Neuromuscular Therapy is an integrative form of manual therapy in which static pressure is applied to hardened “knots” in the soft tissue to alleviate pain. It is widely used by massage therapists, physical therapists, osteopaths, and other health practitioners.
— pain relief
— increased blood flow
— injury prevention
— scar tissue dissolution
— increased flexibility and range of motion
— reversal of local tissue aging
— increased muscle strength
— increased muscular endurance
— improved biomechanics
Prolonged stress or acute injury results in hypertonic nodules or bands in muscle, known as trigger points. These painful points are easily palpated and elicit the familiar pain pattern when touched. Trigger points can result from any number of activities. Typical examples of prolonged stress include sitting for long hours at a desk, holding a phone between the shoulder and the ear, or continuous typing. An acute injury can result from action as minor as bending over to pick up a child, or as traumatic as a car accident.
These contracted muscle fibers compress neighboring nerves, which then generate pain signals. Left untreated, the chemical changes around a trigger point lead to the formation of scar tissue and a breakdown of muscle strength. The application of perpendicular pressure to the hardened nodule interrupts nerve signals from the brain responsible for the contraction. This causes the muscle to relax, relieving the pressure on the nerve, which alleviates the pain symptom. Perpendicular pressure also causes blood to flood into the area, much like the opening of a dam causes a surge of water. The increased blood flow brings a concentrated supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the isolated muscle fibers, helping the body to heal itself.
In order to be effective, the relief of painful symptoms should be followed by a comprehensive treatment protocol focused on balancing postural asymmetries and modifying bad habits that led to the painful condition.
Following the relief of painful symptoms, a complete postural assessment is performed. Based on this assessment, the patient is assigned a series of appropriate stretches. Subsequent treatments focus on lengthening the opposing muscles in order to take the pressure off the symptomatic area. For example, a treatment for upper back pain will be followed by lengthening work to the upper chest in order to correct the taut, overstretched position of the upper back muscles.
Referral to a rehab exercise specialist may be necessary to completely alleviate the recurrence of symptoms. It is important to remember that postural and behavioral habits that are not fully addressed will lead to symptom recurrence.
Patients with structural asymmetries such as scoliosis or leg length discrepancy, which are not fundamentally remediable, may find substantial pain relief with periodic treatments to help manage their symptoms.
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