The Women's Journal

Could A Scar Be The Limiting Factor In Your Health & Wellness?

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Dr. Bianca-Alexis Ferrante PT, DPT

Do you know anyone without a scar on their body? I can’t think of one person. Most people wish their scars were invisible because they provide unwanted attention and cause embarrassment, without realizing how the scars could actually be affecting them physically. You or someone you know may have experienced pain and/or immobility from a scar caused by childbirth (vaginally or via cesarean section), a hysterectomy, or after an abdominal surgery (e.g. removal of the gallbladder, appendix, hernia, or with a colon resection).

Scars are a normal part of healing as the body attempts to mend itself. They generally indicate an injury to a specific area, whether it is from a nasty burn, a painful cut, or a surgery (even laparoscopic). Scars can be external or internal, with internal scars referred to as adhesions. Although the formation of scar tissue is a normal healing process, it grows randomly and deforms surrounding tissues, decreasing their strength and flexibility. This erratic formation can increase the tension on tendons and trap nerves.

When the skin is damaged, the scar that develops externally is generally raised, with a different texture and quality than the surrounding tissue. In addition, it can lead to immobility of the connective tissue, possibly causing pain and tightness to the affected or surrounding areas. Scars are obviously found throughout the body, but as a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, I mainly address ones found in the abdominal and pelvic regions.

Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that form between organs or tissues, causing these structures that should normally be separate, to stick (or adhere) together. Many are aware of scar tissue (adhesions) forming after a muscle strain, which is a tear in the muscle tissue. This can occur from repetitive injury to the muscle, where it is stressed from completing the same motion continuously (e.g. throwing a ball, or improperly picking up a baby from the crib), or from a single forceful occurrence (e.g. lifting). Poor body mechanics and a high tensile load can be contributing factors to muscle strains. Many are not aware that adhesions can also develop in the abdomen and/or in the pelvic region after infections, injury, surgery, radiation, or with endometriosis. 

Adhesions can go unnoticed because they may not cause any pain or immobility. Other times though, adhesions can be debilitating, causing severe and/or chronic pain specifically in the abdomen, pelvic region, hips, or low back. The pain can be excruciating (i.e. doubling over in agony), a dull aching, or a tightness. It is also possible to feel as though everything in your abdominal wall or pelvic cavity is pulling to one area. Pain can also occur with urination, bowel movements, or intercourse. Aside from pain, adhesions can cause infertility, bowel obstructions, bladder dysfunction, digestive issues, constipation, and immobility. 

Movement is key! Motion of some sort will help decrease pain and prevent adhesions from limiting your everyday mobility. Stretching and walking are very important. At Revive Health & Wellness, manual therapy is a vital portion of the treatment sessions, in order to break apart the deformed scar tissue. Manual therapies, such as stretching, cross friction massage, instrument assisted scar tissue massage (e.g. using a soft or spiked ball, or cups), soft tissue massage, myofascial release, and cupping can reduce the effects of scars and adhesions by improving flexibility. These techniques, used for internal and external scars, increase circulation and decrease collagen cross linking. Patients are also provided with at-home techniques in an effort to accelerate healing, and maintain flexibility and motility. 

It is important to take the initiative for treatment in order to decrease your chances of developing painful, life-obstructing symptoms, which should not be considered as “normal.”  I encourage you to call Revive Health & Wellness today to return to a more flexible, empowering you. 

Dr. Bianca-Alexis Ferrante is the owner & founder of Revive Health & Wellness. A graduate of the University of Hartford, she treats women with pelvic floor dysfunction. After graduation, Dr. Ferrante worked in various physical therapy settings (skilled nursing facility, outpatient, acute care hospital, and home health care). While treating rehab patients, Dr. Ferrante saw the correlation between aligning the body and successful treatment of incontinence and pelvic discomfort. The Herman and Wallace Pelvic Floor courses provided her with the knowledge to properly treat these patients. Seeing how women were limiting themselves and not living life to their potential, instilled the desire within her to create an environment that would empower women to heal.