The therapy is typically administered in a series of six sessions, which cost approximately $40 each. The sessions tend to hurt a great deal, even leaving bruises, as the fibrous scar tissue and lactic acid buildup are worked over. But the results can be dramatic.
After having her ever-worsening hip pain treated with the Graston technique, "I'm as flexible now as I was when I was 15," says Kathleen Flach, a longtime distance runner and Ultimate Frisbee competitor, who lives in Tampa, Fla. Graston therapy isn't specifically evaluated by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
But the agency, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, endorses massage therapy in general as an alternative treatment with low risk that is beneficial in a variety of disorders. "People use massage," the agency says, "for a wide variety of health-related intents: for example, to relieve pain, often from musculoskeletal conditions, but from other conditions as well; rehabilitate sports injuries; reduce stress; increase relaxation; address feelings of anxiety and depression; and aid general wellness."