Scars Tell a Story
When I was a child, my Dad used to make up bedtime stories for me – he was amazing at it.
But Mum was not so much the creative type, so she stuck with non-fiction – one of my favourite topics of all was ‘how I got this scar’.
I loved it because it told me something about her from before I was born. Each one of her scars was, in a way, part of our family history. Scars are landmarks for our own private story, an important part of what makes us who we are.
There’s often a lot wrapped up in a scar, way beyond the physical – memories, pain, worry and change; trauma to body and soul. Although they’re associated with pain, and actually because of it, it’s so important that we talk about our scars, acknowledge them, touch them, and get to know them. Make friends with them if you can…
Examples include surgical scars (for example Caesarean section scar, hernia operation scar, breast surgery, open heart surgery), traumatic scars (for example following a serious accident), scars incurred during childbirth and others.
Usually, we can start massaging scars 6 weeks after they’ve formed. In the treatment room, we’ll always ask about scars we come across and, wherever possible and appropriate, massage and mobilise scar tissue (explaining and checking always that our patient is comfortable). We’ll then encourage our patient to massage the scar at home, and show them how to do that.
Massaging your scar regularly has benefits on several levels:
All of these benefits combined, as explained below, will lead to better health and possible resolution of long-standing symptoms of pain or discomfort.
Research shows that scar tissues continue to remodel, even years after being formed.
Remodelling is the process of replacing low-performing, fibrous scar tissue with higher-quality tissue that’s as close as possible in its properties to the original, damaged tissue.
There is good evidence that massage, pressure and stretching of the scar tissue helps stimulate and accelerate this process.
When we touch and massage a scarred area, we send signals to our brain with feedback of pleasant, non-painful sensory stimulation.
This helps ‘reassure’ our brain and reinforce the message that this area isn’t painful anymore – that it’s OK now.
This feedback is vital for its effect on the emotional and postural consequences of a scar – as discussed below.
On a deeper level, and probably most importantly, massaging and acknowledging our scars brings us closer to accepting their existence.
By accepting our scar as part of us, we may also be able to accept the events which happened around it.
Working ‘from the outside in’, it may help us acknowledge this part of our past which we cannot change, but which we have overcome, healed from, and grew stronger as a result.*
In some cases, our body’s alignment is altered following the event which caused our scar – as we instinctively adopt a certain position to reduce pain and protect the site of injury or surgery.
While this might have been helpful at the time, we often hold ourselves in this position long after the physical need for protection has gone, and the pain diminished.
Once we’ve learned to accept our scar, and taught our body that the pain and the need for protection are no longer there, we can re-align and establish a better, more balanced posture. This is often a pivotal step in the resolution of chronic pain and symptoms, which are the direct or indirect result of this altered posture and movement pattern.
As Osteopaths, we take time to get to know you and your history, observe you at rest and in motion, and identify the patterns which may be contributing to your symptoms.
We address this in the treatment room with hands-on treatment and practical, comprehensive advice. We explain everything we find and do to help you understand these patterns better, and guide you towards change.
This is often the key to meaningful, long-lasting improvement in symptoms, allowing you to keep doing what makes you happy, pain-free and comfortable.
Talk to Us
If there’s anything you’d like to discuss with our Osteopaths, you can make an appointment now for a FREE 15-minute telephone or in-person consultation here: https://meadowsideosteopathy.co.uk/book-online/.
*Please note, as manual therapists we are not qualified to offer counselling or psychotherapy. If we identify the need for emotional support, we will discuss this with you and help you find it.