Scar massage is a common technique used to repair scar tissue that has formed in damaged tissue. It is a treatment used in physical therapy after surgery, fractures or soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains . Scar tissue massage is also known as scar mobilization or scar tissue mobilization.
What is scar tissue?
In many cases, scar tissue forms on the body. After skin surgery , scar tissue forms at the surgical incision site. If muscles and tendons are cut or repaired, scar tissue forms there.
After injuries, such as a hamstring tear or rotator cuff tear, scar tissue forms in the muscle as it heals. Bony scar tissue, called a callus, forms in the bone after a fracture. Scar tissue itself is a normal treatment for injured body parts. Scar tissue forms, changes over time, and the scar tissue begins to behave like normal healthy tissue.
Scar tissue is made up of collagen. After an injury, your body deposits collagen, which turns into normal, healthy tissue. Collagen cells are randomly placed next to damaged tissue, resulting in scar tissue. (Normal, healthy collagen builds up in certain ways and in certain directions, making tissues stronger.)
Is the scar tissue permanent?
Scar tissue is not a permanent part of the body. Once it has formed and healed, the scar needs to be reshaped so that it can withstand the stresses and forces that the body may face during each day. The remodeling process is necessary to restore the normal range of motion , strength , and mobility of the damaged tissue. Failure to reshape scar tissue can lead to loss of mobility and joint contractures.
Scar tissue treatment methods
If you have developed scar tissue after an injury or surgery, your physical therapist can massage the scar into the injured tissue to help with the reshaping process. You can also teach yourself or a family member the correct technique for massaging scars.
Be sure to check with your healthcare professional or physical therapist to make sure proper healing has occurred and if massage of the scar tissue is appropriate. Massaging a scar that has not fully healed can damage the developing scar tissue, which can delay healing. Massaging an unhealed scar can open it up and lead to bacteria and infections in your body. This is bad.
In general, to begin massaging the scar, the scar must be completely closed and free of scabs.
Again, your health care provider and physical therapist should evaluate your scar before starting a scar massage.
Usually a small amount of lubricant is used when massaging the scars. It can be baby oil, lotion, or vitamin E oil. It is used to keep the scar and skin elastic and smooth while massaging the scar tissue. Do not use lubricant if you have open wounds or incisions. This may be the way that fat and infections can enter the body.
Cross friction massage
One of the effective methods of massaging scars is called cross friction massage or cross friction massage. To do this, use one or two fingers to massage the scar in a direction perpendicular to the scar line.
This technique helps reshape the scar and ensures proper alignment of the collagen fibers in the scar. Cross rubbing massage is commonly used to treat tendonitis, muscle strains, or sprains. The technique takes five to 10 minutes. If you are asked to do this, you can massage the scar tissue two or three times a day.
Myofascial release (MFR) is often used to treat scar tissue and the adhesions that can accompany scar tissue. The technique involves massaging the skin and underlying tissues around the scar with your hands. The movements are slow and the force is usually low. Your personal physician can feel the limitations of a tissue called fascia in different directions and work to improve movement in those limited directions.
Instrumental scar tissue massage.
A relatively new technique used in physical therapy is called Instrumental Soft Tissue Mobilization (ISATM). This technique involves the use of special stainless steel instruments of various shapes and sizes to massage and mobilize the tissues. Your GP can use this technique by rubbing the scar tissue with the instrument, "tearing" the existing tissue. The use of IASTM is new and therefore may lack the rigorous scientific research necessary to decide whether or not it is used in a physical therapy clinic .
Stretching and flexibility exercises are another common method of reshaping scar tissue. This can help lengthen damaged tissues and improve overall mobility. If you've had an injury or surgery, your physical therapist will likely include scar massage and stretching in your rehab program.
Stretching scar tissue can be an important component of your rehabilitation program. Most therapists agree that long-term, low-stress stretching is necessary to help you fully reshape scar tissue.
Post fracture scar treatment
The scar tissue in the bone is called a callus and persists for 4 to 12 weeks after the fracture. If a bone was broken and physical therapy began, your therapist may massage the overlying tissue near the callus to restore normal mobility. If you have surgery to repair a broken bone, you can massage the scars over the incision.
Another way to improve callus formation on your bones is to do resistance exercises. The bone grows in response to stress on it ( the Wolfe ). Your physical therapist can find the right exercises for you to improve your overall bone strength after a fracture. Be sure to check with your doctor and physical therapist to make sure your fracture has healed enough to begin resistance exercise.
How long does the remodeling of scar tissue take?
How long does it take to reshape scar tissue? Well, we are all different and heal at different rates. Usually it takes six to eight weeks to completely rebuild damaged body tissue. Just remember to do it slowly and provide a good sustained load with little stress on the scar tissue.
Does Science Support Scar Massage?
When you apply any treatment to your body during rehab, you need to ask yourself if such treatment is necessary and if it really works. So what does the scientific literature say about scar tissue massage? A 2012 meta-analysis looked at ten scar tissue massage studies and found that the methods and applications varied, with the majority of the studies weak. Conclusion: "Although scar massage is effective in practice, there is little scientific evidence to support this in the literature. "
Does this mean that scar massage is not for you? Absolutely not. If it's good and helps you move better, then it's effective. But you need to understand that this may not be the best use of your time (or health care money) if you have scar tissue that needs to be rebuilt.
The evidence for scar tissue massage is largely anecdotal.
Get the word of drug information
Scar tissue grows in the body as a normal response to injury. This injury can be caused by repetitive stress, fractures, or surgeries. Treatment of the scar with massage, stretching and exercise of scar tissue is essential to ensure proper reshaping of the scar and restore normal mobility and function.
Frequently asked questions
This is possible if the tissue is fresh and inflamed, as new scars usually appear within the first two weeks. It is best not to handle such tissue too aggressively, as this can increase inflammation and slow normal healing and scarring.
After two years, massage is unlikely to improve the appearance of the scar, increase mobility, or soften the tissue.