Thoracic Spine-The Silent Saboteur

Well, this is part 4 from this article, and there’s more to come; you see why it’s taking me a while to get through it! Dr. Muscolino talked about 3 probable effect of upper crossed syndrome: the effect of thoracic outlet syndrome, negative effect on breathing, and negative effect on lumbar spine. Three probable effects from upper crossed syndrome are: pectoralis minor syndrome (caused by locked short pectoralis minor), costoclavicular syndrome (caused by collapsed posture of the clavicle against the 1st rib), and anterior scalene syndrome (caused by adaptive shortening of all parts of the scalene muscle). Upper crossed syndrome can cause negative effects on the lumbar, and cervical, spine because very often, compensation for a lack of range of motion in the thoracic area causes facet joint irritation, osteoarthritic degenerative changes (and possible foraminal encroachment and nerve impingement), and, naturally, low back pain. Low back pain (and cervical (neck) pain can, in turn, cause spasming of nearby musculature.

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Weekend Warrior and Trigger Points

Also from the latest edition of Institute for Integrative Healthcare, Leslie DeMatteo, LMT, MS, reported (but written a year and a half ago) that Kruger et al, in 2007, says that 1-3% of US adults are weekend warriors by 2 national surveys. Eighty-one percent of weekend warriors participated in household and transportation activities, and 65% participated in sports or exercise. Specifically, they were deemed weekend warriors because their bodies were not prepared for this level of activity. She relayed also that the following are very common weekend warrior injuries: cervical herniated discs, impingement or tears in or of the rotator cuff muscles, low back pain, anterior cruciate ligament and meniscal tears, muscle strains, tendinitis, ankle sprains, and trigger point activation. Activation in overused, overworked muscles can cause local and referred pain, which is the difference between trigger points and tender points. Trigger points are a consistent, chronic contracted muscle. Braun and Simonson, in 2008, reported that trigger points are usually activated by acute or repetitive overuse and is a localized area of hypertonicity that occur at the motor end unit, which is the neuromuscular junction. Massage therapists treat trigger points by direct pressure for about 30-45 seconds within, and working up to, the patient’s tolerance. We should follow by stretching and relaxing the muscle and maybe applying heat. We should also constantly remind the patient to breathe to disallow pressure buildup! People can prevent trigger points by adequate hydration and proper, consistent warming up!

Massage and Neck Pain

The editors of Institute for Integrative Healthcare (in 7/1/16 edition) found the following when speaking of massage and neck pain. Neck pain is the 4th leading cause of disability in the US and affects 30% of Americans. About half of acute neck pain will resolve on its own. Two common causes of neck pain are: forward head (pain in neck and down the arms) and text-neck. Generally, for every inch the head moves forward from neutral, pressure on neck vertebrae and muscles increases by about 10 pounds. A therapist and patient must strengthen back-of-the-neck muscles and stretch the sternocleidomastoid, scalenes, and splenius capitis. Tilting the head forward for as little as 2-4 hours a day has been shown to cause significant damage which can even result in needing spinal surgery. Both conditions can, and, do cause trigger points. Trigger points in the upper back typically cause neck pain, and trigger points in the neck usually cause headaches. Craniosacral therapy helps because the cranium, vertebrae, and sacrum are all connected. A therapist should only use about 5 grams of pressure, which is the weight of a nickel!

Axillary Web Syndrome

In July’s (Vol. 9, No. 2) edition of International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, Paul A. Lewis and Joan E. Cunningham did a case report of a woman’s treatment. She’d been treated for breast cancer with a unilateral mastectomy. After 2 Swedish massage sessions and following up after 3 months, she revealed no visual or palpable cording evidence, unrestricted glenohumeral joint range of motion, and no movement-associated pain! They called this dynamic angular petrissage!

Thoracic Spine-Part 2

Well, I really will need lots of updates on this! Just so glad that Joseph E. Muscolino, DC is  a practitioner that chose to write about his belief that the thoracic part of the human body can, and does, affect every other part. It can affect the cervical spine by affecting the body of the first thoracic vertebrae, which affects the last cervical one (that starts the cervical vertebrae on a hypolordotic curve, which ends up causing the upper cervical vertebrae into a hyperlordotic curve). Since the discs are in an anterior position, this affects the discs at the top of the thoracic area and the bottom of the cervical area because the weight of the head is anterior. Since the hyperlordotic curve causes excess weight on the posterior portion of the vertebrae, the upper cervical ones tend to cause bone/arthritis changes and nerve compression. Another consequence of the weight of the head being anterior is that that weight causes muscles and other soft tissues (ligaments and tendons) in the posterior region of the neck to work very hard (and become even “tighter” (see previous post!)). The last thing that I read about in this section is the effect the thoracic spine can have on shoulder posture. Naturally, the shoulder girdles fall into a forward posture as well, which, in turn, turns the humerus and all other soft tissue in, towards the center of the body, with them (think previous “tighter/locked” muscle discussion again!).

Thoracic Spine-Part 1

Finishing off ABMP’s monthly magazine, I truly loved Joseph E. Muscolino, DC’s article, Thoracic Spine-The Silent Saboteur! I’ve always thought this region of the spine is neglected by people and practitioners. So far, I’ve made it to finishing reading about Upper-Crossed Syndrome. Mostly, I loved his relaying of what current thinking SHOULD be about tight muscles. Locked-Short/Locked-Long is truly more accurately descriptive of muscles and the joints they cross. BOTH sets of muscles opposing a joint are actually tight (just one set will be “stronger” than the other so “shorter”, and the other will be “weaker” so “longer”), and they most definitely both need bodywork because, after all, no matter the more-appropriate name or not, they will still benefit from stimulation from, ultimately, the central nervous system!