Understanding scar tissue
Understanding scar tissue
This months Q&A
Strike whilst the iron is hot ⚡️🔥
When would I get scar tissue? Scar tissue is a substance that lies down to fill the site of an injury or trauma to soft tissue. What is Scar tissue? Scar tissue lies underneath the epidermis (the top layer of skin) and forms random fibrous collagen deposits, these are both structurally and functionally different to muscle tissue. Scar tissue is thicker and denser than the surrounding muscle tissue and can sometimes be felt underneath the skin. What is collegen made up of? ... For the geeks! Collagen is produced by specialised cells called fibroblasts. Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins that are abundant in the human body, making up 25% - 35% of the bodies protein content. Proteins are made up of long chain amino acids. How long does it take for scar tissue to set? Scar tissue is formed in the first 72 hours, which is why RICER (rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral) is one of the most important phases of treating an injury. See below for a photo I found that best demomstrates scar tissue forming, and how RICER can improve the site of an injury. How does scar tissue affect the muscle? Scar tissue can be the main reason for re-injuring yourself time and time again in the same area, and it can be hugely frustrating. How does scar tissue affect my range of movement? Scar Tissue reduces range of movement simply due to the clustered confused fibres with the job role of patching up the area, meaning elongating the tissue is difficult. If you have ever sustained a soft tissue injury you will know that feeling of isolated tension in the site of injury when stretching a muscle. How much scar tissue will there be? As we know already, gool ol' RICER will help reduce the amount of scar tissue, however it can also vary depending on the type of injury and your bodies reaction. As a sports therapist I have seen many people with similar injuries but very different scar tissue formation. How can I reduce scar tissue?
RICE In the first 72 hours
Small amounts of mobility (NOT STRETCH) to prevent the area from becoming 'stuck'
Sports massage is the most affective way of breaking down scar tissue. Sports massage in the initial stages helps reduce the localised bleeding and prevent the scar tissue formation. A sports therapist will then use a variety of massage techniques to break down the thick substance, thus reducing the re occurance of injury later on.
Will I ever get rid of it? You will never completely get rid of scar tissue (why would you want to?) however you can certainly reduce scar tissue to a less intrusive form, increase range of movement and reduce the risk of re injuring yourself. Note: If the scar tissue is due to a severe injury (e.g. a compound fracture) or an operation to a large site there is every chance you will not regain full range of movement and function in the area.