What Is Myotherapy?
Myotherapy Association of Australia defines myotherapy as “the evidence based assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal pain and associated conditions”. As myotherapists we are positioned somewhere between physiotherapists and remedial massage therapists. In myotherapy we begin with a hands on approach, followed by exercises and rehabilitation prescription and education.
What Conditions Does Myotherapy Treat?
Myotherapy treats all kinds of musculoskeletal complaints including the following:
- back pain
- neck pain
- headaches and migraines
- Rotator cuff problems
- Occupational injuries
- Achilles tendinopathy and other ankle injuries
- Jaw pain (TMJ) and clicking jaw
- Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain presentations
- Tennis elbow
- sports injuries
- joint injuries
- muscle injuries
- some nerve conditions
What Can I Expect When I Visit a Myotherapist?
In myotherapy we have a hands on approach. This means that in your initial consultation your myotherapist will assess your condition and then treat it using a range of techniques. Once your pain has decreased, and function has improved, your myotherapist will most likely prescribe exercises and self-help methods that you can do at home.
What Methods Does Myotherapy Use?
Myotherapy draws from a vast pool of techniques. Each therapist will have their own specialties, and should also tailor treatment to the patient. Below I will describe the various different methods you can expect when you visit a myotherpist.
Soft Tissue Therapy
This is hands on, and targets specific areas of dysfunction and pain. Techniques may include remedial massage, muscle energy techniques (MET), neuromuscular techniques, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, lymphatic drainage, joint mobilisation, stretching.
This is the application of heat and/or cold to the body. This may be done with heat packs, cold packs, ice baths and heat lamps.
This is normally applied using a TENS machine. A TENS machine sends gentle electrical currents to electrodes which attached to you body. The effect is a healing and/or analgesic (pain-modifying) outcome.
Myofascial Dry Needling
Dry needling uses extremely fine needles (also used in acupuncture). Your myotherapist will insert these into specific points in the muscles known as trigger points. The effect of this is a noticeable tension release. It also has a healing and analgesic (pain-modifying) outcome.
In the below video I demonstrate some dry needling to the upper back.
This is the application of a range of stretching techniques, which essentially elongate short muscles. This returns functionality to the muscles, and also increases range of motion to the area. The effect of this is less pain pain, and an environment within the body that is less likely to lead to further injury. Your therapist may use static stretching, dynamic stretching, or PNF stretching which involves the active participation of the patient.
Corrective exercises, exercise prescription, and functional rehabilitation all refer to exercise methods to improve function and reduce pain. These are central to most myotherapy applications, as the efficacy of exercise is well understood. They also act to empower the patient to take control of their own condition and pain. Exercises may include:
- core strength exercises
- pilates exercises
- weight training
- balance drills
- coordination drills
In the below video I explain a little more about how important exercise is for back pain.