The human back is comprised of muscles, ligaments, fascia and tendons. Injuries to these soft tissues may lead to significant pain and may even cause dysfunction that is associated with back problems. Even a simple back injury can cause significant pain and can restrict the movement. Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization is one technique that is effectively used to treat such conditions.
Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM), is a form of manual therapy in which an instrument is used for a special form of massage where the skin is gently scraped. Typically instruments made of stainless steel are used for this therapy. These instruments are usually convex or concave shaped and have rounded edges all across. IASTM is effective in both acute and chronic conditions. It helps in identifying the injured areas, and also in treating them. In IASTM, the goal is to break down scar tissue and fascia restrictions, which are generally associated with some kind of trauma to the soft tissue. This technique focuses on reducing the restrictions by stretching connective tissue in order to rearrange the structure of soft tissue that is being treated. IASTM treatment is given along the kinetic chain. This means that patients who is receiving back pain treatment may also receive treatment for hip flexor, hamstring, abdomen, and shoulders as they are connected through the fascial network.
IASTM technique is a multi-disciplinary technique and is used by chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, occupational therapists, licensed massage therapists, physical therapists and athletics trainers. IASTM provides microtrauma to the affected area or soft tissue in a controlled manner. This stimulates an inflammatory response in the area that leads to increased blood flow and cellular activity around the affected soft tissue, which helps in the healing process. Also, healing while putting soft tissue under stretch means that the fibers grow in the desired direction and does not result in a tight bundle, which could restrict the movement. It is normal for patients to report post treatment bruises after the initial couple of sessions.
IASTM treatment frequency is typically two times a week and the whole treatment usually lasts for 3-4 weeks. This may vary depending on the condition of the individual patient.
Conditions that are treated with Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization are:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
- Achilles Tendinitis
- Cervical Sprain
- Tennis Elbow
- Golfers Elbow
- Shin splints
- Scar Tissue
- Lumbar Sprain
- Knee pain
- Foot pain
- Trigger Finger
Benefits of IASTM:
There are neurological benefits of giving treatment through IASTM technique as well. Studies suggest that when a patient is given instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, certain nerve fibers get activated in the process.
IASTM is an effective method for treating soft tissue injuries and it can give relief in even chronic cases. The treatment does not involve any medication and does not have any side effects at all.