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Effectiveness of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) and muscle energy technique (MET) on post-operative elbow stiffness: a randomized clinical trial.

BACKGROUND: Stiffness is a common complication following trauma and surgeries around the elbow, which can result in upper limb functional disabilities. Soft tissue mobilization techniques such as Instrument-assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) and Muscle Energy Technique (MET) have limited evidence in elbow rehabilitation. This study aimed to compare their effects on postoperative elbow stiffness.

METHODOLOGY: 26 subjects were recruited (13 each group) with postoperative elbow stiffness (minimum 6 weeks post surgery) and randomly allocated in two groups: IASTM and MET. Pain [Numeric Pain Rating Scale NPRS)], ROM (Goniometer), and Function [Disability of Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) and Patient-Specific Functional Scale (PSFS)] were assessed at baseline and post-intervention.

RESULTS: The data of 26 subjects were analyzed and both groups significantly improved in outcome scores post-intervention. The improvements in ROM and function between groups were comparable, but NPRS and PSFS showed greater improvement in the IASTM group ( p  < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: IASTM and MET were both effective in improving outcomes in postoperative elbow stiffness. IASTM was more effective in improving pain and patient-specific function.

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