The Graston Technique and ASTYM - Alternative Treatment of Injuries

author : AMSSM
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Sam Schimelpfenig, MD

Member AMSSM

   

Imagine you have just suffered from an acute injury that threatens to derail your carefully planned training schedule. Or you are battling an old injury that does not seem to be responding well to the usual treatment strategies. Tests have been performed to rule out a surgical fix, so what else is there?


For many years, people tried form of deep tissue massage to treat their injuries. The Graston Technique was conceived by an athlete who was frustrated with his rehabilitation progress following surgery and conventional therapy for a knee injury and developed a set of tools to help with the massage process. Today, there are a variety of providers, including athletic trainers, chiropractors and therapists, who use the Graston Technique to treat athletes of all abilities, including the collegiate and professional levels.


The Graston Technique is designed to break up adhesions that are formed between scar tissue and other tissues in the body, especially the fascia which surrounds muscles and tendons. These adhesions are commonly the result of an injury, either acute or chronic, but can also be seen following surgical procedures. As the provider rubs the area with specially designed stainless steel instruments, these adhesions can be felt and gradually released to provide relief for the patient’s complaints and restore normal physiologic function.


ASTYM (pronounced A-stym), another non-invasive form of tissue manipulation, has been developed by a team of physical therapists and physicians utilizing scientific methodology and has a different approach than the Graston Technique to stimulate healing. Instead of breaking up scar tissue, ASTYM is designed to promote the bodies natural regenerative processes to resorb and remodel it. Because ASTYM is not attempting to cause an immediate mechanical change in the injured and healthy tissue, it tends to be a less painful form of therapy. There is a growing body of research that supports the effectiveness of this form of therapy for conditions such as patellar tendonitis. A period of stretching and strengthening is recommended by the provider following the initial sessions to help restore normal strength and function.


Although there are fundamental differences in each form of treatment, the goals of both are to reduce the need for splints, braces, and anti-inflammatory medications as well as allow the patient to continue to engage in their activity of choice while undergoing treatment. This is different from traditional therapy, which often requires a period of avoidance of certain activities while undergoing treatment.


There is some anecdotal support for the Graston Technique in the chiropractic literature, but scientific research on the effectiveness of this form of treatment is sparse. Scientific support of ASTYM treatment for injuries exists in many peer-reviewed journals and research continues to expand its applications. Whether either technique is superior to traditional therapy has not been conclusively studied, but they both represent a different approach to the treatment of injuries.
    

For more information and a list of providers in your area, see the following websites: www.grastontechnique.com and www.astym.com.

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date: April 19, 2009

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AMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

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avatarAMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

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