Scars, everyone has them and yet they are often completely ignored in the world of manual therapy.
For each and every new client that walks through my door I have a series of questions I ask, one being-do you have any scars? The answer is almost always no. I then ask them if they’ve ever had surgery and the answer is again no. Then they say well… I have an old c-section or an old gallbladder or appendix scar yet they dismiss these operations as scar causing or relevant to my questions.
I am here to tell you as I do them, those scars matter more to your wellbeing than almost anything else I can treat. I also tell them that their scar has no “statute of limitations” meaning that every scar no matter how old is still very relevant to the body.
In my daily practice I would estimate that I spend 20-30% of the time addressing scars. Scars from appendectomies, gallbladder removals, heart surgery, breast cancer, hernia repairs, thyroid removal, bladder repairs, tummy tucks, and breast reductions, radiation therapy, cuts, and burns to name just a few. Why am I spending so much time on these scars? Because I have found through research and education that scars affect the body more than any other trauma. Yes you read that right ALL scars come from trauma. Maybe your wound bled a lot, maybe it caused excessive pain or stress or maybe the surgical procedure was a little scary-just remember the last hug you gave your loved one right before you went under, that hug lasted a little longer and was a little tighter than the usual “I’ll see you soon” hug because truth be told, you weren’t sure you were going to see them at all-ever again.
In addition to the trauma, you woke up from surgery and the stress and pain of the procedure caused you to move with increased precautionary stiffness. You limited your breath to avoid pain and opening of stitches, your movements in your body became limited governed by the stress and discomfort of the change and tension you now felt in your body. Now consider the last time you cut your finger or skinned your knee you also altered your movement based on the discomfort and pain you were feeling. All wounds cause us to alter our movement and this alteration of our movement is as damaging as the initial opening of your skin.
Scars are not your regular tissue. Scars are the body’s best attempt to repair an area that has been opened or damaged. Scar tissue is less elastic, receives very little oxygenation, conducts pain at a greater rate than intact skin, scar tissue does not contract, scar tissue limits body awareness and is much more prone to re-injury. Scars also dramatically limit the flow of the lymphatic system and cause a damning of fluid around the area. This leads to toxic fluid and gas buildup near the wound-consider the bulbous often assumed fatty accumulation that often occurs near scarring. It is not fat but rather an impeded flow of lymphatic fluid that can be released with proper therapy.
Unlike the rest of your healthy negatively charged tissue -scar tissue holds a positive charge which limits the positively charged healing agents from reaching the healing site. This negative/positive imbalance causes scar tissue to act as an interference field in the body, meaning that it impedes the normal electromagnetic flow of the body. These interference fields can store electrical charge and release it randomly throughout the body. We see this in women who have had abdominal surgeries yet their main complaint of pain is elsewhere in the body. For instance in a study of woman with c-sections 48% reported pain in the limbs and head, 24% reported pain and the surgical site, 19% experienced back pain and the remaining 9% reported pain in their neck. Now tell me when was the last time you considered your abdominal scar as the cause of shoulder, knee, or hip pain? I see it and resolve obscure pain in the body often by simply addressing the scar and re-educating the movement that had been previously limited during the healing phase.