Paul Duffy, DC, has been practicing chiropractic in the Lehigh Valley for more than three decades. When he joined St. Luke’s University Health Network earlier this year, this marked the launch of St. Luke’s Chiropractic Care.
A certified specialist in the Graston technique, Duffy has helped elite college athletes and weekend warriors return to form after suffering repetitive stress injuries like Iliotibial Band Syndrome, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon inflammations.
“I think we’re trying to bring awareness that chiropractic is an appropriate method to treat these injuries,” Duffy said. “The Graston technique — as with most other treatments – is an important tool we use at St. Luke’s that offers a comprehensive and effective means for treating people who may not traditionally be thinking about chiropractic care.”
The Graston technique is a unique form of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) that uses specifically crafted stainless steel instruments to diagnose and treat soft tissue dysfunction. These allow the clinician to have a more precise analysis of the soft tissue and many times more effective treatment than other traditional treatment forms such as massage, myofascial release, and Active Release Technique.
The Graston technique is based on principles dating back centuries. It was first described in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) medical texts in the second century as gua sha. Instruments consisted of ceramic spoons, metal coins, jade, and even honed animal bones. In ancient Greece and Rome small metal instruments were used in bathhouses to promote healing of muscles and other soft tissues. The basic principle is the same – remove scar tissues that form after injury and repetitive trauma and promote a return to normal function following soft tissue regeneration.
ITB Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendon Injuries
So, what are these injuries and how does chiropractic care help?
Duffy, a former competitive bodybuilder, looks at the whole of the person he’s treating, from nutrition and fitness routines to injury history.
“Two of the most common injuries we see in runners are ITB syndrome and plantar fasciitis,” he said. “Both are caused by overuse. The repetitive motions in running cause microtears in muscles, tendons and ligaments, causing scar tissue and adhesions to form, which limits range of motion and causes pain.”
Normally, the pain you feel is your body’s way to tell you to back off. But if you’re a competitive runner who is training for a big race, or a weekend warrior trying to go out and do too much too infrequently, you may not be listening to your body as closely as you should.
The ITB is a fibrous band that runs from the hip along the outside of the leg and attaches on the outside of the knee. It acts as a stabilizer. Overuse can cause microtears which form adhesions and scar tissue, leading to friction and inflammation on the outside – lateral side – of the knee to cause ITB Syndrome, often called runner's knee.
Plantar fasciitis is a similar type of repetitive injury that involves the plantar fascia which runs from the heel to the forefoot, causing severe tightness and disability.
Achilles tendonitis occurs from the heel up through the back part of your ankle into the calf muscle, causing tightness and pain.
“When you get these buildups of adhesions along the ITB or Achilles tendon or the plantar fascia, the Graston instruments help break through the adhesions and allow the body to heal,” Duffy said.
“The Graston instruments are designed for different areas of the body to affect the musculature and the fascia. They help the clinician detect adhesions and scar tissue, and then break these adhesions and scar tissue so that the body can begin to properly repair itself.”
Why Chiropractic Treatment for Running Injuries
“We see both ends of the athletic spectrum as chiropractors, from the elite and competitive college level athletes to recreational athletes,” Duffy said.
The competitive athletes are driven to push past their limits — and their pain – which causes more injury. Weekend athletes may be trying to test their limits by going longer or faster than they should. These situations lead to injury.”
“At St. Luke’s, we are trying to bring awareness that chiropractic is a legitimate means to treat these injuries,” Duffy said. “Most people only think of chiropractors when it comes to the spine, their neck or their back, but there are modalities and treatments chiropractors specialize in that offer an effective means for treating these soft tissue injures, and Graston is one of the effective techniques we use, not just for treatment, but for soft tissue maintenance to help enhance sports performance.”
Paul Duffy, DC, has been practicing chiropractic care in the Lehigh Valley for more than 33 years. Originally from Hazleton, he earned his undergraduate degree from Penn State University and his doctorate from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. He is married with three children and is an admitted Italophile pursuing Italian culture, food, and wine.
St. Luke’s Chiropractic Care provides safe, conservative, evidence-based solutions to many musculoskeletal complaints while enhancing the already stellar lines of physical therapy and rehab, pain management and orthopedics. Chiropractic provides safe, effective care that has been shown to reduce chronic symptoms, dependency on opioid medications, as well as overall healthcare expenditures.