Saturday 8 August 2015

Osteopathy and The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race
Ah, Canada.  I was watching the new season of The Amazing Race Canada on television last night, and in one scene, a father and daughter team had to do a challenge where the father had to build a sandcastle while his daughter was buried up to her neck in the cold sand.  During the challenge, she was getting cold under the sand, then was in visible pain and after completing the challenge, her leg muscles had cramped up and she had to be taken to the hospital.  She was diagnosed with painful leg cramps and given crutches to continue on the race.

Last year, there was a strong father and son team on The Amazing Race, coming in first place on many legs of the race, then unfortunately, while running on a beach, the father tore his Achilles Tendon in the sand, and they had to forfeit and leave the race early.  The tear would likely take 3-4 months to recover, so their chance of a million dollars was over too soon. 

After watching the show yesterday, I was thinking about how Osteopathy can help The Amazing Race contestants.  For both these teams, I thought about how an Osteopath as a teammate could have helped prevent the Achilles Tendon tear on the father and son team, and helped the daughter recover and get off her crutches sooner to continue on the race.  For the father, during his time on the race, all the running likely caused tightness in his lower leg and calf muscles.  It would have been interesting to hear if he complained of any leg cramps or pain in his foot earlier in the race.  In any case, decreasing muscle tightness in his lower leg and thereby reducing tension in his Achilles Tendon would have likely prevented his torn tendon.  Running in the sand is harder than running on a harder surface or on grass due to the increased need for balance, and the pushing down to toe off in the sand was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back as the saying goes.

For the daughter, being buried up to her neck in the cold sand likely caused decreased circulation to her legs and muscle tightness, and after being buried so long, her pain was likely due to muscle cramps and ischemic pain from decreased blood flow.  Thus, the crutches helped by allowing her to move without using her already tight lower leg muscles, and she would likely be able to walk normally when her leg muscles relaxed again.  Since she is on a race, The Amazing Race, she does not have the time to allow the muscles to naturally relax again with rest.  Thus, to speed up her recovery, an Osteopathic teammate could more quickly decrease her muscle tightness and improve circulation to her legs using Massage Techniques, Muscle Energy, Acupressure and Counterstrain, or a combination of these together, to help her legs recover faster.

For the Osteopath, treating the different areas of pain for a patient is like completing the different challenges or legs of The Amazing Race.  And by balancing these areas of the body, we can help our patients continue along the road to good health.  Thus, our aches and pains are only challenges to our health, not pit stops or destinations in our life.  When the Osteopathic Practitioner can balance the body to the way he or she wants the patient to feel, then that is like landing on the matt of The Amazing Race in first place, together. 

Dickson Wong
Osteopathic Practitioner,

Sunday 17 May 2015

Old Photographs and Osteopathy

Yesterday, I was looking at old photographs of my new baby when he was 100 days old. He’s a year and half now. It’s amazing to see how fast they grow in a year, from crawling to walking to almost running. It made me smile to look back on those pictures and it’s a nice feeling to relive happy moments. So it inspired me to think of how Osteopathy is like old photographs.

Looking back on pictures is a good way to renew, refresh and relive happy feelings we had with family or romantic feelings we had with loved ones. I think in our busy lives it’s important to take time to remember these special people and not take them for granted. So, old photographs are a way to help us renew our feelings for loved ones, friends and family. Similarly, Osteopathy and other therapies are a way to help us feel refreshed so we can feel healthier and energetic. It is easy to take our muscles for granted and let them get tighter every day or ignore a pain until it gets worse. But by doing something healthy every day we can keep our bodies as strong as our memories. If we only put our pictures away, our memories can fade and feelings get weaker. Similarly, if we continue ignoring our aches and body’s warning signs, then our muscles get tighter or weaker. Where photos help us relive happy moments, treatments can help relieve us of painful moments.

Thus, the importance of daily activities. Photos are not meant to be only taken at the moment then stored in the clouds or a dusty photo album. Look at them more often to remember the special people in your life now, not when a tragedy or regret makes us. Similarly, treat your body daily with something healthy for your mind, body or spirit like trying Osteopathy, going for a walk or spending time with that special person from your photos. Osteopathy uses hands-on techniques to improve muscle imbalances, corrects alignment, and increases circulation. These manual treatments can help your muscles avoid getting tighter over time like looking at old photos can help avoid feelings from fading. Looking at my baby’s pictures brought back all those happy feelings like the first day I saw him, and similar to how patients might feel after a holistic treatment. So call your local Osteopathic Practitioner as your healthy act of the day. It’s as simple as taking a picture. 

Dickson Wong
Osteopathic Practitioner

Sunday 9 February 2014

Osteopathy and Insurance

The following information is relevant to insurance coverage for Osteopathy in British Columbia, Canada.  Our Osteopathic Society, the SPMPO, will continue to work with insurance companies to inform them of the long-term benefits of Osteopathy and treatment of acute pain for their members.  In the meantime, the best insurance for patients is their active interest and preventative maintenance in their own health using traditional and complementary medicine.  I am happy to notice many of my patients have already taken their health in their own hands, and have trusted their health in my hands.  Thank you.

Sun Life Insurance

As of April 1, 2010, we are pleased Sun Life Financial Group Benefits has expanded their coverage of Osteopathy.  Sun Life now recognizes Osteopathic practitioners holding a DO(MP) designation as eligible practitioners under the Osteopathic benefit.  As DO(MP) Osteopathic practitioners are more widely available across many communities in BC, this change will allow Sun Life members broader access to Osteopathy.  For more information, please go to Sun Life’s Osteopathic benefit coverage here.

Manulife Insurance

Manulife Insurance now includes coverage of many health services including Osteopath, chiropractor, massage therapist, naturopath, physiotherapist and other practitioners.  For more information, please go to Manulife’s health services coverage here.

Blue Cross Insurance

Blue Cross offers many health plans, such as Primary Blue,Blue Choice and Blue Chip, that consists of a core health plan which includes registered therapists and health practitioners.  Benefits are paid for visits to Osteopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, physiotherapists, registered dieticians and more.  Unlike massage or dieticians, Osteopathy does not require a referral by a physician for Blue Cross’s Blue Choice coverage.  For more information, please go to Blue Cross plan details here.

Green Shield Insurance

Green Shield Canada’s extended health benefit coverage recognizes Osteopathy is based on the theory that the body will produce the remedies necessary to protect it as long as the bones are aligned properly and do not press on the nerves.  Osteopaths treat patients using a combination of gentle stretching, massage and mobilizing joints to ease symptoms.  An Osteopath treats diseases by manipulation of the bones.  Commonly, patients visit the Osteopath to seek relief from back pain, stiff joints, headaches, arthritis, fatigue or digestive issues.  For more information, please go to GreenShield Canada’s Paramedical Practitioner Services here.

Great West Life Insurance

Great-West Life offer comprehensive health plans that cover out-of-hospital treatments, after provincial benefits have been paid, for paramedical services such as licensed Osteopaths, chiropractor, naturopath and podiatrist.  For more information, please go to Great-West Life's detailed coverage here.

Empire Life Insurance

Empire Life Insurance includes Osteopathy under their Extended Health Benefits.  For more information, please go to Empire Life Health Benefits here.

Dickson Wong
Osteopathic Practitioner

Sunday 1 September 2013

The NFL and Osteopathy

Last weekend, I went to a brain conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre. There were 8 different speakers there including Dr. Daniel Amen, author of 28 books, physician and brain enhancement expert. In his talk, he talked about the NFL and his studies on brain scans of injured players. It was startling to see the difference in the damaged brains of NFL players and a relatively normal brain- it almost looked like the players' brains had holes or missing parts on the brain SPECT images. Even more impressive than seeing these scans was seeing after his treatments, the players' brains healed and almost looked like a normal brain again. I can only imagine how much this can help injuries in other sports as well.

So the main theme I got from Dr. Amen’s talk was how the brain can heal like our muscles, ligaments and other tissues. Then this made me think how the brain was damaged in the first place. Given football is a very physical sport and concussions are one of the common injuries to the players, I still wasn’t sure if there was a direct link to the damage as seen on the brain scans. However, this week I read in the news that the NFL has reached a $765 million settlement with past injured NFL athletes. Thus, even if the NFL doesn’t want to openly admit it, there is a link somehow from sports injury to brain damage.

Then it made me think that the brain is not so easily damaged like a sand castle damaged by a strong wave. Even with tackle after tackle, the brain is protected by our hard skull, and in football, by another skull called a helmet. However, with each tackle, the brunt of the force might be absorbed by the neck and its muscles. Whenever we bend our head forward and back, we are using our neck muscles. Thus, to brace our 10lb heads from snapping back with tackles and for charging forward from the line of scrimmage, our neck muscles are used to balance, brace and absorb. And if the blood flow to our brains can be temporarily halted by simply turning our heads up to look at the stars and fainting, then it made me think of the effect on the brain from chronically tight muscles in the neck over years or a career.

So it would have been interesting to hear from Dr. Amen in his talk about treating NFL players if any or how many had complained of frequent, recurring headaches. If tension headaches are a common problem for people, and also commonly caused by tension in the neck muscles, then it makes me think if NFL players might commonly get headaches, especially after a concussion. However, rather than see headaches as a bad thing, I see headaches as really a warning sign from the body that the brain needs more blood because tension in the neck may be temporarily impairing or partially blocking its flow. Similar to heart disease caused from gradually blocked arteries, is brain damage also a result of gradually blocked arteries to the brain?

Thus, the most important idea I got from Dr. Amen is that brain damage is treatable and possibly preventable. If tension might lead to tension headaches, and headaches are a part of concussions, and concussions are $765 million linked to brain damage, then the first step to avoid brain damage is to reduce tension in the neck and use headaches as a warning system or a self-diagnosis that the brain is trying to tell us something. Fortunately, in Osteopathy, we have many techniques to help us relax your neck, reduce headaches and also as part of our holistic training, we will look at the tension in your shoulders and back, the range of movement in your spine and your posture along with our cervical assessment of your neck. Our diagnosis is from our hands and our treatment is from our hands. Our techniques include trained adjustments, acupressure and massage, and gentle Osteopathic techniques using your head to shorten or stretch the muscles.

Sports injuries happen to more than just professional athletes, and we may all share a common cause. If you have chronic, recurring headaches, then treat it similar if a yellow warning light lit up on your car dashboard. Early preventative maintenance is the key to long term health and can help you cope and heal from everyday tackles. Call your local professionally-trained Osteopath today.

Dickson Wong
Osteopathic Practitioner

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Love and Osteopathy

Ah, Valentine’s Day- it was the best of times, the worst of times. Every year, Valentine’s Day is a time to think of Relationships Past, Present and Future. For many, this is the most romantic day of the year. For the males among those many, it is one of the most stressful times of the year in trying to think of something romantic for your loved one as your gift will be talked about by your girlfriend to her girlfriends, your wife to other wives. For those not in a relationship at this time, I hope you spend the day with people you love because that is the best gift you can give and get:  love.

So, this special day has inspired me to write my new blog on how I think love is like Osteopathy. Before this day, I have been thinking of funny things lately. I am fortunate to work with nice people and to spend time after work with good friends. I like to think I have a good sense of humor and I enjoy making friends laugh with a blend of <ahem> sophisticated humor with reference to popular culture to simple jokes from the top of my head. And even though others might say I am funny, I realize that funny is a gift that only others can give me. I always think I am lucky when I think of something funny to say and there is someone near who I can try it on. And if they laugh, then they might say I am funny, but the same joke said in my head or with no one around is not as funny.

So, I realize that many of our good qualities are given to us by others; I am funny only because I have others to entertain or make laugh. Valentine’s Day reminds me that we are only loving and caring if we can give our love and care to others. A person full of love with no one to give it to is like a beautiful dinner with no one to enjoy it. Only by sharing these qualities can we bring out different parts of us and complete ourselves. These and many other traits in us are best expressed when others can help bring them out of us. And so, it makes me think how our health is like love.

I am thankful to patients who have thanked me for the help I have given them, and tell me how my treatments have improved their health and reduced their pains. But I also feel grateful that the natural healing ability of their bodies helped me bring out their natural health. For example, their back pain did not exactly go away because of me, but rather because Osteopathy taught me to reduce their muscle tension, improve their joint movements and decrease the nerve irritation.  Their headaches, irritable bowel and nausea, sports injuries and other aches and pains did not disappear just because of me, but rather because I helped their bodies based on applied anatomy and Osteopathic techniques help themselves.

So, thank you if you think I am funny, caring or a good Osteopath. I realize that these qualities are not for me to take, but because you gave them to me; you allowed me to share these qualities with you. If they were left unexpressed, funny is the same as unfunny, love is the same as not loved. I appreciate the trust my patients give me for their health and I am a good Osteopath only because my patients’ bodies responded well to my treatments. So, this Valentine’s Day and any day you share with a loved one, I hope you will find the joy in give and take, and that one of the greatest things you can give someone is gratitude.

Dickson Wong
Osteopathic Practitioner

Monday 23 January 2012

Driving and Osteopathy

Happy New Year- that means hello 2012, and hello winter driving. Vancouver got its first taste of winter driving this year with below freezing temperatures and snow earlier in the week. As I write this first blog of the year from the warmth of my home, I can still see patches of snow that haven’t melted yet out my window. The weather is almost back to normal for this time of year, but the chaos that happened during this week of winter driving is a reminder of how to be safe on the roads. For me, it inspired me on how driving is like Osteopathy.

When I was treating a patient today, I was focusing on the different levels of tension and tissue, and like our founder A.T. Still would do, imagine the different layers of anatomy under the skin. That’s when I realized the amount of concentration that Osteopathy requires for each patient. Oftentimes, we may treat different patients with the same aches and pains and it’s easy to follow a standard treatment. And that’s a lot like driving because sometimes I will drive to my destination before I realize how I got there. That is because I might have taken the same route every week that it has become a routine my brain can do without my conscious awareness.

On the other hand, the snow last week made the roads more slippery and more dangerous. Driving required my full attention to stay aware of not just the grip on the road but the way others were driving. The roads were almost alive the way each block felt differently, the main roadways clearer to drive on, and the alleys still covered in snow. It reminded me of last summer when I went on a roadtrip down the Oregon Coast.  The scenery along the Pacific Ocean is beautiful, but the road sometimes narrowed to one lane while you are just feets away from driving off the edge of a cliff. So summer or winter driving can make you focus on the road as easy as a routine drive can allow your mind to wander.

As I was treating my patient, I realized how driving is like Osteopathy. As I was telling her my epiphany I compared how this knot in her back was like that narrow highway I was on, and how I had my focus on trying to relax it with inhibition and pressure. After it softened, it was like the highway turned into 4 lanes again. It is easy to let our minds wander when we treat the same aches and pains everyday. And in some therapies, it is easy to put on a machine or other device to our patient, then leave the room, and literally wander. But I think Osteopathy also allows us to focus on our diagnosis and treatment, and to learn more about our patient and ourselves. This is similar to how driving can allow our minds to wander, or to appreciate the feel of the engine, the comfort of the interior, and the grip on the road.

So in an Osteopathic Treatment, we have many opportunities to focus: when we are using a HVLA technique, we need to focus on how to free the right joint; when we are using a MET technique, we need to focus on the feather edge barrier; when we are using inhibition, we need to focus on the pressure and point on the muscle; and when we use Counterstrain, we need to focus on the moment the muscle starts to relax. Given the trust our patients have given us, this clinical focus is just as important as in driving, with even a momentary lapse in concentration having possibly dangerous results. For example, treating the neck is like driving in the snow- we need to be careful.

Thus, one of the things I think makes Osteopathy special is this focus we give to our patients compared to other therapies. Although many therapies share this attention to detail, others can easily prescribe a pill or tincture, a machine or exercise to do the work. Although they may be helpful, they lose the opportunity to learn and focus on the details or special features of the patient. Just as a BMW or other performance car can take me from point A to B, it also gives me the opportunity to enjoy the drive there. All it takes is to not let your mind wander and to focus on the moment. Our patients are like that luxury car who we can help and help us get to where we want.

Dickson Wong
Osteopathic Practitioner

Thursday 1 December 2011

Christmas and Osteopathy

The first day of December. There is something special about this day because it officially marks the start of the month of Christmas. And even though the stores would like us to think of Christmas earlier with Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays, and Christmas decorations going up soon after Halloween or at the latest after American Thanksgiving, there is something still innocent about the first day of December. It doesn’t have the same marketing or hype as those other days, in contrast it quietly arrives like the calm before the storm. And it is in this solitude that I am inspired by how Christmas is like Osteopathy.

I have been inspired a lot this year, and you can read my thoughts through my blogs, moments of when I was able to capture in words how art, cooking, friendships, poker, and even golf are like Osteopathy. And so getting into the holiday spirit, I think the time is right to see how Christmas is like our health.

Soon, there will be Christmas shopping, Christmas cooking and Christmas everything all around us. It will be the happiest of times for some, and a sad time for others. But I think how we feel is not based on the time of year, but more on who we are. I think it is like winning the lottery because I don’t think money changes us, it just makes us more of the person who we really are. If we are generous before we won the lottery, I think we would be generous after; and the opposite is true, it doesn’t matter if that person had won one hundred dollars or one million dollars. Thus, I think at Christmas time, it will bring out the person inside us more. If we are kind, then I think this time of year brings that out even more with the many opportunities to give, either to charity or to family and friends. If we are anxious and easily stressed throughout the year, then this may be an especially stressful time of year. 

And so I think our health is a lot like this. Our body naturally wants to be healthy, it tells us when to yawn or stretch tight muscles, it hurts to warn us of compensation patterns and imbalances, and it sleeps to grow and refresh ourselves. But it is everyday and work-related stresses that add up and accumulate in our bodies to affect our health adversely. Similar to how Christmas can bring out the person who we really are, Osteopathy can restore our natural health so we can be as healthy as the person we really are. Christmas is a time of forgiving, when we can let go of the mental stresses from earlier in the year. Osteopathy is also a time, a time of healing for your body from the physical and mental stresses from earlier in the year. 

Osteopathy, similar to other therapies, can reduce muscle tension, improve joint range of motion, decrease nerve irritation and improve circulation, among other benefits through hands-on techniques with a holistic approach to your health. Just as it complements other forms of medicine, it also complements the holidays because our health is a combination of body, mind and spirit. Similar to how your local Osteopath might treat a part of you that you feel your doctor and his prescribed drugs miss, Osteopathy can also enhance the joys of Christmas too. Together, Christmas can bring out our inner happiness and goodwill to others, and Osteopathy can bring out our innate ability to be healthy and forgive all the aches and pains from the year before.

Thus, Christmas and Osteopathy can have similar benefits on our health, just in different ways. They complement each other, like traditional and alternative medicine. Similar to how Christmas can bring out the best in us, Osteopathy like other therapies can bring out the health in us. And similar to how Christmas is a time to share, Osteopathy can also be shared, namely in patient referrals. So as my last blog of the year, I want to thank all my new and returning patients this year. I have been touched by the kind words you have said about me, the trust in your health you have given me, and the opportunity to improve it with Osteopathy. I wish you all a Healthy and Happy Holidays, and let’s make 2012 our healthiest year ever. 

Dickson Wong
Osteopathic Practitioner