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Tiny study of Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization on rat tendons shows some benefit

PainSci » bibliography » Davidson et al 1997
Tags: massage, tendinosis, manual therapy, treatment, pain problems, overuse injury, injury

One article on PainSci cites Davidson 1997: Tissue Provocation Therapies

PainSci commentary on Davidson 1997: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

This small study of rats attempted to demonstrate the possible relevance of Graston Technique to tendon healing. It is cited as the sole example of scientific research supporting the clinical use of Graston Technique. Although it does provide some interesting and positive findings, it is a small study of rats, so it has major limitations. Rat tendons were injured with a collegenase injection, allowed to heal for three weeks, and then some were treated with Graston Technique. Their gait allegedly improved more quickly than in the untreated rats. The authors claim that the results “suggest” that scraping “may promote healing via increased fibroblast recruitment.” Such cautious phrasing is appropriate: although promising, the effect of treatment on five rats is hardly conclusive.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization (ASTM) is a new non-invasive soft tissue mobilization technique which has been used successfully to treat a variety of musculoskeletal disorders. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of ASTM therapy on the morphological and functional characteristics of enzyme induced injured rat Achilles tendons. Four groups of five rats were allocated as follows: (A) control, (B) tendinitis, (C) tendinitis plus ASTM, and (D) ASTM alone. Collagenase injury was induced, and the surgical site was allowed to heal for 3 wk. ASTM was performed on the Achilles tendon of groups C and D for 3 min on postoperative days 21, 25, 29, and 33 for a total of four treatments. Gait data were gathered prior to each treatment. The Achilles tendons of each group were harvested 1 wk after the last treatment. Specimens were prepared for light and electron microscopy, and immunostaining for type I and type III collagen and fibronectin was performed. Light microscopy showed increased fibroblast proliferation in the tendinitis plus ASTM treatment group. Although healing in rats may not translate directly to healing in humans, the findings of this study suggest that ASTM may promote healing via increased fibroblast recruitment.

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