Neuromuscular Therapy

Primary Style Deep therapeutic work, Addressing specific issues
Session Lengths Integrated only*
Details at a Glance Clothed* Unclothed* Lotion/Oil* No lotion/oil* Table* Mat* Chair

Neuromuscular Therapy is a medically based approach to soft tissue pain and dysfunction. Developed by Dr Janet Travell, personal physician to President JFK, NMT seeks to address not just the pain, but also underlying causes. Travell found that Trigger Points in muscles tend to follow particular patterns. As the Chinese found with Acupressure points, specific Trigger Points tend to create fairly predictable pain patterns and other sensations. These patterns are not always felt where the actual problem is. Furthermore, these pain patterns frequently mimic other medical conditions, so they often go undiagnosed, while the patient gets treated for a problem they don't have, leading to increased frustration.

NMT targets these Trigger Points (TrPs), scar tissue, and other myofascial issues through a collaborative approach. The therapist begins by getting the clearest picture possible of the situation. This may include requesting medical records related to injuries, or asking to speak with the client's doctors regarding health issues that can pose a risk with massage. The mechanism of injury is considered, as well as any perpetuating factors. The therapist then assesses the client to rule out medical issues and to zero in on the source of the problem.

The bodywork can be done clothed or not, and can be integrated with Swedish or not, though a full hour of NMT is not typically adviseable.

Some examples of NMT application:

TMJ Dysfunction

A client complains of pain, stiffness, and clicking in her jaw. After palpation and a few orthopedic tests, the therapist has the client lie down and proceeds to massage her head, neck, and face. The entire area is covered, looking for any areas of tension, eventually focusing in on the muscles involved in chewing. For the final few minutes of bodywork, the therapist washes up again, puts on gloves, and begins to work on the muscles inside the client's mouth. Afterward, the client is surprised by the lack of pain when she yawns.

Sudden, prolonged dizziness

The client has been suffering from dizziness for several weeks. She says it came out of nowhere. Upon questioning, she comments that her eyes and ears have also been bothering her. Palpation of the TrP in her neck causes her to gasp in surprise and exclaim that touching that spot made the room start to turn. After a few minutes of holding the TrP while guiding the client through deep breathing, the tension releases and the knot unwinds, leaving the client amazed at how much better she feels.

Sprained ankle

The client rolled his ankle playing basketball. Hesitant at first, he finally listened to his therapist and stayed away from sporting activities for several weeks while his body was able to heal. Meanwhile, the therapist worked on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the affected foot, helping the muscles recover from the indirect trauma of the sprain, and helping the scar tissue to form in the proper way so the client could retain full motion without compromising strength. Upon his return to sports, the client was glad he had listened, because he knew his chance of re-injuriy was less as a result.