Surgery, fractures, sprains, and even cuts can lead to injured tissues that cause scar tissue. While this is part of the normal healing process, it can become an issue if the scar develops improperly and is left untreated. Many people are unaware of the problems associated with scar tissue and are led to believe they will have to live with the lumpy, unattractive scar for the rest of their lives. This is where physical therapy can help! At New Heights Therapy, we’re dedicated to providing our patients with helpful information and compassionate service that will aid the healing of scar tissue.
Causes of Scar Tissue
When an injury to a muscle, tendon, skin, or ligament in the body occurs, the inflammatory system will begin to heal the injury site. During this process, old debris in the injured area is cleaned up before new cells are brought in that will eventually become healthy tissue. Some of the new cells are collagen cells, which is what causes scar tissue. Normally, collagen is aligned in specific ways that promote strength in the tissues. However, the body does not know how to arrange collagen cells after surgery or injury, causing them to clump together, lose their natural structure, and cause scar tissue. The good news is that this newly developed scar tissue is not inherently permanent and can be remodeled to look like normal, healthy tissue once more.
3 Reasons Why Scar Tissue Management is Important
Once scar tissue develops, it’s essential to work on promoting healthy tissue as soon as possible before possible problems arise. Remodeling the scar makes it so the injured tissue can tolerate the stress and forces the body encounters every day from regular activity. Tissue remodeling can help in three ways:
- Decrease pain
- Improve range of motion in surrounding joints and muscles
- Restore normal mobility and function
Using Physical Therapy to Promote Healthy Tissue
Before undergoing treatment, it is necessary to consult with your both your doctor and your physical therapist before proceeding with any treatment. In cases where scars are not fully healed, massage could delay healing or even open and expose the scar to bacteria or infection. If you have scar tissue that has fully healed, a physical therapist may perform scar tissue massage to help with the remodeling process. Massage promotes the gentle stretching of the scar tissue, helping align the collagen fibers
Scar Tissue Massage Techniques
When you start physical therapy for scar tissue management, there are several procedures your therapist will perform to help heal scar tissue:
- Lubrication. A small amount of baby oil, lotion, or vitamin E oil may be used to keep the scar and surrounding skin pliable during massage.
- Cross friction massage. This involves using one of two fingers to massage the scar in a direction perpendicular to the line of the scar. Performed for 5–10 minutes, this technique ensures proper alignment of collagen fibers.
- Myofascial release. In this technique, the hands are used to slowly and lightly massage the skin and underlying tissues around the scar. Your physical therapist can feel for restrictions of tissue, also known as fascia, and work to improve movement in those areas.
- Instrument assisted massage. A relatively new technique, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (ISATM) involves using specialty stainless steel instruments of various sizes to massage and mobilize tissues, helping break up the built-up collagen cells.
Along with these massage techniques, stretching and flexibility exercises may also be implemented to help elongate and improve the mobility of injured tissues.
Professional Help for Scar Tissue Management
Physical therapy can play a vital role in properly treating and healing scar tissue. Whether you’ve developed scar tissue after a surgery, a car accident, or a cut, fracture, or burn, it’s important to talk to a physical therapist to learn how scar tissue massage can help promote remodeled tissue. At New Heights Physical Therapy, we are trained in helping patients treating their scar tissue through a variety of techniques. Give us a call today to start healing your scar tissue!
Manual Therapy: Scar Tissue Massage in Portland OR and Vancouver WA
Seeing Patients in the following Portland and Vancouver areas: