Can Physical Therapy Help Reduce Scar Tissue?

Can Physical Therapy Help Reduce Scar Tissue? | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

Scar tissue is integral to your body’s healing process.

Every time you recover from an injury, your body creates scar tissue in order to repair and protect itself.

This is especially true when you’re recovering from surgery.

But, depending on the location of your injury, that scar tissue can impact your mobility.

It can also be quite visible, and while that’s not an issue that bothers everybody, for some it may cause issues of self confidence and self esteem.

Whatever your reason, if you have issues with scar tissue, surgery recovery physical therapy can help.

Here at Capitol Physical Therapy, we offer physical therapy injury consultations as well as treatment to help manage your scar tissue and other issues.

If your mobility and flexibility has been impacted after healing from surgery, keep reading to find out more about how physical therapy can help to break down the scar tissue in your body.

What Is Scar Tissue?

Scar tissue is the way your body heals itself after an injury.

It is the thick and fibrous tissue that your body creates during the inflammatory process that facilitates healing.

This thick tissue is made up of collagen cells that remain in a clump once your body has healed itself, as opposed to the usual structure found in the rest of your skin.

Scar tissue can be found anywhere you’ve experienced an injury.

This includes inside your body as well as on the surface of your skin.

Generally speaking, the more severe the injury, the more scar tissue your body will create.

This is especially true if it’s the result of a deep cut resulting from a surgery.

However, scar tissue is not created to be permanent.

It can go through a process called remodeling, where the abnormal clump of cells are slowly loosened and replaced with normally aligned cells.

Types Of Scar Tissue

There are many different types of scar tissue, and each one looks unique.

The type of scar tissue your body creates will depend on a number of different factors like your general nutrition level, placement on the body, what you do after the injury or surgery, and the nature of the injury you’re healing from.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Are Contracture Scars?

If you’re healing from a burn, it’s likely you have contracture scar tissue.

Contracture scar tissue causes your skin to contract and tighten, which makes the affected area stiff.

Depending on the size of this scar and location, especially if it’s over a joint, it can impact your mobility.

What Is Depressed Scar Tissue?

Depressed scar tissue is also called atrophic scar tissue.

Like the name suggests, this type appears sunken and is often caused by chickenpox or acne.

If you have any on your face, it can become more noticeable over time because your skin will lose elasticity and collagen as you age.

What Is Keloid Scar Tissue?

Keloid scar tissue is raised above your skin’s surface and is usually larger than the initial wound area.

It almost looks overgrown, and can affect movement depending on its location in your body.

What Is Hypertrophic Scar Tissue?

Similar to the keloid type, but not spreading beyond the wound, is raised or hypertrophic scar tissue.

This type will deflate and shrink overtime, but never completely flatten out.

What Are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are another type of scar tissue that can occur when your skin expands or shrinks too quickly.

These are the only type to not develop from a wound, but rather during pregnancy, puberty, or weight fluctuation.

Can You Develop Internal Scarring?

Yes, it’s possible for you to develop scar tissue inside your body after particular health conditions like Asherman’s syndrome or after surgery.

What Causes Scar Tissue?

Scar tissue is usually caused by an injury.

Your body begins its inflammatory process to heal the site of injury by cleaning up the damaged cells and bringing in new cells, like collagen, that will create healthy tissue.

Your body arranges these collagen cells, which are flexible and strong, to become healthy tissue that can stretch as you move your body.

But, it’s not a perfect science and so sometimes these collagen cells ball or clump up, which diminishes their flexibility and structure.

This is what causes scar tissue and why it can feel stiffer than the rest of your skin.

Is Scar Tissue A Problem?

This is a common question, and the answer, broadly speaking, is that it depends on the extent of the scar and how you feel about it.

Scar tissue itself is not a problem, but it can cause stiffness which can impact your range of motion or cause pain depending on its location.

Scar tissue might also be a problem if it is very visible and your sense of self esteem or self worth is affected by it.

This doesn’t affect everyone and you might not be bothered by your scar tissue if it’s only aesthetic.

That’s okay too.

RELATED: Can Physical Therapy Help With Mental Health?

Essentially, scar tissue is only a problem if you see it as one.

There are many people who don’t mind their scars and there’s nothing wrong with that.

help to break down the scar tissue in your body | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

How Does Physical Therapy For Scar Tissue Work?

The good news is that if you do want to reduce your scar tissue, physical therapy is a great solution for that.

By using techniques that promote remodeling, physical therapy helps your body to loosen the clumped cells and replace them with cells that are structurally similar to the surrounding tissue.

Let’s find out more about some of the techniques your physical therapist can use to break up your scar tissue.

1. Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a technique that breaks up scar tissue in the soft tissue found just under your skin.

Your physical therapist will use slow motions of gentle force in targeted areas to release tension and break up the scar tissue.

2. Stretches

Stretches are another great way that your physical therapist can help to break up your scar tissue.

Depending on the location of the tissue and the type of stretches best suited to breaking it up, you may end up improving your flexibility too.

3. Soft Tissue Mobilization

Another technique your physical therapist might use to break up your scar tissue is soft tissue mobilization.

This technique involves gently mobilizing and massaging your soft tissue into positions that will help to break up the scar tissue.

4. Dry Needling

Finally, your physical therapist may recommend dry needling to help break up your scar tissue.

Dry needing is the insertion of very thin, fine needles into your skin called filiform needles.

On the surface it may look similar to acupuncture, but there’s a fairly significant .

Preliminary studies have shown that dry needling does help to reduce scar tissue and improve mobility, but more research is still needed.

RELATED: Dry Needling Physical Therapy Treatments

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

There’s a variety of ways that physical therapy can help to break down your scar tissue.

Whether it’s to improve your mobility, or to reach an aesthetic goal, Capitol Physical Therapy’s team of experienced therapists are ready to help you get there.

Book an appointment today with Capitol Physical Therapy to get started.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC