Written by Dr. Eugenie V. Anderson, M.D. Phoenix, AZ
Myotherapy is the art of relieving chronic pain originating in the muscles and their connective membrane, the fascia. All skeletal muscles have the ability to form trigger points, which are highly irritable spots in the muscle identifiable by exquisite tenderness on compression. These points do exactly as their name implies: they trigger the muscle into spasm and pain under certain activating stresses. When a trigger point is latent, it may cause nothing more than a decrease in the range of motion of that muscle. When a trigger point is active, the pain produced can be devastating, as crippling as the worst arthritis flare-up or broken bone.
Trigger points develop because of muscle injuries or from occupation and recreational lack of use or overuse. Once a trigger point develops, it can be latent for years and then activated by various stresses like overstretching, overloading, chronic fatigue, exposure to cold, trauma, emotional stress, and various internal diseases. Trigger points + activating stress = PAIN.
Myotherapy works by relieving or erasing those trigger points through compression. The muscle can then be stretched out of its spastic condition to its original length. Stretching and strengthening exercises must then be done to keep the muscle pliable and strong and prevent return of the trigger points. Unfortunately, many pain sufferers are given hopeless sounding diagnoses after expensive and invasive medical workups. They are then given potentially harmful and addictive drugs, which do nothing to erase a trigger point: or they are given the choice of painful and risk-filled surgeries versus staying in chronic pain. The side effects of the drug therapies are too numerous to list all of them, but include glaucoma, cataracts, kidney failure, ulcers, addiction and on and on. Some of the surgical procedures actually risk worsening the original problem.
Why is it then, that standard medical practice does not routinely recognize Myotherapy? Muscle syndromes are great masqueraders. They can simulate the pain of internal organs and of the bones, joints, and nerves. They are even confused with the so-called “aging process”. Even though muscles are the largest organ of the human body, standard medical training places small emphasis on the pathology of muscles. Most doctors are thoroughly trained to recognize the responsibility of muscles in causing pain and dysfunction syndromes. Myotherapists are thoroughly trained and certified after an in depth intensive two year program. If Myotherapy were the first resort rather than the last resort, countless people would save thousands of dollars and have many more pain-free and productive years in their lives.