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Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
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.