Scar tissue after surgery is often overlooked. Anything from C-sections and appendectomies, to hip replacements and deep cuts. What comes with these scars is much more than meets they eye. The anatomy is changed both above and below the surface resulting in altered feedback to your brain.
In practice we have seen many people coming through after surgery with increased back pain, altered coordination, fear of injury from simple activities, restricted movement, and a decrease or loss of sensation. Many patients begin to accept these restrictions on their body as their new normal. It doesn’t have to be.
Healing Scarring from Cesarean Sections
One of the most common issues we see in practice is women complaining of low back pain and loss of strength or engagement of their core following a c-section. This kind of surgery has a tremendous effect on the functions of the midline. For these new mothers simple tasks such as twisting to feed their baby or bending over to pick them up comes with the risk of injury. They are left feeling both physically and emotionally fragile. Many feel helpless and frustrated. They try everything. Crunches, sit ups, planks, russian twists, weight loss, you name it. Often times they go to physical therapy and regain some strength temporarily but it just doesn’t seem to stick. That’s because one piece of the puzzle isn’t being addressed: Scar tissue.
Why Does Scar Tissue Hinder Recovery?
If you have not already read our scar tissue post I’m just going to give you a quick recap. Scar tissue is what your body makes to help heal an injury. Whether you mildly roll your ankle or cut your finger, the result is scar tissue. Your tissues, muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, etc run in a uniform structure. When that structure becomes damaged your body puts down fibrous tissues in every which direction to try to stabilize the area. Over time, and as the injury heals the tissue gets somewhat remodeled, but there are still lingering adhesions that restrict flexibility in the tissue, and as a result the tissues are just not quite the same. If you want to test this out for yourself.
[pullquote]Never underestimate the power of past wounds; even the smallest scars can affect the overall state of the entire body.[/pullquote]
Put your finger on an area of skin, apply gentle pressure and gently push around in all directions. You’ll notice you can move it pretty effortlessly in all directions. Now try this same procedure over a scar. Take notice of what you’re feeling. Is there one or more directions that just don’t move quite the same as the rest? Is the scar slightly numb or does it have increased sensation?
Scar tissue is a form of static.You know that fuzzy sound when listening to the radio. You can still hear the song but it’s not super clear; sometimes other stations bleed in. Well scar tissue has this same effect to different degrees, depending on the injury and your body’s capacity to heal. Your body has this sense called proprioception, which by definition means “The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself.” Basically your body unconsciously knows where all your parts are in space, at all times. It detects this using a very intricate system of nerves and using your inner ear. Scar tissue can be thought of as a kind of static. In the case of the c-section, feedback from the abdominal muscles to the brain is altered. This makes sense because these muscles were sliced open and stitched back together, making other muscles of the core (psoas, iliacus, and erectors) have to take up the slack. These muscles are now overworking trying to stabilize your spine, leading to trigger points in the muscle, less stable and coordinated motion, weakness, pain, and higher risk for injury. Movements that you never thought twice about like bending forward to pick up a pencil or sitting up from a lying position become cumbersome and scary tasks.
Healing Scarring So You Can Recover
The good news is, this can be fixed. Some of the therapies we use in our clinic include microcurrent treatments, dry needling, cupping and Graston or Gua Sha. There are many ways to approach this healing process, so if you can’t make it into our clinic, make sure you find a qualified practitioner that can help you on your path to recovery.
These therapies combined with Chiropractic manipulation help to remodel the scar tissue, stimulate a healing response, and reset the nervous system by removing compensatory patterns. Rehabbing the muscles and restoring proper movement through physical therapy is also a crucial part. This is where re-patterning simple acts like breathing and proper abdominal bracing come into play. By treating the scar tissue we can prime the system for optimal healing.
Getting Your Amazing Body Back In Harmony
All in all, the body deserves a ton of credit for its incredible compensating capabilities. However, with the use of traditional and modern modalities, it is possible to send the body the right signals to bring it back into a state of balance and harmony. Never underestimate the power of past wounds; even the smallest scars can affect the overall state of the entire body.