THE EFFECTIVENESS OF INSTRUMENT-ASSISTED SOFT TISSUE MOBILIZATION IN ATHLETES, PARTICIPANTS WITHOUT EXTREMITY OR SPINAL CONDITIONS, AND INDIVIDUALS WITH UPPER EXTREMITY, LOWER EXTREMITY AND SPINAL CONDITIONS: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) refers to various scraping or rubbing techniques involving an instrument, and includes Graston, Ergon, and Astym. These techniques are used by chiropractors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers in the treatment of a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions.
Previous reviews have found conflicting results on the efficacy of IASTM treatments, but have failed to assess the quality of the evidence or bias of the studies (1, 2). The purpose of this systematic review was to assess the effectiveness of IASTM versus placebo and to evaluate the quality of evidence in relevant trials.
The researchers identified 20 trials evaluating IASTM in regard to 86 reported outcomes, including function, pain, range of motion, and grip strength. The outcomes of the trials were analyzed, and the trials were assessed for risk of bias using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool, and ratings of quality according to Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations guidelines.
The review found that the risk of bias was high in every study, and the overall quality was very low. 12 trials did not include a statement on funding, nine did not include a statement of potential conflicts of interest,