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The Neck & Shoulder Pain Relationship

Given the close anatomical proximity between the neck and shoulder, it’s no wonder the two are intimately rel … http://p.ost.im/p/eQdjd7

yet another test

yet another test … http://p.ost.im/p/eQrrDh

Low Back Pain & Spinal Manipulation: How Does It Work?

For many years, Chiropractic has been at the forefront of treating low back pain (LBP) with both greater patient satisfaction and less lost time at work when compared to other non-surgical treatment approaches. There have been many explanations as to why chiropractic manipulation therapy (CMT) works but many of these studies include other treatment modalities or methods and the benefits are ,therefore, not clearly derived only from CMT. A recent study has tried to clear this up and the results are very interesting!

This study included two chiropractors and two a physical therapists (PT) from Canada and the US. What is unique about this study is that they measured clinical or symptomatic improvement by tracking improvement in activity tolerance using a standard questionnaire commonly used by chiropractors and PTs all over the world, as well as changes in the spinal stiffness using a valid/reliable instrument before and after CMT was utilized. The importance of these findings is that only CMT was utilized and hence, other forms of treatment commonly utilized by chiropractors did not cloud the findings. There were 48 patients included in the study and the initial 2 treatments were administered 3-4 days apart, followed by an assessment 3-4 days after the 2nd treatment. Assessments were also performed before and after each treatment. The assessments included use of the questionnaire and a stiffness measurement using the special instrument. Also, “recruitment of the lumbar multifidus muscle” (a muscle in the low back that helps stabilize the trunk or core) was measured by ultrasound. After each treatment, significant improvement was found in the overall pain level and in reduced spinal stiffness (which remained improved 3-4 days after the last/second treatment).

The study conclusions revealed less pain, more activity tolerance and less spinal stiffness after the administration of the 2 treatments. The greatest clinical improvement was found in those who had the most dramatic reduction in stiffness after each treatment. They found that the level of muscle recruitment was directly related to the degree of spinal stiffness. They also found that patients who received thrust manipulation (CMT) had immediate improvements with reduced pain, stiffness and improved muscle recruitment measurements. However, this same effect was NOT obtained when non-thrust mobilization techniques were used. This means many non-thrust manual techniques such as mobilization, massage, and other soft tissue release methods do not create the immediate benefits that were produced by thrust manipulation.

With this new information, we are now able to explain with confidence to patients the reasons why they typically feel better after the spinal adjustment. The patient can then appreciate receiving an answer that makes clear sense and has been “proven.” It’s important to realize that the “bonus” of receiving chiropractic care for low back pain includes not only just pain reduction, but more importantly, improvement in tolerating activities such as vacuuming, washing dishes, golfing, walking and of course, working.

Low Back Pain & Spinal Manipulation: How Does It Work?

For many years, Chiropractic has been at the forefront of treating low back pain (LBP) with both greater patient satisfaction and less lost time at work when compared to other non-surgical treatment approaches. There have been many explanations as to why chiropractic manipulation therapy (CMT) works but many of these studies include other treatment modalities or methods and the benefits are ,therefore, not clearly derived only from CMT. A recent study has tried to clear this up and the results are very interesting!

This study included two chiropractors and two a physical therapists (PT) from Canada and the US. What is unique about this study is that they measured clinical or symptomatic improvement by tracking improvement in activity tolerance using a standard questionnaire commonly used by chiropractors and PTs all over the world, as well as changes in the spinal stiffness using a valid/reliable instrument before and after CMT was utilized. The importance of these findings is that only CMT was utilized and hence, other forms of treatment commonly utilized by chiropractors did not cloud the findings. There were 48 patients included in the study and the initial 2 treatments were administered 3-4 days apart, followed by an assessment 3-4 days after the 2nd treatment. Assessments were also performed before and after each treatment. The assessments included use of the questionnaire and a stiffness measurement using the special instrument. Also, “recruitment of the lumbar multifidus muscle” (a muscle in the low back that helps stabilize the trunk or core) was measured by ultrasound. After each treatment, significant improvement was found in the overall pain level and in reduced spinal stiffness (which remained improved 3-4 days after the last/second treatment).

The study conclusions revealed less pain, more activity tolerance and less spinal stiffness after the administration of the 2 treatments. The greatest clinical improvement was found in those who had the most dramatic reduction in stiffness after each treatment. They found that the level of muscle recruitment was directly related to the degree of spinal stiffness. They also found that patients who received thrust manipulation (CMT) had immediate improvements with reduced pain, stiffness and improved muscle recruitment measurements. However, this same effect was NOT obtained when non-thrust mobilization techniques were used. This means many non-thrust manual techniques such as mobilization, massage, and other soft tissue release methods do not create the immediate benefits that were produced by thrust manipulation.

With this new information, we are now able to explain with confidence to patients the reasons why they typically feel better after the spinal adjustment. The patient can then appreciate receiving an answer that makes clear sense and has been “proven.” It’s important to realize that the “bonus” of receiving chiropractic care for low back pain includes not only just pain reduction, but more importantly, improvement in tolerating activities such as vacuuming, washing dishes, golfing, walking and of course, working.

Fibromyalgia: How Do I Know I Have It?

“I wake up every morning with this stiff, sore lower back pain. When I roll over to get out of bed, I feel like a log and almost have to fall out of bed. When I finally get to my feet, I’m all bent over and can’t stand upright for what seems like forever! It takes a couple of hours before it gradually loosens up enough so I don’t have to shuffle with each step. I was told by a friend that I might have something called fibromyalgia and should ask my chiropractor. What do you think?”

To answer this inquiry, let’s first define fibromyalgia (FM) so that we can compare the two properly. FM is a condition that is diagnosed basically by eliminating all other possible causes, including inflammatory joint conditions, by running various blood tests such as an arthritic profile. This usually includes tests for rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and infection. A Lymes disease test is often included as that condition can often manifest as a chronic back condition from any cause. There are essentially no blood tests, x-ray or other imaging tests, or neurological tests that can specifically diagnose FM. It is when all these tests come back negative, that the diagnosis of FM is then entertained. The history is probably the most important aspect of the clinical encounter that helps in the diagnosis of FM. Most of these patients will report that the onset is gradual, often present for years. There is usually no specific cause though there are specific conditions (such as irritable bowel syndrome, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis and others) that can result in “secondary fibromyalgia” where the cause is well known. The big differentiating historical feature is the presence of widespread, whole body pain – NOT just low back pain, as reported in the first paragraph above. In FM, there is often pain in the legs, arms, torso, back, neck and these people basically, “…hurt all over.” Typically there is no radiating pain down the leg or arm that follows a specific nerve pathway and no exam findings of neurological deficits. Another unique feature of FM includes sleep dysfunction. In many cases, sleep interruptions occur 2, 3 or more times a night, often with difficulty in returning back to sleep. The quality of pain is often described as numbness, tingling, burning, achy, deep, boring, and most importantly generalized in location (all over the body). The intensity is usually reported as high (>6/10 pain scale scores). The past history usually includes multiple visits to many different types of doctors and many attempts at different medications is common – most of which do not help significantly.

Even with these unique historical features that are consistent with the diagnosis of FM, it is still necessary to “rule out” other conditions by running tests as previously described. This is especially important when FM is secondary to other conditions as FM can get “lost” in the shuffle, overshadowed by the other condition.

Treatment for FM includes many of the same methods for treating other musculoskeletal conditions. Spinal manipulation, soft tissue release techniques (massage therapy, trigger point therapy, myofascial release), and various forms of physical therapy (low level laser therapy – LLLT, ultrasound, interferential electrical current – IFC, and pulsed magnetic therapy can also improve function, reduce pain, and reduce the need for medications. Cognitive therapy, addressing psychosocial issues, can also be very effective. One of the most important treatment approaches is exercise. This has been consistently described as being an important form of care for the FM patient. In addition, dietary management using an anti-inflammatory diet (gluten free diet) and supplementation (a multiple vitamin, calcium/magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, Vit. D, and CoQ10) can also be very effective.

Fibromyalgia: How Do I Know I Have It?

“I wake up every morning with this stiff, sore lower back pain. When I roll over to get out of bed, I feel like a log and almost have to fall out of bed. When I finally get to my feet, I’m all bent over and can’t stand upright for what seems like forever! It takes a couple of hours before it gradually loosens up enough so I don’t have to shuffle with each step. I was told by a friend that I might have something called fibromyalgia and should ask my chiropractor. What do you think?”

To answer this inquiry, let’s first define fibromyalgia (FM) so that we can compare the two properly. FM is a condition that is diagnosed basically by eliminating all other possible causes, including inflammatory joint conditions, by running various blood tests such as an arthritic profile. This usually includes tests for rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and infection. A Lymes disease test is often included as that condition can often manifest as a chronic back condition from any cause. There are essentially no blood tests, x-ray or other imaging tests, or neurological tests that can specifically diagnose FM. It is when all these tests come back negative, that the diagnosis of FM is then entertained. The history is probably the most important aspect of the clinical encounter that helps in the diagnosis of FM. Most of these patients will report that the onset is gradual, often present for years. There is usually no specific cause though there are specific conditions (such as irritable bowel syndrome, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis and others) that can result in “secondary fibromyalgia” where the cause is well known. The big differentiating historical feature is the presence of widespread, whole body pain – NOT just low back pain, as reported in the first paragraph above. In FM, there is often pain in the legs, arms, torso, back, neck and these people basically, “…hurt all over.” Typically there is no radiating pain down the leg or arm that follows a specific nerve pathway and no exam findings of neurological deficits. Another unique feature of FM includes sleep dysfunction. In many cases, sleep interruptions occur 2, 3 or more times a night, often with difficulty in returning back to sleep. The quality of pain is often described as numbness, tingling, burning, achy, deep, boring, and most importantly generalized in location (all over the body). The intensity is usually reported as high (>6/10 pain scale scores). The past history usually includes multiple visits to many different types of doctors and many attempts at different medications is common – most of which do not help significantly.

Even with these unique historical features that are consistent with the diagnosis of FM, it is still necessary to “rule out” other conditions by running tests as previously described. This is especially important when FM is secondary to other conditions as FM can get “lost” in the shuffle, overshadowed by the other condition.

Treatment for FM includes many of the same methods for treating other musculoskeletal conditions. Spinal manipulation, soft tissue release techniques (massage therapy, trigger point therapy, myofascial release), and various forms of physical therapy (low level laser therapy – LLLT, ultrasound, interferential electrical current – IFC, and pulsed magnetic therapy can also improve function, reduce pain, and reduce the need for medications. Cognitive therapy, addressing psychosocial issues, can also be very effective. One of the most important treatment approaches is exercise. This has been consistently described as being an important form of care for the FM patient. In addition, dietary management using an anti-inflammatory diet (gluten free diet) and supplementation (a multiple vitamin, calcium/magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, Vit. D, and CoQ10) can also be very effective.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Sleeping

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and noticed your hand sleeping to the point where you had to get out of bed and shake or flick your fingers to alleviate the numbness? If the numbness was primarily on the thumb-side half of your hand, it may have been carpal tunnel syndrome that woke you up. So, the question is, why is it such an issue at night?

To properly answer this question, let’s get familiar with the anatomy of the wrist. There are 2 bones that make up the forearm – the ulna (on the pinky side) and the radius (on the thumb side). Just beyond that, there are two rows of four bones each called the carpal bones for a total of 8 small bones that make up the wrist joint. These carpal bones are arranged in a horseshoe or tunnel shape. When you look down at your wrist and wiggle your fingers quickly, you can see all the movement that occurs on the palm side of the wrist. That’s a lot of movement! You can also see the muscles on the upper half of the forearm moving rapidly as the fingers wiggle.

There are 9 muscle tendons that travel through the carpal tunnel, as well as some blood vessels and most important, the median nerve sits on top of all those moving tendons. Just beneath the floor of the tunnel is a ligament called the transverse carpal ligament. The tendons inside the tunnel are surrounded by lubricating sheaths that make it easier for the tendons to slide back and forth as we wiggle our fingers, grip to open a jar, type on a computer, play a musical instrument, or so on. Without the tendon sheaths, the friction between the rubbing tendons would quickly build up heat, resulting in swelling, pain and numbness. However, in spite of the lubricating function of the sheaths, when we work our fingers and hands too much, swelling and inflammation does occur.

So, why do we have numbness at night when we aren’t working, gripping and moving our fingers repetitively? The answer lies in how we sleep. Since we are asleep, we cannot control where we position our hands and wrists. Most of us curl up in a ball and tuck our hands under our chin or someplace cozy. Normally, when we bend our wrists, the pressure inside the carpal tunnel doubles. However, a carpal tunnel patient already has a higher level of pressure in their wrist. So, when a carpal tunnel patient bends their wrist in the exact same way, the pressure goes up even more – that is, 3, 4, 5, or more times than a normal person without their wrist bent. That is why a wrist “cock-up” splint works so well at night! It keeps the wrist straight so we can’t bend it. Often, this allows the CTS patient to sleep through the night instead of waking up 2, 3, or more times with numbness, tingling, and/or pain on the thumb half of the hand.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Sleeping

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and noticed your hand sleeping to the point where you had to get out of bed and shake or flick your fingers to alleviate the numbness? If the numbness was primarily on the thumb-side half of your hand, it may have been carpal tunnel syndrome that woke you up. So, the question is, why is it such an issue at night?

To properly answer this question, let’s get familiar with the anatomy of the wrist. There are 2 bones that make up the forearm – the ulna (on the pinky side) and the radius (on the thumb side). Just beyond that, there are two rows of four bones each called the carpal bones for a total of 8 small bones that make up the wrist joint. These carpal bones are arranged in a horseshoe or tunnel shape. When you look down at your wrist and wiggle your fingers quickly, you can see all the movement that occurs on the palm side of the wrist. That’s a lot of movement! You can also see the muscles on the upper half of the forearm moving rapidly as the fingers wiggle.

There are 9 muscle tendons that travel through the carpal tunnel, as well as some blood vessels and most important, the median nerve sits on top of all those moving tendons. Just beneath the floor of the tunnel is a ligament called the transverse carpal ligament. The tendons inside the tunnel are surrounded by lubricating sheaths that make it easier for the tendons to slide back and forth as we wiggle our fingers, grip to open a jar, type on a computer, play a musical instrument, or so on. Without the tendon sheaths, the friction between the rubbing tendons would quickly build up heat, resulting in swelling, pain and numbness. However, in spite of the lubricating function of the sheaths, when we work our fingers and hands too much, swelling and inflammation does occur.

So, why do we have numbness at night when we aren’t working, gripping and moving our fingers repetitively? The answer lies in how we sleep. Since we are asleep, we cannot control where we position our hands and wrists. Most of us curl up in a ball and tuck our hands under our chin or someplace cozy. Normally, when we bend our wrists, the pressure inside the carpal tunnel doubles. However, a carpal tunnel patient already has a higher level of pressure in their wrist. So, when a carpal tunnel patient bends their wrist in the exact same way, the pressure goes up even more – that is, 3, 4, 5, or more times than a normal person without their wrist bent. That is why a wrist “cock-up” splint works so well at night! It keeps the wrist straight so we can’t bend it. Often, this allows the CTS patient to sleep through the night instead of waking up 2, 3, or more times with numbness, tingling, and/or pain on the thumb half of the hand.

Fibromyalgia: “Why Won’t The Pain Stop?”

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic condition that does not limit itself to just one area but rather, it manifests as a generalized, whole body condition where basically, everything hurts. The diagnosis is typically made by exclusion or, by eliminating all other possible conditions as there is no single blood test for FM and unless other conditions that are test sensitive are present at the same time, most tests come back negative. Of course, this leaves the FM patient upset because, “….no one can figure out what’s wrong with me.” We all seem to want a test to prove what we have is “real.”

Unfortunately, in the real world, no blood test, x-ray, or exam procedure is 100% accurate (sensitive and specific), so even when tests return positive, there can be “false positives” that are caused by many things such as drug induced test alterations and/or other conditions that alter the same test. On the other hand, there are “false negatives,” so even though the test came back negative, it’s still possible that the problem one is present but the test may just not be sensitive (accurate) enough to detect it. FM is one of those conditions where only after a myriad of tests have been run and come back negative, can the diagnosis of FM be made with some degree of confidence.

Essentially, we have to prove that you don’t have something else causing similar symptoms before we can confidently (or at lease more confidently) diagnose you with fibromyalgia. To complicate this further, in “secondary FM,” the cause of FM is known and is due to an underlying condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, hypothyroid, HIV, cancer, as well as physical trauma such as after a car accident or a work injury. When an accident is involved, the symptoms may be more confined to one area (then called “regional FM”) making the diagnosis even more challenging as the classic 11 of 18 tender points may not hold up in these cases.

Finally, there are doctors out there that simply don’t “believe in” the condition and may say to the FM patient, “…there is no such thing, it’s all in your head, you simply have learn how to live with it. There’s nothing that can be done.” Well, they actually may be partially right – that is, the “…it’s all in your head” part (don’t get mad… just wait!). Another finding that is well-published in peer review literature is the concept called central and peripheral “sensitization.” This occurs when increased incoming sensory information from injured skin, muscles, and/or organs, in a sense bombard areas in the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain) leaving it “sensitized” or, more sensitive to “normal” incoming information. This is because the threshold or tolerance to normal incoming sensory stimuli is reduced and results in increased muscle pain commonly described by patients with FM.

To better illustrate this, hypersensitivity or central sensitization was found in people after a whiplash injury. They recruited 14 whiplash patients and 14 “normals” to compare their responses when stimulating the leg (the non-injured area) as well as the neck (injured area). Theoretically, if central sensitization didn’t exist, the responses to the exact same stimulus on the healthy leg of both the whiplash patients and the normal subjects would be equal. Instead, what was found was that the whiplash patients had significantly lower pain thresholds for 2 of 3 tests (a single electrical stimulus in the muscle, repeated electrical stimulation in the muscle and on the skin, but not from heat when applied to the skin). Each pain threshold was measured at the neck and leg before and after local anesthesia was applied to the painful, sore neck muscles. In the whiplash cases, the lower pain threshold was found when stimulating both skin and muscles at the healthy leg and at the injured anesthetized neck equally. That proves that the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) has a “pain memory” which lowers the threshold so the whiplash patients feel pain more intensely and quicker than the non-injured people. This can help patients understand the answer to the question, “…why won’t this pain go away?” This pain memory or hypersensitization is similarly found in FM patients.

Dr. Patten

http://ericpattendc.com/