observable events in the outside world. Information about a person that is known only to that person also counts as data. If I say, "I'm tired," or "I'm frustrated," or "I just love Swiss cheese," those statements can't be verified by anyone else, but they are still either true or false (either I love Swiss cheese or I don't).
You can think of opinions as giving personal information, as well. For example, the opinion, "Kate is a fantastic therapist," can be rephrased as, "I think Kate is a fantastic therapist." Notice that this is a statement about the speaker — what's on the speaker's mind, what the speaker thinks — and not about Kate. No matter what Kate's work is like, it can still be either true or false that the speaker thinks she's fantastic.
Realizing that our opinions say something about us, not about the outside world, can save us a lot of frustration. If I want someone else to understand why I think Kate is a good therapist, I need to give information about her and her work, not just about me. For example, I could say, "Kate has ten years of experience practicing orthopedic massage. I have referred six clients to her in the last year, and five of them reported complete relief from their pain. With the fifth client, Kate realized her form of treatment would not be effective, so she referred him to an osteopath." The same is true when I'm discussing anything else I think is great, or not so great, such as various treatment options or lifestyle choices that my clients are considering.
It's certainly fine to tell clients our opinions, but it's important to back them up with data. This is especially true when our clients are facing major decisions about their health (e.g., deciding whether to begin a long-term treatment program, to have surgery, or to make radical lifestyle changes). Data is empowering. When we give clients the facts about relevant research findings, our own past experiences, and the results of our assessment procedures, they may find this data convincing or they may not. Either way, we're giving them the chance to make up their own minds about what's best for them based on factual information.
Consider These Examples
Opinion: You need to do these exercises every day.
Data: I've worked with dozens of clients with this sort of injury. In my experience, when people do this exercise every day, they heal up to 40% faster, but when they miss one or two days a week their rate of healing remains unaffected.
Opinion: In addition to easing your neck pain, these treatments will improve your circulation dramatically.
Data: In my evaluation, I found that your level of muscle tension was above average throughout your upper body, and chronic tension tends to impair circulation. Dozens of research studies have shown that this type of massage helps to reduce muscle tension and improve circulation.
Opinion: The real cause of your neck pain is your stressful job.
Data: I've noticed that whenever you come here on the weekend or during a vacation week, you report having much less neck pain.
In each case, data provides a deeper, more solid foundation for mutual understanding. All of these examples involve a therapist giving information to clients, but the same is also true for the information clients bring in. When clients tell you their opinions or opinions they've heard from someone else, encourage them to share data with you. You might ask, "Why do you think that?" or "How did he/she come to that conclusion?" Even if you strongly disagree with the opinion, try to be genuinely curious about the data underlying it. Remember that the client has information you don't have. You may be less inclined to ask for data when you hear opinions you like or agree with — e.g., "These treatments are so helpful" — but facts are useful at those times, too. Whenever clients tell me that their condition is improving, I say, "Prove it to me. Tell me what's different now."
In any situation where it's important to separate what you know from what you think, it's to your advantage to bring data into the conversation. Both you and your clients will experience the benefits of increased clarity and understanding.