ART is most commonly used to treat conditions related to adhesions or scar tissue in overused muscles. According to ART practitioners, as adhesions build up, muscles become shorter and weaker, the motion of muscles and joints are altered, and nerves can be compressed. As a result, tissues suffer from decreased blood supply, pain, and poor mobility.
Specific conditions that can be treated with ART include headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, other peripheral nerve entrapments, shin splints, sciatica, TMJ, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and other soft tissue inflammatory disorders of the joints.
The goal of ART is to restore the smooth movement of tissues and to release any trapped nerves or blood vessels.
In an ART treatment, the provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue. Using hand pressure, the practitioner works to remove or break up the fibrous adhesions, with the stretching motions generally in the direction of venous and lymphatic flow, although the opposite direction may occasionally be used.
In the first three levels of ART treatment, as with other soft-tissue treatment forms, movement of the patient’s tissue is done by the practitioner. In level four, however, ART requires the patient to actively move the affected tissue in prescribed ways while the practitioner applies a specific tension. Involvement of the patient is seen as an advantage of ART, as people who are active participants in their own healthcare are believed to experience better outcomes.