Tags: shoulder pain

Pain: Considering Complementary Approaches (eBook) | NCCAM

Check out this free e-book download from the National Institutes of Health on considering complementary approaches to pain.

PainBookCoverTo download – follow this link and pick your preferred download format: Pain: Considering Complementary Approaches (eBook) | NCCAM.

Biological Implausibility Aside, Acupuncture Works – via The Atlantic

I get it – I absolutely get it when people are skeptical of acupuncture.  It seems a little bit crazy and out there.  Really, I do understand – my background is in neuroscience, I read scientific studies, I’ve even done a few, and I get it – you want to understand. I want to understand, too!  I **wish** I could list off all the physiological mechanisms at play, but I can’t – we don’t know them yet.  And I know this means that you may be less inclined to try acupuncture, and that’s fair. However, just because we don’t YET understand how it works doesn’t mean it doesn’t.  In my experience both as a patient and a practitioner – it works.  It works for a lot of people (not everyone, nothing does).   While I don’t need the studies to convince me of that, it’s certainly nice when some show up to illuminate a biological mechanism (did you see the Rutgers study on inflammation – so cool! ), or a study like the one below from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that looked at the results from 29 different studies and found that acupuncture is more effective than controls for several conditions. Let’s leave sham acupuncture and placebo for a later discussion – I have lots to say about it – but for now – I’ll leave you with this quote from The Atlantic article, and urge you to read the whole thing!

“A meta-analysis of 18,000 patientablets from 29 randomized controlled studies, it found that the treatment was more effective than controls in relieving back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. Significantly, it also found that real acupuncture was more effective than shams.

Putting their results into context, the authors of the study explain that for a pain rating of 60 on a 100-point scale, follow-up scores decreased to around 43 for those had received no treatment, 35 for those who had received fake treatment, and 30 for those who received acupuncture. This translates into a 50 percent reduction in pain for the acupuncture patients, and only 30 and 42.5 percent reductions for the control and placebo groups, respectively.”
-via Biological Implausibility Aside, Acupuncture Works – The Atlantic.

Full study here: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1357513#Abstract

Also, if you are someone who finds acupuncture effective but struggles when talking about it to skeptics – take a look at this wonderful article by Mel Hopper Koppelman : HOW TO WIN AN ARGUMENT WITH AN ACUPUNCTURE HATER.  I love her take on common objections to acupuncture and her well-referenced post!  Thanks, Mel!

So what exactly is Functional Movement?

So you’ve heard me mention functional movement a few times, I went to a whole conference on it in Raleigh, it’s a bit of a buzzword in the fitness world these days but you may not be exactly sure what it really means, or what it means for you.

What IS functional movement? 

A basic definition of functional movement is: movement that is based on real-world biomechanics.  These movements are usually multi-planar, multi-joint and require adequate motor control. In other words functional movements are usually whole body movements that can be applied in many different real-world situations – think about a squat, or pulling and pushing progressions – these are movements we use variations of many many times a day – going from sitting to standing, pushing a box on an overhead shelf, pulling the cord to start your lawn mower…

If that’s still not particularly clear – contrast functional movement to something like sport-specific movement or muscle-specific movement.   For instance – sport-specific movements might be hitting a baseball, a tennis serve, kicking a soccer ball – while there is often some cross-over between sports-specific and functional movements, sport-specific movements tend to be of higher complexity and less broadly applicable to everyday life.  Muscle-specific movements aim to isolate a specific muscle so that it alone (or mostly) is doing the work – think bicep curl, or leg extension machine.  These exercises are generally less practical in day to day life, there are very rarely times when you will be required to use an isolated muscle to complete a task outside of a gym.

Why does this matter?

Think about it, have you ever injured yourself and realized exactly how difficult it was to do basic every-day things like put on shoes, or sit on the toilet, or get a shirt on or off?  I know I have, and pretty much every one of my patients has experienced this at some point.  That is dysfunctional movement and pain.  However, it is entirely possible (and very common) to have dysfunctional movement without pain and you may not even be aware of it.  What do you think happens over time if you have a non-painful dysfunctional movement pattern?  If your answer is get injured, dingdingding! you win! If we don’t correct dysfunctional movement patterns, over time they will become more dysfunctional and likely set us up for future injury. This is where movement screening and assessment comes in.

What is a movement assessment/screen and why would I need one? 

A movement screen is used if you don’t currently experience any pain and it is used to predict injury risk.  By rating your movements in a screen, your score will tell you how functional/dysfunctional your movements are.  A movement assessment is used when pain exists.  Since pain absolutely alters the way we move, we have to look at it a bit differently and try to determine what is causing the inability/dysfunction.

In the words of Gray Cook:
“Movement screening and movement assessment are important because these two systems bridge the gap between real life activities, and medical or performance testing and advanced biomechanical analysis.”

In the sports medicine world it is a well-know fact that the biggest predictor of injury is previous injury.  So, how do we get better at preventing injury? – we can’t just look at tissues and joints and ranges of motion, we have to look at the big picture, not just all the pieces, but also how our brains are talking to them.  And one way to do this is to look at both the quality and quantity of movement in a standardized way, such as through a functional movement screen (FMS) or a selective functional movement assessment (SFMA).  As most of my patients are already in pain when I see them, I decided to start incorporating the SFMA into my practice. This is a big piece of what I learned at the Functional Movement Summit out in Raleigh and I think it fits beautifully into Anatomy Acupuncture’s practice paradigm.  So, be on the look out – I’ll probably be assessing your movement in the near future.

One more thought: 

We don’t move in isolation.  I often say to my patients when they come in with pain somewhere – that for better or worse everything is connected.  Sometimes it’s wonderful we work that way, and sometimes it’s a pain in the you know what – it’d much easier if it was isolated.  However, since in fact everything IS connected, and sometimes (often) where you hurt isn’t where the problem is, the same is true with movement – the things we have to do daily, that allow us to be functional, are not isolated movements – they involve multiple muscles, coordination, joint mobility and stability and motor control.  Movements, even simple ones, are whole body affairs.  How well are you moving?

More on this topic soon!

heal faster. move better.


Change is in the air!

Hi, and wow, can you believe it’s November? [if you missed it – check out our tips for a healthy autumn here]

Here at Anatomy Acupuncture we’ve been pretty busy the last couple of months.  We just returned from another trip to Boston for the Sports Medicine Acupuncture Certification program and it, as usual, was exciting, inspiring and exhausting all at once (while we love the learning, we’re excited to have the month of December off from East Coast travel!).   This most recent trip was focused on the anatomy of the neck and upper extremity – we also spent two days going over bodywork protocols for upper extremity injuries like frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and more!  We got to see the intricacies of the brachial plexus, the inner workings of the shoulder joint and we got to re-examine how interdependent and amazing the body is.  

Upper extremity: Henry Gray (1821–1865). Anatomy of the Human Body. 1918.

Upper extremity: Henry Gray (1821–1865). Anatomy of the Human Body. 1918.

That brings me to some more exciting news – soon you will notice some changes around the Anatomy Acupuncture clinic.  We’re getting ready to reorganize and create a new space to do posture analysis and show stretches and therapeutic exercises.  This is another part of the advanced training I’ve been doing in Boston and I can’t wait to bring to you and help you get even better results from your treatments! 

As we finish up this year and start the next there will be a few more exciting changes here, so check in often and stay in the loop via facebook and twitter – you won’t want to miss it!