Neuromuscular Therapy is a specialty treatment somewhere between Physical Therapy and Massage Therapy with a focus on Trigger Points in soft tissue locations that refer pain away from their hyperactive nodules to other points in the body. Trigger Points are one of the most common causes of chronic pain. They can occur anywhere in soft tissue including muscles, tendons, ligaments, fatty tissue, internal organs and skin.
There are two volumes of medical information on Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual by Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons. (See the Amazon store in the sidebar.) The first volume on the upper body was published in 1983 and second volume on the lower body in 1991. They marked a turning point in the medical understanding of soft tissue pain. Because this information is considered new to medicine, it is still not well known nor taught extensively in Schools of Medicine or Physical Therapy. Research is limited and those of us who treat Trigger Points are going on the information in these two precious volumes, two additional volumes on the Application of Neuromuscular Techniques by Chaitow and DeLany (see sidebar), our own experience and the mentoring and further writings of such pioneers in the field as Dr. Leon Chaitow, Judith Walker DeLany (my teacher) and her original partner in developing the American Neuromuscular Therapy protocols in 1985, Paul St. John.
Neuromuscular Therapists use techniques applied to soft tissue with hands, arms and pressure bars to find unhealthy tissue. Therapists release tension in ischemic tissue to increase blood flow, bringing nutrients and oxygen needed for healing and removing waste products that cause cell damage and pain. They search for the hyperactive nodules and taut bands formed by Trigger Points and apply sustained pressure to stop the activity so the muscles can relax. They release nerves that are entrapped by tight muscles, restoring normal transmission of nerve signals necessary for sensation and movement. The pay attention to other factors that can cause or perpetuate pain such as structural asymmetries, postural and emotional stresses and nutritional or systemic factors.
Training and certification is available on the basic level, but independent study and experience are the continuing teachers for a lifetime of exciting and rewarding work.