The Impact of Scar Tissue

Scar tissue can affect your health in so many ways. It creates lines of tension that constrict circulation, lymphatics, efficiency of muscle and tendon action. Scar tissue also creates a tether that attempts to change your posture, creating a bending moment one direction or another that muscles on the opposite side of your body perpetually work to counter.

Most scars look benign but each scar is like an Iceberg, what you see is about 8%, while 92% of the scar material delves down into other tissues effecting their performance and creating the challenges listed above. Now multiply this several times over for surgical scar where multiple layers of tissue area lacerated and repaired. Scar management is a huge issue in overall health and especially in physical therapy.

Now consider abdominal surgery, the scar tissue involved is enormous and when it is untreated it begins having effects throughout the abdomen…

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  1. Vascular: the scar tissue can slow or constrict lymphatic drainage of the abdomen and lower extremities as well as increase venous pressure at all levels below the restriction. Are your feet and legs swelling? Do you have painful varicose veins?
  2. Musculoskeletal: The scar tissue can restrict the passage of nerves and muscles as they move through the abdomen to the lower extremities, this can manifest as hip pain, thigh pain and knee pain.
  3. Musculoskeletal: the pulling of scar tissue can create abnormal pressures on the spine and discs making them more likely to be symptomatic and this can manifest as back pain, hip pain or sciatica.
  4. Genitourinary: The scar tissue can affect your bladder capacity and emptying. It can also affect menstrual cycle and fertility.
  5. Gastrointestinal: One of the most common effects of abdominal scar tissue is any or all of the following: constipation, bowel irritation to specific foods, diarrhea, heartburn and indigestion.

What have you got to lose? Have your scars treated by a skilled myofascial physical therapist…in as few as 2-3 treatments you may be able to consider discontinuing medications you had resigned yourself to having to need for the rest of your life!!

LTC Tony Bare (ret), DPT, ATC, OCS
Physical Therapist/Owner
Colorado Springs, CO

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