Myofascial release is a form of therapy designed to relieve chronic and acute pain through special, targeted massage that aims to reduce tightness within the fascia, a sheet of connective tissue below the surface of the skin. Tightness within the fascia can restrict a patient's range of motion or cause the patient to favor one side of the body. The goal of myofascial release is to relieve pain and allow the patient to regain range of motion.
Myofascial release is often effective in treating chronic pain caused by conditions that include carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder; it is also effective in treating acute pain caused by trauma. Some patients experience myofascial pain in the form of headaches or lower back pain. Myofascial release may be recommended in combination with traditional pain-relief treatments, including anti-inflammatory medications, heat and ice application, and stretching exercises.
Myofascial release is performed by chiropractors, sports medicine specialists, physical therapists and massage therapists trained in myofascial release. It typically takes place in a health center or outpatient clinic. After an initial consultation in which the location of the affected fascia is determined, the medical professional typically applies gentle pressure to the affected area or guides the patient through prolonged, low-load stretching. Sessions usually last 30 minutes to an hour, and are performed, depending on the severity of the patient's condition, every day or every few days.