- Chronic Pain & Wellness
- Chronic Pain & Wellness
Scarring may have deeper effects on the body
Scars are not pretty. Burns, cuts, surgery, and abrasions can cause permanent damage in this amazing organ called the skin. The skin is just as much of a seamless tissue as the connective tissue beneath it. When we cut our skin, regardless of how deep it is, the amazing healing properties of our body go to work to pull the edges that have been damaged back together.
And even though the skin’s surface may appear to heal with just a hint of a mark remaining, beneath the skin’s surface a great deal of change can occur. This is why scars sometimes look sort of lumpy or discolored, and can be painful around the area where the scar is. There also may be issues down the road that you may not even realize are tied to the incident that caused the scar.
Let me explain.
A client came in complaining of severe low back pain. After an X-ray and MRI, the doctor found some minor bulging discs and suggested cortisone shots and possible surgery. She came to me to see if there were any alternatives to surgery or medication.
“Won’t the shots just mask the problem instead of eliminating it?” she asked.
Exactly. She took the words right out of my mouth. In fact, her question goes to the heart of why I have worked so hard to further evolve the MELT Method and get the word out about it. I want to help all the people who I can’t see in my office avoid surgery or medication if it’s not absolutely necessary.
Even upon quick inspection of my client, I instantly saw some pelvic rotation and lateral tilting. I asked her if she’d ever had a cesarean. She replied that she had a few. This was even before she sat down to fill out her history and questionnaire form. She also had had an appendectomy at 18.
“Why do you ask?” she inquired inquisitively.
“Well, it looks to me like something is obstructing your pelvic alignment and from working on a lot of women with the same symptoms as you, this is oftentimes a missing cause of back pain. I don’t suppose you also have heavy menstrual cycles or fibroids?” I asked.
“Wow. Yes. Both. That’s kind of cool that you can hone in on issues like that so fast. Can you fix this?” she asked, as her eyes grew even bigger.
“Let’s see. Hop up on my table and I’ll check,” I said.
In less than 20 minutes of mobilizing the scar in the front of her abdomen and the tissue deep to the skin that had become adhered from structure to structure including her bladder, and large intestine and lumbar spine, she took a very deep breath and said, “Holy cow. I can tell you just did something because I can feel my breath all the way to my pelvis.”
Over the course of the session I’d identified tissue obstruction that was also causing her to have frequent bladder infections, hip cramping, and even some chronic jaw pain.
As she stood up and bent over to touch the floor, I told her: “It’s all connected. If your pelvis isn’t free to move, your low back compresses, your head carriage and jaw position change and all sorts of problems can arise.”
I gave her some MELT at-home treatments to sustain the changes we made and scheduled another appointment the following week.
When she came into my office not only did her face look different, she lifted up her shirt and said, “It might just be me but the color of my scar looks closer to my natural skin tone and it’s less lumpy too.”
“What about your back pain?” I asked because that’s what she came in complaining about.
“I don’t even want to say this out loud because it’s been painful for so long. But since I left your office last week I’ve had zero pain. I even walked to work instead of taking a cab for the last four days. I want to go for a run but I didn’t want to push my luck until after I saw you today,” she said with a smile.
Can scarring really cause these many issues in the body? Yes, definitely, and MELTing can help with many of these problems.
Scar tissue forming is an amazing process involving the cells found in our connective tissue. The primary cell of connective tissue is called a fibroblast. When we injure our skin (or any part of our body really) these amazing cells transform into myofibroblasts. When a wound needs healing, these cells deposit collagen fibers and create stress to the tissue. The intracellular contraction these cells create pulls the tissue ends together, aligning the collagen fibers with something called integrin-mediated pulling onto the collagen bundles.
Along with white blood cells, this mixture both pulls the skin’s surface together while filling up the gap with collagen. Thus a scar forms. Although they say time heals all wounds, it doesn’t do this as a perfect replication of the tissue prior to its damage and in some more severe cases the problem is much deeper (literally and metaphorically).
In the case of my client with the tissue obstruction, as I worked on her, I discovered the adhesions that were present the first session had entirely changed. Think of stimulating a scar like working fluid into a dry sponge. You have to slowly work the fluid into all the cells of the sponge to plump it up and open all the nooks and crannies. That’s basically what I told her I was doing to restore the sliding surfaces that keep the organs in her belly, her pelvis, and her low back in good condition.
This isn’t magic. You can help yourself and reduce the risk of a scar adhesion or what’s called fibrosis (no matter how old the scar is) from causing more problems later. As initial scar tissue forms, the continuity of the tissues adjacent to the scar can become affected and over time, although unnecessary in healing, the scar tissue expands to healthy tissue slowly growing in size.
To reduce the risk here are some simple techniques I recommend doing multiple times a day if possible. Watch this video:
Skin rolling, doing the stack and pull technique, and even mild stretching can all help reduce excessive scar formation under the skin. It’s simple to do so try it on a scar and remember, no matter when your scar first formed, you can improve the color and tone of the tissue with these types of techniques.
Try it and I would love to hear about whether or not you’ve seen or felt improvement around your scars.
About the author
Creator of the MELT Method®
Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, is a nationally recognized somatic-movement educator and manual therapist. Her decades of practice, research, and study of anatomical science and alternative therapies... View Articles