Your skin possesses an amazing ability to regenerate itself. Over the course of a lifetime, the average person’s skin heals from any number of small wounds, cuts, and scrapes, as well as more serious burns, lacerations and other injuries. Scar tissue is a crucial part of this process, forming a protective layer over a wound to shield it from infection as the skin rebuilds itself.
Unfortunately, scar tissue can also be source of great discomfort, causing considerable pain and irritation throughout the healing process, and potentially lead to more serious long-term problems. Massage therapy can be a valuable tool in helping to manage issues related to scarring, and preventing further complications.
Read on to find out more about the effects of scar tissue injuries and how massage therapists can treat these patients.
Scar tissue is made up of extremely fibrous collagen, and is formed both internally and externally to protect wounds. This is a natural process and in most cases will eliminate the scars once the body is healed. Unfortunately, scar tissue is not as functional as the tissue it replaces. This places extra stress on neighbouring tissues, potentially leading to pain, numbness, nerve impingement, and decreased range of motion and general flexibility. Appropriate massage therapy can help restore tissue to optimal function.
Massage therapist school graduates may also be faced with more aggravated symptoms with burn victims, who can experience deep permanent scars which are more likely to cause discomfort and/or dysfunction.
Treatment for complications of scar tissue may involve myofascial release to the area around the scar, which can help break down scar tissue and relax the surrounding muscles. Lymphatic drainage can be useful to help restore the flow of lymphatic fluid to the area, reducing swelling and improving circulation.
Deep tissue techniques could also help to prevent new adhesions from forming around the scar, while stretching techniques and other active modalities can also be helpful in restoring range of motion in the damaged area once it has healed.
Therapeutic massage diploma students take the utmost care when treating scar tissue injuries, and preferably advise the patient to consult with their physician before proceeding. It is important to monitor the area as the treatment program progresses, and discontinue or change your treatment plan if the client experiences any pain or further inflammation. Massage should never be performed on open lesions, and care must also be taken with radiated tissues, which can be especially delicate and break easily during treatment.
Nonetheless, studies have still shown that massage can prove very beneficial, particularly with patients suffering from more serious scar tissue injuries. For instance, a 2007 study conducted in Korea on burn survivors showed that patients experienced improved skin status and reduced pruritus and depression after three months of treatment. The scars also improved in pigmentation, vascularity, pliability and height.
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