NMRT: A New Therapeutic Technology for our Animal Companions
(continued from the Home Page)
(link to the beginning of Article)To start down a path of better understanding, let's begin with how a young healthy, energetic pup over the course of a lifetime eventually ends up anything but energetic, in pain, and presenting to a clinic looking like what you see in the accompanying image? It is not heredity or bad luck that leads to this "end-stage!" Something has occurred over the course of this dog's life that led to this dreadful state. Sadly this poor pup is too far gone for NMRT or any other "non-drug" therapy to meaningfully do anything about. It would be analogous to calling in the engineers to fix the structural problems of a bridge after it has already collapsed! Intervening earlier in the process is the key and NMRT could have made a world of difference if I had attended to this developing problem sooner. Spoiler Alert: it's all about the body's ongoing process of attempting to respond to and compensate for repeated and ongoing macro and micro traumatic physical insults that eventually leads to the shocking and painful state of affairs evidenced in this sad image.
A more simplistic analogy would be that involving the hands of an old "farm worker," who at the sunset of his career can no longer perform the work. The frequent blistered hands that he endured earlier in his career have over time morphed into hands with deep, fissured, inflexible callouses that evidence a lifetime of abuse. How could you remove or "Release" these hands from what years of abuse has yielded? Intervening and addressing this problem earlier in its trajectory would certainly be the best approach. Removing the developing callouses and changing his career path to obviate further abuse would have certainly done the trick.
Let us drill down to a more granular level with the following simple thought experiment. Visualize if you will that you are a long distance runner who one day, preparing for an upcoming 5k, you hurt your foot and ankle stepping into a pot hole. Bullheaded, you insist upon completing your day's training. How did you manage? It's easy to visualize that you began altering your gait to minimize the pain with each difficult step. Altered function, altered Biomechanics, and altered stresses and strains upon primary and ancillary connective tissue elements is now the order of the day. In easy to understand terms, you began running on the side of your foot or moved your impact forward or some other accommodation to reduce the discomfort that dogged each stride. So with this local alteration of normal gait there are more global consequences such as a pronounced limp which affects other kinematically connected elements. So now the other leg is attempting to accommodate the increased stress and strain as you shift more weight to the "good leg." This now shifts the balance of the Pelvis and the muscles of your core must accommodate to this imbalance exacting increased demand in an asymmetrical pattern. The spine can't escape this distortion as it curves and twists to counter the dip in the pelvis as the "bad leg side" becomes weight bearing in turn. Not to belabor the cascade of adaptation to a painful foot and ankle, the point I'm trying to make is that small alterations in one part of structure can have major implications upon the entire body.
That is an example of a single macro traumatic event that hopefully a little "RICE" therapy: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation with a tincture of time affords a quick return to training. No need for NMRT or any other intervention in such a scenario inasmuch as no permanent or progressively worsening biomechancal alterations or mal-adaptations ensued from this one time injury.
Now what happens if this isn't a one time event and that perhaps you are the impatient or dismissive gung-ho type resuming your training regimen prematurely, well before the injured connective tissue elements have time fully heal. So to get back on your program you begin taking aspirin or "over the counter," Anti-inflammatory Meds and head out onto the roads and trails. In this scenario you now add daily micro trauma to that formerly injured elements and you may not even be aware of the ongoing and progressive incremental damage that accrues, with or without the pain masking effects of the Meds.
Over time the adaptation that occurred just following the original injury, subtly aggregates and this cascade of changes progresses without you even being aware of it. Have you ever looked at someone and noticed one shoulder higher than the other? These are the changes that progress beneath the level of awareness for most people. Tailors deal with this regularly, altering sleeve and trouser lengths to accommodate for such changes. These are the changes that ultimately lead to the chronic pain and suffering that afflicts a substantial portion of humanity. It may not be the micro trauma of running for most. It may be from lifting improperly each day on the job. Perhaps it's playing unilateral sports like Golf. How many Golfers suffer back pain or such maladies as Golfer's elbow? How about software engineers or secretaries developing carpal tunnel syndrome. How about your upper back and neck pain because you have a bad a habit of laying on your back with the pillows scrunched up behind your head so that you can watch TV in Bed before you drift off to sleep each night. Wonder why after decades you are developing a hunch in your upper back, also known as a Dowagers Hump? Funny, but that is the exact posture you assume each night as you lay watching the evening news with the TV at the foot of your bed. What was once voluntary has now become permanent! Now add a little osteoporosis to this equation and you are in real trouble. Sorry, but I digress.
What do all these have in common. Just this, progressive adaptation brought on by ongoing micro trauma leading ultimately to mal-adaptation. Progressive compensation leading ultimately to de-compensation. Ongoing normal physiologic processes ultimately leading to patho-physiologic changes. Normal joints ultimately leading to degenerative joint disease or DJD. Normal motion ultimately leading to limited or restricted motion. When it comes to the ravages of aging it's not the years it's the mileage!
So lets bring the focus back to our furry companions. How does this scenario equate to maladies seen in our four legged kids? How does NMRT come into play? For the vast majority of Pet Owners who seek my help, their companion’s malady was not caused by some unanticipated accident but purely by years of cumulative micro-traumatic events that were part of their activities of daily living. The Dachshund who energetically leaps off of the couch or bed countless times per day causing shock and trauma to her spine with each jump. The pet owner who plays vigorous tug-of-war with his pup regularly, even holding his companion up off of the ground by his tug toy to impress friends and neighbors. How about the Golden Retriever who charges the fence every chance she gets, violently impacting with her front paws to "fence fight" with the neighbor dog numerous times per day or chase that pesky squirrel up that fence and out of the yard. What about that pup who pops that heavy magnetized rubber dog door open countless times per day with his muzzle causing shock and trauma to his lower cervical spine. How about that Rottweiler who runs up and down the terraced hill behind the house daily scaring off the deer or coyotes who venture too close the fenced property line. How about that Pit mix who regularly drags his owner around the block by his neck and frequently comes up violently short at the end of his lead as he lunges aggressively at passing cars or the occasional squirrel who crosses his path. Then there’s that fuzzy faced Shih Tzu who runs her muzzle along the carpet or couch, both sides, to wipe the residue from meals off of her whiskers day in, day out, month in, month out, and year in, year out. Are you getting the picture yet?
NMRT detects the location where these recurrent micro traumatic insults have focused their damaging effects, "unwinds,"deleverages," or "Releases" the more macro structural compensations (that lead to the immutable changes that you can easily make out in the picture above), and the more micro structural and functional derangements at the focus of the problem that were the point of initial departure from what was normal structure and function, the "original scene of the crime!" However, as in the case of the "farm worker,"if he returns to the same abusive work after an attempted correction the problem will just return and progress. So for our furry companions, the ultimate resolution requires NMRT applied before it is too late and then stopping or limiting the injurious activities of daily living that drove this, "train of destruction" in the first place!
As for the history of NMRT, I developed this therapeutic technology over decades treating thousands and thousands of patients from simple neck and back pain to patients who were completely paralyzed with a high degree of success. The old adage, "necessity is the mother of invention," explains the evolution from what were traditional chiropractic techniques which for animal patients was akin to "killing a fly with a sledgehammer"to what I apply to animal patients today. Which frankly doesn't look anything like traditional chiropractic treatment. When one is confronted by an animal patient in terrible pain or who has suddenly lost the use of their rear legs and the desperate owners have come to you as a last resort after all traditional Veterinary modalities have failed and sometimes after Veterinary Acupuncture and previous Animal Chiropractors have also failed, you are compelled go to any and all lengths to come up with a healing solution that you haven't thought of or tried before, when "Damn It," everything that worked on similar previous cases is just not working! You go do bed at night and wake up in the morning thinking about these cases. Sometimes you stumble upon a solution serendipitously or by trial and error or sometimes just blind luck, or you suddenly feel something on palpation that you never felt before because your tactile acuity just wasn't sensitive enough previously. Or you feel a pattern in the connective tissue of the patient that finally makes sense to you and you act upon it and viola the next visit the excited and grateful pet owner tells you, "whatever you did last visit made a huge difference!" This will send you in new directions to fully explore why what you performed that visit made a difference when nothing else was working.
Purely as an aside, speaking directly to Animal Chiropractors and Vets attempting to perform Animal Chiropractic reading this, if you rely upon traditional static palpation or motion palpation diagnostically I hate to tell you that there is a world of conditions you will fail to detect the source of and resolve. How can I say this? Because I learned Motion Palpation directly from Dr. L. John Faye (the Doctor who brought this technique to the United States) himself in the 80's and saw upwards of 300 human patients a week relying solely upon Motion Palpation diagnostically. So I got pretty good at it. However, when I began really treating a significant number of animal patients I found it wanting in far too many desperate cases. I will give you but one example of many to drive the point home. The accompanying picture is a case you will confront if you have treated many animal patients and you won't resolve this case relying on static or motion palpation diagnostically! This Beagle is barely able to move, back roached, low head carriage, and crying out with unrelenting paroxysmal neck spasms. You won't find the source or resolve this case with any traditional chiropractic diagnostic or treatment methods! In fact you will make this condition significantly worse blindly "activating" it or trying a "pop and pray," adjustment or whatever they are teaching in those pricey weekend "Animal Chiropractic" Seminars. I failed in these cases for a long time until I discovered the source and figured how to treat these extremely delicate cases. I will give you a little hint though, "you don't treat focally, but globally!"
Additionally, if you are treating animals and you only deal with the spine, or your technique isn't "granular" or precision enough to find a problem for example to the level of say the left 3rd Metacarpophalangeal joint, detect the structural and functional mal-adaptation, deduce from that what kind of injury or ongoing micro injuries are preventing resolution even with the correct treatment then your skills are not refined enough and will not resolve intractable lameness in many limping cases. There is a lot of "Real Estate" to cover in these cases to identify the precise source of the lameness especially when compensations up the kinematic chain have became intransigent with time.
The forgoing notwithstanding, Chiropractors have traditionally focused on the joints or articulations of the body and what we call "subluxations" that affect structure and function and the impact this has on the neurology. Physical Therapists have focused primary on the muscles and muscle functionality and helping the body to improve where incapacities caused by accidents, injuries, and diseases have caused limitations in motion and function. NMRT eschews focusing on singular categories of connective tissue elements and analyzes the corpus of connective tissue as whole and detects the often subtle dysfunctional interplay between the connective tissue elements to resolve the issue.
Perhaps the simplest analogy to explain this technology is to envision a time when you awoke in the middle of the night with your night shirt or nightgown twisted uncomfortably tight around you, such that you couldn’t easily move and the constriction was distressing enough to wake you from a sound sleep. So when you awoke, what did you do to relieve your suffering? You diagnosed the problem and instituted a remedy or healing solution that resulted in relief from the structural and functional derangement. It wasn’t rocket science, you merely lifted yourself up, "Released" or straightened out your sleeping attire, thereby relieving the imbalance, and promptly returned to a comfortable rest. Your body is one vast and complex mass of connective tissue. The immeasurable interrelationships and interplays between muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, bones, joints, and cartilage, are what encompasses far more than the shape that looks back at you when you gaze into a full length mirror. Think of this as complex biomechanical cryptography. In fact as complex a system, I venture to say, has never been equaled in this universe and yet its purpose is as simple and uncomplicated as the act of reaching out and grasping the ears of your furry companion to bring them in close enough for a kiss on the cheek. So, when such acts or a thousand others become uncomfortable for you or your pet, it’s time to find out why and input the healing solution that returns everything to the comfort of an unrestricted state of homeostatic balance! Simply put, NMRT decodes, decrypts, or deciphers this complex biomechanical cryptography.
Another if more fanciful way of understanding the application of NMRT is the following. Let us for a moment visualize your companion's body as the earth and all of the Plate Tectonic interactions, that produce immeasurable structural stresses and strains at the plate boundaries, are that which is causing your Pet’s distress and incapacity. Having diagnosed the problem, if one could determine what directional force(s), at what depth, and over what duration, that would eliminate all of the structural stress and strain at these plate boundaries, then in theory one could bring the entire earth into balance and eliminate the specter of violent temblors and volcanism. A silly thought experiment I realize, however this "Disneyesque" metaphor nonetheless expresses a pretty accurate description of Neuromyofascial Release Therapy for animals.