Chiropractic and massage therapy are two holistic therapies that share a common goal: to treat the whole person rather than symptoms through natural, hands-on, drug-free techniques. When used in combination with each other, these therapies are preventative and restorative, helping to address the source of stress and pain so that you may achieve optimal health. Those that add massage therapy to their chiropractic care program, for example, will generally enjoy a faster recovery. And since multiple components of the pain are being addressed, the recovery is usually also more complete. Chiropractic adjustments will often proceed more easily when the soft tissue has already been relaxed by massage. And the massage is also helpful because it helps to relax the patient before chiropractic care, making them less anxious and relaxed and ready to receive chiropractic adjustment. The adjustments frequently last longer, too, because muscle tension has been released and joints are less likely to pull themselves out of alignment again.
Here at Alternative Chiropractic, the technique primarily used in our office is Neuromuscular (NMT) Therapy, which includes Trigger Point Therapy. The setting for NMT is often more medical or clinical than Massage therapy.
Trigger Point Therapy is a highly effective way to reduce muscles spasms and relax hyperactive muscles. A trigger point or myofascial trigger point is a hyperirritable spot in a muscle which is painful to touch. Also described as an area of uncontrolled muscles tightness causing tenderness which interferes with normal muscle function. This restricts normal range of motion, weakens the muscle, and may refer pain to other parts of the body. Using the hands, the skin is gently pressed by the therapist, to locate underlying taut bands or nodules (knots) of muscles fibers. Then using the hand, fingers, elbow or small hand instrument, the muscle is compressed with sustained pressure to relax it. As pressure is applied, some patients experience temporary discomfort until the muscle relaxes. Others may feel referred pain to other parts of the body. This therapy helps restore normal range of motion and promote faster healing.
Other benefits of Trigger Point Therapy include:
*Reduced chronic muscle spasms
*Avoids scar tissue formation
*Improves muscle tone
*Promotes better circulation
*Increases range of motion
A neuromuscular therapist thinks holistically and works specifically. It’s as much about the way the therapist thinks, as about the techniques that are used. What distinguishes NMT most from MT is the treatment of trigger points (areas of hyperactive, dysfunctional myofascial tissues that are tender to pressure and that refer pain or other symptoms to another part of the body). Location of these trigger points, knowledge of their pain patterns, and techniques to stop their dysfunctional activities are contained in two major 2-volume texts which guide the therapist in analyzing and treating both chronic and acute pain conditions. Besides trigger points, five other factors are considered: ischemic tissue, neurovascular entrapment, structural imbalances; nutritional, metabolic and systemic factors; and negative stressors, both psychosocial and physical.
The techniques we use are somewhat different from massage. NMT techniques involve primarily the use of flushing (called effleurage in massage) to warm up the tissues and clear waste products; lightly lubricated slow gliding strokes to examine, soften and lengthen a muscle; compression and static pressure to release contractions, often with pressure bars or other tools; and digital manipulation to stimulate a change in static dysfunctional tissue. Other complementary techniques or modalities that we use, for example active or passive stretching, skin rolling, myofascial release, and ice or heat.
Massage therapy is based upon the premise of the body having the ability to self-heal and regulate. If the muscles of the body become imbalanced, for example, it can lead to a variety of problems. If muscles are shortened and tightened on one side, the muscles on the opposite side may become overstretched, which can cause pain, weakened circulation, and other problems. But worse, this tightness may also pull the bones the muscles are attached to, sabotaging the work of the chiropractor to realign the body. The massage therapist can soften and stretch the muscle groups, relieving stress on the opposing muscles groups and strengthening weaker muscles, which complements the work of the chiropractor.
Ultimately, massage therapy benefits people of all ages. While it helps illness, injury and stress, the real benefit lies in prevention.
Massage therapy is billable to most insurance companies as well when the patient is being treated on an active treatment plan.
We generally agree that the chiropractic adjustment and massage should be scheduled as closely together as possible, so contact us to see, in your case, which should be first.