The Primal Reflex Release Technique™ (PRRT, pronounced "pert") is a manual-therapy approach for evaluating and relieving musculoskeletal pain. PRRT is often able to accomplish in just seconds what joint mobilization and manipulation, trigger point therapy, and soft tissue and myofascial release can do over time.
PRRT has been found effective in more than 80% of patients with painful conditions. How can it be so successful? PRRT is based on the premise that over-stimulation of the body’s primal reflexes creates pain and keeps painful patterns occurring again and again. These reflexes -- startle, withdrawal, and the protective joint reflexes--are hardwired into the nervous system of the body for the purpose of survival. When a person experiences a painful or startling event, these reflexes are triggered in an attempt to protect the body.
Unfortunately, these reflexes often persist in a state of hyper-readiness long after the triggering event has passed. When sustained over time, activated reflex responses lead to patterns of pain that are reproduced, repeated, and maintained, interfering with healing and resisting therapeutic efforts to restore natural function.
PRRT addresses muscle and joint receptors along with their spinal modulation. These often overlooked and seldom-treated areas of the body are the cause and solution for many types of pain, including:
Pain with or without motion
Reduced spontaneity of motion
Muscle tightness, stiffness, and/or tension
The Primal Reflex Release Technique™ treatment system offers an innovative combination and application of techniques that facilitate rapid “neural reboot.” This neural reboot resets the neural control of joints, muscles, and fascia to release joint restrictions, trigger points, and fascial restrictions not unlike when you reboot your computer.
Why Haven’t We Looked at the Most Primal of All Systems, the Reflexes?
It seems obvious that the reflexes found at the spinal cord and brain stem levels should be considered in musculoskeletal assessment as they are with PRRT. Yet in courses, textbooks, and journals that address treating musculoskeletal issues, the neuro-physiological basis underlying muscle and joint protective mechanisms is generally ignored or overlooked.
It has been noticed that many patients have some degree of “splinting” in the injured area. This splinting is of a protective nature, and is often referred to as muscle spasms. The relationship of muscle spasms to musculoskeletal pain is another enigma, as it, too, has little literature elucidating its physiological basis.
Fortunately, John Iams has researched and evolved a method that takes into account reflexes and addresses splinting and muscle spasms and their relationship to musculoskeletal pain. PRRT elegantly and rapidly assesses and treats using the very reflexes we were gifted within our muscles, tendons, joint capsules, and even skin.
PRRT—Helps Me Help My Clients
The assessment and treatment of overly protective joint and muscle reflexes is a natural addition to any pain-relief practice. It blends seamlessly with other techniques I use, and enhances their effectiveness by removing the barrier of resistance that primal reflexes trigger. The PRRT method often eliminates or alleviates pain in as little as one treatment. The quick results make treatment affordable for my clients.
I have found PRRT to be very effectively used in conjunction with other therapies, such as:
Massage and Bodywork
The combined result is quick relief of most musculoskeletal, even chronic pain. Clients often see lasting, markedly reduced or eliminated pain after only one treatment. In fact, PRRT must show pain relief within one to two sessions or it is likely not the answer for that Clients condition.
Here is how PRRT works:
Humans are gifted at birth with many primal reflexes that help us to survive. Most of these reflexes disappear after a few months. The startle and withdrawal reflex are a couple of the reflexes that remain. The startle reflex is very common in people who have experienced some form of trauma, like a car accident. We all know someone who startles easily. The withdrawal reflex occurs when you accidentally step on something sharp. Without thinking about it, you will “reflexively” pick up that foot and transfer your weight to the other side. This is a “normal” protective reflex! These two reflexes work in concert with the autonomic nervous system, which automatically controls certain bodily functions, like breathing, blinking, salivation, digestion etc. Immediately after an injury, there is a withdrawal that occurs, possibly with a facial grimace and a groan, as we reflexively grab and/or rub the painful area. In many people who are injured, muscles stay in a state of reflex muscle spasm, sometimes for years. So now the startle and/or withdrawal reflex become abnormal. When these abnormal reflex muscle spasms are examined, increased tension will be felt in the muscles and clients may withdraw away from the pressure, grimace, groan or grab, just like they did when they were injured. When this happens, we say that the person is an “upregulated” state. When a client comes to our office in pain, we examine him or her from head to toe in an attempt to find areas that are upregulated. The examination only takes a couple of minutes, but it is extremely revealing and may be the most thorough physical therapy examination you have ever experienced. These upregulated areas are obvious, because the client will withdraw away from the practitioner’s palpation (touch). It is important to know that an upregulated area has the potential to cause pain and discomfort in multiple locations throughout the body. The PRRT practitioner will then treat the painful area in a way that is similar to a doctor testing your knee jerk with a reflex hammer. This type of treatment can be done anywhere on the body, and significant pain relief can be experienced in a few treatments as opposed to weeks and months. Overall, the PRRT evaluation and treatment is gentle, non-invasive and it can be extremely effective. Another wonderful feature of PRRT is that when it fails, it fails fast. This means we will know within the first couple of visits whether or not PRRT will work for you. Then you are not wasting a lot of time, energy and money over weeks and months waiting to see if you will get relief. Remember, with this technique, we expect changes fast. Many patients have experienced immediate relief.