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A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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.