Saturday, 20 April 2013 00:02

Approaching Scar Tissue: Manual Therapy, Acupuncture, and Herbal Medicine

Scar tissue can cause many problems, including limited range of motion, pain, and restriction of the circulation of vital fluids and energy in the body.   Our bodies tend to form scar tissue in response to misuse, overuse, surgery and trauma.  From a physiological standpoint, scar tissue is a natural reaction of the body to damage to tissues.   It is the fibrous connective tissue which forms a scar; it can be found on any tissue on the body, including skin and internal organs, where an injury, cut, surgery or disease has taken place and the body has repaired itself.   Scar tissue is composed of the same protein (collagen) as the tissue that it replaces.  However, instead of the random basket weave formation of collagen fibers found in normal tissue, the collagen cross-links and forms a pronounced alignment in a single direction. [1] This leads to tougher tissue that lacks the typical properties such as UV absorption, circulation, and flexibility that are found in normal connective tissue.  Internal scarring often has the additional problem of adhesions, or “glued” fibers from different levels of cells.  For example, connective tissue between organs and muscles can be adhered by the scar, further compromising organ function.


Common places for scar tissue to form:

-neck and shoulders, in the form of knots and misalignment

-joints, such as knees, shoulders, hips, resulting in stiffness, loss of strength, soreness, pain

-Caesarian section incision, resulting in back pain, organ imbalance which may manifest as nighttime urination, anxiety, lack of energy, and heat sensations. Lack of lymph flow in lower body and extremities.

-Appendectomy incision, resulting in  localized pain, soreness, digestive troubles, adhesions between intestine and abdominal wall.

- Carpal Tunnel and repetitive stress related surgeries- lack of sensation, soreness, a continued presence of symptoms.

There are several approaches to treating scar tissue.  The sooner therapy is started, the more effective it can be.  Fresh scars respond more quickly to treatment, but there is hope for old injuries too!  Treatments include manual therapy techniques, acupuncture and herbal medicine.

Manual therapy techniques, such as massage, myo-fascial release, fascia unwinding, and shiatsu therapy are proven effective to help restore function to inflexible tissue, balance the connective tissues in the body and normalize cellular metabolism and organ function.  This hands-on work uses varying degrees of pressure and depth to release adhesions and soften and functionalize the tougher fibrous tissues.

Acupuncture uses the unique electro-magnetic effects of acupuncture needles to improve circulation through the scarred tissues.

Certain plant medicines, such as yarrow, white oak and wormwood, have the ability to move blood and create healthy cell growth.

These three approaches, (hands-on, acupuncture, and herbs) work in synergy; each method enhances the effects of the others, treating a different dimension of scar tissue, trauma and the reverberating effects of scar tissue through the connective tissues and into the organs.

Benjamin Bartlein

Benjamin Bartlein is the owner of Eastern Shore and works as a practitioner of shiatsu massage, reiki, cranial sacral and connective tissue therapies.

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