Are you getting the most out of your chiropractic instruments by utilizing them for soft tissue therapy?
The American Academy of Pain Medicine reports that back pain is the most common type of pain, afflicting more than 26 million people in the U.S. alone, making it the leading cause of disability for individuals under 45 years of age. So it goes to reason that most of a chiropractor’s day is usually committed to diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to this area of the body.
However, sometimes a patient’s issue lies within his or her extremities; specifically, in the soft tissue areas of the extremities. When this happens, a number of DCs use chiropractic instruments to help remedy the problem.
Extremity-related conditions prime for instrument use
When it comes to extremity-related issues, “the instrument is best used to treat adhesion and tendinosis,” says Brian A. Zelasko, DC, CSCS, Buffalo Bills team chiropractor and owner of Zelasko Soft Tissue & Spine. “I use instruments to treat adhesion in the forearms, hands, knees, anterior legs, ankles, and plantar aspect of the foot, along with the nuchal ligament and supraspinous ligament in the spine.”
William D Charschan, DCCCSP, uses instruments to treat injuries or problems in these types of areas too, adding that these particular tools “excel with very fibrous tissue such as the IT band and muscular insertions.” Research agrees as instrument-aided treatment protocols applied to extremities have shown positive results with a variety of conditions.
For instance, one study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that use of chiropractic instruments on the origins of a 10-year-old football player’s plantar fascia and triceps surae resolved the patient’s bilateral plantar fasciitis after just six treatment sessions.
Another study, this one a case study, published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association i, concluded that instrument-aided soft tissue techniques helped relieve a patient’s pain and disability associated with trigger thumb.
Chiropractic instruments, extremities, and patient relief
Zelasko reports using instruments daily, citing that the type of relief they’re able to offer patients is “entirely dependent on the situation. If adhesion is broken down, then flexibility and strength is restored because adhesion limits flexibility and strength. Pain reduction typically follows suit, unless there is some type of underlying degeneration or pathology,” he says.
The best part is that some results are immediate. “When adhesion is broken down, increased flexibility is immediate,” says Zelasko, adding that “typically pain reduction is immediate too.”
Charschan agrees, stating that immediate results are common with problems in the shoulder region, and that leg or hip tightness is typically very responsive to this type of treatment is it is “great for calming down irritated tissues that are sore and tight.”
“The true test is if we get sustained changes from one visit to the next,” says Zelasko. “If a patient demonstrates a positive change in office one day, and then returns 2-4 days later and they did not sustain any of that initial change, we created nothing more than a reflexive or temporary change.” At that point, Zelasko says that their next step is “reassess what we are treating in order to establish sustained progress.”
Chiropractic instrument-extremity advice
While tools can often help treat a patient’s extremity-related pain and disability, Charschan suggests that DCs learn as many different modalities as possible in order to enhance the results. Charschan also recommends that the focus stay on the cause of the issue because, “if you are just working on the symptom, you will not get a long lasting result. It is always better to know and understand what you are treating before you treat it,” says Charschan.
Adding the use of tools to your extremity-related techniques can provide numerous positive results. This means that the two together—chiropractic instruments and extremities—make a powerful healing combination.