About once a week a new patient or even an established patient will come in and ask what the scary tools on the website are called?! Well these not so scary tools are called Graston Instruments and they are revolutionizing the way Chiropractors and Physical therapists are treating soft tissue and connective tissue disorders.
So now you're asking yourself what is soft tissue and connective tissue? Soft tissue you are already familiar with; that's your muscles, tendons and ligaments. Connective tissue is what wraps around those structures. Think of your body like an orange: the peel is your skin, the fruit is the muscle and white part that wraps around the fruit is your connective tissue. The "white part" in our bodies is called fascia. Graston technique works to break up adhesion in the muscles and connective tissue so that they function to their fullest potential.
What happens when we have an injury?
In the picture on the left we see a healthy muscle that has never been injured. Notice it looks smooth and see all those parallel lines? Those are healthy muscle fibers laying parallel to one another.
In the second picture, we see an injured muscle with tears and non parallel running fibers.
In the third picture, we see a healed muscle but with tons of white fibrous deposits and where did our parallel lines go? These deposits are natural after injury and are called fibrotic tissue or adhesions. Although they are the result of healing they take away from stretchy range of motion that our muscles and fascia should have and can cause chronic pain.
Some injuries are easy to pin point how we got to this phase, we fell off our bike, on our morning jog, or we fell on the ice. Other injuries build up over time by doing the same motion over and over again, these types of injuries are called micro-traumas. Micro-traumas are an accumulation of a bunch of little episodes of wear and tear that eventually build up.
So, how does this Graston Treatment work?
A trained clinician use the stainless steel instruments to comb over and "catch" on fibrotic tissue, which immediately identifies the areas of restriction. Once the tissue has been identified, the instruments are then used to address and treat the abnormal tissue. When GT is combined with appropriate therapeutic exercises and activities, pain free function is often restored.
In the process of treatment an oil mixture of essential oils, coconut and mineral oil is spread over the skin to give the instrument some glide. The clinician then uses light pressure to rub the tool on the skin in multiple directions over the treatment area. Most people find the treatment comfortable, few do have minor discomfort. At anytime during the treatment you can inform your clinician of any discomfort. Many patients become red over the treatment area and do get a type of bruising called petechiae as pictured above. These bruises are typically pain free and go away in a few days.
Depending upon the nature of the injury or maintenance program, patients usually receive 1-2 treatments per week during the span of 4-5 weeks. Most patients have a positive response by the 3rd or 4th treatment. The average number of GT sessions per episode of care averages between 6-12 for more chronic conditions.
Conditions that can be Treated with Graston:
- Achilles Tendinitis/osis (ankle pain)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (wrist pain)
- Cervicothoracic Sprain/Strain (neck pain)
- Lateral Epicondylitis/osis (tennis elbow)
- Lumbosacral Sprain/Strain (back pain)
- Medial Epicondylitis/osis (golfer's elbow)
- Myofascial Pain Syndromes
- Patellofemoral Disorders (knee pain)
- Plantar Fasciitis/osis (foot pain)
- Post surgeries such as joint replacements, RTC repairs (once post-surgical protocol allows for soft tissue mobilization/manual therapy)
- Rotator Cuff Tendinitis/osis (shoulder pain)
- Scar Tissue/post-surgical scars (once completely closed)
- Patients demonstrating central and/or peripheral sensitization (only used in light stroking/brushing mode to desensitize)
- Shin Splints
- Trigger Finger
- Piriformis Syndrome
Graston Technique® can be used to treat any movement system dysfunction that has been determined to have a soft tissue component.
Dr. Frankie is a certified Graston's chiropractor.