Your pain likely comes from one or more of three distinct causes:
A medical problem...
Sometimes your pain is results from a medical problem, such as kidney stones. Neuromuscular massage and physical therapy aren’t solutions for this type of pain. Medical problems should be directly addressed by your doctor. Neuromuscular massage and physical therapy are particularly effective when it comes to structural and muscular issues.
A structural issue…
Sometimes pain is from a structural issue, such as arthritis or a disk herniation. In those cases, I can work with you for a few physical therapy visits to massage away any muscle conditions that may be making it worse and to teach you better ways to use your body so you can be more comfortable. I'll coordinate with your doctor so that he/she is aware of what we are doing.
And/or muscle conditions.
In most other cases, pain is from some combination of the following muscle conditions that we can clear by using appropriate massage techniques. This is true for pain that lingers after an injury should have healed as well as for "non-specific" pain. ("Non-specific" just means that nothing shows on MRI, which of course, these muscle conditions don't.)
Let’s examine some muscle conditions:
Trigger points are small areas that are surprisingly sore to the touch, and they send pain to a different area when compressed. For example, many people have a trigger point in their upper neck that temporarily provokes a dull pain in the back of their head when a therapist presses on it. When irritated, a trigger point causes pain even when not being compressed – in this example, it causes a dull occipital headache for no apparent reason. Simply massaging the area of pain will not help, since the trigger point is somewhere else. A skilled therapist needs to thoroughly seek out the trigger points that may be hiding in the muscles in order to de-activate them and clear the referred pain.
Adhesions are places where layers of tissue are stuck together, restricting movement. When you try to move in certain ways it can feel like something inside is starting to tear apart, which it is. We have massage techniques that can clear the adhesion by breaking the connection a few fibers at a time in a controlled manner, restoring healthy tissue that allows the different layers to slide effortlessly past one another.
Fascia is the thin white film that covers each muscle like shrink wrap. It also wraps each cell inside the muscle, providing support and structural integrity. When too much fascia builds up, in most cases there is no pain, only stiffness, such as when you discover you can no longer bend forward to touch your toes. But in some cases the fascia stretches the nerves when you move in certain directions, causing pain. We have massage techniques that break up the excess fascia (collagen cross-linkages) to restore normal, pain-free movement.
Nerves entrapped in scar tissue.
As with fascial restrictions, nerves can be irritated when they are caught in an area of scar tissue within the muscle, which happens after a muscle strain heals improperly. We have massage techniques that break up the internal scar to allow the nerves to slide normally again.
Muscle spasms are muscles that remain tight even when you are trying to relax them.A tight muscle squeezes on the blood vessels like clamping down on a garden hose, meaning less blood flows through the muscle.That means less oxygen, fewer nutrients, and an increasing concentration of waste products, which irritate the nerves and produce pain.General massage techniques can reduce spasms, but if the spasmed muscle also contains trigger points, which it often does, clearing the spasm can make the trigger points vulnerable and irritated, which can result in increased pain.We like to preventatively search for and de-activate trigger points any time we treat muscle spasms.