What Is Graston Technique? New Tools For Healing

What Is Graston Technique?

Graston technique is a method of healing that uses acupuncture needles to stimulate specific points on the body to alleviate pain and improve health. The practice was developed in China around 2000 BC, but it’s use spread throughout Asia during the Han Dynasty (206BC – 220AD). By the time of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (221–210BC), many Chinese had adopted this ancient system. However, the modern form of graston technique was not widely used until the 20th century.

The name “graston” comes from the Greek word meaning “to grind.” Graston techniques are based on applying pressure to certain areas of your body with acupuncture needles or other instruments. These methods have been found effective in treating a variety of conditions including arthritis, headaches, chronic coughs and colds, menstrual cramps and even cancer.

In the United States, there are two main types of graston techniques: Traditional and Modern. Traditional graston techniques involve using traditional instruments such as needles, pins and hot stones. These methods were originally developed in China, where they’ve been practiced since at least the 3rd century BC.

They’re still commonly used today in India, Japan and Korea.

Modern Graston Techniques use new technology to treat patients. Instead of using needles or hot stones, modern graston techniques use specially designed instruments (known as graston tools) that help improve blood flow, break down scar tissue and treat trigger points in the body. These can improve the flexibility and effectiveness of a graston treatment.

At the moment there are over 40 different types of graston tools on the market. Most are designed to focus on a particular area of the body such as the back, neck and knees. Some tools are only used by physical therapists, while others can be purchased online.

Physical therapists use graston tools to improve the health of a patient and get them back on their feet as quickly as possible.

Who Can Do Graston Technique?

Graston techniques can be performed by trained acupuncturists and physical therapists. Acupuncturists use traditional graston techniques to stimulate pressure points on the body. Physical therapists use modern graston techniques to improve muscle flexibility and break down scar tissue.

Physical therapists can provide effective graston techniques as part of a rehabilitation program. These techniques have been shown to be helpful for patients who have suffered from strokes, cancer, joint replacements or spinal cord injuries. While physical therapy itself has many proven benefits, some physical therapists use special graston tools during their treatment sessions.

These tools can help break down scar tissue and relieve muscle tension, allowing patients to go home sooner.

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The Best Choice For You

There are several different techniques that can be used to perform a graston technique treatment. Your acupuncturist or physical therapist will choose the best one based on your condition and your needs. If you’re looking to improve your health, find an experienced acupuncturist or physical therapist in your area and book an initial consultation.

During your appointment, they can assess your condition and let you know if graston technique is right for you.

In the past, people would have to travel overseas to experience graston technique methods. Now, with the rise of alternative medicine, more and more people are turning to graston techniques as a way to get relief from their chronic pain. If you suffer from arthritis, migraines or back pain, consider trying graston technique for yourself.

Check out local listings for acupuncturists and physical therapists offering these services in your area.

Graston Technique and Moxibustion

Moxibustion is another treatment option that can be used alongside graston techniques. In this technique, the acupuncturist or physical therapist uses moxa (mugwort) to warm an acupuncture point. This can be done by holding a cigarlike stick of moxa against the skin for several seconds.

This will increase blood flow to the region and help promote healing in the body. Moxibustion can also be done using a heating device or an electrified needle.

At the moment there isn’t enough evidence to show that moxibustion improves the effects of graston technique. The two techniques seem to be used together by physical therapists and acupuncturists to offer a one-two punch in treating patients with chronic pain. While these methods don’t work for everyone, they are widely considered to be safe methods for dealing with pain related conditions.

Is Graston Technique Dangerous?

Graston techniques can be used to treat a range of different conditions, but it’s important to not that they aren’t for everyone. Some people have found that graston techniques aggravated their symptoms or made them feel worse. Certain patients may be allergic to certain metals used in the tips of the graston tools. In addition to that, some people may have severe allergic reactions to the caffeine that is used on the moxa cigars. If you’re considering getting treated with graston techniques, make sure to tell your doctor if you have any allergies or conditions that could be made worse by the treatment.

Seeking Treatment

If you think graston techniques could help alleviate your pain symptoms, talk to your physician about setting up a treatment plan. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a local acupuncturist or physical therapist who offers these treatments. When you meet with the specialist, let them know about the kinds of pain you’re experiencing so they can recommend the best course of treatment.

Graston Technique vs. Acupuncture

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Acupuncture is a popular treatment used to alleviate pain symptoms. It’s been shown to be an effective treatment for conditions such as back pain and osteoarthritis. A lot of patients wonder if acupuncture and graston technique are the same thing.

Acupuncture uses very thin needles that are inserted into acupuncture points in your body. The needles are then stimulated using a variety of techniques such as heat or manual stimulation (also known as needling). In comparison, graston technique uses tools to rub and scratch at the skin. Like moxibustion, this helps increase blood flow in the region and get your body’s natural healing process started.

Both acupuncture and graston technique are considered complementary treatments that can be used to address pain symptoms. While acupuncture is widely embraced by the medical community, some physicians are skeptical about whether or not graston technique works. Your insurance may not cover the treatments if you go to a physical therapist or chiropractor that offers them.

If this is the case, you may have to pay out of pocket to receive these treatment options.

Physical Therapy Alternative

Some patients have reported experiencing pain relief after visiting a physical therapist that implements graston techniques during their sessions. These treatment options can be used to help treat a range of different conditions such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and shin splints. If you’re not able to get your insurance company to cover the cost of these sessions, they can be quite expensive.

In many cases patients report that physical therapy sessions are more affordable than getting a private acupuncture treatment. If you’re looking for a pain management option that is cheaper than getting an acupuncture treatment, talk to your doctor about setting up a referral for physical therapy.

Graston Technique Risks

As with any treatment or medication, graston techniques aren’t right for everyone. Some people have experienced complications such as skin irritation after a graston session. If you experience any unusual symptoms after a treatment, let your specialist know immediately so they can help you manage your symptoms.

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Other risks associated with graston techniques include:

Allergic reaction to the tools used in the technique

Damage to skin if tools are pressed too hard against it

Increased pain, bleeding or other symptoms if tools are introduced to an injured area of the body

As with any new treatment, there are some risks involved. Let your specialist know about all the medications you’re taking as some drugs may increase your risk of complications. For example, anti-clotting medications such as Warfarin (Coumadin) may cause increased bleeding if you receive graston technique.

Before having these procedures, it’s important to ask your doctor whether there are any medications you need to stop taking or start taking beforehand due to the risk of bleeding after the procedure.

Graston Technique Reviews

As graston technique is a relatively new procedure, the published research available on it is limited. Typical costs for a graston technique treatment range from $100 to $200 per session. Acupuncture sessions, which are often recommended after a series of graston technique sessions, cost $100 to $200 per session as well.

Keep in mind that these costs are estimates and may vary by provider location and whether or not you have other treatment options covered by your health plan.

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Graston Technique Risks

As with any medical treatment, there are some risks involved with graston technique. These include adverse reactions to the treatment such as skin irritation if the specialist applies too much pressure when using the tools. Skin irritation can cause pain and discomfort that may make your symptoms worse than they were before the procedure.

To prevent skin irritation, let your specialist know about any areas of your body that are injured so they can avoid these areas during treatment sessions. Other risks of graston technique may include:

Allergic reaction to the tools used in the procedure

Damage to skin if tools are pressed too hard against it

Increased pain, bleeding or other symptoms if tools are introduced to an injured area of the body

Graston Technique Before and After Pictures

These images show some of the improvements a patient made from undergoing a graston technique treatment plan. As you can see, graston technique is effective for treating conditions such as shin splints and Achilles tendonitis.

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Before Graston Technique

After Graston Technique

shin splints (Achilles Tendonitis)

painful, large knots on the shinbone (tibia)

aching pain when exercising

aching pain when at rest

swelling of the shinbone (tibia)

After a series of graston technique sessions, this patient noticed significant improvements in their pain and symptoms. This was marked by a reduction in swelling, knots and pain on the shinbone (tibia). After their last treatment, this patient was able to resume exercise without pain or discomfort.

You’ve Been Through It All and Nothing Has Worked.

What’s Going On?

As a physical therapist, you’ve tried every treatment method out there and NOTHING has worked. Frustrated, you’ve turned to surgery to help your patients heal but surgery isn’t the cure-all that you once thought it was. It doesn’t help that you’ve had to deal with more than one patient who has died from surgery. Your practice is slowly but surely losing money and you’re beginning to get frustrated more and more by the day.

You start to think back to your training. You were taught in school that there are certain “guidelines” that need to be followed when it comes to treating patients…

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Patients with low back pain should avoid placing excess stress on their lower backs (duh!)

Patients with neck pain should avoid neck flexion (bending your neck forward) or rotation (lifting your chin towards the shoulder).

Patients with shoulder pain should avoid overhead activities.

Patients with hip pain should avoid hip flexion (bending your hip forward) or abduction (moving your leg outwards).

Patients with knee pain should avoid knee flexion (bending your knee) or rotation (moving your leg out and around).

Patients with ankle pain should avoid plantar flexion (pointing your foot downwards) or inversion (turning your foot inwards so the sole moves towards the other foot).

You were taught that, if a patient has a problem with moving a certain area of their body, then it’s best to “play it safe” and avoid those movements. You are supposed to encourage your patients to keep a neutral or “safe” position for the area of their body that’s injured.

You realize now that you took this concept a bit too far…

What Went Wrong?

As a physical therapist, you may have gone into your profession with the best of intentions. After all, it is true that avoiding certain movements can help patients recover from soft tissue injuries more quickly. For example, patients with lower back pain often have strained abdominal and intervertebral muscles. If these muscles become excessively weak, they can cause the pelvis to tilt and the spine to become unstable. If this instability is severe enough, it can lead to further problems in the future.

One of the quickest ways to treat a patient with low back pain is to have them avoid extension (bending backwards) or rotation (twisting) of the lumbar spine.

Sources & references used in this article:

Physical therapy tool by MW Pursel, FX Osborne – US Patent App. 29/461,853, 2014 – Google Patents

Two cases of work-related lateral epicondylopathy treated with Graston Technique® and conservative rehabilitation by JA Papa – The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 2012 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Treatment of knee arthrofibrosis and quadriceps insufficiency after patellar tendon repair: a case report including use of the graston technique by DW Black – International journal of therapeutic massage & …, 2010 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

The Graston Technique® increases hamstring flexibility by Y Nejo – 2014 – library.ndsu.edu

Multi-edge instrument for treatment of soft tissue by MW Pursel, FX Osborne, SP MacNeal – US Patent App. 29/533,956, 2016 – Google Patents

The Effects of the Graston Technique® on Cases of Chronic Tendinopathy Measured by Diagnostic Ultrasound by KK Labodi – 2018 – library.ndsu.edu