Myotherapy is a noninvasive therapy that helps treat pain caused by injuries or issues with your muscles or soft tissue.
Myotherapists use massage and a variety of other techniques shared by physical therapists and osteopaths to release muscular tension and reduce pain.
According to the International Myotherapy Association, myotherapy was developed in 1976 by Bonnie Prudden. It built on techniques developed by Dr. Janet Travell — who was, notably, the personal doctor of John F. Kennedy — and Dr. Hans Kraus.
In this article, we’ll explore how myotherapy works, the conditions it may help, and why it may be beneficial.
Myotherapy is an advanced form of remedial massage, also known as sports massage or medical massage. During myotherapy, a therapist uses trigger point release and a variety of other techniques to relieve muscle and myofascial pain.
Trigger points are sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers that form in your muscles, typically from overuse or injury. To relieve tension in these areas, a myotherapist employs special massage techniques using their hands, fingers, elbows, or knuckles.
The idea that pain can originate in a muscle has been widely accepted in the medical community only since the 1990s. However, more recent evidence has found that pain originating in a muscle is very common
Sometimes an injury or dysfunction of a muscle can lead to referred pain in a nearby area.
Myotherapy is still an emerging specialization, so there’s currently a limited amount of research examining its effectiveness. However, since it’s a specialized form of remedial massage, it has the potential to deliver the same or very similar benefits.
The Institute of Registered Myotherapists of Australia conducted a literature review in 2013. According to this review, remedial massage may help:
- improve chronic low back pain
- reduce delayed onset muscle soreness
- reduce stress and anxiety
- increase quality of life and positive well-being among patients with terminal illnesses such as cancer or multiple sclerosis
- assist with pain management of fibromyalgia when combined with other treatments
Additionally, evidence has emerged over the last 10 years to suggest that treating painful trigger points may help aid muscle contractions and optimize muscular movement, according to the Institute of Registered Myotherapists of Australia.
Myotherapy is used to treat a wide range of conditions that involve your muscles or soft tissue.
Some conditions that may benefit from myotherapy treatment include:
- some types of joint pain
- back pain
- pain from poor posture
- cervicogenic headaches
- sports injuries
- overuse injuries
Myotherapy and physical therapy share many similarities. Practitioners of both therapies use techniques such as massage and stretching to help reduce pain and improve mobility.
Myotherapy is a specialized type of remedial massage, and therapists generally focus on hands-on techniques to decrease muscular pain.
Physical therapists are rehabilitation specialists who use a wider range of treatments to help people regain mobility and strength after injury or surgery.
Here’s a summary of the key differences of the two types of therapy:
|Myotherapists primarily use massage and trigger point therapy.||Physical therapists primarily use exercises, stretches, or hands-on manipulation to help you move better.|
|It targets pain caused by muscle and myofascial dysfunction.||It treats a large range of musculoskeletal problems.|
|It’s considered an alternative therapy.||It’s widely accepted in mainstream medicine.|
|Myotherapists primarily work in private practices.||Physical therapists work in private practices and hospitals.|
During your first appointment, your myotherapist will ask you about your symptoms and assess your medical history. They may also ask you about:
- any medications you’re currently taking
- your prior illnesses
- any surgeries you’ve had
- whether you participate in any sports
- your occupation
- your accident history
After taking your medical history, your myotherapist will then examine the injured area and perform physical tests to identify the cause of the pain.
For treatment, they may use techniques such as:
- dry needling
- trigger point therapy
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- hot or cold therapy
- passive stretching
If your myotherapist doesn’t believe your pain is due to muscular issues, they may refer you to another healthcare professional.
You can find a list of Certified Bonnie Prudden Myotherapists (CBPM) Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT) from the Bonnie Prudden Helpline directory. The directory provides a list of therapists in 14 states.
Therapists on the list have completed 1,300 hours of schooling and must complete 35 hours of continuing education hours per year.
Myotherapy is a type of manual therapy that helps treat and manage pain caused by muscle or soft tissue injuries or problems. With this type of treatment, a therapist reduces discomfort through:
- trigger point release
- a variety of other techniques
Many aspects of myotherapy overlap with physical therapy. One of the key differences is that a myotherapist works specifically on muscles and fascia, whereas a physical therapist targets a wider range of musculoskeletal issues.
Because myotherapy is still an emerging therapy, there’s currently limited evidence to support its effectiveness. Because it’s a specialized form of remedial massage, however, it’s thought to have similar benefits.