Information on Neuromuscular Therapy
Definition of Neuromuscular Therapy
Neuromuscular Therapy is a scientifically based form of massage therapy that focuses on soft tissue manipulation with the intention of rehabilitating the patient by balancing the function of the nervous system and the skeletal system. Neuromuscular Therapists use static pressure, meaning that the same level of intensity is applied constantly from ten to thirty seconds on the same point. This static pressure is most effective on areas of the body in which the patient is experiencing Ischemia, Nerve Compression, Whiplash, Postural Distortion, and Biomechanical Dysfunction. In addition to these problems, many patients experience pain caused by Myofascial Trigger points, which redirect pain from one area of the body to another.
How Does Neuromuscular Therapy Work?
Muscular injury causes a chain reaction that begins with vasoconstriction, or narrowing of the blood vessels in the affected area. While this is helpful in limiting blood flow and reducing bruising, it also causes muscle tissue to tighten. When muscle tissue becomes hypertonic (tight), toxins such as Lactic, Pyruvic, and Hyaluronic acids can become trapped due to reduced circulation called Ischemia. These naturally occurring acids cause pain because they are neuro-exciters, meaning that they increase nerve sensitivity. This reaction, combined with the tendency of the hypertonic muscle tissue to pinch nerves against bones or other muscle tissues in a process known as nerve compression, has the capacity to generate considerable amounts of pain. Eventually, the body learns to perform certain tasks in different, less efficient ways in order to minimize pain, resulting in Postural Distortion and Biomechanical Dysfunction. Occasionally, this pain is even redirected from one body part to another via Myofascial Trigger Points. Neuromuscular Therapy works to loosen hypertonic muscles and restore circulation to the affected area, breaking the chain reaction and relieving the patient’s discomfort. When the Myofascial obstructions are removed, the rest of the musculoskeletal system is able to relearn the correct methods of functioning, resulting in restoration of homeostatic balance.
How to Perform Neuromuscular Therapy: Tips and Techniques
- Warm up the affected tissue before beginning the treatment. Heat packs or hot showers are recommended, but gentle compressions with the heel of the hand can also be an effective warm-up method.
- Listen to Patient feedback concerning the amount of pressure that you are using. Inform them that, while some discomfort is to be expected, any sharp pains should be reported immediately.
- Applied pressure should be firm, but not so firm that it causes bruising. If the patient reports severe pain, inform them that the treatment will release endorphins once the blockage is gone. If possible, do not go past the patient’s pain threshold.
- Ask the patient to drink plenty of water, both before and after the treatment to aid in the flushing of toxin from the body. Without proper hydration, the released toxins will have no way of leaving the body.
- Use a cold compress or an ice pack on the treated area immediately following the session in order to reduce painful inflammation.
- After a few minutes of cold, heat should be applied to the affected tissue.
Benefits of Neuromuscular Therapy
Neuromuscular Therapy is helpful in relieving a wide range of problems, including: Headaches, Migraines, Scoliosis, TMJ, Whiplash, Herniated Disc Syndrome, Back Pain, Sciatica, Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Hip Pain, Knee Pain, Foot Pain, Osteoarthritis, Plantar Fascitis, Torticollis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Shin Splints, Tendonitis, Muscle Spasms, Cramps and Strains, Postural Distortions, Fibromyalgia, Trigeminal Neuralgia and Post-Polio Syndrome.
Is Neuromuscular Therapy Safe?
Neuromuscular Therapy is a safe alternative to pain relieving drugs, and has the same general contraindications as any other type of massage or bodywork. NMT may not be appropriate for those with conditions such as Open Wounds, Muscle/ Tendon Rupture, Suspected Bone Fracture/ Break, Infectious Disease, Arthritis, Inflammation or Osteoporosis.