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Benefits of ASTYM

Astym® treatment is a therapy that regenerates healthy soft tissues and eliminates or reduces unwanted scar tissue that may be causing pain or movement restrictions. Astym® treatment is highly effective and even works when other approaches routinely fail. When your health and ability to stay active is at stake, only the best will do.

In this segment, Carin Johns, Physical Therapist at Stoughton Hospital and certified provider of ASTYM, joins the show to discuss the benefits of ASTYM and how it can help you return sooner to the activities that you enjoy
Benefits of ASTYM
Featured Speaker:
Carin Johns
Carin Johns is a Stoughton Hospital Physical Therapist.

Melanie Cole (Host): Astym treatment is a therapy that regenerates healthy soft tissues and eliminates or reduces unwanted scar tissue that may be causing pain or movement restrictions. Astym treatment can be highly effective and can even work when other approaches routinely fail. My guest today is Carin Johns. She’s a physical therapist at Stoughton Hospital and a Certified Provider of Astym. Welcome to the show, Carin. What is the Astym treatment?

Carin Johns (Guest): Astym treatment is the only regenerative medicine – it means it jump starts the healing process. You’re treating the true, underlying cause of dysfunction, not just symptoms, which gives you a better, longer-lasting result. Astym, in a nutshell, it cleans out excessive or disorganized tissue. It produces a new, high-quality collagen, and then you're aligning the fibers to get high-quality results. You’re restoring a patient’s movement and reducing pain in the process.

Melanie: Is this an invasive procedure? Tell us a little bit about it.

Carin: It’s not invasive. It uses the body’s own regenerative mechanism, so it’s using our fibroblasts and our healing mechanism in our body. It’s using tools – there’s three basic tools that you use, and you glide along the patient’s skin, and you’re feeling for tissue dysfunction or bumpiness or tightness that you’re going over and you’re treating that over several sessions.

Melanie: Is it similar to nerve gliding or active release?

Carin: No, nerve gliding is something you can do following Astym, and you get better results on because now you’ve loosened up the tissue around the nerves. What you’re really doing is you’re getting the body’s mechanism to kick in. Sometimes after you have surgery or some type of injury, you will get a lot of bleeding and a lot of swelling, and that will just sit in areas, and it gets really thick and fibrotic. That fibrotic tissue is just an overproduction of collagen that just got laid down. And then sometimes we will put a cast or something to immobilize that area – or even crutches – and we’re not moving a limb, and it doesn’t lay down nicely. What Astym is doing is it’s breaking up that dysfunctional tissue through these tools, and then your body the next couple of days is laying down new tissue.

Melanie: So, in a sense, it’s working on the scar tissue to make that muscle able to regenerate and work on its own with the injury.

Carin: Yes. With that fibrotic tissue still in there it’s limiting motion, it’s limiting function, it’s usually causing pain because it’s clinging on structures where it’s not supposed to be. That’s why sometimes with conventional treatments, you don’t get down that deep to break up that fibrotic tissue, so you don’t get a great change.

Melanie: What conditions are you treating, Carin, with Astym?

Carin: With Astym, it treats a lot across the board, but definitely anything scar tissue related including things such as a knee replacement where you have that big incision, you have a lot of scar tissue being laid down, but there’s a lot of swelling after a knee replacement. It’s not necessarily that the surgery didn’t go well -- the surgery from a surgery standpoint probably went great, but you can’t see originally how the patient is going to heal and lay down that scar tissue. That can be a big effect.

The other thing it treats is long-standing musculoskeletal issues, such as tendinitis, where you can have it in the Achilles, the shoulder, the patella, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, even low back pain that’s not radicular – which means you have the nerve pain going down the leg. It does very well with that because you have a lot of -- everything is tied together through this fascia and muscular system in the body. If you can loosen up something that’s tight in the leg, it can directly affect how things are moving up in the low back.

Melanie: Carin, how long would this procedure take? How long, when you’re doing this type of therapy, does the patient sit there for this?

Carin: During the session, you’re in for about 30 to 45 minutes max. The actual procedure would probably take about 20 to 25 minutes. The rest we would do other therapeutic things, doing soft tissue work, joint mobilization, or putting you through exercises.

Melanie: And how long does it take to work? When would someone start to notice the results?

Carin: As soon as you’re done doing the Astym treatment, and you notice results immediately, and that’s a neural effect because you’re stimulating those neural structures all the way along the limb. You notice that right away. The next two or three days, that’s when your body is going to lay down this new tissue, so it’s very important to follow the exercise routine that your therapist provides you so you can keep the length – because you want to lay down that collagen in a nice, elongated fashion, the way it was before it was injured. You have to go through daily movements and function for certain sporting activities that you do to encourage it to lay down properly. That’s very important.

Melanie: And is there pain associated with this type of session – this type of therapy?

Carin: There is some pain because you’re gliding along and hitting those fibrotic bumps along the way. The first treatment or two you definitely notice it because you’re hitting and breaking up those fibrotic adhesions, but as you go things start to smooth out nicely with the next successive treatment. What you do feel isn’t necessarily long-lasting. It’s during the treatment session. Maybe 20% of people will get some mild bruising, but that’s just your body demonstrating that it has a lot to break down before it can start the healing process again. That’s not very common.

Melanie: And as you’re aware of things like bruising or whatever, you want the patients to let you know so you can know if there’s a more sensitive area for them to make it a little bit more comfortable?

Carin: Oh, absolutely. And you go by the patient’s tolerance, too. You go by how their comfort level is with doing a treatment session. We have a lot of say in that [LAUGHS].

Melanie: And how many visits would they have to go through for this to really take hold?

Carin: The average is about eight to ten treatment sessions. You do about twice a week for about eight to ten treatment session and then you should be noticing the patient is much more mobile with their range of motion, strength is improving. And then you’re pretty much discharging them to a home exercise program where they will keep doing the correct posture-related stretching and strengthening exercises that we provide them.

Melanie: What an interesting type of procedure that you’re doing there at Stoughton Hospital, Carin. Wrap it up for us, with your best advice about the types of injuries that you can see and use Astym for and what results people might expect?

Carin: So far, for me, using it personally – I have treated a lot of patients with shoulder tendinopathies, epicondylitis where you get irritated in the wrist. Sometimes that can be from posture at the computer. Carpal tunnel syndrome, I’ve even treated that somewhat where it’s just the whole arm, all the way up to the neck issue and people just come in and they have the whole thumb to the elbow, up into the shoulder. It treats it very nicely because you’re covering that whole area up and down.

The same thing for the lower extremity – hamstring strains, groin strains, low back pain, are probably a lot of the big ones that I’ve treated lately. And of course, plantar fasciitis is something that can be very longstanding and very difficult to treat, but when you can get in there and really break up that fibrotic tissue it can be – it can move things along much faster. I’ve had really good results with it. There’s very good clinical research on it as well because it’s been around for almost 20 years, so there’s gobs of research studies on it as far as improving people’s range of motion, pain, and mobility.

Melanie: Thank you, so much, for being with us today. It’s great information and fascinating to hear for listeners. You’re listening to Stoughton Hospital Health Talk, and for more information, you can go to That’s This is Melanie Cole. Thanks, so much, for listening.