Myofascial release therapy (MFR) helps to alleviate tightness and shortening in the muscles. Many people seek this treatment after an injury or when coping with chronic pain in a part of the body that contains soft tissue, such as the shoulder, back, or hip. Myofascial release can also help alleviate symptoms of such conditions as migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Here is what you should know.
Symptoms of Myofascial Issues
Everyone experiences pain and lack of function in slightly different ways. In general, though, people who can benefit from myofascial release usually experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Restricted movement or misalignment of part of the body
- Feeling of intense pressure in one or more muscles or joints
- Pain in one or more parts of the body
Causes of Myofascial Pain
There are two basic causes of myofascial pain. The fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles, and tightly constricted fascia can cause intense, highly painful muscle contractions. In addition, the fascia itself can become damaged and painful. Many patients experience both simultaneously. Either way, the constriction inhibits blood flow, creating a self-replicating cycle of ever-worsening contractions.
Goals for Treatment
Myofascial release focuses on stretching and loosening the fascia, allowing both the fascia and the structures beneath to move freely. Depending on which structures are involved, initial myofascial release may be followed by exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the affected muscles and joints. Muscles work in pairs, and typically when one muscle has been constricted by its fascia, its partner has become over-lengthened. A key goal after initially releasing the fascia is to restore the muscles to proper balance.
What to Expect
The first step is a thorough examination. We will locate the areas of your fascia that are restricted and determine the levels of loss of symmetry and loss of motion you are currently experiencing. We will also consider your medical history and any recent injuries or surgeries you may have had, and then develop a customized treatment plan to meet your individual needs.
Exactly how your treatment progresses depends on the results of our initial assessment. In general, though, you can expect to have appointments of roughly an hour in length, two to three times per week. We will provide hands-on treatment designed to gently apply pressure and sustained low load stretching to the affected part of your body. Treatment may last for a few weeks or months.
As you progress, we may add exercises designed to rebalance your muscles and joints, stretching and strengthening the areas that were constricted by the tight fascia. We may also use or recommend such complementary treatments as:
- Over the counter pain relievers
- Heat and/or ice therapy
- Home stretching and aerobic exercises
Myofascial therapy may be used as part of a full injury rehabilitation program, to help athletes reach or return to peak form, and to ease the pain of chronic illness or injury. We will carefully explain our findings and recommendations to you every step of the way.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready for innovative physical therapy from one of the most trusted names in the industry, contact Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.