Neuromuscular Therapy – What is it and what does it do?

Massage therapy has been used for thousands of years to help relax and calm people as well as offer physical healing. Neuromuscular therapy is used to relieve pain and specific problems a patient is experiencing. It is used to focus pressure on certain areas of skeletal muscle and can reduce pain and tension, but also help balance your posture and lengthen as well as strengthen tissues. These areas are often myofascial trigger points. Myofasical trigger points are hyperirritable spots located within skeletal muscle. These spots are associated with nodules of bands of muscle fibers. These nodules become small contracture knots and therefore cause pain to the patient. By focusing on these points with neuromuscular therapy, a massage therapist with the right training can help decrease the contractions and this help relieve the pain. It is a great therapy to assess, treat, and help prevent soft tissue injuries and thus relieve chronic pain. Neuromuscular therapy is often used by occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses, chiropractors, and those that practice osteopathic and physical medicine.

The technique of neuromuscular therapy (sometimes referred to as NMT) was developed by Dr. Stanley Leif and Boris Chaitow. Both were trained in chiropractics and naturopathy, which is a philosophy that seeks to improve health by focusing on the body’s innate ability to recover. They worked with Dewanchand Varma and Bernard MacFadden to help develop neuromuscular therapy in order to help patients suffering from soft tissue dysfunction. One part of neuromuscular therapy focuses on the fact that the body can heal itself. Stimulation from neuromuscular therapy can help hasten the natural healing process.

A neuromuscular therapist takes into account many aspects of the patient before beginning therapy. Things like age, stress, prior therapy, family history, diet, and nutrition will be looked at. By looking at the patient’s history and health, they can ascertain what type or how much therapy is needed. They may work with the patient’s primary physician if certain conditions exist. For example, if an elderly woman with a calcium deficient diet had hip or lower back pain; the therapist will need to watch for possible osteoporosis or hip fractures. They may need to alter their procedures to accommodate such patients. They will also look at posture distortion to see what other pains that can be causing.

The therapist will use their thumbs, fingers, and elbows as well as pressure bars during the massage. The pressure bars help release the muscular contractions. One good thing about neuromuscular therapy is it concentrates on placement much more than degree of pressure, so a good deal of pressure is not normally necessary.

Who can be helped by neuromuscular therapy? Anyone that suffers from chronic pain can be helped by neuromuscular massage. Whether you have chronic pain due to an occupational injury, a sports injury, or an automobile injury, if you suffer from chronic pain, you may want to give neuromuscular therapy a try. Others that respond well to neuromuscular therapy are those that suffer from sciatica, rotator cuff dysfunction, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and even migraine headaches.