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The scraping technique is a popular chiropractic treatment that uses instruments to break down muscle adhesions and scar tissue and to massage trigger points with the goal of increasing range of motion. The Graston Technique and ConnecTX Therapy are forms of scraping that use different tools or instruments to reach muscles at different angles.
The term scraping technique actually sounds scary. Can you start by describing what it is and what a typical treatment session is like for a patient?
Dr. Nick Angione: All right. As scary as scraping sounds, it’s really pretty awesome. A lot of people love it. They really ask for it all the time. Another way for mentioning scraping or referring to scraping is, when we code it or use it in our practice, it’s called instrument assisted soft tissue work, or manual tissue work. Essentially that’s just saying that we are using a device other than our hands or coupled with our hands to kind of work through the muscles and massage them a little bit.
In acupuncture or the Oriental medicine world it is referred to as gua sha. That’s a technique that has been around forever, for a very long time, not forever.
Scraping or instrument assisted soft tissue is just something that is used in couple with adjustments and sometimes used to just release adhesions in the muscles, make sure that the trigger points are broken down and pretty much just helps promote the health and function of a muscle.
What are the benefits of scraping? What are the most common conditions it’s used for?
Dr. Nick Angione: The benefit of scraping is to really align the fibers of the muscle. A lot of times we can see great use of instrument assisted soft tissue with post-surgery patients. A lot of times it’s used for a torn muscle, minor tears of muscles or even sprains. A lot of times when we use it over a ligament for a sprain or something like that, we’re going to wait until the sprain has healed a decent amount. Then we can go in there and kind of scrape over the ligament.
Ligaments don’t have as much blood flow as muscles. The ligaments need a little bit of stress. We are causing a little bit of stress to that ligament to then activate an inflammatory response, essentially trying to get blood to that area. Then replenish that ligament with good nutrients, new nutrients and flush the old stuff out.
When we’re using it on muscle tears or post-surgery this is when we’re trying to break down scar tissue. We’re trying to realign the fibers of the muscles. When we’ve realigned the fibers of the muscles or realigned that scar tissue that has formed, we’re helping that muscle work better and work smoother.
Muscles are made out of sliding filaments. It’s kind of hard to really get into the details there. Essentially those sliding filaments or things that slide past each other in the muscle get intertwined and tangled. When we go over them with instruments, it kind of straightens it out and it allows that muscle to slide freely back and forth. Those are the techniques that we like to use.
Are Graston and ConnecTX therapy other terms for scraping? Can you explain the differences between the two?
Dr. Nick Angione: Yeah. Graston is probably the most popular technique out there, named at least. ConnecTX therapy is something that was developed at my alma mater chiropractic college, New York Chiropractic College. It was developed by a student and some of the teachers there.
They are essentially the same. The differences between the two are that Graston has a lot of different shaped tools which are great for getting into different areas. They have very curved tools. They have big flat ones. It’s just a bunch of different shapes to help get into areas like the back of the ankle or the front of the knee. It, honestly, is something that is beneficial and awesome to the provider. As the treating provider, it makes my life easier to go over certain areas.
With ConnecTX therapy, it’s one tool as opposed to multiple in Graston. It’s one tool that you can use all sides. With the Graston tools you can usually only use one side, one way. It does limit you a little bit but it does give you better angles.
With the ConnecTX tool, it is one tool that you can use all four sides of it. You can really use it anywhere. With ConnecTX, the treatment protocol, they like you to do rehab exercises right after. They want you to warm up before.
The main thing about ConnecTX therapy is that, not only are we trying to smooth out the muscles but their treatment protocol calls for rehab exercises right afterward. After you realign those fibers, they are now telling you to do some exercises using that muscle to help reeducate that muscle and help it learn how to move again and function properly.
This is honestly pretty important in terms of rehab and prolonging pain-free motion. You really need to kind of reeducate that muscle. Once you realign those fibers, it’s extremely beneficial to have that muscle work and function again in its new form.
Could scraping be part of an ongoing wellness routine or is it just used to relieve a condition?
Dr. Nick Angione: A little bit of both. Scraping is usually just used to relieve muscle knots, adhesions, trigger points, all those good words that people use all the time. It can just be used for general lack of range of motion and things like that.
A lot to times people won’t realize that they’re lacking full shoulder mobility. When we go in there with that tool, we’re able to release some things that they probably didn’t even know that were tight. More or less it can be good for certain problems and it can be good for an everyday person.
What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that most of the time if you are an everyday person that has no pain, you probably have something that’s restricted or something that’s tight due to just every day tendencies or activities that you do over and over again.
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