Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Client Becomes Iler Method® Therapist

.Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Client turned Massage Therapist

Daniel Plastino came to Iler Method® for relief from pain post-surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) . He was so impressed with the care he received that he decided to become a trained Iler Method® therapist.

My name is Daniel Plastino. I’m a licensed massage therapist and I’ve been a registered nurse for 10 years. In my personal time, I am an avid hiker and yogi. I have many interests including nutrition, mindfulness and meditation, and music. Coronavirus is preventing us from seeing clients at the moment. So, I thought I would use this time to share a bit about why I joined the Iler Method® team. You see, I believe in it, not just as a massage therapist, but as a client.

I Was A Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Client

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Illustrated Diagram
Image: BruceBlaus / CC BY-SA

Yes, I first discovered the Iler Method® a year and a half ago while researching treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome. TOS is a syndrome that narrows the thoracic outlet between the collarbone and first rib. It can happen slowly, over time, or spontaneously. The result is compression of the nerves and/or blood vessels that pass through the outlet.

There are three types of TOS: Neurogenic (nerves), venous (veins), and arterial (arteries). Ninety percent of people diagnosed with TOS suffer from the neurogenic kind. Neurogenic TOS can result in pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hand, arm, neck, head, and jaw. It can be debilitating. The good news is it can be effectively treated with manual (massage) and physical therapy. Unfortunately for me, I was diagnosed with venous TOS, which is more rare and medically serious.

My condition led to a blood clot in my chest. Correcting it required procedures to remove the blood clot and open up the vein. They also had to remove my first rib and two scalene muscles in my neck. This served to decompress the space. It was a difficult time to say the least. Thankfully, I was able to find a very skilled surgeon and medical team. The initial recovery period from the surgery took one month. Although I had full range of motion immediately, I was restricted from lifting anything greater than 10 pounds.

The Road to Recovery

After that time, I gained most of my independence back. I slowly began to work towards lifting and using my left arm again. The main struggle was the restrictions and imbalances that had worsened due to surgery and immobility. Although my pain was better overall, I still had pain in my neck and chest daily. Certain positions, such as holding my arm at 90 degrees, were difficult. I had some muscle atrophy due to the immobility. My body was also learning how to move again after the loss of my scalene muscles. It was during this time that I began working with David Iler and the Iler Method®.

Iler Method® Body Mapping Made My TOS Treatment Efficient and Effective

David has developed a unique, hands-on assessment called body mapping. It enables him to determine patterns of overcompensation in his clients’ muscles. When our muscles overcompensate, it causes restrictions that result in pain.  Once he found the restrictions in my muscles, David released them using fascial, deep-tissue, and trigger point techniques.

The Iler Method® approaches the body as an interconnected system. Therapists first work on the local pain area until there is a noticeable improvement. Next, they move to the regional area. Finally, they work to restore better communication between the mind and all the muscles in the body.  In subsequent sessions, David worked on my lower half, resulting in my improved functional mobility. After six months and some top-notch physical therapy, I largely returned to a pain-free, active lifestyle.

As a client who came to the Iler Method® in pain, I valued David’s mindful, patient approach. At the same time, his is a goal-oriented modality which helped me maintain a positive mindset around my recovery process. David created a healing space for me with a treatment plan that was individualized to my needs. As my pain decreased and mobility returned, I was able to resume my yoga practice, guitar playing, and other activities.

The TOS Sufferer Becomes a Healer

One silver lining is that I’m now empowered to teach others about thoracic outlet syndrome prevention and recovery. Healing from an injury like this is an ongoing process. As a trained, care professional, I have high expectations for my treatment and I know what high-quality bodywork feels like. The Iler Method® consistently delivers results with long-lasting impact. Which is why I not only utilize it as a healthy strategy, I also became an Iler Method® therapist.

TOS sufferer Daniel Plastino relaxing in hammock
Daniel Plastino became an Iler Method® therapist after receiving treatment from David Iler for pain and immobility after thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Photo: Kristin Krystal Photography

When David asked me to join his team, I was happy and eager to do it. My personal vision of holistic healing aligns well with Iler Method® ideas and practice. I love combining my intuition with medical and manual therapy training. I teach my clients to listen to their bodies. In doing so, their minds open to the healing that’s possible. Iler Method® has helped provide relief for clients with more treatment-resistant conditions like migraines, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.

I look forward to the time when we can all get back together and return to the massage table. Stay present and be safe out there, everybody. Until then!

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