The QL: Another Player In Back Pain

In a previous post, I went over the psoas major and how it is a major player in back pain, so today I thought I would go over the QL—the quadratus lumborum, which is a common source of low back pain. Before I go on though, let’s go over the anatomy…

THE ANATOMY (per Tortora & Derrickson, 11th edition)
Origin: Iliac crest and iliolumbar ligament.
Insertion: Inferior border of 12th rib and first four lumbar vertebrae.
Action: Acting together, pull 12th ribs inferiorly during forced exhalation, fix 12th ribs to prevent their elevation during deep inhalation, and help extend lumbar portion of vertebral column; acting singly, laterally flex vertebral column, especially lumbar portion.
Innervation: Thoracic spinal nerve T12 and lumbar spinal nerves L1-L3 or L1-L4.

The QL is a very strong lateral flexor and lateral stabilizer of the trunk; working synergistically with the psoas—on the same side—in lateral stabilization. It also assists the multifidi, erector spinae, and serratus posterior inferior in extension.

So, how do you know when the QL could be influencing back pain? Well, here are a few indicators for treatment…

  • Persistent pain, even at rest
  • Back pain after a violent sneeze or cough
  • Great pain when turning from one side of the body to the other while in bed
  • Excruciating pain when laterally bending or during forward flexion
  • Pain when standing; however, putting bilateral pressure above both iliac crests lessens the pain
  • Hyperlordosis is present.

If you experience one or more of the aforementioned, there is a good chance the QL is a player in your back pain—low back, specifically.

As always, I hope you find this information to be informative!

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“Neutral balance alignment is key to becoming pain free!”™ ~ Me

Headaches And Pain… Oh, My!

For me, the pain associated with headaches could be debilitating at times. So much so, I would sometimes just want to crawl in bed and cry like a baby until I fell asleep; however, when I first experienced PNMT, I quickly realized that there were other options out there aside from mainstream treatments. More on that later!

Before I go over the different types of headaches though, I feel it’s important that I share some RED FLAGS that I learned through becoming certified in PNMT:

  • See a physician to have other possible causes ruled out if the headaches are a new occurrence—the number of serious problems that have headaches as a side-effect is numerous.
  • See if physician immediately if you have any other global health declines.
  • See a physician if you’ve had headaches in the past but they are different in frequency, intensity, and/or location.
  • See a physician if you’ve had headaches for a long time but now they are daily; accompanied by GI symptoms, restlessness, anxiety, irritability, memory problems, difficulty in intellectual concentration, and depression. This could be considered analgesic rebound; analgesic overuse being very common.

Now, onward with different types of headaches. I will include some bullet points and reference the clinical studies, which happens to be where I got most of my information from…

TENSION HEADACHES – In the U.S., these account for 1-4% of all emergency room visits and is the 9th most common reason for doctor visits; being the most common type of chronic recurring head pain. All ages are susceptible, but most are young adults. — Michelle Blanda, MD; Tension Headache Clinical Presentation

  • These are usually associated with a stressful event, poor posture, or depression; and are not aggravated by physical activity.
  • They are of moderate intensity but can have a throbbing quality, are bilateral, and usually present in the occipitofrontal region.
  • They typically last 30-minutes up to 7-days.
  • Muscular tightness or stiffness in the neck, occipital, and frontal regions is common.
  • Cervical muscles, when palpated, may be very tender.
  • Nausea or vomiting is not present.
  • Insomnia is present.
  • Often present upon rising or shortly thereafter.

MIGRAINE HEADACHES – This disorder is one of the most common complaints in medicine. In the U.S., more than 30 million people have one or more migraines per year. — Jasvinder Chawla, MD; Migraine Headache

  • They typically throb or pulsate.
  • The pain is initially unilateral (on one side) and localized to the Temporalis and Frontalis muscles, or over the eye, but can be felt anywhere around the head or neck.
  • The pain typically builds up over a 1- to 2-hour period and then slowly diffuses towards the back of the head.
  • They typically last 4-72 hours; usually subsiding gradually within a day, and after a period of sleep.
  • Intensity is moderate to severe and intensifies with movement or physical activity.
  • Light and sound sensitivity are very common.
  • Nausea occurs in about 80% of migraines; vomiting in about 50%.
  • Other interesting symptoms include:
    – About 60% of people reported prodrome (preheadache) symptoms hours to days prior to the migraine. Postdrome symptoms may persist for 24-hours after the headache.
    – Auras—which can be visual, sensory, motor, or any combination of these—usually develop over 5-20 minutes and lasts less than 60 minutes.

CLUSTER HEADACHES – In the U.S., it is estimated that 2-9% of migraine sufferers experience these, making it relatively uncommon compared to the classic migraine. This condition is more common in males than in females. — Lori K Sargeant, MD; Headache, Cluster

  • No aura exists like they do in migraines.
  • Sudden onset peaks in 10- to 15-minutes; duration lasts 10-minutes to 3-hours per episode; frequency may occur several times a day for 1- to 4-months.
  • Typically, 1-2 cluster periods are experienced per year; each lasting 2- to 3- months.
  • The pain associated with is described as severe; as if the eye is being pushed out.
  • They are often nocturnal—active at night.
  • Triggers in some patients include stress, allergens, and seasonal changes.
  • Alcohol and smoking induce attacks during a cluster but not during remission.
  • Risk factors include: male sex; older than 30-years; small amounts of alcohol; previous head trauma or surgery (occasionally).

CERVICOGENIC HEADACHES – The presence of these headaches in the general population is estimated to be between 0.4% and 2.5%; however, the prevalence is as high as 20% in pain management clinics. This condition is four times more common in women than in men. — David Biondi, DO; Cervicogenic Headache: A Review of Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies

  • This condition is a relatively common cause of chronic headaches that is often misdiagnosed or unrecognized; clinical features may mimic those commonly associated with other headache disorders, making this headache hard to distinguish.
  • They involve head pain that is referred from bony structures or soft-tissues of the neck; TrP’s are usually found in the suboccipital, cervical, and shoulder musculature.
  • These often develop after a head or neck injury, but may also occur in the absence of trauma.
  • They are typically described as a deep—or dull—pain that radiates from the occipital to parietal, temporal, frontal, and periorbital regions.
  • Sufferers will often have restricted cervical range of motion and altered neck posture.
  • Head pain can be triggered or reproduced by active neck movement.
  • Paresthesia and numbness over the occipital scalp are usually present.
  • Many sufferers overuse or become dependent on analgesics; medication, when used alone, does not generally provide substantial pain relief.

As stated earlier in this post, I have suffered from headaches for many years, but not so much over the past five years due to the powerful effects of PNMT. In fact, many of my clients have suffered from them as well—that is until I got my hands on them. 🙂

Believe it or not, muscle involvement—which is stated in some of the above mentioned headache descriptions—can be a huge contributing factor that is definitely worth looking in to. In fact, the SCM, Longus Colli, Trapezius, and the Suboccipital muscles are just a few examples that can mimic or refer headache-related pain. Also note that muscular-skeletal alignment is a key factor as rubbing where it hurts won’t solve the problem.

If this post strikes a cord with you, consider looking for a massage therapist as an alternative option for headache related pain-relief!

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“Neutral balance alignment is key to becoming pain free!”™ ~ Me

Massage And My Facial Scar

Because of a similar accident my husband recently had, I decided to go ahead and share the following story with you; an experience that devastated me a while back. Luckily, my husband felt and continues to feel much better about his situation than I originally did mine, due to him witnessing the wonderful effects that massage had on my facial scar.

FYI – This post does not have much to do with PNMT per se, but rather massage as a whole… So I hope you don’t mind.

Back in 2008, I cracked my forehead open while we were vacationing in the Dominican Republic. Ugh! Call me vain, but I was so sick to my stomach; automatically assuming I would need plastic surgery in the near future… And of all places, on my face.

(I can’t believe I am actually including the first two pictures in this post, but it’s important for me to show you how powerful massage truly is.)

Right after the accident and with stitches. Can you tell I had some serious crocodile tears?

Check out that gash! I know it could have been worse, but I’m a female and sometimes females worry about these things. 🙂

In order to get with a Plastic Surgeon as soon as possible, we headed back to the States early. The doctor we ended up scheduling with told me—in a surprised tone—that the resort’s doctor actually did a really good job stitching me up. Thank goodness, right?! He also said that because it was vertical and perpendicular to my lovely wrinkles, I would definitely need plastic surgery down the road.

Having just graduated from massage school shortly before, I asked him if he thought massaging the scar would help, and his response was “The only way to know for sure is to massage half of it, but I don’t think it will help regardless.” Ummm… Half? Seriously? Not gonna happen! Instead, I decided to ignore his statement and addressed the whole darn thing on my own.

Goofy distorted self-portrait two months later.

After the scab was completely gone, I massaged it multiple times a day in the very beginning; paying special attention to the scar-tissue that was forming in and around it. Sometimes I used medium pressure; other times I used deep pressure, basically to a point where the area was pretty tender the next day. When that was the case, I would take a day off or lightly rub down—towards my heart—to increase blood flow. On a few occasions, I used Vitamin E oil, but most of the time I didn’t need to because my face tends to be on the oily side as it is.

About two months ago.

Well, here I am today… Four years later, and you can hardly see my scar. I did not massage my scar daily this whole time, just for the first six or so months. Even then, I probably missed a day, or two or three, here and there.

All in all, massage in general, works some serious wonders in my book. If you ever have an accident—which I hope you don’t—and worry about potential scaring like I did, try giving massage a try. It’s less invasive and has the potential to save you a ton of money.

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“Neutral balance alignment is key to becoming pain free!”™ ~ Me

Self-Care (For Massage Therapists And Clients)

Copyright © 2009, by Doug Alexander

In my opinion, treating our own TrP’s is pretty difficult; however, it can offer some short-term relief until the issue of pain and dysfunction—caused by muscular-imbalances—is addressed as a whole, by a trained professional. I say this because I have my own issues and find it hard to help myself most of the time—and this is what I do for a living.

There are so many options out there on the World Wide Web… From stretching techniques to tools galore. But what works and what doesn’t? Unfortunately, I can not really answer that question, but I can offer up the following information based on my own experiences, and those of my clients after hearing their experience with the suggestions I have expressed over the years.

With that said, I would like to bring to your attention an Electronic Self Care Manual that was created by Doug Alexander and his team at TouchU, located in Ontario, Canada. I had the pleasure of somewhat-meeting Doug via e-mail a couple of years ago, and through corresponding with him, I luckily ended up with this awesome manual (the above image is just one page out of 73) at my finger tips; handing out particular portions to my clients as a professional courtesy. This manual happens to be full of great advice; including information on types of injuries, stretching exercises (yes, with pictures), breathing techniques, postural improvements, etc. This .pdf is available to both therapists and non-therapists. If you are not a client of mine, please contact TouchU directly for a copy. If you are a client of mine, there is no need to contact them directly as I have it readily available for you.

In regards to tools for self-care, one I highly recommend is the Original Backnobber II, made by The Pressure Positive Co. My husband, and every client I have recommended this to, loves it. I have several clients that even take it with them during business trips because it breaks down into two pieces, making it easy to put in their carry-on luggage. Another great tool from this company is the Knobble II. I have actually laid right on top of this as a way to address TrP’s that I have had in my back, shoulder blades, etc.

Well, folks… That’s all for now. This was a pretty short post, but I hope you still found the information informative!

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“Neutral balance alignment is key to becoming pain free!”™ ~ Me