An Open Letter to our Medical friends.

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In the past year, many trusted medical establishments including the FDA (1), CDC (2), Joint Commission (3,4), JAMA (5), and The American College of Physicians/ Annals of Internal Medicine (6) have encouraged medical providers to prescribe spinal manipulation as a first line treatment for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain.

Most recently, The Lancet echoed that endorsement, and provided a unique perspective:

The reduced emphasis on pharmacological care recommends nonpharmacological care as the first treatment option and reserves pharmacological care for patients for whom nonpharmacological care has not worked. These guidelines endorse the use of exercise and a range of other non- pharmacological therapies, including massage, spinal manipulation, and acupuncture.

Gaps between evidence and practice exist, with limited use of recommended first- line treatments and inappropriately high use of imaging, rest, opioids, spinal injections, and surgery. Doing more of the same will not reduce back-related disability or its long-term consequences. The advances with the greatest potential are arguably those that align practice with the evidence. (7)

Unfortunately, personal experience skews our perception of each other’s merit, i.e., we primarily see each other’s failures since the successes don’t need to seek additional care. Regardless of our professional degree, we all have failed cases mixed into our many clinical successes. We must not lose sight of the evidence supporting each other’s overwhelming proven value for a given diagnosis. If we judge each other by our successes rather than our failures, we will work toward an integrated model where the patient wins. Together, we will help more patients than either working alone.

We are honored for the opportunity to co-manage your patients.

 

References
1. FDA Education Blueprint for Health Care Providers Involved in the Management or Support of Patients with Pain. May 2017. Accessed on May 12, 2017
2. Dowell D, Haegerich TM, Chou R. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain- United States, 2016. MMWR Recomm Rep 2016;65(No. RR-1):1–49.
3. The Official Newsletter of The Joint Commission. Joint Commission Enhances Pain Assessment and Management Requirements for Accredited Hospitals. July 2017 Volume 37 Number 7. Ahead of print in
2018 Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals.
4. Joint Commission Online. Revision to Pain Management Standards. http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/23/jconline_november_12_14.pdf
5. Paige NM, Miake-Lye IM, Booth MS, et al. Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain; Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2017;317(14):1451-1460.
6. Qaseem A, et al. for the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017;166(7):514-530.
7. Foster, Nadine EBuchbinder, Rachelle et al. Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions. The Lancet, Published Online March 21, 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(18)30489-6

What is knee tendonitis?

Tendons are strong bands of fibrous tissue that connect your muscles to your bones. Your “patellar tendon” connects your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone (tibia). “Patellar tendonopathy” results from repetitive straining and micro-tearing of this connection, resulting in pain and inflammation. The condition is referred to as “jumper’s knee,” since damage is thought to often result from repetitive jumping.

The condition should probably be called “landing knee,” since forces on the patellar tendon are twice as great during landing as compared to those created during take off.

Patellar tendinopathy is common, affecting almost 20% of all athletes with a rate as high as 50% in sports that require repetitive forceful jumping, like basketball and volleyball. The condition may affect one or both knees and may be slightly more common in males.

Weakness in the quadriceps muscle of your thigh can allow excessive bending of your knee when you land following a jump. This places your patellar tendon at a greater risk for injury. Having strong quadriceps muscles protects your knee from excessive flexion and injury.

Symptoms of patellar tendinopathy include pain or swelling just below your kneecap. This may begin without an identifiable injury and may come and go for months or years. Symptoms are usually aggravated by activity, but most athletes have been able to continue playing through the pain. Pain often increases during activities that require strong quadriceps contraction, like jumping, squatting, arising from a seated position, stair climbing, or running. Walking down stairs or running down hill seems to be more bothersome than going up.

Some athletes may have unconsciously learned to protect their knee by developing unnatural jumping mechanics. This could include landing with a more rigid knee, or allowing too much hip flexion. You may need to become more conscious of landing with the right amount of knee flexion with your foot in a neutral position and avoiding excessive hip flexion. Your doctor would be able to answer any questions you have about good jumping mechanics.

Patellar tendon straps, like a Cho-pat, can help reduce stress on your patellar tendon and relieve pain. Three fourths of the people who use patellar tendon straps for patellar tendinitis report improvement.

Patellar tendinopathy is treatable. Patients who follow a well-planned strengthening program show similar outcomes to those who have undergone surgery for the problem. Initially, you may need to decrease your training intensity to help protect your knee. You should stay away from activities that produce more than mild pain. You should avoid complete rest, as this could actually increase your risk of recurrence. Using ice packs or ice massage for 10-15 minutes at a time, especially following activity, may help to reduce inflammation.

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Do you wake up with numb fingers?

The term “thoracic outlet” describes an area at the base of your neck, just above your collarbone. Some important nerves and vessels pass through this outlet on their way into your arm. Compression of these tissues causes a condition called “thoracic outlet syndrome” which results in pain, numbness or tingling in your arm.

Several different factors can cause Thoracic Outlet Syndrome,

commonly referred to as TOS. Sometimes TOS is caused from tightness in the muscles of your neck and chest, other times the space between your first rib and collarbone is too small. People who have an extra rib (cervical rib) and people who have recently suffered a neck injury may have a greater chance of having this problem.

The condition is aggravated by poor posture and by occupations that promote “slouching,” i.e., computer users, assembly line workers, supermarket checkers and students. Swimmers, volleyball players, tennis players, baseball pitchers and occupations requiring prolonged overhead activity. i.e., electricians and painters are also prime candidates for TOS.

Symptoms of TOS include arm pain, numbness, tingling and possible weakness. Neck, arm and hand pain may begin slowly and are often aggravated by elevation of the arms or excessive head movement. Loss of grip strength is possible.

Conservative treatment, like the kind we provide, has been shown to be effective at treating TOS. Through our careful exam we have identified your specific sites of compression and will use some of the following treatment to help:

You should avoid carrying heavy loads, especially on your shoulder i.e., carpet rolls. Briefcases, laptop cases or heavy shoulder bags should be lightened. Bra straps may need additional padding or consideration of replacement with a sports bra.

Chiropractic and Headaches

Yet another study has found that chiropractic care helps headache sufferers: Spinal manipulation seems to have a significant positive effect in reducing hours with headache and intensity of headache and analgesic consumption in cases of cervicogenic headache.

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Nilsson N, Christensen HW, Hartvigsen J. “The Effect of Spinal Manipulation in the Treatment of Cervicogenic Headache.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeautics, Volume 20, Number 5, June 1998, Pages 326-330.

The all too common knee cartilage tear.

The meniscus is a piece of tough, smooth, rubbery cartilage in the middle of your knee. Each of your knees have a meniscus on the inside (medial meniscus) and another on the outside (lateral meniscus). Each meniscus attaches to the top of your shin bone (tibia) and acts as a shock absorbent guide for your thigh bone (femur), which rests above.
Meniscus

Damage or tears to the meniscus are common. Males are affected three or four times more often than females. Tears may occur at any age. In children and adolescents, the menisci are more durable and rubbery, so most injures are “traumatic” as a result of a forceful twisting injury. As we age, our meniscus grows weaker, and “degenerative” tears become more likely, often resulting from simple or even unrecognized injuries.

Symptoms of meniscus injury depend on the type and severity of damage. Patients sometimes hear a pop or snap at the time of initial injury. Patients with acute injuries may have difficulty bearing weight and may develop a limp. Stiffness is a common complaint. Clicking, catching, locking or giving-way is possible. Meniscus injuries are usually aggravated by movement and become particularly uncomfortable with deep squatting.

Although some meniscus injuries may require surgery, most can be treated conservatively with the type of treatments provided in our office. Your age roughly correlates with the need for surgery. Approximately 2/3 of acute meniscal tears in children and adolescents will require surgery, but only about 1 in 20 patients over the age of 40 will require knee arthroscopy. Surgery is necessary more often in patients who cannot fully bend or straighten their leg, or whose knee locks and gets stuck in one place.

Home management includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). You should apply ice over your knee for 15 minutes at a time, three or four times a day. Wrapping an ACE bandage around your knee will provide compression to help minimize swelling. You may elevate your leg by placing a pillow beneath your knee to help reduce swelling.

You may need to limit your activity to prevent further damage while you are recovering from injury. Activities that involve twisting on a weight-bearing flexed knee are the most harmful. You may need to temporarily or permanently discontinue some high energy sports activity. Other activities, like water walking, may be substituted for higher energy sports, like soccer and tennis. Ice or ice massage should be used following activity.

Patients who have undergone surgical repair of their meniscus are more likely to develop arthritis. These patients will also benefit from a well-planned home exercise program.

What is Sever’s Disease?

Severs disease, also called calcaneal apophysitis, is a painful swelling near the insertion of the Achilles tendon on your heel.

As our bones develop, we have “growth plates” which are softer areas where the bone is still growing. In children, this growth plate is weaker than in adults. This means that children are more likely to suffer growth plate injuries than adults, especially during periods of rapid growth.

The powerful calf muscles attach onto your heel through the Achilles tendon. When your calf muscle contracts (like during running or jumping), it places a shear force on the growth plate of your heel. Severs disease is an irritation to this sensitive growth plate.

Athletically active children, who run and jump frequently in sports like soccer, basketball, gymnastics and track & field are most likely to suffer from this condition. Severs disease is slightly more common in boys and the condition affects both heels about half of the time.

Symptoms usually start as heel pain that gradually worsens during activity. Sometimes this can cause a “limp”. Rest usually temporarily relieves the pain.

Your doctor will make the diagnosis of Severs disease based on your history and an exam. Your doctor may take an x-ray to rule out other injuries like a stress fracture.

The first goal of treatment is to allow you to return to pain-free activity as soon as possible. This may require avoiding stressful activity like running and jumping for a short period of time. Cross training on a bike is usually acceptable. Ice should be applied for 15 minutes after any activity. You should always wear shoes with good arch supports and avoid walking barefoot. Your doctor may recommend a small heel lift to decrease strain on your achilles tendon.

Trigger points in the lateral pterygoid

The lateral pterygoid muscle plays an important role in prober jaw function. It originates on the greater wing of the sphenoid bone and the lateral pterygoid plate, and inserts on the condyloid process of the mandible. It’s action is to pull the head of the mandibular condyle out of the mandibular fossa while opening the jaw. When trigger points develop they refer pain into the temporal mandibular joint and maxillary sinus. This referral is commonly mistaken for TM arthritis. In addition to the referral pain, trigger points in this muscle can also effect proper movement of the jaw.

What is a knee sprain?

“Ligaments” are made up of many individual fibers running parallel to each other and bundled to form a strong fibrous band. These fibrous bands hold your bones together. Just like a rope, when a ligament is stretched too far, it begins to fray or tear. “Sprain” is the term used to describe this tearing of ligament fibers.

Sprains are graded by the amount of damage to the ligament fibers. A Grade I sprain means the ligament has been painfully stretched, but no fibers have been torn. A Grade II sprain means some, but not all of the ligamentous fibers, have been torn. A Grade III sprain means that all of the ligamentous fibers have been torn, and the ligament no longer has the ability to protect the joint. Knee sprains commonly involve one or more of your knee’s ligaments including: the medial collateral, lateral collateral, anterior cruciate, and posterior cruciate.

Most knee sprains begin as the result of a sudden stop, twist, or blow from the side or front. Some patients recall a “pop” or “snap” at the time of injury. Knee sprains cause pain and swelling within the joint. Your knee may be tender to touch, and some patients report a sensation of “giving way” or difficulty walking.

Most knee sprains can be successfully managed without surgery but will require some work on your part. Initially, a period of rest may be necessary in order to help you heal. Mild Grade I sprains may return to activity in a couple of days, while more severe injuries may take six weeks or longer to recover. You can help reduce swelling by elevating your knee and using an ACE wrap for compression. Applying ice or ice massage for 10 minutes each hour may help relieve swelling. Depending upon the severity of your sprain, you may need to wear a knee brace to help protect you from further injury. If walking is painful, crutches may be necessary.