Scar tissue is the result of an injury and the inflammatory process that follows. It is the collagen based tissue that your body replaces damaged tissue with. It will only be about 80% as strong as the original tissue (skin, ligament, tendon, muscle, nerve or fascia). Scars result from wounds, burns, musculoskeletal injuries, inflammatory arthritides and osteoarthritis. Anything that prolongs the healing process can result in scar tissue production.
When applied at the right time, massage therapy techniques can be beneficial in reducing scar tissue formation and breaking down adhesions after they’ve formed. Scar tissue forms during the inflammatory process, so by decreasing inflammation and swelling during the acute phase, the amount of scar tissue produced can be reduced as well. RMT’s use gentle lymphatic drainage techniques and cryotherapy (cold therapy) on acute injuries which encourages excess fluid to move back into the lymphatic system. Once the scar has mostly healed, typically two weeks after surgery you can start doing some self massage techniques. Wait until the sutures have been removed and all scabs have fallen off by themselves. Be gentle. You may discover that the area is quite sensitive and deeper is not necessarily better. If you're unsure where to start, come in for an appointment and one of our RMT's will be happy to show you how. We are big on patient education and empowering our patients to use self care techniques.
Adhesions and contractures can lead to postural dysfunctions, joint pain, tension and muscle pain. Abdominal scars, such as c-section and appendix removal scars, can have a negative effect on your digestion and reproductive system and even cause lower back pain. Hypersensitive scars can be desensitized with tactile stimulation.
Types of Scar Tissue:
Contracture: shortening of the connective tissue to the point where it cannot fully lengthen or relax and reduces range of motion.
Adhesions: occur when there is reduced range of motion at a joint over a period of time. This allows cross links to form among collagen fibres which further reduces the range of motions. This occurs mostly with postural dysfunctions or immobilization of a limb.
Scar Adhesions: occur after an injury when your body has produced new collagen fibres during the inflammatory process. These adhesions occur between fascial tissue, muscles, skin, tendons, even between whole groups of muscles. They don’t allow each tissue type to move independently, as they should, but rather as one solid unit. There’s a feeling of tension and discomfort, pain in some cases and reduced range of motion. Adhesions and Scar Adhesions can be broken down with myofascial release and other massage therapy techniques.
Fibrotic Adhesions: occur where there is chronic inflammation and can lead to extreme restriction in range of motion. These types require more aggressive techniques.
Irreversible Contracture: fibrotic tissue or bone replaces muscle or connective tissue. Can only by reversed with surgical intervention. An example would be a “pump bump” or bone deposit at the Achilles tendon attachment on the heal.
Hypertrophic Scarring: an overgrowth of connective tissue that remains within the boundaries of the wound and is mostly associated with burns. These may be surgically removed or skin grafted.
Keloid: overgrowth of connective tissue that does not remain within the boundaries of the wound. Result from an imbalance between collagen synthesis and breakdown within the wound. Keloids do not respond well to surgery.
This blog is collaborative collection of information provided by several of our therapists. We hope you find some useful information and tips.