I was first introduced to graston therapy in 2009 as part of my physiotherapy treatment. Graston involves the use of metal tools to break up scar tissue under a patient’s skin. The practitioner puts an emollient on the skin and then rubs the tool back and forth. The process is very painful and can sometimes cause bruising, but it works. It helps with mobility and reduces stiffness and pain, especially on old scars that have a lot of underlying buildup. My physiotherapist first performed graston on the back of my left knee. When she finished the treatment, I could fully straighten my left leg for the first time in my life. She also performed graston on my left hip (to help break down a surgical scar), on my Achilles tendons (which hurt like a bitch) and, occasionally, my shoulders when I experienced stiffness in my upper back.
Graston is a treatment that must be performed regularly for the effects to last. It addresses the buildup of scar tissue, which can come back if the treatment is not consistent. When I moved from England back to Winnipeg in 2010, my legs bent again because I had not been for regular graston sessions. I found a chiropractor who offered the service and went to him for weekly appointments. When he first met me, he didn’t think he could help me because the buildup in my knees was so bad that I walked around like a senior citizen. I soon proved him wrong and the treatment broke up all of the tissue that had come back. Before he treated me for the first time, I said to him, “I apologise in advance if I swear at you, yell at you, or call you names.” He said, “So you’ve had graston before.” He never complained when I shouted expletives at him. He didn’t take it personally – and it wasn’t personal – because he knew that the treatment was painful.
Last summer, I woke up with excruciating neck pain. I must have slept on my neck in a funny way. I knew that graston would help my pain, so I made an early-evening appointment with my chiropractor, spent my work day in a disgusting amount of acute pain, and then ran to the walk-in clinic as quickly as I could. The graston gave me immediate relief and showed me that it could be of good use to treat both long-term problems and single isolated incidents of pain.
I have not had graston since I went home in December and I can feel that my body needs it. My physiotherapist is currently in training to provide graston, and I will go to her for treatment once she has certified and she buys the tools. I understand that the treatment will be painful and uncomfortable, but it’s worth it in terms of the range of movement it gives me. I can expect to holler at my physiotherapist, but I know I will leave the treatment feeling better.