Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, MBA, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not instrument assisted soft tissue manipulation (IASTM) is an effective therapy in decreasing patient reported pain originating from musculoskeletal sources.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review of three randomized controlled trials published between 2007-2016, all in English language.

DATA SOURCES: Three randomized controlled studies, which studied the effects of IASTM on various musculoskeletal regions of patient reported pain compared to patients who received other forms of treatment, were obtained using PubMed.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: The outcome of each study was a patient reported decrease in pain using a visual analog scale (VAS) after IASTM intervention and an increase in functional ability using an Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). These results were compared to the patient’s responses on the VAS and ODI at baseline prior to beginning the study.

RESULTS: All three RCTs determined that pain decreased over time after any form of intervention, regardless of if it was IASTM or each individual control group.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on the results of these three RCTs, it appears there is a decrease in MSK for patients who underwent a trial of IASTM therapy. This seemed to last over a significant amount of time after the intervention was applied. Further investigation is warranted to determine if IASTM is more beneficial when applied to chronic versus acute injuries.