The spray and stretch technique quickly alleviates acute pain and restricted range of motion due to muscle trigger points. The application of a vapocoolant acts as a counterirritant to myofascial pain due to muscle spasm and trigger points. The use of the spray and stretch technique has a wide and varied application. It can be used as a stand alone modality or in conjunction with many forms of hands-on body work including:
- TrP Pressure Release
- Myofascial Release
- Pre & Post TrP Injections (TPI)
Patients tolerate the treatment well as it is a ‘no pain’ treatment. Most people describe the therapy as feeling like an ice pack that moves over the muscle.The patient/client is first assessed for trigger points by both a comprehensive medical history and palpatory exam. Once a person is assessed and TrPs are identified, the stretch with spray modality, a recognized therapy for the TrPs, may begin.
To apply Gebauer’s Spray and Stretch®, the patient must be situated in a position where the targeted muscle can be anchored and the practitioner can easily access the overlying skin of the muscle and its referred pain zone while applying passive stretch. The targeted muscle undergoes slow, parallel sweeps of vapocoolant spray along the length of the muscle, through its trigger points and into the pain reference zone. While the muscle is being sprayed and the nervous system distracted, the practitioner/operator steadily takes up new found muscular slack until full range of motion is achieved or until the practitioner/operator has applied four or five passes of spray with the vapocoolant. Once full range of motion is restored, a moist heating pack is applied to re-warm tissues.
To complete the therapeutic process patients should be instructed to perform range of motion and therapeutic exercise specific to their condition.This technique works the best for sports related injuries as well as acute flare ups of the neck, upper extremity, and low back pain. It is not generally used for chronic pain, except in certain circumstances where the application of a skin refrigerant is indicated.
Richard Finn, PTS, CMT, CMTPT, MCSTT**
* Han SC, Harrison P. Myofascial pain syndrome and trigger-point management. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine 1997; 22: 89-101.
** Richard Finn is a paid consultant for Gebauer Company.