Neuromuscular Therapy

Massage is a "hands-on" therapy in which muscles and other soft tissues of the body are manipulated to improve health and well-being. Varieties of massage range from gentle stroking and kneading of muscles and other soft tissues to deeper manual techniques. Massage has been practiced as a healing therapy for centuries in nearly every culture around the world. It helps relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, and evoke feelings of calmness. Although massage affects the body as a whole, it particularly influences the activity of the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems.

Neuromuscular Therapy is a form of massage therapy that consists of alternating levels of concentrated pressure on the areas of muscle spasm. The pressure is usually applied with the fingers, knuckles, or elbow. Once applied to a muscle spasm, the pressure should not vary for ten to thirty seconds. The muscle spasm should relax under the pressure. After the muscle spasm is relaxed and there is less tenderness, then other massage strokes can be used to further relax the tissue and promote increased blood flow and elimination of waste products.

The Neuromuscular therapist palpates the soft tissues to determine if there are problems with:

1. Ischemia: This is when the muscle is lacking proper blood flow, usually due to the muscle spasm. This in turn creates the following undesirable process:
• Because the muscle is not receiving enough blood, the muscle is also not   
receiving enough oxygen.
• The lack of oxygen causes the muscle to produce lactic acid.
• The lactic acid makes the muscle feel sore following physical activity.

2. Trigger Points: This occurs when nerves fire impulses at a rapid speed into an area of the body other than that which has been traumatized.  This phenomenon produces an effect where the real cause of pain is far removed from the actual site of pain.  Trigger Points will inhibit proper blood flow, which initiates a vicious cycle of pain and discomfort.

3. Nerve Compression/Entrapment: This is the pressure on a nerve caused by bone, cartilage or soft tissue.  As the tightness of the soft tissues that surround nerve fibers increase, more and more pressure is brought to bear on the nerve, resulting in strangulation or entrapment of the nerve against a bone or cartilaginous structure such as a disc.

Once the evaluation is complete, the therapist will design a specific treatment program to locate and eliminate muscle spasms, hyper-contraction and trigger points from the soft tissues. Once this is done, postural alignment, flexibility and functional pain-free range of motion will be restored.

Neuromuscular Therapy will feel uncomfortable at first, but the pressure of the massage should alleviate the muscle spasm. At this point, it is extremely important to communicate with the massage therapist regarding the pressure - whether the pressure is too much, too little, getting better, getting worse. The therapist should listen and respond accordingly. The massage therapy pressure should never be overly painful. In fact, most people describe the pressure as “good pain."


Should Anyone Avoid Massage?

Massage should be avoided by people with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, infection of the superficial veins (called phlebitis) or soft tissue (called cellulitis) in the legs or elsewhere, blood clots in the legs, bleeding disorders, and contagious skin conditions. If you have cancer, you must check with your doctor before considering massage because you should not receive such treatments under certain circumstances. For example, sometimes massage can damage tissue that is fragile from chemotherapy or radiation treatments. People with rheumatoid arthritis, goiter (a thyroid disorder characterized by an enlarged thyroid), eczema and other skin lesions should not receive massage therapy during flare-ups. Experts also advise that people with osteoporosis, high fever, decreased platelets or white blood cells, and mental impairment, as well as those recovering from surgery, may be better off avoiding massage. Also, be sure to let your massage therapist know any medications you are taking as the treatment may influence absorption or activity of both oral and topical medications.

Neuromuscular Therapy is very effective for treating the following conditions:

• Headaches
• Chronic Neck and Back Pain
• Sciatica
• Spain/Strain Injuries
• Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
• Joint stiffness
• Sports Injuries
• Spinal and rib cage pain
• Whiplash
• Temporomandibular Joint
• Stress and Tension-Related Problems
• Hip, knee & ankle pain
• Shoulder, elbow, wrist pain

All Content © 2005 Therapeutic Systems, Inc.