Discovering Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT)
The human body maintains life and health in an amazing way. Each individual cell performs an activity that contributes to the body's overall function. Nerve impulses transmit information to maintain a balanced internal environment--called homeostasis. Every day, life situations threaten to disrupt that balance. Physical traumas, strains and emotional stress undermine homeostasis. This imbalance leads to aches and pains which left untreated may result in physiological dysfunction. NMT provides a way to get at the roots of these imbalances and alleviate much of the pain and dysfunction.
What is NMT
NMT is a comprehensive program of soft tissue manipulation techniques that balance the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) with the structure and form of the musculoskeletal system (skeleton and muscles of the body). NMT is based on neurological laws that explain how the central nervous system maintains homeostatic balance. Accordingly, these same laws dictate how the central nervous system initiates pain responses.
One law that applies, Arndt's Law, represents how pain originates in the body. Simply stated, it says that different levels of stimuli to the nerves affect physiological activity. At homeostasis (balance) nerves transmit impulses very slowly. Injury, trauma, postural distortion, or stress cause nerves to speed up their transmissions, inhibiting equilibrium and making the body vulnerable to pain and dysfunction. It is necessary to stabilize low levels of neurological activity to maintain homeostasis and thus overall health.
Neuromuscular Therapy considers five principles that cause pain.
Ischemia is a lack of blood supply to the soft tissues, which causes them to be very sensitive to touch. Typically, if less than 5 to 10 pounds of pressure causes tenderness, the tissues are in an ischemic state. This is one of the first conditions a neuromuscular therapist analyzes.
Trigger points occur when nerves fire impulses at a rapid speed into an area of the body other than that which has been traumatized. Because of trigger points, the cause of serious pain may often be far removes from the actual site of the pain. This, in turn, inhibits proper blood flow, which causes ischemia and often leads to more pain and discomfort.
Nerve compression or entrapment is pressure on a nerve by bone, cartilage or soft tissue. The role of the soft tissues in nerve compression is vital. Realigning vertebrae without treating associated soft tissue frequently treats the symptom and not the cause. Spinal nerves are subject to intrusion when any of the vertebrae are dislocated or spinal disks herniated. Treating the surrounding soft tissues that cause or maintain the dislocation greatly enhances rehabilitation and alleviation of pain.
Whiplash often causes nerve entrapment by the soft tissues. The nervous system initiates tightening of the muscles to stop bleeding in the tissues caused by violent snapping of the neck backward and forward. This tightening results in muscular spasm. After the bleeding stops, the spastic response, initially a curative one, will continue if intervention is not made. This muscular spasm causes pressure on nerves and creates its own painful condition.
Nerve entrapment is the most common type of pain and always causes ischemia. Ignored, it can produce associated trigger points.
Postural distortion is an imbalance of the muscular system resulting from movement of the body off the coronal, midsagittal and horizontal planes. Gravitational force (33.5 lb per square inch) is constantly pulling the body toward Earth. If there is an imbalance in the structural system, gravity causes the body to compensate in an effort to retain balance. Trauma, gravitational pressure or psychological patterning causes the soft tissues to assume a weight-bearing function and thus become thicker, denser and harder. Muscle contraction, body distortion and pain are the results of compensations the body makes in order to maintain structural homeostasis. By determining why the compensations have occurred, the distorted patterns can be eliminated, proper posture restored, and associated pain diminished or eliminated in most cases.
Other body distortions are caused by muscles contracting and shortening while others lengthen in an effort to hold the body upright as a result of "righting reflexes." These reflexes respond to messages from the inner ear, eyes, muscles or skin to bring the body into equilibrium.
Biomechanical dysfunction is an imbalance of the musculoskeletal system resulting in faulty movement patterns. Repetitive strain of certain soft tissues results in adapted movement patterns that become muscular "habits" and must be reeducated.
How does NMT help me?
NMT can help individuals experiencing structural distortion, biomechanical dysfunction and the accompanying pain that is often a symptom of the underlying problem. It is used to locate and release spasms and hypercontraction in the tissues; eliminate trigger points that cause referred pain; restore postural alignment, proper biomechanics and flexibility to the tissues; rebuild the strength of injured tissues and assist venous and lymphatic flow.
Copyright © 1999 Eagle Wings Therapy
Last modified: February 9, 2006