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

2 Critical Steps to Resolving Ankle Sprains

Efficient treatment of ankle sprains continues well after the pain subsides.  While the majority of inversion (lateral) ankle sprains heal relatively quickly, up to 1/3 of patients, continue to note symptoms at one year, and up to 25% report pain, instability, crepitus, weakness, stiffness, or swelling at three years. (1) Re-injury is frequent, with rates reaching almost 75% in sports, like basketball. (2) Successful management of ankle sprains and prevention of re-injury are predicated on a couple of fundamental principles.

Management of ankle inversion sprains requires two steps; each is equally important.

  • The first step entails the evaluation and treatment of acute pain.
  • The second step involves preventing subsequent sprains – and new research validates the importance of chiropractic care to improve clinical outcomes in these recalcitrant cases.

 

STEP 1—Move for Pain Relief

Early return to activity for acute inversion sprains is supported by the literature.  Exercises and treatments that promote joint motion and early return to weight bearing for acute ankle sprains have proven more effective than immobilization.  While grade III sprains (ligament rupture) may require immobilization, grade I and II ankle sprains should forego complete immobilization and instead focus on regaining full range of motion. In fact, early rehab and return to weight bearing will increase ankle range of motion, decrease pain, and reduce swelling sooner than immobilization.

In a study by Linde et al., 150 patients with inversion ankle sprains were treated with early motion and weight bearing. After one month, 90% of the patients treated with early motion and weight bearing demonstrated pain-free gait and 97% had increased work ability. (3) Early mobility exercises would typically include:

These four exercises promote balance and range of motion – specifically dorsiflexion, which is a key contributor to ankle injury. Patients who have lost an average of 11 degrees of dorsiflexion are five times more likely to suffer lateral ankle sprains. (4)

In office care should also include mobilization and manipulation for restoring function. Joint mobilization has been shown to decrease pain, increase dorsiflexion, and improve ankle function. (5) IASTM or transverse friction massage to the affected ligament may help mobilize scar tissue and increase pliability. Myofascial release may help release tightness or adhesions in the gastroc and soleus. (Side note: The FAKTR concept seamlessly incorporates all of these tools to produce top-tier outcomes.)

Knowing when to treat and when to refer is critical. Whitman’s clinical prediction rule identifies four variables to predict the success of manipulation and exercise for the treatment of inversion ankle sprains. (6) The presence of three out of four of the following variables predict greater than a 95% success rate for manual therapy and exercise:

  • Symptoms worse when standing
  • Symptoms worse in the evening
  • Navicular drop greater than 5 mm
  • Distal tibiofibular joint hypomobility

 

STEP 2- Prevent Re-injury

The second step is shorter and easier than the first.  The most crucial variable in the successful prevention of future ankle sprains is improving BALANCE. Balance training reduces the incidence of ankle sprains and increases dynamic neuromuscular control, postural sway, and joint position sense in athletes. (7) A study by de Vasconcelos et al. (2018) found that balance training reduced the incidence of ankle sprains by 38% compared with the control group.  (7)

Two of the most common exercises used for balance and proprioception include the single-leg stance exercise and Veles.  A simple explanation stressing the importance of balance training may be necessary to promote patient compliance.

Finally, encourage your patients start walking “normal” as soon as possible. As evidence-based chiropractors, we need to return patients back to their normal gait as soon as tolerable. Patients with foot and ankle pain will often favor a supinated gait in order to unload the soft tissues of the foot and arch in favor of their bony architecture on the lateral foot. The lateral column of the foot affords stability but at the expense of a very inefficient gait. Over an extended period, these patients may develop a Tailor’s bunion, i.e. 5th metatarsal head bursitis. However, in the case of ankle sprains, a rapid increase in activity may overload the metatarsal fast enough to cause a Jones Fracture. Return to normal gait will minimize these compensations.

 

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Chiropractic and Neck-Related Headaches

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A new study found that for patients suffering from a neck-related headache, chiropractic spinal manipulation cut the number of symptomatic days in half. Incidentally, the same study found that spinal manipulation proved to be more effective than massage for treatment of headache.

If you or someone you know suffers from headaches, check out this video to learn more about finding a solution.”

A treatment with Bryan Cobb RMT.

Session Description

A treatment with Bryan is very user friendly. And, no, you don’t have to remove any clothing. However, bringing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts or sweats is recommended.

The first time you come for a treatment you will be asked to fill out a Client History form. Bryan will go over the information you provide, asking for more detail and discussing the type of pain you are having and its location.

The treatment itself involves locating the Trigger Points in the muscle or soft tissue and applying a deep focused pressure to the Point. This will reproduce the pain and the referral pattern that is characteristic of that pain.

The treatment will be uncomfortable at first, but as the Trigger Points release, the pain will decrease. The pressure will always be adjusted to your tolerance level. If, at any time, you feel too uncomfortable you can ask Bryan to ease off a bit.

Depending on your specific problem, Bryan may also use some stretching and / or range-of-motion techniques, as needed.

After treatment, it is usually recommended that the client apply moist heat to the area treated.

 

What the Heck Is a Trigger Point?

By Bryan Cobb, Advanced Remedial Massage Therapist

What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger Points (TP’s) are defined as a “hyper-irritable spot within a taut band of skeletal muscle. The spot is painful on compression and can evoke characteristic referred pain and autonomic phenomena.”1

Put into plain language, a TP is a painful knot in muscle tissue that can refer pain to other areas of the body. You have probably felt the characteristic achy pain and stiffness that TP’s produce, at some time in your life.

TP’s were first brought to the attention of the medical world by Dr. Janet G. Travell. Dr. Travell, physician to President John F. Kennedy, is the acknowledged Mother of Myofascial Trigger Points.  In fact, “Trigger Point massage, the most effective modality used by massage therapists for the relief of pain, is based almost entirely on Dr. Travell’s insights.”2  Dr. Travell’s partner in her research was Dr. David G. Simons, a research scientist and aerospace physician.

Trigger Points are very common. In fact, Travell and Simons state that TP’s are responsible for, or associated with, 75% of pain complaints or conditions.1 With this kind of prevalence, it’s no wonder that TP’s are often referred to as the “scourge of mankind”.

Trigger Points can produce a wide variety of pain complaints. Some of the most common are migraine headaches, back pain, and pain and tingling into the extremities. They are usually responsible for most cases of achy deep pain that is hard to localize.

A TP will refer pain in a predictable pattern, based on its location in a given muscle. Also, since these spots are bundles of contracted muscle fibres, they can cause stiffness and a decreased range of motion.  Chronic conditions with many TP’s can also cause general fatigue and malaise, as well as muscle weakness.

Trigger Points are remarkably easy to get, but the most common causes are

TP’s (black dots) can refer pain to other areas (red)

Sudden overload of a muscle

• Poor posture

• Chronic frozen posture (e.g., from a desk job),  and

• Repetitive strain

Once in place, a TP can remain there for the remainder of your life unless an intervention takes place.

Trigger Points Not Well Known

With thousands of people dealing with chronic pain, and with TP’s being responsible for — or associated with — a high percentage of chronic pain, it is very disappointing to find that a large portion of doctors and other health care practitioners don’t know about TP’s and their symptoms.

Scientific research on TP’s dates back to the 1700’s.  There are numerous medical texts and papers written on the subject.

But, it still has been largely overlooked by the health care field.  This has led to needless frustration and suffering, as well as thousands of lost work hours and a poorer quality of life.

How Are Trigger Points Treated?

As nasty and troublesome as TP’s are, the treatment for them is surely straight-forward.  A skilled practitioner will assess the individual’s pain complaint to determine the most likely location of the TP’s and then apply one of several therapeutic modalities, the most effective of which is a massage technique called “ischemic compression”.

Basically, the therapist will apply a firm, steady pressure to the TP, strong enough to reproduce the symptoms.  The pressure will remain until the tissue softens and then the pressure will increase appropriately until the next barrier is felt.  This pressure is continued until the referral pain has subsided and the TP is released. (Note:  a full release of TP’s could take several sessions.) 

Other effective modalities include dry needling (needle placed into the belly of the TP) or wet needling (injection into the TP).  The use of moist heat and stretching prove effective, as well. The best practitioners for TP release are Massage Therapists, Physiotherapists, and Athletic Therapists.  An educated individual can also apply ischemic compression to themselves, but should start out seeing one of the above therapists to become familiar with

the modality and how to apply pressure safely.

1 Simons, D.G., Travell, D.G., & Simons, L.S. Travell and Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual.

Vol. 1.  2nd ed. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, 1999.

2http://www.muscletherapyworks.com/MTW%20Biography%20T%20&%20S%2001.htm 

Pregnancy Related Low Back Pain

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Low back pain during pregnancy is quite common. In fact, between 50-75% of all pregnant women will experience low back pain. The pain is usually caused from rapid changes in weight, posture, gait and hormones.

The average woman gains between 20-40 pounds throughout pregnancy. This weight gain moves your center of gravity forward, causing your pelvis to tilt and your lower back to sway – placing excessive stress on the ligaments, discs, and joints of your spine.

Pregnancy-related low back pain typically starts between the fifth and seventh month of pregnancy, although a significant portion of women experience pain sooner. Symptoms often begin at the base of your spine and may radiate into your buttock or thigh. Discomfort is often aggravated by prolonged standing, sitting, coughing, or sneezing. Your symptoms may increase throughout the day, and some patients report nighttime pain that disturbs their sleep. The extremes of activity seem to contribute to pregnancy-related low back pain – with increased risk for both “sedentary” and “physically demanding” lifestyles. Patients who have suffered with back pain prior to pregnancy are more than twice as likely to re-develop back pain during pregnancy.

Be sure to tell your doctor if your symptoms include fever, chills, bleeding, spotting, unusual discharge, cramping, sudden onset pelvis pain, light-headedness, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, calf pain or swelling, decreased fetal movement, or symptoms that radiate beyond your knee.

Unfortunately, pregnancy related low back pain occurs at a time when your medical treatment options are limited. Not surprisingly, over 90% of prenatal health care providers would recommend drug-free treatment, including the type of alternative therapy provided in this office. Studies have shown that chiropractic manipulation provides significant relief of pregnancy-related low back pain. Almost 75% of women undergoing chiropractic care report significant pain reduction with improved ability to function.

Most patients will also benefit from continuing aerobic exercise throughout pregnancy. The US Department of Health and Human Services advises that healthy pregnant women may begin or continue moderate intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. Women should not begin “vigorous” exercise during pregnancy, but those who were preconditioned to vigorous exercise may continue. Be sure to check with your doctor prior to initiating or increasing any exercise program while you are pregnant.

Be sure to take frequent breaks from prolonged sitting or standing. You may find benefit by using a small foot stool to alternate feet while standing. Sleeping with a pillow between the knees in a side lying posture may help you to rest more comfortably. You should wear shoes with good arch supports. In some cases, your chiropractor may recommend a sacroiliac belt or pelvic support belt to help relieve your pregnancy-related low back pain.

Chiropractic for Acute Low Back Pain

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According to the European Spine Journal, Chiropractic care was proven to be an effective treatment for acute back pain (pain that occurs suddenly and is often more sharp and severe).

“The European Spine Journal published guidelines for treating acute LBP and Radiculopathy:

o Employ: Manual therapy, exercise, and patient education about prognosis, warning signs, and advice to remain active.

o Avoid: routine use of imaging, extra-foraminal steroid injections, acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and opioids.

If you or someone you know suffers from back pain, follow the proven advice and call our office today.”

Source: Stochkendahl, M.J., Kjaer, P., Hartvigsen, J. et al. National Clinical Guidelines for non-surgical treatment of patients with recent onset low back pain or lumbar radiculopathy. Eur Spine J (2018) 27: 60.