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Can Massage Therapy Help Heal Scar Tissue?

By February 1, 2024February 5th, 2024No Comments

How Does Scar Tissue Develop?

Scar tissue can develop when there is any kind of injury to the body, and can be a result of surgical incision, muscle tear, or fracture.  This is your body’s response to help heal and strengthen the damaged structures.  Fascia is the soft tissue that connects and supports your body’s tissues, muscles and organs.  When the fascia is damaged, these fibers can thicken and stick to one another, creating scar tissue.  Scar tissue is made up of collagen, and while healthy collagen forms in an organized pattern to provide structural support, collagen from scar tissue has a random pattern that stretches across the entire area.  This can often cause stiffness and mobility issues over time, so it’s important to begin scar tissue treatment as soon as you are physically healed to achieve the best results.

Why Do I Need to Treat Scar Tissue?

The build-up of scar tissue can cause pain and discomfort for both external damage such as surgical incisions and deep cuts, but also to internal structures that may have experienced trauma, such as a rotator cuff injury or an ankle sprain. Left untreated, scar tissue can limit range of motion and reduce overall strength in the area.  In severe cases, scar tissue can lead to changes in posture or gait that can affect other structures within the body.

Registered Massage Therapy for Scar Tissue

The good news is that your RMT can help to relieve these symptoms and break down scar tissue, so that range of motion and mobility can be restored, and pain and discomfort are managed or eliminated.

Your RMT may use a number of different techniques to help you to heal:

  • Myofascial Release
  • Transverse Friction Massage
  • Instrument Assisted Scar Tissue Massage
  • Stretching and Exercise

Myofascial Release:

This technique uses light pressure to massage the injured area.  This is a slow and steady process, meant to work through fascial adhesions and help to gently stretch out tight areas and reduce the impact of scar tissue.

Transverse Friction Massage:

In order to encourage the fibers of the scar to be remodeled, this technique uses moderate pressure and sweeping motions to promote circulation and keep fibres from sticking together. This discourages adhesion formation and breaks down scar tissue, allowing for reduced pain and better mobility.

Instrument Assisted Scar Tissue Massage:

In some cases, your RMT may use specialized metal instruments to massage your scar tissue, helping to soften existing adhesions and prevent development of additional fascial deformities.

Stretching and Exercise:

In addition to a variety of massage techniques, your RMT may advise you to incorporate a stretching and exercise routine that will complement the treatment you receive in the clinic.  Light stretching and low load/weight bearing exercises can help to improve your mobility and increase flexibility and strength.

Additional Treatments: 

As a part of your therapy, your RMT may also suggest some additional treatment modalities, such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Physiotherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Acupressure

When Should I Get Scar Treatment?

It is important to ensure your injury has healed completely before you begin scar treatment.  Once your RMT has assessed your scar tissue, a treatment plan can be put in place to start therapy as soon as possible to prevent fascial adhesions from building up.  Usually, we can begin to treat scar tissue within 8 – 12 weeks of surgery or injury.  With that said, patients are often surprised to learn that scar tissue treatment can be effective for adhesions that have built up over months, or even years, so it’s definitely worth investigating if you suffer from pain or mobility issues resulting from an older injury or surgery.

If you have scar tissue from a surgery or injury, come in and see one of our RMT’s for a full assessment, and to discuss the best treatment options for you.