Manual Therapy for Back Pain: The Benefits of the ASTYM Technique from Your Physical Therapist

Jan10th 2023

If you suffer from back pain due to a soft tissue injury or issue, your physical therapist may use the ASTYM technique for treatment. The ASTYM technique is an instrument-assisted soft tissue manual therapy designed for back pain. The tools employed by the ASTYM technique are a specialized form of massage that helps your PT determine areas of restriction and break up scar tissue. Let’s take a closer look at this technique and how it can help you treat your back pain.

Why do Physical Therapists use the ASTYM Technique?

The ASTYM technique can be ideal for breaking down fascia restrictions and scar tissue, often resulting from soft tissue trauma. A pulled ligament, strained muscle, or pulled tendon can cause this condition. The ASTYM technique stretches the connective tissue by stretching and rearranging the soft tissue in the problem areas of the back.

How Does the ASTYM Technique Work to Treat Back Pain?

This manual therapy technique combines certain tools and massage strategies to identify and treat these fascia restrictions and scar tissue. They are designed to discover areas of injured fibrotic tissue.

Rubbing these tools against the grain of the scar tissue through cross-fiction massage provides a small amount of new trauma to the affected areas. This new trauma will cause temporary inflammation, increasing blood flow to and around the treated areas. This additional blood flow enhances the healing process in the soft tissue.

What Can You Expect Before, During, and After an ASTYM Technique Treatment?

Before beginning an ASTYM technique treatment, it is recommended that you do at least five minutes of cardio on an elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike to get your blood flowing. Heat treatment or ultrasound may also be applied to warm up the areas of soft tissue being treated.

The treatment begins with your PT using the ASTYM instruments to scan and treat the targeted areas of the back. The stainless steel tools will be used to rub the affected areas with specific manual therapy and massage techniques. Each area is typically treated in 30 to 60-second intervals.  Discomfort can be common during these sessions.

After your treatment, you’ll likely be sore or even bruised on and around the treated area. You may also notice petechiae, or small red dots, in the same places. Applying ice for 20 minutes can alleviate much of this discomfort. Your physical therapist may also recommend a regimen of stretching and exercise to augment the ASTYM treatments.

If you are experiencing back pain, the expert staff at Evolve Physical Therapy in Baton Rouge can help. A full treatment and rehabilitation plan can be implemented to get you back in action from the ASTYM technique to other types of manual therapy.