Scar tissue if left untreated/unmanaged could lead to mobility and chronic pain issues. Individuals that are recovering from a traumatic injury often have issues brought on from scar tissue. Scar tissue build-up is part of the healing process but in some cases, the tissue build-up can create another set of health issues. Restricted mobility and range of motion and lack of flexibility can worsen over time.
Chiropractors are taught to consider the presence of scar tissue when performing adjustments. This is especially true for patients recovering from a traumatic injury. If left untreated it could affect:
- Recovery progress
- Treatment approaches
- The capability of the individual to handle the treatment
- The planning and execution for a chiropractic recovery strategy
Scar Tissue Breakdown
Scar tissue can be broken up, managed, and kept loose/relaxed through various chiropractic/physical therapy techniques, stretches, exercises, and diet adjustments. Breaking up scar tissue and keeping it relaxed is necessary to restore full movement and range of motion. A certain degree of scar tissue will remain to mark the wound, but the pliability and softness of these tissues can be treated. Chiropractors can implement several techniques to break down scar tissue.
The Graston technique uses instrumentation for addressing scarring in soft-tissue areas like the legs, neck, and lower back. A chiropractor targets the thicker scar tissue areas gently breaking them down.
Using a pulsating instrument, chiropractors can target specific areas of scar tissue buildup. The instrument massages the areas to improve flexibility and reduce stress in the tissue.
The assisted manipulation technique soothes the area before performing manual adjustments. A chiropractor could use light oil for heat, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to loosen tension, or numbing gel/cream to soften any sensitivity.
Trigger point therapy
This therapy focuses on heavily scarred tissue areas, where there is substantial buildup. A chiropractor breaks down the scar tissue while continually testing the motion.
Therapeutic massage is necessary with widespread scar tissue. It improves blood flow and gently stimulates scar tissue to improve movement and alleviate pain. These techniques and how they are applied depends on the individual and the amount of tissue build-up. For example, certain techniques work better for different situations like:
- The Graston technique could help after surgery
- Trigger point therapy can help when muscle spasms, and knots present
- Therapeutic massage could be best suited for soft tissue scarring, like whiplash or muscle strains
Recent injuries that produce scar tissue can usually be felt while a chiropractor palpates the area, while radiological imaging shows scar tissue from past injuries. A chiropractor will take note of these areas when developing a treatment plan. Severe scar tissue will need special focus, which could mean a longer recovery. This is because the body could take longer to adjust to the adjustments being made. A thorough consultation and investigation will be performed/examined before any adjustments begin.
Whiplash Chiropractic Massage
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Shin, Thuzar M, and Jeremy S Bordeaux. “The role of massage in scar management: a literature review.” Dermatologic surgery: official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.] vol. 38,3 (2012): 414-23. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2011.02201.x