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ASTYM System - Has Anyone Had This Type of Treatment?

By angmares June 29, 2009 - 8:12pm
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I just had my first ASTYM treatment and it was pretty intense and painful, has anyone else had this type of treatment? If so, did it work for you?

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EmpowHER Guest

As part of my physical therapy regimen after a tibial plateau fracture, I had ASTYM on my knee, lower leg, and foot. The pain was intense and caused bruises all over my calf. I had to beg the therapist to be more gentle and avoid the bruised areas (which she didn't).

Did it help? I don't see any evidence of that. I've been exercising and stretching to the best of my ability in the 4 months since my accident and have regained 100% of flexibility and most of my strength. Perhaps there was scarring that the ASTYM broke up; I don't know. I have a long scar where a metal plate was inserted and the ASTYM did not improve a section where the scar adhered to tissue below.

October 22, 2015 - 12:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

Yes, I tried the aquatic stretching version of this thinking everything is less stressful in the water ~Wrong! Not only was it extremely painful, I was very sore the nexk day with shoulder and upper back pain. This, I'm assuming was from stress during the hour of pain. Afterwards, I felt my whole body was experiencing shock and my nervous system was affected. I decided to check into this miracle cure further. I was told if you don't feel relief and calm afterwards, it isn't for you. It definitely isn't for me, but that's just my system. The full body workout was just too much. Perhaps one area would not be so traumatic. I have been advised to find a good yoga therapist, which I plan to do. Good luck.

April 18, 2015 - 6:22am
EmpowHER Guest

Much of the pain from Astym depends upon how much fibrous scarring you have around your bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments; scar tissue which developed during the initial inflammation phase of your original healing. When your limb is immobilized during healing (like after a bone break or surgery), the body lays-down that scar tissue somewhat randomly in order to protect itself, resulting in less than optimal healing. Whereas, if your limb is mobile during healing (like with a deep bruise or a stress fracture), the scar tissue is laid down more directionally and purposefully with regard to function, resulting in much more optimal healing. So the point of Astym is to break-up that random scar tissue and re-stimulate the inflammation process. Essentially, Astym re-injures the soft tissue (hence, the pain) so you can start healing again; this time WITH motion and function in the limb.

The first treatment is by far the most painful, and the pain usually reduces with each visit. It's VERY important to drink LOTS of water and keep doing ALL of your stretching and strengthening exercises so your circulation can move the broken-up fibrous tissue out of the area. Standard treatment varies from 2 to 3 times a week over a 6 to 9 week period. Toward the end, joint mobilizations, stretching, and strengthening will become more painful than the Astym as you try to get back those last few millimeters of range in your joints. Many healthy, uninjured athletes (runners, MMA fighters, football players, etc) like to receive Astym as a regular part of training or after a high-intensity competition/event.

In full disclosure, some therapists believe that joint mobilization, exercises, and water, alone (without Astym), will yield similar healing results, over about the same of time, without the intense pain.

Personally, I had two big, ugly knuckles for 8 months after breaking a finger - scar tissue clung to the ligaments and cartilage. I couldn't fully flex or extend that finger, and I also couldn't spread my fingers as wide as I used to, due to the build-up of all that scar tissue. Along with being painful, the knobby knuckles also created a lot of weakness because they changed the normal line of pull for the tendons. I had Astym applied twice a week for 9 weeks and experienced a complete, full recovery, both functionally and aesthetically. I won't lie, though, the very first treatment was some of the most intense pain I've ever felt! But as long as you know what Astym is doing and why (and also knowing it will be over in just a few minutes!), it makes the pain much more tolerable.

I recommend it.

March 31, 2015 - 3:06am
EmpowHER Guest

I have received several (about 30) ASTYM treatments for recurring Carpal Tunnel symptoms. First round 2 years ago, now another round. The beginning of the first round was very uncomfortable and felt like my arms were bruised/sore. If it feels like your skin is peeling off, it sounds like they may not have used enough lubrication (cocoa butter is what my PT uses). That treatment, combined with stretching, eliminated my symptoms for a couple years. If I had been doing my stretches faithfully and wearing my braces at night, my symptoms might not have recurred. But it's easy to forget those things with a newborn baby!

February 5, 2015 - 2:58pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'm going to my first treatment tomorrow. Mortons neuroma kept me from walking for 2-1/2 hrs. had surgery but scarring and whatever pain is back. Able to walk. It toes cramped. Can only do partime work. 4 hrs a day the. Feet swollen and hurt. Also have hip bursitis that won't get better. Been a gymnast all my life. Very active. Now arthritis rheumatoid and osteo. Told cause I was active. How does being healthy and working out make you sick. Gonna try it. It took research for me to find the cause of foot pain. Took over 2 hrs for Drs to know or believe me. Any thoughts

November 18, 2014 - 10:03pm
EmpowHER Guest

I received this treatment back in 2007 or so for tennis elbow, from painting. It was mildly painful and left some bruising, but did the trick. I would recommend it.

September 15, 2014 - 10:01am
EmpowHER Guest

I am an ASTYM certified Physical Therapist with 29 years of experience in physical therapy. I would like to respond to the commenters/patients who stated that the ASTYM treatment was very painful. The instruments used during the treatment are designed to stimulate tissue regeneration. As the instruments are used, the therapist can "feel" when they contact the dysfunctional and abnormal tissue with the appropriate amount of force to achieve the required result. However, if this amount of pressue is not tolerable, please let your ASTYM provider know so that they can adjust the treatment force. It may be that your therapist can lesson the pressure and still achieve enough contact with the dysfunctional tissue. If not, he or she can adjust your treament, using gentler treatment measures, until ASTYM is better tolerated. And again, although ASTYM treament is highly effective in treating a variety of chronic musculoskeletal disorders which have been recalcitrant to other interventions, no treatment is 100%, and for any treatment to be effective requires good communication by both parties. In general, ASTYM may be uncomfortable at times, since dysfunctional tissue is not normal. But overall, there should not be any significant, intolerable, or lasting/worsening pain beyond the second or third session-- even in the most chronic cases. Also, following any ASTYM session it is VERY important to drink plenty of water, perform your home stretches regularly and use heat or ice as advised by your treating therapist.
Warner Brock, PT, MBA, CMDT, CEAS
Owner, Lanier Therapy in Motion

February 24, 2014 - 12:18am
EmpowHER Guest

Has anyone had this done for a Sciatica problem? Two years ago, my mother had lower back surgery which she now has two cages. It was supposed to help relieve all of her back pain, unfortunately it did not alleviate the sciatica pain. A friend told her about this and I am doing research for her.

March 13, 2013 - 2:45pm
EmpowHER Guest

If it hurts, that means it's working out the scar tissue that is bundled around your nerves, but it should become less painful the second and third times etc.
The sides of my legs felt like pins and needles at first treatment, but the second time was much nicer, and eventually started to feel like a massage.

February 12, 2013 - 7:35am
EmpowHER Guest

I've had a number of different structural treatments - Rolfing, ART, ASTYM - for various connective tissue related issues. All were milding to very uncomfortable, sometimes being to the limit of what I could tolerate for the session. With the benefit of several years of history for self evaluation, I'm confident that my plantar, Achilles, and IT band issues would have NEVER improved without this type of treatment. The regime has pretty good staying power as well, but you do have to stay engaged, and do the work on your own also!! A foam roll, and a good stretching routine have allowed me to get the most out of the time/money/pain investment. We are going for another round on the most stubborn issue, a 20 year old chronic Achilles problem, and right now it 'seems' like even that is starting to improve, when NOTHING else has worked. I can also offer that my IT bands were some of the worst most of my PT's had ever seen, and I'm now within normal range of motion, something my PT and I both thought was a long shot when we started. It took a couple of rounds of treatment, and some diligent work in between, but having my chronic and severe bilateral patella pain subside has been well worth it. 55 year old Male endurance athlete.

December 19, 2012 - 9:29am
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