Scar Tissue Pain: How the Graston Technique Works

The Graston Technique is a type of manual therapy that utilizes specialized instruments to gently scrape or massage the skin. The therapy is practiced by physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, licensed massage therapists, occupational therapists, and athletic trainers to break up painful scar tissue and restore mobility to soft tissues. While there are no peer-revised clinical studies regarding the Graston Technique’s effectiveness, research suggests that the therapy can improve success rates for patients with acute and chronic pain caused by soft-tissue injuries.

When Graston Technique is Applied

When injury to soft tissues occurs, the affected area can repair itself in an irregular fashion, which creates scar tissue. While the scar tissue itself might not cause pain, it can reduce range of motion, leading to stiffness that results in chronic pain. The Graston Technique is effective in treating chronic and acute conditions such as:

• Lower back strain or sprain
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Plantar fasciitis
• Shin splints
• Cervical strain or sprain
• Tennis elbow
• Achilles tendinosis

Although, not all patients with scar tissue pain are candidates for this type of therapy, the Graston Technique can be very effective in reducing scar tissue pain and restoring function to the injured area.

How the Graston Technique Works
The Graston Technique uses specialized handheld instruments to help break up scar tissue and locate areas of restriction. There are six basic tools used to administer the Graston Technique. These unique tools are made from stainless steel and have rounded, blunt edges. The tools are convex- and concave-shaped to assist the practitioner in scanning the body and identifying areas affected by injured soft tissue.

Using a special massage technique that involves rubbing or brushing the tool against the grain of scar tissue, the practitioner inflicts small amounts of trauma to the injured area. This process results in temporary inflammation, which in turn improves blood circulation around the affected area. This process is believed to assist the body in healing injured soft tissues.

The Graston Technique helps in breaking down scar tissue and restoring function to strained muscles, pulled ligaments, and injured tendons or fascia. By stretching and rearranging the connective tissue of the soft tissue being treated, practitioners of the therapy create an optimal healing environment for the injured tissue.

Benefits of the Graston Technique
Much of the body is made up of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Injuries to these tissues can result in pain and dysfunction. The Graston Technique helps reduce scar tissue pain and improve mobility by:

• Treating acute conditions previously thought to be chronic
• Reducing the need for anti-inflammatory medication
• Encouraging faster recovery/rehabilitation
• Decreasing overall therapy time

The Graston Technique may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

Neurological Benefits of the Graston Technique
Research suggests that the Graston Technique has neurological benefits. It’s believed that when when a patient is treated with manual or instrument-assisted soft-tissue mobilization (IASTM) therapy, certain nerve fibers are stimulated. In addition, the body’s sense organs, such as proprioceptors and mechanoceptors, appear to respond well to this form of physical therapy.
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