Do you have pain caused by scar tissue? Scar tissue is a dense fibrous connective tissue that forms over and/or around a healed wound or cut, and is the body’s way of repairing damaged tissues or protecting surrounding tissues from foreign bodies.
Most of us take scarring for granted, knowing it is the body’s way of repairing damaged tissues. However, there is a downside to scars. Scar tissue shortens muscle tissue, which shows up as immobility, irritability and pain syndrome. The pain caused by scar tissue can also relate to trigger points that can be embedded in or around scars.
Trigger points create a type of muscle stiffness and are the result of tiny contraction knots in muscle and tissues where an area of the body is injured or overworked. Trigger points are something traditional doctors ignore, and they may have been overlooked in your case for years. This makes it important to be empowered with knowledge. If you have pain, it is healthier to eliminate the cause of the pain. Many pain management techniques focus on masking pain rather than healing the body or helping the body heal itself naturally.
The healing process and scar formation can be initiated by something a simple as bumping into a corner of a table. We walk away, ignore the pain and go on with our daily lives. Most of the time this is not a problem, but sometimes this healing process triggers scarring that if left unaddressed over time will result in pain and physical limitation.
Adhesions are scar tissues that form internally from virtually all surgical procedures. There are also bone scars, as well as scars that form around breast implants and surgical mesh. Sometimes adhesions are present at birth. One example of excessive internal formation of scar tissue is a common complication that occurs in breast augmentation patients, known as capsular contraction.
Adhesion is also the word used to describe bands of fibrous tissue that grows to connect internal organs. Adhesions can connect the loops of the intestines to each other, to nearby organs or to the wall of the abdomen. They can pull sections of the intestines out of place, which may block food from passing through. Adhesions such as these cause symptoms like crampy abdominal pain, vomiting, bloating, an inability to pass gas, and constipation.
Some adhesions go away by themselves. Surgery is attempted to remove adhesions, however surgery can increase the risk of more adhesions. People who have experienced multiple back surgeries tend to have more adhesions, which can create the pain they were hoping to escape. Bony scar tissue, called a callus will form on bone after a fracture.
While the degree of scar formation varies from person to person, there are some distinguishing characteristics:
*Becomes hard and non-pliable
*Bands of fibers on or below the surface
*Skin tightens or shortens when crossing a joint
This last characteristic may limit range of motion, comprise function or cause deformity. The body’s formation of scar tissue can set the stage for future problems.
How to ease pain caused by scar tissue
Scars and adhesions are composed primarily of collagen. The scar tissue’s fibrosity prohibits adequate circulation, collagenous tissue creates physical limitations, and the lack of blood flow and lymph drainage occurring in scar tissue makes it vulnerable to dysfunction.
The scar’s surrounding structures may be abnormally stressed by nerve impingement, pain, numbness, limited range of motion and flexibility, postural misalignment, muscle atrophy, tissue hypoxia, and an increased potential for future injury. Some professionals believe that scar tissue is the root of a majority of physical imbalances and recommend addressing scar tissue early in its development to minimize secondary scar tissue issues.
When working with the scar it is important to be aware of the healing stage of the scar. Immediately after a wound heals, the scar is immature. It typically appears red and is painful, itchy or sensitive as nerve endings heal. Exercise, massage and heat application will have the greatest positive effect on an immature scar.
Mature scar tissue production, depending on the size and depth of the wound, will cease 3 to 18 months following wound healing. To reduce scar tissue in a mature scar, a more disciplined, vigorous approach is necessary. The scar needs to be remodeled so it can tolerate the stress and forces of the body.
Most commonly, adhesions cause pain by pulling nerves, either within an organ tied down by an adhesion or within the adhesion itself. Signs and symptoms of adhesions are associated with the problems they cause rather than from the adhesion directly.
Adhesions above the liver may cause pain with deep breathing.
Intestinal adhesions may cause pain due to obstruction during exercise or when stretching. Adhesions involving the vagina or uterus may cause pain during intercourse.
Pericardial adhesions may cause chest pain.
It is important to note that not all pain is caused by adhesions and not all adhesions cause pain.
Small bowel obstruction (intestinal blockage) due to adhesions is a surgical emergency.
It is very possible to work with your own adhesions and scars. You can also consult with a physical therapist, massage therapist or Rolfer to create an action plan. Some adhesions are life threatening especially in the abdomen. If you have had any kind of surgery, ongoing massage is an excellent treatment and preventative for dealing with scar related trigger point pain.
Massage therapy can be performed during the initial immature stages but a gentle approach is needed. Body workers can improve scar tissue through specific techniques: lymph drainage, myofascial release, deep transverse friction, stretching, and heat application. Massage should never be preformed on an open lesion. Some do-it-yourself techniques for working with external scar tissue include:
Tip #1: Rub vitamin E oil on the scar. Vitamin E oil is considered an extremely efficient way of detoxifying skin scars and makes skin softer, as well as lessening discolorations or scarring. Rub vitamin E oil on scars in a gradual spherical movement. Allow the oil to go through the skin before putting a hot towel or cloth on the scarred area. When the towel has cooled cleanse away the oil.
Tip #2: Use baking soda for facial scars. Baking soda is an alkaline material that detoxifies and rids contamination from the body. Baking soda raises dead skin cells permitting pores to be rinsed and scars to lessen or be eradicated. Blend a tablespoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of water, thoroughly mix them until it turns into a paste. Put the mixture on top of the scar and let it stay there for about two minutes before washing it off with clean water.
Tip #3: Use citrus juice compress for skin scars. Citrus juices include elevated amounts of vitamin C, useful in combating free radicals as well as for detoxify dangerous infection from the body. Lemon juice has the ability to eradicate dead and blemished skin cells, and to reduce and detoxify scarred skin. Immerse a washcloth in concentrated lemon juice and place onto the skin for about 10-15 minutes or until the lemon juice had dried.
You can also successfully treat hypertrophic scars. These scares are red, raised, and can be painful or cause limited movement in the affected area. The main treatment for these scars is:
Onion Extract – an ingredient in one of the most popular scar gels found in drugstores. Onion extract has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and it regulates the formation of collagen.
Other home remedies often used for scars include aloe vera, gotu kola and zinc.