Please note: You will find the information on this page easier to understand if you have already viewed the page on myofascial release (MFR).
What is Scar Tissue?
Scars are the body’s natural response to trauma, following an injury or surgery. When tissue damage extends beyond the surface of the skin and if the cut edges of the wound are too far apart to bind together, then a network of tough collagen fibres forms within the space to repair the wound. The purpose of scar tissue is to seal up wounds and protect the area from further damage, so it is much tougher and less flexible than the original tissue and remains relatively vulnerable. There are several different types of scars, some raised and lumpy, others tightly bound to the underlying tissue, creating a dip. Scars resulting from internal trauma or postural patterns may involve only the internal tissues and may not affect the skin at all. You may have scarring if you have had-
- Open wounds resulting from injury or surgery, extending beyond the upper layers of the skin
- Burns, where tissue damage has extended beyond the upper layers of the skin
- Some skin infections, such as acne and chickenpox
- Repeated needle insertions, such as blood tests, blood donations or injections
- Sprains and strains
- Cartilage damage
- Fractures and dislocations
- Compensatory patterns, related to injury or general postural issues
- Emotional trauma, manifesting as tension within the body
Problems with Scars
Scars may feel itchy, tender, have reduced sensation or feel tight, restricting your movement. Scars can potentially impact on normal sensation, mobility and functioning, as they can cause the connective tissue layers (fascia) and organs to stick together (adhesions), increasing the pressure placed on nerves, blood vessels, muscles, bones and internal organs. The effects of a scar will therefore depend on where it is in the body, but may also have effects extending to other body areas and systems, owing to the three-dimensional, integrated nature of the fascial network throughout the body. For example, the scarring from an old hip injury can later lead to problems with the shoulder or ankle, owing to compensatory postural and movement patterns, leading to further adhesions and restrictions.
Abdominal scarring and adhesions can occur as a result of trauma, bleeding, infection or surgery involving the abdomen, lower spine or pelvis. You will have abdominal scarring if you have had any of the following:-
- Bowel surgery
- Caesarean section
- Female sterilisation
Symptoms of Abdominal Adhesions
These may occur soon after trauma or surgery, but more typically occur many months or even years later. The digestive tract and female reproductive organs are most often affected.
Possible Digestive Symptoms of abdominal scarring:
- Severe cramping pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal distension
- Inability to pass wind
- Disruption to regular bowel movement, owing to obstruction of the bowel
Possible Female Reproductive Symptoms of Abdominal Scarring:
- Menstrual pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Infertility, as the fallopian tubes may be obstructed
Occasionally, adhesions cause complete obstruction of the bowel, which is serious and requires urgent medical attention. More often though, problems caused by adhesions are not dangerous, but they can still be unpleasant and difficult to live with. Adhesions cannot easily be detected, so they usually go undiagnosed.
Pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to manage symptoms, but the cause goes untreated.
How can Scar Tissue Release Help?
The good news is that myofascial release (MFR) techniques can offer quick and effective relief from discomfort caused by scars and adhesions, by unsticking the fascial layers and freeing up the restrictions. This allows the tissues and organs in your body to move and function normally again. Moreover, applying such techniques prior to planned surgery can help to reduce the extent of scarring, as well as helping you to feel calmer. The therapist applies gentle sustained pressure or traction, either directly on your skin or over a thin drape. The therapist can then feel the fascia moving and will either follow that movement or try to encourage new directions of movement. Other related body areas may be treated first, before treating the scar directly, especially if the scar is tender or if you initially feel uncomfortable about having your scar touched. MFR can then be carried out directly over the area of scarring, to break down the adhesions and restrictions within the tissues. As well as the physical release occurring within the tissue, you may also experience an emotional release during treatment. This is perfectly normal and reflects the emotional trauma accompanying any physical cause of scarring. Releasing these emotions can help you to let go of past stress and tension and will also promote further physical release within the body.
Integration with Aromatherapy
SB Holistic can integrate aromatherapy into your scar tissue release treatments. Some specific essential and carrier oils help to improve the elasticity, tone and suppleness of the tissues and may improve the appearance of scarred skin. The aromas of the oils used also have an uplifting or relaxing psychological effect, giving added emotional support. Soothing massage with a bespoke blend of oils is therefore offered following MFR, for optimum benefit.
My thanks go to Ruth Duncan of MFR UK, for her outstanding knowledge, skills and training in this fascinating area of bodywork. The information provided here is based on training materials supplied by MFR UK.