Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a frequent technique in physical therapy which includes the use of a specialized tool to focus on the soft tissues, myofascia, muscles, and tendons by various direct, compressive stroke techniques.
IASTM effectively breaks down fascial restrictions and scar tissue. Firstly, the ergonomic design of this instrument provides the physical therapist with the ability to locate restrictions and allows you to treat the affected areas with the appropriate amount of pressure.
The introduction of controlled microtrauma to the affected soft tissue structure causes the stimulation of local inflammatory response. Furthermore, microtrauma initiates reabsorption of inappropriate fibrosis or excessive scar tissue then smoothes the flow of healing resulting in remodeling of the affected soft tissue structures. Finally, adhesions within the soft tissue which may have developed as a result of a surgery, immobilization and repeated strain or other mechanisms are broken down with the tissues restored and fully functional.
Studies have addressed the benefits of IASTM at the cellular level. The inflammatory response initiated through microtrauma to the affected tissues results in increased fibroblast proliferation, collagen synthesis, maturation and the remodelling of unorganized collagen fiber matrix following IASTM application, which results in a breakdown of scar tissues, adhesions and facial restrictions.
IASTM has a neurophysiological effect as it stimulates mechanosensitive neurons through skin deformation by the instrument. Mechanosensitive neurons include mechanoreceptors which are responsible for two-point discrimination and mechano-nociceptors which are responsible for pain perception.
IASTM affects the vascular response to the injured soft tissue, by increasing the blood flow. Studies have shown clinical benefits of IASTM pointing out improvements in range of motion, strength and tension relieve in the tissues (perception of temporary pain post treatment might occur):
- Medial Epicondylitis, Lateral Epicondylitis
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Neck Pain
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
- Patellar Tendinitis
- Tibialis Posterior Tendonitis
- Heel Pain /Achilles Tendinitis
- DeQuervain’s Syndrome
- Post-Surgical and Traumatic Scars
- Myofascial Pain and Restrictions
- Musculoskeletal Imbalances
- Chronic Joint Swelling Associated with Sprains/Strains
- Ligament Sprains
- Muscle Strains
- Non-Acute Bursitis
- RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)
- Back Pain
- Trigger Finger
- Hip Pain (Replacements)
- IT Band Syndrome
- Shin Splints
- Open wound (unhealed suture site)
- Unhealed fracture
- Uncontrolled hypertension
- Patient intolerance/hypersensitivity
- Myositis ossificans