Article written by: Jim Storhok DPT, ATC
Tendinous injuries and irritations are a fairly common problem among active individuals. They can occur secondary to repetitive activities or through overuse. Common chronic or resistant tendinopathies include epicondylitis (tennis elbow), plantar fasciitis (arch pain), rotator cuff/biceps tendinopathy, Achilles and patellar tendinopathy, and trigger finger.
A therapy that is used in physical therapy is called “Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM). The goal of this therapy is to “stimulate a healing response to allow collagen remodeling”. A variety of specially shaped metal tools are used to glide over irritated tissue in order to stimulate natural healing and loosen soft tissue adhesions. It should not be painful, although there may be some mild bruising or minor discomfort involved. The patient is instructed to drink plenty of water after treatment. They are also recommended to exercise and stretch after treatment to help with collagen remodeling and prevent adhesions from reforming. By loosening soft tissue adhesions and stimulating collagen remodeling, joint range of motion increases, pain decreases, and overall joint function improves.
We avoid using this technique in physical therapy with any patient that has an infection at the treatment site, has an open wound or diabetic ulcer, has compromised skin integrity, over an abdomen of a pregnant woman, or over a pacemaker.
Precaution is used when treating patients with hemophilia or who easily bruise, those with fibromyalgia, decreased sensation secondary to diabetes, directly over surgical hardware, with people with vascular concerns, those with RSD, lymphodema and those on antiinflammatories, corticosteroids or Coumadin/heparin.
If you have any questions as to whether you could benefit from IASTM, or any questions regarding joint or tendon pain, please contact Physical Therapy Specialists, PC at 248-362-2150.