Manual therapy and its potential benefits have not historically been used on disorders thought to be influenced by soft tissue tightness, neural tension, and responses to changes in autonomic tone. Myofascial release (MFR) however has been shown to be a safe, hands-on technique that involves applying gentle and sustained pressure to help reduce symptoms of dysphonias.
In the case of SD (spasmodic dysphonia), the practitioner relies on the patient to help direct the treatment by applying slow and gentle palpitations throughout the neck region, attempting to locate areas that replicate familiar aspects of the patient’s own SD symptoms. In essence, they are trying to replicate the symptoms without the patient ever having to speak, in an attempt to pinpoint the area in the neck that needs treatment. Once identified, the practitioner targets that area with manual therapy to help alleviate symptoms over time.
MFR therapy is a slower and less abrupt form of intervention and should not be painful. The treatment does not work for everyone. However, if during the evaluation, the initial treatment shows promise, the patient should experience symptom improvement within 3 sessions. Once the evaluation is complete and treatment has started, the patient is provided with stretching that they can do at home to augment the sessions with the therapist. These stretches are intended to be performed as a part of ongoing treatment program by a trained and licensed manual therapist.
The great news is that a growing number of practitioners have received MFR training for the evaluation and treatment of SD and related dysphonia conditions. (A list of over 200 trained professionals can be found here.) Each person suffering with SD is different and the appropriate treatment option is as individualized as their symptoms.
That’s why it’s important that the NSDA continue to deliver messages of hope and treatment alternatives. To get a complete list of SD treatment options, check out our website.