When soft-tissue injuries like sprains, strains, and bruises happen, know the acronym IASTM – it may be your best option for improving physical function, reducing pain, and regaining range of motion. Chiropractors can use IASTT – instrument-assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization – to help patients move the way they want to move or recover from injuries more completely.
When there is an injury to soft tissues, scar tissue and adhesions can result. These can reduce the mobility of the surrounding structures, which can lead to spinal or other musculoskeletal dysfunctions.
That’s why it’s always good to have your chiropractor examine any soft-tissue injuries. These injuries typically happen in sports due to quick accelerations or sudden stops. However, injuries to muscles, tendons, or ligaments sometimes occur during everyday activities like stepping awkwardly off a curb. Soft-tissue injuries can result from overuse, too.
Healing from soft-tissue injuries can be frustrating because full recovery can sometimes take longer than broken bones. How quickly healing happens often depends on someone’s age, overall health, occupation, and injury severity.
Why is IASTM Useful?
Your chiropractor might use IASTM as a type of myofascial release technique to mobilize scar tissue and soft tissue adhesions. IASTM is applied to the fascia, the connective tissues that hold the body together. The fascia allows muscles to move freely without any friction.
Healthy fascia is flexible and glides, slides, and bends without causing pain. When fascia becomes unhealthy, it does not glide as it should and begins to form adhesions. Scar tissue and adhesions can develop from surgeries, injuries, or overused muscles.
To remedy this, a chiropractor may apply instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization to break down these adhesions and correct fascia restrictions.
How IASTM works
Chiropractors apply IASTM with a medical-grade stainless steel device with specially shaped edges. Chiropractors use the device to help detect and treat any dysfunctions found in the soft tissue and fascia.
The device is rubbed over the area to detect areas of injured tissue. An area that is injured will feel like grains of sand or produce a grinding feeling. The IASTM tool will continue to be rubbed back and forth over the affected soft tissue, resulting in a small micro-trauma to the area. The small micro trauma results in inflammation and the inflammation will increase blood flow to the site.
Essentially, the treatment is causing a minor injury to the affected area to activate nerve fibers, remodel the fascia, facilitate healing to the injured soft tissue, and alleviate pain.
Remember This About Chiropractic Care
Many other things can happen to the body after an injury. Muscles start to overcompensate or undercompensate, and range of motion may be restricted due to the brain sending signals to help protect the damaged area.
Of course, it’s essential to treat the injury specifically, but it’s also necessary to make sure the joints and tissues surrounding the injury are able to move correctly after the injury heals.
One way to do this is by seeing a chiropractor to evaluate the joints in your spine as well as any joints surrounding the painful area. A comprehensive physical assessment and review of your medical history are the first steps in chiropractic care.
If a joint is restricted and not moving the way it should, your chiropractor may recommend manual therapy to that joint, helping restore motion to that area.
Often, a combination of manual therapy, rehabilitation, IASTM, or other treatments can help restore optimal health.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), founded in 1922, is a private, nonprofit, chiropractic and health science-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. The CUKC on-campus Chiropractic Health Center is open to the public and treats patients from Kansas City’s 15-county metro area. Our goal is to provide care and solutions for a better, more productive life for our patients.