Neuromuscular therapy promises to provide pain relief, especially in the muscles. Learn more about its importance in the healing process.
RELATED: What Is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Neuromuscular Therapy and How It Relieves You from Pain
1. Neuromuscular Therapy Aims to Deal with the Underlying Causes
Neuromuscular therapy (NMT) is becoming a popular form of specialized massage for a reason: it targets the underlying cause of pain.
Usually, when people experience muscle pain, they rely on medications. If this becomes chronic, then they have to take these drugs long-term.
Proponents of NMT believe that drugs can only do so much. They may provide pain relief, but they don’t treat the underlying cause.
One of the common causes of muscle spasms is ischemia. It features reduced blood flow to the muscles.
Because of lower blood flow, the muscles lack oxygen. In turn, they manufacture lactic acid, which promotes soreness.
Other reasons can include:
- Nerve compression, which can happen when spasms compress nearby nerves
- Postural distortion
- Sensitive points in the muscles or soft tissues (also called trigger points)
- Muscular ischemia, where blood flow going to the muscles decreases (when this happens, the body produces lactic acid that increases the feelings of soreness)
- Pain due to repetitive movements
The neuromuscular massage uses soft tissue manipulation. The massage therapist may use their elbows.
What is soft tissue? This is a tissue that surrounds and supports organs and other body structures.
They may also use knuckles and hands. They also apply different levels of pressure.
Neuromuscular therapy is not a relaxation massage. Therapists target their pressure on tense or painful muscles.
2. You Can Use It in Conjunction with Other Modalities or Therapies
Neuromuscular therapy doesn’t let you choose between medications or performance massage. Rather, it complements your existing therapies so you can heal fast.
This also means you can take supplements for muscular support. These include Body Protective Complex (BCP).
BCP provides many benefits, one of which is the production of collagen. It is a type of protein that provides structure to the body, such as the muscles.
You can also still perform exercises that help retrain the muscles. This is useful when you need to regain the function of your body parts.
3. Neuromuscular Therapy May Be Helpful for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease or PD is a progressive condition affecting the nervous system. It develops when the brain’s basal ganglia degenerate.
What are basal ganglia? They refer to brain structures that regulate voluntary movement and mood, among others.
The body produces less dopamine, a brain chemical that helps control movements.
People with PD experience tremors, gait issues, and muscular rigidity. All of these can affect their motor skills.
In a 2006 study, the researchers compared the effects of music relaxation and neuromuscular therapy in improving PD’s motor and non-motor symptoms.
Both groups experienced a better quality of life. Those who underwent NMT, though, significantly improved their motor symptoms.
4. Neuromuscular Therapy Can Also Help Treat Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) also recognizes it as a major type of disability.
In fact, it ranked as one of the top 10 diseases or injuries with the highest DALYs. This was according to WHO’s 2010 report on the global burden of diseases.
DALY stands for disability-adjusted life year—one DALY is one healthy-life year lost.
A comprehensive study in 2011 revealed specific massage therapies may improve the symptoms of lower back pain. Within ten weeks, those who received massage could perform their routine activities.
They also spent fewer days in bed and were more active. They became less dependent on medications, as well.
Overall, those who received targeted massages including neuromuscular issues fared better than the ones who experienced usual care.
The study didn’t explain how a massage specifically benefits low back pain. A common contention, though, is it may be due to spasms in the lower back muscles.
These spasms or contractions occur when the body strains the muscles. It may happen when you suddenly lift a heavy object or maintain an improper posture.
The body may try to protect these muscles from further damage or stretching through these spasms or contractions. Unfortunately, this leads to feelings of pain.
5. There’s a Relationship Between Neuromuscular and Musculoskeletal Systems
The body is complex with its many systems. While they are different, they still relate to each other.
An excellent example is a connection between neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems:
- Neuromuscular covers the nervous system, especially the nerves, and the muscles.
- Musculoskeletal refers to the bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and joints that provide structure and allow movement.
How do these two exacerbate feelings of pain? Pretend the problem is a strained muscle.
As a form of protection, the affected area experiences spasms. These spasms may eventually compress the nearby nerves.
It then results in radiating pain or pain which spreads to the closer regions.
To cope with further pain, the body will learn to adapt. For example, you may limit movements to certain areas.
Neuromuscular therapy may not necessarily treat or cure musculoskeletal injuries or disorders. It may still accelerate restoration, not to mention provide pain relief.
6. Neuromuscular Massage Is Controllable and Flexible
This is essential since pain intensity and causes can vary from one person to another. The outcomes can also be different.
How can you control neuromuscular therapy? One way is to specify the level of pressure that works for you.
The pressure applied during the therapy is firm, and you may even feel some soreness after. Too much pressure, though, is not ideal.
Usually, you need at least four massage treatments within six weeks for best results. Depending on the response, yours may be shorter or longer.
7. Physical Pain Can Affect Longevity
Many studies show how any disease may affect a person’s lifespan or longevity. One of these is back pain.
Take a look at this research discussed in the Australian Pain Management Association. The article revealed a study involving 4,000 twins from Denmark.
The Australian researchers learned that those who have lower back pain were more likely to die earlier than those who didn’t. The percentage of premature death for the in-pain group was 13%.
A 2011 study, meanwhile, showed that gait or walking speed can impact a person’s lifespan. This is especially true among older adults.
The researchers surmised that walking demands not only energy but also control in movement and support. Any change in speed may be an indication of problems in these areas.
Neuromuscular therapy doesn’t promise the ultimate cure. It may not even work if the reason for the pain is inflammation.
If you suspect a muscle strain or spasm, you can count on NMT to provide you significant relief. This way, you can heal faster and go back to your daily activities.
More importantly, you can experience a better quality of life, as well as longevity.
Have you tried neuromuscular therapy? Share your experience in the comments section below!