Muscle, nerve pain specialist takes on hard cases at Sierra Pain & Performance Therapy in Grass Valley
May 6, 2018
As a kid, Trent Adams loved to draw.
But by the time he'd reached high school, he noticed his eyesight was slowly deteriorating. That didn't deter him, however, from going on to college with the hopes of becoming an illustrator. By the end of college his eyesight had become worse and it was clear even driving would not be safe.
It wasn't just his sight. He also experienced hearing loss. Eventually, Adams was diagnosed with Usher syndrome, a condition characterized by both hearing and vision loss that gets progressively worse over time.
It was a shock to Adams, who was suddenly forced to rethink his entire career and the life that lay ahead. While taking stock of his life passions, there was one thing he kept revisiting.
"My grandmother used to get sore and I would rub her shoulders," he said. "She would tell me I should be a massage therapist. At the time, it was the last thing I wanted to do. But after she passed away, I started to listen to that message."
Adams moved from Seattle to the Bay Area and became a certified massage therapist. He got a job working in chiropractor's office, focusing primarily on sports injuries, mostly deep tissue work.
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"Eventually I got bored — I like to really fix things," said Adams. "And I wanted to learn more."
Eager to add to his training, he came across "Active Release Techniques," which is a patented, soft tissue bodywork technique that is used to treat the tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves using a unique series of treatment protocols.
The rigorous training and certification was a perfect complement to treatment provided by physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropractors. In fact, many Bay Area practitioners were known to refer their clients to Active Release Techniques specialists.
"It was exciting — during the certification process I was working alongside physical therapists and chiropractors who are at the top of their game, working for the 49ers, Cal Bears and other high profile athletes."
After becoming an Active Release Techniques licensed provider, Adams went on to study Neuromuscular Reprogramming, which uses muscle testing to assess body compensation patterns and cue the brain for reprogramming.
In addition to a series of treatments, clients are taught specific exercises to help strengthen weak muscles and increase circulation. He also incorporates the use of elastic kinesiology therapeutic sports tape between sessions, with the goal of changing "how your body interprets pain be affecting nerve endings and different types of receptors in the skin of the injured area."
Back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, sciatica, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis and knee problems commonly have one thing in common, said Adams. They are all a result of overused muscles, which can cause the body to produce dense scar tissue that can bind the tissues that should be able to move freely.
"As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker and nerves can become trapped," said Adams. "This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness and weakness. After treatment, some people jokingly say, 'Wow, it's like you sprayed WD-40 on my injury.'"
It's not just athletes who suffer from overused muscles, he added, as many conditions are attributed to what he calls the "receptionist's lifestyle."
"A lot of people who have spent 30 years working at a desk probably have nerve entrapment along the sciatic nerve and their hip flexors are shortened," he said. "People who sit all day are chronically tight. We all need to get up and do a hula hoop dance every so often — we all walk around like robots. The problem is not always inflammation. Sometimes is hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. If you target the muscle you can open up the range of motion and start to break down the scar tissue."
Adams, his wife, Kristen, and two children relocated from Marin County to Grass Valley, and Adams officially opened his own practice, "Sierra Pain & Performance Therapy" in 2014. In 2016, he moved to his current location in a historic building on South Church Street in Grass Valley.
Despite having lost roughly 80 percent of his sight and 70 percent of his hearing, Adams is keenly engaged in life with his family, including his two children, ages 9 and 7. A hearing device enables him communicate well with clients, friends and family. His latest passion is waterskiing on Lake Wildwood, something he does with a club once or twice a week, even in the recent cooler weather.
"I miss mountain biking, but I love waterskiing," he said. "I love the challenge — it makes me feel alive."
The setbacks Adams has experienced due to Usher syndrome may have given him other gifts, he mused. Beyond his vast knowledge of human anatomy, Adams often feels he has developed a keen intuition when it comes to treatments, which is in line with feedback he often gets from clients. The majority of this advertising is simply word of mouth.
"A lot of people come in thinking no one can help them," he said. "They say, 'This is so different.' It's so rewarding to see someone get moving again, to get back to doing the things they love. My advice? Get checked out before something becomes a big problem, keep yourself tuned. Don't wait till you're broken."
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.