The use of sustained release myofascial release resulted in a wide spectrum of improvements in a recent case study of a 54-year-old woman suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and collagenous colitis, which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

The study, “Sustained Release Myofascial Release as Treatment for a Patient with Complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Collagenous Colitis: A Case Report,” aimed to determine any changes in range of motion, fatigue and gastrointestinal (GI) tract function following an intervention period of sustained release myofascial release.

Six 45-minute sessions of sustained release myofascial release were administered to the case-study subject during a two-week period. Evaluation of the outcome measures took place at each appointment and also during an eight-week interim that followed the intervention period. After this eight-week interim, the subject received two more sessions of sustained release myofascial release, and the outcome measures were assessed again.

According to the researchers, the myofascial release technique began with a postural examination and palpation for fascial restrictions, followed by gentle, sustained pressure, with the hands placed on the restricted tissue in the direction of the restriction.

“The pressure is sustained on the skin, without allowing the hands to slide, for a minimum of 90 to 120 seconds, to allow the tissue to begin to release,” state the study’s authors. “Once the release begins, pressure is maintained while the therapists’ hands follow the direction of the fascial release. Sustained releases are held for a minimum of three to five minutes.”

Each of these sessions involved a variety of techniques, including manual cervical traction, transverse plane releases, arm and leg pulls, and cross-hand techniques. The manual therapy was provided by a physical therapist trained in myofascial release, along with two trained assistants.

Results of the research showed improvements in pain, fatigue, GI function, cervical range of motion and quality of life following the two-week period, when six sessions of sustained release myofascial release were applied. These improvements were sustained for a total of five weeks during the eight-week interim period that followed the last session of myofascial release.

After week five of this interim period, the case-study subject’s symptoms returned to nearly the same levels seen at the start of the study. However, following the additional two sessions of myofascial release, the improvements were achieved once again.

“Sustained release [myofascial release] in conjunction with allopathic treatment appeared to relieve pain and fatigue, increase cervical [range of motion], and improve GI tract function for up to five weeks following a two-week treatment series,” state the study’s authors. “When the patient regressed after the initial treatment series, two additional treatments of [myofascial release] were provided, achieving positive results.”

Authors: Erin E. Cubick, Vanessa Y. Quezada, Ariel D. Schumer and Carol M. Davis.

Sources: Department of Physical Therapy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. Originally published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (2011), 4(3), 25-33.