Disc Herniations and Chiropractic

What is a disc/inter-verterbal disc?

Our spines are made up of bones called vertebrae. In between each of these bones, we have discs that cushion our vertebrae and act as shock absorbers. The disc has a tough outer layer, called the annulus, and a soft inner center called the nucleus.

What is a disc herniation?

A disc herniation is when the soft inner nucleus pushes out of the annulus into the spinal canal. The spinal canal only has limited space, so when the nucleus of the disc starts protruding into the spinal canal it can put pressure on the nerves within the canal. As a result, this can cause pain and other symptoms. Moreover, this can happen anywhere in the spine but usually occurs in the lower back or the neck.

What are the symptoms of disc herniations in the lower back?

Symptoms caused by a disc herniation in the lower back include lower back pain, numbness, pain, tingling, or burning. The burning starts in the buttock and radiates down the leg and sometimes into the foot. Usually, only one side is affected. In addition, pain is usually exacerbated by standing, walking, sitting, and straightening the painful leg.

What are the symptoms of disc herniations in the neck?

In the neck, symptoms include neck pain, pain in between the shoulder blades; numbness, pain, tingling, or burning. The burning starts down the arms and sometimes into the hands and fingertips. Moreover, the pain can be exacerbated by certain neck positions and movement. As well as coughing, sneezing, or straining. In addition, disc herniations can cause weakness in the affected limb.

An injury usually causes disc herniations to that area of the spine. Still, in people with degenerating discs, it can sometimes just take a small exertion or twist of the spine to cause a herniation. Risk factors for disc herniation include smoking, being overweight, incorrect lifting technique, repetitive strenuous activities, or a sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, 30-50 years old is the most common age to develop a disc herniation, but it can happen outside of this age range. In addition, men are twice as likely as women to experience a disc herniation2.

How can chiropractic help with disc herniations?

There are many ways that chiropractic care can help with disc herniations.

Prevention:

Firstly, by preventing them from happening in the first place. Chiropractic is all about optimizing nervous system function. This helps to make sure all of the muscles around our spine are activated and working at their best. As a result, when muscles around our spine aren’t working properly, this leaves our spine vulnerable and more susceptible to a disc herniation if we sustain an injury.

Proper Movement and Support:

Secondly, chiropractic can prevent a disc herniation by making sure the joint is moving properly. Chiropractic restores proper joint biomechanics, and when joints are moving properly this decreases the likelihood of degeneration. Importantly, as degeneration is a major risk factor for disc herniation, this is an important part of preventing disc herniations.

Improves healing:

Thirdly, it is important to try and prevent disc herniations from happening in the first place. However, you could still sustain an injury that causes a disc herniation. Chiropractic is beneficial in the healing process for this. As chiropractic impacts the nervous system, it impacts our body’s healing capabilities. As a result, a nervous system free of interference is able to better heal injuries such as a disc herniation fast and effectively. Therefore, chiropractic returns normal movement and function to the spine.

In addition, along with proper exercises and stretches, a spine that is moving and functioning properly is more likely to heal properly. In conclusion, this decreases the chance of needing surgery for the disc herniation.

Other options

There are many different types of surgery for disc herniations, which can involve removing bone, removing discs, or fusing multiple levels of the spine together. However, this is usually the last resort for extreme cases, as it is extremely invasive. Moreover, it can cause further issues down the road. Chiropractic is safe and non-invasive, and can drastically reduce your chances of needing surgery. As a result, your body is able to heal naturally, resulting in less chance of re-injury and further complications.

References:

  1. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. (2019). Herniated disc – Symptoms, causes, prevention and treatments. https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Herniated-Disc
  2. Southern Cross. (2017, December). Herniated disc – symptoms, treatment, surgery. https://www.southerncross.co.nz/group/medical-library/herniated-slipped-disc-symptoms-treatment-surgery
  3. Grassi, R. (2019, June 26). Chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease. Spine Universe. https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/degenerative-disc/chiropractic-care-degenerative-disc-disease
  4. Pietrangelo, A. (2017, April 21). Herniated disc surgery: What to expect. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-health/herniated-disk-surgery#surgeries
  5. Santilli, V., Beghi, E., & Finucci, S. (2006). Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: A randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations. The Spine Journal, 6(2), 131-137. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2005.08.001

 

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Disc Herniation - Auckland Chiropractor

Posture and Chiropractic

 

What are the benefits of good posture?

 

“Sit up straight” or “don’t slump” is advice we have all probably heard at sometime during our lives, as someone is trying to tell us to fix our bad posture. But you may not understand why having good posture is so important, and all the benefits that good posture can bring about. Here are just some of the many benefits that having good posture1:

  • Less chance of pain in the neck or lower back – poor posture places stress on these areas and can cause pain
  • Decreased incidence of headaches – poor posture leads to increased muscle tension at the back of the neck which can cause tension headaches
  • Increased energy levels – when all of our joints are in their correct alignment this allows our muscles to work at their best, which stops them from using excess energy, so this energy can be used elsewhere in the body
  • Decreased risk of joint degeneration – poor posture places excess stress on some joints, which can eventually lead to degeneration
  • Increased lung capacity – slouching compresses your lungs, having good posture gives your lungs more room to expand
  • Improved circulation and digestion – just like your lungs, other organs can be compressed with bad positioning, good posture allows your organs to work at their best, helping with functions such as circulation and digestion
  • Improved core strength and reduce injury – good posture allows your core and back muscles to stay active and engaged, resulting in a strong core. This strong core protects our spine and minimises your chance of injury
  • Increased confidence – good posture can make you appear taller and more attractive to other people. Which also improves confidence and self-esteem

 

What can cause bad posture?

 

Numerous things can cause us to have bad posture including2:

  • Slouching when sitting or standing – this can place strain on your muscles and can also cause some of your muscles to stop working effectively, which could leave you more vulnerable to injury
  • Wearing high heels – this can cause an increased curve in you lower back, putting more stress on this area of your spine
  • Increased weight or pregnancy – excess weight around the stomach and pregnancy can also cause and increased curve in the lower back
  • Leaning on one leg when standing – this causes an imbalance to muscles, mostly around the pelvis, which can place extra stress on the pelvis and lower spine. This can also be caused by carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder, carrying a child on one hip, or even sitting with your phone or wallet in your back pocket
  • Hunching over when at a computer or on your phone – this usually causes tight chest muscles and weak upper back muscles, which can cause pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back

 

How can chiropractic help?

 

Chiropractic is extremely beneficial when it comes to improving posture. The first way chiropractic can help, is through the chiropractic adjustment. By adjusting segments of the spine that aren’t moving properly, chiropractors can return the normal movement and function to the joints of the spine. Bringing  overall balance to the body. This helps with postural imbalances such as having one hip or shoulder higher than the other, or when the natural curve in your neck has started to straighten out.

When the joints of the spine are moving properly, this better enables them to sit in the correct position. Also allowing the muscles around them to activate work properly to support the spine, thus creating better posture3. However, chiropractic adjustments alone aren’t going to give you perfect posture. You will have to put in some work yourself. As chiropractors have so much knowledge on the spine and posture they can provide you with many stretches and exercises that will help to improve your posture. They can also provide lifestyle advice such as how best to set up your seat, computer, and desk at work. Chiropractic care along with the advice given by your chiropractor can have an amazing impact on your posture4.

 

 

 

References:

 

  1. Jonaitis, J. (2018, September 18). 12 benefits of good posture — and how to maintain it. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/posture-benefits
  2. (2019, July 10). Common posture mistakes and fixes. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/common-posture-mistakes-and-fixes/
  3. Physio Works. (2019, March 17). What are the benefits of good posture? https://physioworks.com.au/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=31641
  4. American Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). Posture. https://acatoday.org/content/posture-power-how-to-correct-your-body-alignment

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Poor posture affecting women | One of the keys in healing is… | Flickr

Chiropractic and Wellbeing of the Elderly Population

Introduction

Chiropractic can benefit anyone at any age, as we all have spines and nervous systems that need to be looked after. Chiropractic can provide many benefits to people in the elderly population. Therefore, it can have a positive effect on many aspects of their lives. This is especially important as we have an aging population, and need to look after these members of our community. Here are 4 ways chiropractic can help have a positive effect on the wellbeing of the elderly population.

 

Balance

As we age our balance progressively worsens. This creates an increased risk of falling. Falling has more serious consequences as we age because our bodies gradually become more fragile. Falls are a major health concern in the elderly population. They can cause injury, loss of independence and quality of life, and in serious cases even death. Falls account for over 80% of hospital admissions for injuries in people over 65. Moreover, they are the leading cause of injury related death for this population. In addition, falling has a high health care cost associated with them, which is only going to increase with our aging population.

Chiropractic allows better communication between the brain and the body. This helps with balance and preventing falls in multiple ways. Firstly, it increases our reaction time which makes us more likely to be able to catch ourselves if we trip. Secondly, it allows us to more accurately know where our body parts are in space, which leaves us less vulnerable to falling. And thirdly, it increases our ability to integrate our senses from external factors and respond to them faster and more appropriately.

Pain

Chiropractic is probably most well known for its ability to assist with musculoskeletal issues and pain. And this is no different in the elderly population. They may have pain for different reasons such as injury from a fall, or due to the degeneration process. By restoring the proper joint biomechanics in the spine, the spine moves better and allows the muscles in these areas to relax. As a result, this often leads to less pain. Moreover, chiropractic allows better communication between the brain and the body, which allows the body to heal itself better and faster if there are any injuries there causing pain. As many older adults are on multiple medications, chiropractic is a great, natural way to reduce the need for painkillers for musculoskeletal issues and pain. As a result, this may lead to reducing the overall side effects someone may experience from taking multiple medications2.

 

Mobility

Chiropractic restores normal movement of spinal joints as well as extremities. As a result, this not only improves motion for that joint but also an overall range of motion for the whole spine/extremity. Importantly, elderly people are then more likely to be able to continue with activities that they enjoy doing e.g. gardening, walking, playing with grandchildren. Moreover, when we return normal motion to these joints, we also take the stress away from them. In addition, when we decrease the stress on these joints and improve movement, we are also slowing the degenerative process3.

 

Mental Health

When you combine all of the above points, this has an amazing impact on the overall quality of life of older adults. Importantly, when they have increased mobility and decreased pain, they are more likely to be able to keep exercising and doing things they enjoy. Moreover, remain independent. Remaining independent is very important to older adults and has extremely positive effects on their mental health. In conclusion, the longer they can remain independent, the better their mental health and overall wellbeing will be. Moreover, chiropractic helps improve quality of sleep, all contributing to improved mental health and quality of life4.

 

 

 

References:

 

  1. Holt, K. R., Noone, P. L., Short, K., Elley, C. R., & Haavik, H. (2011). Fall risk profile and quality of life status of older chiropractic patients. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 34(2), 78-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2010.12.01078.
  2. Vindigni, D., Zark, L., Sundberg, T., Leach, M., Adams, J., & Azari, M. F. (2019). Chiropractic treatment of older adults with neck pain with or without headache or dizziness. Analysis of 288 Australian chiropractors’ self-reported views. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 27(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-019-0288-1.
  3. Brantingham, J., Snyder, R., & Biedebach, D. (1994, March 25). Spinal manipulation may help reduce spinal degenerative joint disease and disability. The Chiropractic Resource Organisation. https://chiro.org/ChiroZine/ABSTRACTS/Degenerative_Joint_Disease_and_Disability.shtml.
  4. Ohio State Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). Chiropractic care for seniors. Senior Citizens Guide. https://www.seniorcitizensguide.com/articles/southwestohio/chiropractic-care-for-seniors.htm.

 

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Neck and Upper back pain: The Chin Tuck

The Chin Tuck: An Excellent Exercise for Neck and upper back pain

After visiting your Chiropractor, one of the most effective postural exercises for combating neck and upper back pain is the chin tuck. Chin tucks are recommended for keeping the head aligned above the spine and maintaining good posture. When done regularly and with the correct form, chin tucks can help improve the neck’s strength, flexibility, and function.

This exercise not only helps strengthen the muscles that pull the head back into alignment over the shoulders but it also stretches the scalene and suboccipital muscles.

This exercise is simple, effective and easy and can be done without interrupting your day. For instance, while sitting in the car or at the desk at work. The repetition of this exercise also helps develop good postural habits.

The Chin Tuck : Steps

  1. To perform the exercise for the first time it is often recommended that you stand with the spine up against a wall or door frame.
  2. Next place the feet out about 8 cm from the edge of the wall or door frame.
  3. Keeping the spine against the wall, pull the upper back and head back until the back of the head touches the surface. It is important to make sure that the chin is down so that the head is pulled straight back and is not looking up.
  4. Hold your head against the wall for 5 seconds.
  5. Repeat this ten times.

After performing this exercise about ten times, you can start doing the exercise standing or sitting without a wall.

• The exercise can be done 5 to 7 times per day.
• When in the car, use the headrest as a point to aim for when pulling the head back.

You may feel some stretching of the muscles on the side of the neck that go down to the collarbone. These are the scalene muscles. These muscles along with the muscles at the top of the neck at the base of the skull are generally the tight muscles. The muscles in the front of the neck and of the upper back are generally the weak muscles that need to be strengthened.

In cases of extreme forward head posture, you may not be able to pull their head all the way back to the wall when you first start. In these cases it is advisable to pull the head back as far as possible without pain.

chin-tuck-neck and upper back pain

When to see a Chiropractor?

Chin tuck exercises have been well documented for many years to reduce neck pain, headaches, stiffness and much more. However although these exercises are effective, we must address the cause of the misalignment in the beginning. It it important that the correct spinal alignment is in place. By removing stress on your joints and neck muscles and putting your body into a state of ease.

If you are experiencing neck or upper back pain of any kind it is highly recommended you visit your Chiropractor. As a leading chiropractor in Auckland, we see hundreds of patients per year at our clinic – Revolution Chiropractic. A great posture starts with a great spine!

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Why You Should Care (at least a little bit) About Your Posture

Posture. Good, bad, and the bendy.

Our bodies want to move. However, with our ever-sedentary lifestyle, we have to find a way to cope – proper posture is one of those coping mechanisms.

A lot of people talk about posture these days. Some say it matters a ton; others say it doesn’t matter at all. The truth is somewhere in the middle. It’s beneficial to be mindful of your posture and achieve the best posture you can, but there’s no need to obsess about it and walk around like a robot.

The rule of thumb is that if your current posture isn’t comfortable and your experiencing aches and pains – that’s your body telling you that you should move to a new posture! This is partly why bodily pain and discomfort was kept in our nervous system throughout evolution – to protect structures in your body from being damaged.

The best way to achieve proper posture is through acquiring knowledge and committing to ongoing applications and staying mindful of your posture throughout the day. We can achieve this through a variety of movements and exercises that common, but we may come up with a complete guide if the demand is there – let us know!

Why bother?

Now the benefits of proper posture are spectacular. You breathe better because there’s more room for your ribs to expand as you breathe. You experience less stress because your body language is open. We experience less pain because your body position is better than your body’s structures baseline. There’s even more and more evidence pointing toward more mental health benefits, such as increased confidence and reduced feelings of anxiety and depression. It’s really quite incredible!

Posture and chiropractic care go hand in hand because they both focus on two key aspects – the spine and the nervous system. Optimizing your nervous system through chiropractic care allows your brain to be more aware of where your body is in space – this is called proprioception. When you improve that, your body is more aware of your posture and can; therefore, we can correct it with better posture, and reinforcing it after every adjustment. We’re essentially re-wiring the brain the reinforcing better pathways. Now, if that’s not cool, then I don’t know what is.

If you’re looking to get help with your posture or have any questions about it please get in contact with one of our structural chiropractors and we’ll be happy to help out!

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Consistency Is Key – Movement

Perhaps you have been to a Chiropractor before for one or two visits but you didn’t really feel like it did anything.

And you are probably right.

The thing is, Chiropractic isn’t exactly supposed to “do anything” in one or two visits.

I can hear you thinking “but I thought chiropractors fix people…”

Think of it this way, what do you do when you go to the gym or exercise? You move your body, sometimes in strange ways. And what does that movement do? It stimulates the muscle to strengthen and build endurance.

But you don’t get much change from one or two sessions. Or even from one or two weeks or months. Building strength takes a consistent and calculated approach.

Unlike pain medication and other pharmaceutical drugs, the goal of the work we do as chiropractors is not to take away your pain. The goal is to find the areas of your spine that aren’t moving optimally (called a subluxation) and then to help those areas move better with adjustments, which will in turn strengthen your weaknesses and reduce the spasms. This equilibrium will keep your body maintained well and healthy and without wear and tear.

In reality the only thing powerful enough to heal you is the remarkable power built into your body. Healing takes time, which is an important point that can be hard to deal with when you are recovering from an injury or a health problem, especially a chronic one.

Our focus is to correct structural shifts in your spine by improving movement quality

(adjusting subluxations) so that your body can regain it’s strength and become more resilient. This is why we design care plans that span a few months to allow deeper change to movement and strength to occur because unfortunately there are no shortcuts!

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Cervicogenic Headaches, How To Fix Them

What is it?

 

Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that originate from the upper neck (upper cervical spine). The pain is felt at the head, however, the dysfunction and cause of the pain is in the neck. Typically, these headaches come from dysfunction of the upper three vertebrae of your spine, which is referred to as the upper cervical spine.

Specific movements and positions can cause irritation or compression of the structures and nerves, which leads to cervicogenic headaches. This is due to the nerves of the upper cervical spine merging with the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sensation of the head and face.

 

Cervicogenic, how does it happen?

 

These types of headaches can be caused by a variety of activities that put too much stress in the upper neck. The cause can be traumatic, such as whiplash (see previous blog post) from a car accident, or more commonly a gradual build-up of stress with poor posture over time(from being in front of your computer or while studying).

 

What are the signs and symptoms?

 

  • Headache that feels like a constant dull ache on one or both sides of the head and face
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Pain comes on during or after specific head movement

 

How long does it last for?

 

Typically, with appropriate treatment from a health care professional, ushc as a physiotherapist or  structural chiropractor, cervicogenic headache cases will resolve within 1-2 weeks. However, more complex cases may take weeks to months for complete resolution of symptoms.

The outcome and resolution depends on the severity of the dysfunction, your ability to get appropriate treatment and modify/avoid activities that aggravate it.

 

How do you treat it?

 

Seeing as posture is the most significant contributing factor to cervicogenic headaches, you should aim to improve posture with exercise and treatment. An individualized exercise and treatment plan will be most effective when treating cervicogenic headaches. A qualified structural chiropractor can assess your specific posture and condition to develop a personalized treatment and exercise plan best suited for you.

In our office, the structural chiropractors take an individualized approach utilizing a variety of techniques, including one that focuses on the specific problem area in the upper cervical spine.

Here are 3 exercises that may help with cervicogenic headaches. DO NOT perform these if they produce pain or unusual sensations (consult with a health care professional).

 

Chin tucks

 

  • Keeping a neutral spine and using your index finger as a guide on your chin, tuck your chin towards your chest (like you’re trying to make a double chin)
  • Hold for 5 minutes
  • Repeat this 10 times, 3 times a day

 

Scapular retraction

 

  • With your hands at your sides and your palms facing forward, bring your shoulder blades down and pinch them together
  • Hold for 10 seconds
  • Repeat this 5 times, 3 times a day

 

Neck flexor strengthening

 

  • Lie face up on the edge of your bed with your head hanging off the edge
  • Flex your head forward until it’s in neutral position and hold for 5 seconds
  • Return to starting position
  • Repeat this 8 times, 3 times a day

 

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Clinical Support Tool For Management Of Headache Following Concussion/mTBI

When Did You Last Brush Your Teeth

When did you last brush your teeth? I would be surprised if it was more than 24 hours ago. And why did you brush them? Because they were sore or you had cavities? Probably not. You probably did it because you know it’s good to keep your teeth clean if you want to still have them in your mouth as the decades roll on. It is easier and less painful to maintain the health of your teeth than it is to let problems build up.

The same goes for your spine, but when did you last do something for it? You can start to take care of your spine in a few ways. The spine needs strength, mobility and a good postural position.

Strength

Performing movements like the superman exercise and planks are simple and can be done at home without equipment. When done right and within a well-planned training program barbell squats and deadlifts are possibly the most effective spinal, and full-body, strengthening movements you can do but obviously require more equipment or a gym membership and personal trainer.

Mobility

The cat/camel exercise is a great spinal mobility exercise you should do daily at home.

Posture

Imagine you have a string attached to the top of your head like a marionette puppet and it’s pulling you upward. Reach your head as high as you can and elongate your spine while keeping the shoulder blades tucked down and back.

Chiropractic adjustments can assist you in all 3 areas by promoting a more mobile and stronger spine. Many of our clients report a feeling of ease in posture, like a weight has lifted off their spine. Areas of the spine that don’t move well due to years of poor posture or various injuries are prone to develop weakness. The less a joint moves, the weaker and lazier the muscles become. Chiropractic focuses on improving the motion of the bones in the spine so that the muscles and ligaments can strengthen and the nerve system can function optimally.

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African kid brushing teeth | Free SVG

 

Core: Side Plank (4/7)

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYnOjUuOmv4[/embedyt]

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File:Side Plank.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Mobile Phone Posture

As a chiropractor, I look at a fair few x-rays from week to week and a concerning pattern I am seeing is the amount of people, young people, with necks that curve the wrong way. Less mobile, due to mobile use. The cervical curve should somewhat resemble a backward C when viewed from the side, the curve isn’t as much as a C but you get the idea. Many people coming in have a straight or reversed curved yet they don’t have any history of a neck injury.

A big factor that I believe contributes to this, and I am not alone, is the way most of us are using our smartphones and devices. Take a look around the next time you are in public. You will see the majority of people, especially young people, hunch over their phones with no idea of the impact it is having on their bodies.

The normal neck curve is designed to support the weight of the head and protect the spinal cord and nerves. When this curve gets altered it will cause the joints to wear out faster, which can lead to pain and even nerve issues later in life. A few extra kilos of effective weight on the neck is added for every inch forward of the shoulders that the head is.

What can you do about it?

  1. When you are using your mobile always have the screen at eye level. When your arm tires, then take a break!
  2. A more sustainable posture is to hold the device at eye level with one hand. Place your other arm across your belly as if you were folding your arms. Then use the back of your hand to support the elbow of the upright arm.
  3. Be conscious of how you hold your head and neck when working long hours on the laptop. Keep your chin tucked and head and shoulders back.

References:

Hansraj, K, “Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head,” Neuro and Spine Surgery, Surgical Technology International XXV

Nejati P, Loftian S, Moezy A and Nejati M (2013), “The relationship of forward head posture and rounded shoulders with neck pain in Iranian office workers,” Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vol. 28,26. 3 May 2014, http://mjiri.iums.ac.ir

Quek J, Pua Y, Clark R, Bryant A (2012), “Effects of thoracic kyphosis and forward head posture on cervical range of motion in older adults,” Manual Therapy, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.math.2012.07.005

 

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