Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a technique that enables clinicians to effectively detect and treat scar tissue and restrictions that affect normal function.

Scar tissue limits range of motion, and in many instances causes pain, which prevents the patient from functioning as he or she did before the injury. Scar tissue is also laid down in a very haphazard fashion versus normal tissue that is running with a specific orientation to the fibers. This haphazard arrangement is what decreases functional movement in an area and does not allow for normal range of motion.

The stainless steel instruments are used to enhance the clinician’s ability to detect adhesions, scar tissue, or restrictions in the affected areas. Skilled clinicians use the stainless steel instruments to scan for fibrotic tissue, which immediately identifies the areas of restriction. This manifests as vibration through the tool, which provides feedback to both the practitioner and the patient. Once the tissue has been identified, the instruments are used to break up the scar tissue so that the body can absorb it.

It is common to experience minor discomfort during the procedure and some bruising afterwards. This is a normal response and part of the healing process. Patients usually receive two treatments per week over 4-5 weeks. Most patients begin to experience a positive response by the 3rd to 4th treatment

IASTM works by:

  • Separates and breaks down collagen cross-links, and splays and stretches connective tissue and muscle fibers
  • Increases skin temperature
  • Facilitates reflex changes in the chronic muscle holding pattern
  • Alters spinal reflex activity (facilitated segment)
  • Increases the rate and amount of blood flow to and from the area
  • Increases cellular activity in the region, including fibroblasts and mast cells
  • Increases histamine response secondary to mast cell activity