massage for relaxation

Neuromuscular Massage Therapy: A Brief Overview

Amarillo chiropractic office staffer explains

Neuromuscular therapy is a form of soft tissue manipulation that aims to treat the underlying causes of chronic pain in the muscular and nervous systems. This medically oriented form of massage addresses triggers points (tender muscles points), circulation, nerve compression, postural, and biomechanical issues that can be caused by repetitive motion injuries.

The most effective type of massage therapy for lower back pain is neuromuscular therapy. Neuromuscular therapy is also called trigger point myotherapy. The American Academy of Pain Management recognizes this form of massage therapy as an effective treatment for back pain caused by soft tissue injury (such as a muscle strain).

Neuromuscular therapy (NMT) is a precise, thorough examination and treatment of the body’s soft tissues, using regionally oriented protocols that are taught in a step-by-step process. These time-tested, hands-on techniques are built upon science-based fundamentals and guided by clinical evidence. NMT can integrate well into any practice setting and is frequently included in mainstream medicine, integrative medicine, chiropractic care, and multidisciplinary clinics worldwide.

In addition, NMT considers perpetuating factors that may be associated with the client’s complaints. For example; when a client presents with shoulder pain, the upper extremity protocol will be used as the primary examination. In addition to the muscles directly crossing the shoulder joint, muscles that attach the shoulder girdle to the torso would be included along with steps, to help ensure mobility of the scapula(shoulder blade). Dysfunctions(problems) within the arm, forearm, and hand, often produce compensation patterns in shoulder movement. Therefore, an examination of those regions should be included. Since the nerves to the shoulder exit the spine at the cervical region, mobility and muscles of the neck will be considered; compression or entrapment of the nerves serving the shoulder should be ruled out.

Perpetuating factors can also include shoulder joint pathologies, postural positioning, habits of use, nutritional components, emotional well being, allergies, neuroexcitants, neurotoxins, and other core elements that can present as myofascial pain and dysfunction. Due to the diverse nature of perpetuating factors, NMT practitioners build a broad network of healthcare providers for referral of those clients whose symptoms suggest “red flag” warnings or underlying pathologies.

Most factors that cause pain and dysfunction can be easily grouped under three general headings of biomechanical, biochemical, and psychosocial factors, with the interface between these being mostly related. Most practitioners apply strategies from only one of these categories, often resulting in improvement that plateaus before full recovery. However, a synergistic effect – often with significant relief – is obtained when all three categories are addressed. This may require a multidisciplinary approach.

NMT assessments and examinations primarily address

• ischemia (tight tissue with reduced blood flow)

• myofascial trigger points (hypersensitive points within muscles that give rise to referred phenomena, including pain)

• neural entrapment (pressure on nerves by muscles and other soft tissues), and nerve compression (pressure on nerves by osseous and other bone, like tissues, such as cartilage or discs).

• postural assessment (assessment of the position of the body as a whole)

• and dysfunctional gait patterns (manner of movement when walking)

• with constant consideration for many other perpetuating factors, such as hydration, nutrition, breathing patterns, and psychological stress.

‪Case Study:‬‪ Here is a case study on hip and low back pain‬



NMT is highly effective for clients who present with chronic pain and is often successful in reducing or eliminating even longstanding painful conditions. Some of the techniques can also be applied to acute injuries and for post-surgical care; many help to improve performance in sport or dance and to prevent injuries due to these activities.

Heath Henderson, MS, NMT, LMT


Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is a Fellowship-trained Neuromusculoskeletal specialist and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast. Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected]


Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Care at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109


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