Scar tissue is the body’s normal healing response to injury. Scar tissue is a fibrous structure predominantly made up of collagen. However, this new tissue is never as strong as the tissue it replaces. Instead of lovely parallel fibres (think sardines in a can), fibres resemble a more disorganised arrangement (a bit like a 3 year olds birthday party). As healing continues to aid recovery, adhesions (when scar tissue attaches to a nearby structures) can occur producing deficits in strength and flexibility.
Image: Bodyworks Massage
The scar you see is only the tip of the iceberg. It can extend deep below the surface beyond the layers of the skin to muscles, fascia, blood vessels, nerves and organs with the potential to impact their function, produce movement disorder patterns and ultimately pain.
For example, if you had an episiotomy or sustained a perineal floor tear, adhesions can occur causing pain on intercourse and difficulty with controlling your bowel or bladder function. This can also be in the case of C-sections too, where scar tissue can extend to the bladder, affecting its ability to work optimally and may manifest as difficulty with relieving yourself or urinary incontinence.
Some may also suffer from referred pain. The body consists of a network of nerves. If nerves are stuck because of scar tissue at one point, it may impact function further up or down (a bit like a car breaking down on the ECP). This can occur in women whom have undergone C-sections for example. Some women may experience ongoing labial pain particularly when they sit to stand as the location of the C-section scar crosses the round ligament (which attaches from the uterus to labia). So it is important to note that pain and dysfunction may not always be at the site of the scar.
Physiotherapists are highly skilled in scar tissue management and lets be honest, mobilising scar tissue can be a little uncomfortable for the patient, because over time the blood flow has been compromised, the area can be super sensitive to touch, causing temporary discomfort.
The good thing is scar tissue is not permanent as our bodies are constantly remodelling tissue, but the rate at which this occurs slows over time. So technically it can never be too late to start! Having said that, ideally it is better to start within the 6 to 8 week window to make the most of the body’s’ intrinsic healing properties as scar tissue will respond the quickest during this period.
Any scar is worthy of therapy, no matter where or how old. Commonly we work on post surgical scar tissue as in abdominal surgery, C-section scars, ACL and ankle repairs the list goes on! We don’t work on open wounds due risk of infection or comprising healing. The more we mobilise, the better the outcomes, so we also teach our patients self-management techniques.
If you would like to see one of the team call 8721 9972 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book in.