Graston Technique helps chronic pains

March 18, 2008 6:03:02 AM PDT
Chronic pain is one of the medical industry's largest problems. What this technique does is erase the pain without medication or surgery.

It involves the use of stainless steel tools to loosen up soft tissue tightness that can cause severe pain all over the body.

Sharon Klazmer couldn't even step out of bed in the morning.

"I woke up one morning and could not put my foot down," she said.

She had plantar fasciitis -- painful swelling of the tissue under the heel. Sharon got no relief from anti-inflammatory injections.

"It just came right back again," said Sharon.

However, she did get relief with the Graston Technique.

Jamie Howard of Dresher Physical Therapy is one of the few in this area certified in the treatment.

She became a believer after nothing helped a nagging muscle injury.

"It was the only thing that would work out the tightness in my leg," said Jamie.

When muscles, tendons, or ligaments are injured, they can heal haphazardly, with random scar tissue forming. The area can be tight, and painful.

The Graston technique breaks up those fibers and smooths the tissue underneath.

Even though the stainless steel tools look more like torture devices, Jamie says they are essential in finding and loosening scar tissue.

"You can feel things you just can't with your hands," she said.

There are different tools for different body parts. There is one for the back or neck. There is one for carpal tunnel syndrome and "trigger finger" - tendonitis of the thumb.

The Graston technique has become a staple for pro sports trainers. The Flyers, Sixers and Eagles use it extensively. It was a vital part of Donovan McNabb's recovery from knee surgery this season.

Dr. Richard Goldberg, a rehabilitation specialist at Abington Memorial Hospital, has seen good results with his patients, getting them moving freely.

"I don't think there's much of a downside to the Graston Technique at all," said Dr. Goldberg.

Pamela Baker has been an athlete all her life, but after her twins were born, she developed tendonitis in both elbows.

"I would carry them like this in their car seats, which put a lot of strain on both sides of my elbows," said Baker.

It was so bad that she had surgery on her left elbow, and then discovered the Graston technique. She tried it for her right elbow.

"I'm back to playing tennis. I'm back to playing golf as much as I want," she said.

Patients usually receive two treatments per week.

On average, improvement is noticed after the 3rd or 4th treatment, but therapists recommend 8-12 treatments for the very best results.

The cost is a little more expensive than a regular physical therapy session, but the Graston sessions are much shorter; each lasting only about 5-to-8 minutes.