Introduction

Though rudimentary Neurodynamic relationships were put forth by researchers early in the 20th century, it was not well understood how it could be applied in the clinic until research was born out in the 1990's.  Still, it was a working hypothesis needing further application and research to validate the mechanisms.  This process has occurred slowly over the last 25 years.  During this period, Michael Shacklock has played (and continues to play) a significant role in creating a treatment system around the burgeoning research.  Hence, the utilization of this system as a treatment option is only now beginning to gain traction with application by musculoskeletal therapists worldwide.

What is Neurodynamics?

We know muscles and joints move in our bodies to give rise to complex actions like walking or reaching.  Our nerves also need to passively move unrestricted through all the surrounding tissue it passes by, through and around.  We have about 45 miles of nerve tissue in our bodies.  If restricted, we can feel stiff, inflexible and in some cases discomfort or pain.  Neurodynamics is the ability for the nerves to slide and stretch as we incorporate complex actions in our lives.  It is also how the nerve tissue functions in the presence of changing body conditions.  Healthy nerve tissue is resilient to mild compression forces, and also resilient to moderate stretch along it's length.  This resiliency is dependent on adequate blood flow into and out of the nerves, which in turn is reliant on the aforementioned sliding action.

What's so important about nerve health?

Nerves are the super-highways of information that gets passed to and from the central nervous system.  Things like sense of touch, being touched, knowing where your body is positioned in space rely on information from specific cell receptors that then gets successfully transmitted by nerve tissue to the brain.  Also, the nervous system transmits commands to our muscles and other tissues to contract (shorten) or relax (lengthen) to facilitate movement.  When nerve tissue is compromised subtle things can happen - like reduced ability to keep skillful balance as we move or a feeling of light numbness and tingling in our foot when our leg "falls asleep".  More notable things can occur as well - like losing grip strength in a hand or having a sharp pain when bending our back a certain way.  Nerves can also become more sensitive to sensation when they are deprived of blood flow, kind of like a person with a short temper.  This (over) sensitivity can produce a painful response when usually under normal conditions it doesn't.

What can be done?

Firstly, a manual therapist trained in Clinical Neurodynamics can assess for the possibility of nerve tissue involvement in your particular disorder.  Once a clinical connection is made implicating a nerve tissue interaction, then a treatment plan can be made to address the neural dysfunction through specific tissue manipulation / mobilization techniques and movements. 

What conditions can be helped?

The list below are the most notable conditions that can have a neural connection to the disorder.  Often times, nerve issues can mimic a disorder due to the proximity of nearby tissues that present commonly with pathology (e.g. plantar fasciitis). 

  • Sciatica
  • Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Pronator syndrome
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • De Quervain's disease
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Cervical or Lumbar radiculopathy
  • Radial tunnel (Supinator) syndrome
  • Lateral epicondylitis (Tennis elbow)
  • Medial epicondylitis (Golfer's elbow)
  • Headaches or migraines due to neural tension
  • Other conditions where pain seems to travel down an extremity

This list is not exhaustive, as many common generalized pain complaints can have a nerve tissue component.  Please contact us if you have any questions about your unique situation.  We serve the communities of central Sonoma County at our office in Santa Rosa.