Why do scars and adhesions grow?
Scars and adhesions form when our body tissues heal. They are a normal response to injuries, repetitive strains, fractures, falls, surgeries and even infections.
How to improve the outcomes and appearance of scars and adhesions?
Management of scar and adhesion tissue is essential for proper remodeling and restoration of normal body mobility and function. Untreated excessive adhered or bound down scarring, keloid or hypertrophic scar’s can lead to future degenerative damage.
Scar tissue management techniques
By using various manual therapy or massage techniques on the injured tissues help with the remodeling process. Treatment consist of working into the scars restrictions in all directions, various depths and most importantly addressing any associated tissues, bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and vessels. This helps to improve and remodel the adhesions to normalize, align the collagen fibers and soften the scars. This takes away the domino effect and the body’s compensatory restrictions.
Take for example a case history about a 48 year old patient named Liz
- She was diagnosed with severe arthritic degeneration of the neck. Which included disc herniation’s and compression of the lower three vertebrae. The experts recommended cervical or neck fusion.
- Liz had breast reduction at age 24, complications arose due to having fibrocystic breast. The surgery never healed properly and she was left with severe chronic pain over the scars especially along left axillary or arm pit area (above).
- She was unable to work as a pediatric nurse due to the pain, weakness, and arm numbness and tingling. She couldn’t turn her head, lift, carry, use the keyboard or move her upper body without pain from the neck, arms and hands. On average her function was only at 30 to 60% of normal.
- Not ready to go to the extreme of a neck fusion, Liz wanted to exhaust all possible conservative therapies.
- Her goals for treatments were to reduce neck pain by any amount and to see if something could be done about the numbness and tingling in her arms and hands. I was her last resort since she had been to multiple doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturist and other physical therapist with little to no improvement.
- During our first session, I was able to feel with my hands all the potential tissues and areas that had compensated due to the severe adhesions from the surgical breast reduction keloid scars. There was a great deal of muscle guarding and restrictions in her back, thorax, chest, neck, shoulders and arms.
- When I saw the scarring along the left axillary or arm pit area, I understood the problem. The adhesions and scarring was attached to the chest wall. It was like being strapped down and every time you move your neck, arm or trunk the scarring pulled and prevented normal full movement.
- Overtime, 20 years later for Liz, the adhered tissue and adhesions degenerated her neck because of the chronic, long term compensation.
- OUTCOME: I had an absolute blast working with Liz and we were very satisfied as to the outcomes achieved. After just one year of manual therapy, most of Liz’s pain has resolved in the neck. The 20 years of breast scar pain resolved and she no longer experiences arm and hand numbness, tingling, and weakness. She has returned to full-time work and participates in a weekly fitness and walking program. More importantly, she was able to return to normal family and social life after suffering from years with debilitating pain.
Being in the field of physical therapy since 1981, I consider myself an expert by now in patient care. I have a love and compassion for manual therapy or hands-on tissue work and the working knowledge of human anatomy. God created your unique body and I have been blessed with the innate ability to read it and treat it!