Neuromuscular Therapy. What is it, and can it help with your pain?

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is a very precise and specific approach to treating pain and dysfunction in soft tissues of the body. There is a specific protocol for treating an area of the body that has pain or dysfunction. Deep tissue, digital pressure and friction is used, along with assessments of the tissue, to release areas of strain in the muscle. These areas of pain are often referred to as “trigger points” and can be a primary or additional cause of muscular pain symptoms.

NMT is a modality requiring extensive anatomy training and a certification. A Neuromuscular Therapist goes through training on each area of the body and must take a certification exam to be able to practice as an NMT.

There is a distinct difference between “deep tissue” massage and NMT. Deep tissue massage focuses on long, slow, deep strokes and deep finger pressure on tight and contracted areas of the muscles in the body. Cross fiber friction is also used. This type of massage is referred to as “deep tissue” because it is pressure focusing on the deeper layers of the body. NMT has very specific protocol based on the practitioner’s skill, knowledge of anatomy and a precise application of palpation to the area of pain or discomfort. NMT is different from relaxation, not only because it deals with the specific muscle, but also, with tendons, ligaments, soft tissue and the nervous system. That is where the term “Neuromuscular Therapy” is derived. This type of massage relates to the muscles and the nerves.

Because NMT works with the central nervous system, it is a very effective manual therapy for people in a lot of pain. There are times whe a lot of deep and direct pressure cannot be used on someone in a lot of pain. So, a neuromuscular therapist will discern other techniques to use. Some of these may be specific stretches, breathing techniques with pressure and positional release techniques. These types of adjunct therapies work more with the nervous system to help the muscles release in a more passive way. These methods can also be very effective for treating pain.

There are many different methods involved in NMT. Depending on the client’s pain level, area of pain and cause of pain, will help determine which techniques the therapist will use to help with pain relief.

These are the 5 sources of pain most often addressed by NMT:

  • ISCHEMIA– A lack of blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to the muscle fiber. This results in a concentrated area of irritation, which will most often cause the muscle to be very sensitive and sometimes weak.
  • NERVE ENTRAPMENT – A nerve is compressed by bone, muscle, cartilage or soft tissue. This may cause pain to radiate throughout the body.
  • TRIGGER POINTS – These are often referred to as “knots”, “marbles” or “tender spots” in the body. These most often cause pain both locally and with referral to other parts of the body.
  • BIOMEDICAL DYSFUNCTION – A condition of repeated improper movement patterns of bones and muscles. This can cause an imbalance in muscles and lead to pain.
  • POSTURAL DISTORTION – A muscle imbalance, which causes the body to pull itself out of a normal alignment and can cause pain in the muscles that have had to overcompensate for the imbalance.

Neuromuscular Therapy is being used worldwide to treat both chronic and acute pain. It has been proven to be effective in sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, for patients both pre and post surgery, industrial workers with work related pain, fibromyalgia and many other causes of pain. This type of therapy can help treat the pain naturally and without having to take pain medicine. With proper treatment and a follow up protocol, involving stretching and strengthening, most people can have a big reduction in pain and in a lot of cases, be pain free.

Article credit: Sherry Ezell, licensed massage and Neuromuscular Therapist who works and resides in Mesa, Arizona.

If you are in the Mesa, Arizona area and looking for a wonderful massage therapist with over 22 years of experience, that is nationally board certified, she is the ONE.

Sherry Ezell