pain based on the application of pressure at trigger points throughout the body. Trigger points are defined as hypersensitive locations in the muscles that cause pain in response to undue stress. They may be caused by occupational or other injuries as well as by disease, physical stress, and emotional stress.
Trigger points rarely occur in the same location where the pain is felt. Myotherapy is founded on the notion that relief of tension in the muscle followed by revitalization of the relieved muscle through stretching, promotes healing and reduces the disposition of the muscle and the nerve to cause further pain.
Myotherapy developed out of trigger point therapy, a method of pain relief developed by Dr. Janet Travell. Fitness expert Bonnie Prudden decided to investigate certain parallels that she perceived between the injection of pain relievers into nerve locations in trigger point therapy and the potential to relieve pain similarly through external physical pressure on the nerve points.
She spent approximately four years investigating and experimenting with the idea. During that time she studied anatomy and developed a new pain relief therapy that she named myotherapy. Its name is derived from the Greek prefix “myo,” meaning muscle. Within 10 years she had established a certified training program for myotherapy technicians.
Myotherapy is effective in eliminating 95% of all physical pain associated with muscular discomfort. It is successful in patients suffering from many types of head, back, and neck pain. It also relieves the discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis experience reductions in swelling.
Athletes who undergo myotherapy often experience enhanced physical performance.
Myotherapy treatment is a two-step process. The therapist first locates and diffuses the trigger points of pain through applying pressure to those locations. This process relieves the pain and also relaxes the muscles associated with the specific discomfort.
Secondly, during the therapy session the patient undergoes a series of exercises to progressively stretch the muscles that have been relaxed by the pressure therapy. A typical patient needs fewer than 10 sessions before realizing the full benefits of this therapy.
The age of the patient who undergoes myotherapy is significant only in determining the number of trigger points that might cause muscle pain. Because trigger points accumulate over time, older patients have usually developed more trigger points.
As with most treatments this pain relief technique should not be undergone without a physical examination by a qualified doctor or technician. Patients should seek clearance for treatment from a general practitioner or (M.D.), osteopath (D.O.), doctor of podiatric medicine (D.P.M.), doctor of chiropractic (D.C.), doctor of naturopathic medicine (N.M.D.), registered nurse practitioner (R.N.P.), or physical therapist (P.T.) before myotherapy treatment.
Patients who undergo myotherapy to relieve the discomfort of temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) or other facial pain should consult a dentist (D.D.S.) for a clearance examination.
Preparatory examination is necessary to determine that there is no structural anatominal problem causing the pain, because problems of this nature require medical treatment that cannot be replaced by myotherapy.
To benefit fully from myotherapy, the patient should have a positive attitude and willingness to give up any emotional investment in the pain syndrome. Myotherapy requires full commitment to the therapy sessions and an attitude of self-healing to bring about relief.
To facilitate recuperation from pain relief, myotherapy patients are advised to involve a relative, friend, or other trusted acquaintance to learn the technique and the patient’s personal pressure points. This buddy system allows the patient to renew the effects of the myotherapy sessions in the event of a relapse.
There are no known side effects from myotherapy. For anatomical pathology patients, however, medical attention is necessary before seeking myotherapy treatment. This examination is crucial in order to eliminate any physical abnormalities that may be the source of the patient’s discomfort.
The benefit of enhanced athletic performance may be a positive side effect of myotherapy treatment.
Research and general acceptance
Although many myotherapists operate as self-employed practitioners in private clinics, certified myotherapists are respected employees in hospitals, doctors’ offices, dental offices, and clinics. There is a wide network of doctors who are familiar with the beneficial effects of myotherapy that legitimizes this form of treatment within the medical community.