A massage modality that focuses on disrupting the pain-spasm-pain cycle. Muscular pain and dysfunction can be reduced and eliminated often after years of discomfort. Using specific techniques and protocols there are three ways NMT can help alleviate pain:
1) Trigger Point Therapy eliminating pain by restoring normal circulation to isolated areas (trigger points) that cause complex pain patterns (referral pain) elsewhere.
2) Releasing nerve entrapment Nerve entrapment is caused when tight muscles or other anatomical events pinch nerves that pass under or through them. Examples are thoracic outlet syndrome, piriformis syndrome and carpel tunnel syndrome.
3) Releasing nerve root compression Nerve root compression is caused when nerves exiting the spine are compressed against bone, intervertebral disc material or other anatomical events*.
* Depending on the condition, approval from your doctor may be required.
NMT which includes Trigger Point Therapy involves detailed anatomical musculoskeletal knowledge, including awareness of many muscular trigger points and referred pain patterns (as documented in he work of Janet Travell M.D. and David Simons M.D.. Travell and Simons' two volume set of textbooks, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual). A trigger point is a localized area in a muscle with reduced circulation causing ischemia. Without optimal circulation the tissue is starved of oxygen and nutrients and normal metabolic wastes accumulate resulting in pain and irritation. Because of the relationship between muscles and nerves the pain often radiates to other areas of the body i.e. referred pain. Often the referral pain is actually greater than the pain at the trigger point. Since the cause of the pain may not necessarily be where the pain is felt it can be difficult to find and eliminate.
Trained NMT therapists are well versed in musculoskeletal anatomy and have a knowledge base of many trigger points and common pain referral patterns. They are skilled in hands-on protocols to access and release the congestion causing trigger points which can be very specific areas and are often found in less commonly treated muscles. When normal circulation is restored pain is diminished and the pain-spasm-pain cycle is disrupted. It's all about blood supply, the body will often heal and rejuvenate with normal circulation.
If you have not had relief in the past with massage it may be that the therapist wasn't treating the source of the pain - the trigger point (also see Releasing Nerve Entrapment). Very few massage therapists are trained NMT therapists. NeuroMuscular Therapy is a specific detail oriented form of therapeutic massage that specializes in pain relief.
Short answer... life. Many factors such as stress, poor diet, dehydration, trauma, lack of exercise, postural habits, injury, repetitive strain or over exertion can contribute to congestion, tightness and ischemia (reduced circulation and waste accumulation in a specific area).
There are many areas in the body where nerves pass through muscles or between muscles and other anatomical structures and are susceptible to being "pinched". If the muscles become shortened, congested or tight they put pressure on the nerves causing pain, numbness and/or tingling. Thoracic outlet syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, piriformis syndrome, are a few examples. NMT is a non-invasive, alternative approach to releasing tension and inflammation in the area to take the pressure off the nerves and alleviate the pain (also see Trigger Point Therapy) restoring health.
Nerve root compression, commonly occurring in the neck or low back, is caused when nerves exiting the spine are "pinched" between bone and intervertebral disc material often as a result of a breakdown in the disc material (herniated disc)*. Sometimes loosening up the responding muscular spasm and, in the case of a low back issue, stabilizing the hips (the foundation of the spine) can take the pressure off the area and alleviate the pain. *Depending on the condition, approval from your doctor may be required.
NMT was created by innovative massage therapists (Paul St John and Judith Delany Walker in the 70's and 80's) who took the work of Janet Travell M.D. and David Simons M.D.. Travell and Simons' two volume set of textbooks, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual (upper body published in 1983, lower body in 1992) and developed hands on non-invasive massage techniques and protocols to address trigger points and alleviate nerve entrapment.