If you’re one of the many people who suffers from joint or muscle stiffness, tendinopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, or tennis elbow, then you know how annoying and downright painful those conditions can be. While some treatments for these conditions can be successful, a good number of people who experience them simply resolve themselves to the idea that they’re just going to experience pain every now and then, and give up on seeking help. However, a relatively new physical therapy treatment has shown improvements in all of these conditions, simply by forcing a patient’s body to heal itself.
Astym therapy, as it’s called, uses non-invasive stimulation of the body’s own regenerative properties, as well as a specially selected exercises and stretches. “I’ve been pretty impressed with it,” said physical therapist Justin Robbins from Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation at Springbrook. “We really started hearing a lot about Astym therapy a couple of years ago. At the end of 2014, Blount Memorial had three staff members get certified in it because we have so many doctors who are specifically ordering it for their patients,” he said. “With Astym, you treat the entire kinetic chain. That means if you have an injury in your heel, for instance, and you’re having pain, we actually treat the entire leg all the way up to the hip. The philosophy is that, if your heel hurts, you’re going to walk differently on it, which is going to affect your other muscles. We start at the big toe, work our way up to the foot, across the ankle, up the calf, across the knee and up to the hamstring. We glide special instruments across those muscles parallel to the muscle fibers to stimulate those healing processes,” he explained.
Robbins says the results speak for themselves. “So far, I’ve had really good results. I do a lot of lower-body work, treating conditions such as plantar fasciitis and posterior tibial tendonitis, and we’ve seen lots of positive results from Astym with those. I have seen between 35 and 40 patients, and nearly all of them have had dramatic results from Astym therapy. With a condition such as tendonitis, if your body doesn’t fully heal that tendon when it is damaged, it gradually becomes a degenerative tendon, which means part of the tendon actually is dying away. This leads to tendinopathy,” he said. “So, while it can absolutely be effective on new injuries, it also can help with long-term injuries. Part of why Astym therapy has picked up so much steam is due to the fact that it helps treat cases that other treatments don’t. People who have said at some point ‘Well, this is something I’m just going to have to deal with’ are the ones seeing pretty big results from it,” he explained.
“Sometimes when we get an injury, our bodies will stop concentrating on that area, which means it doesn’t fully heal. It just sits there and lags,” Robbins said. “This is how we develop chronic issues. Astym therapy can help stimulate the natural healing response so your body will begin concentrating on that area again. Another important element of Astym is continuing activity. In the past, a lot of treatments required a splint and lots of rest, but with this, it’s the exact opposite. You want to stimulate that system, so you’re doing the Astym procedure, but you’re also exercising and stretching,” he said.
Robbins says Astym treatments typically take place twice per week for anywhere between seven and 12 visits. For more information about Astym, call Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation at Springbrook at 865-980-7140.