A natural response by the body to an injury, scars may look very small upon visual observation. They may be hardly detected by the eye and can be a few millimeters in length. Scars are usually immobile and long and in terms of depth, they can be quite thick and deep.
Scars caused by trauma could mean a gross trauma that is the result of progressive micro-tearing over time or may be a result of a vehicle accident. A micro tearing can ensue when a person foregoes stretching routines after a workout or if he/she continuously exercises and barely rests in between workouts.
For the most part, medical doctors do not see scars as an issue that may result in a person’s dysfunction and pain. However, it has been observed by alternative healthcare experts that the treatment of scars can produce very important benefits. Acupuncturists who have had experience in scar treatment see certain physical manifestations arising from scar tissue that is immobile:
1. Chronic swelling – Pain can be generated if a scar is tight enough that is adheres or presses down on body parts such as blood vessels or nerves. Fluid may also accumulate in an area where a scar is located. The scar may hinder the fluid from moving out of an anatomical area. This usually happens in surgery when a few or several weeks after a surgical procedure, fluid has pooled in the site of the surgery. A scar caused by surgery has a tendency to cause pain on two fronts. The scar may prevent or slow down fluid motion in the site of the surgery causing pain in that area and/or adhere to body parts that are sensitive which also results in pain. The stagnant fluid caused by a scar may likely put pressure on sensitive body parts causing pain as well. Patients may require acupuncture treatment to relieve the pain and swelling. Sometimes the treatment can be extremely successful that people with walking aids walk out the practitioner’s office by themselves without any aid at all!
2. Pain caused by postural dysfunction – Thick, tight scars may prevent the patient to sit, stand, or walk in a normal manner. The poor posture can lead to lower back, shoulder, and neck pain and headaches.
3. When stretching, a chronic tight feeling may be felt – The person may have no problems with the overall body motion of his/her body. He/she may enjoy above average range of motion or full ROM. Nevertheless, the scar in his/her body can cause the muscles to feel tight. People with this issue usually have no neurological problems. It’s the muscle tightness that is the problem. One of the most common examples of this problem is the tightness in the back of the thigh (the hamstring). No matter how much this muscle is stretched, the tightness does not go away.
4. Chronic pain – The scar can cause potential pain away from or in and around the affected area. A scar located, say, in the stomach can lead to chronic lower back pain. When the scar is treated, a dramatic improvement in the pain usually results. Some acupuncturists recall treating patients with a scar in their stomach which caused a pulling or tightness sensation in their groin. When the scar was treated and become a bit more mobile, the pulling or tightness sensation disappeared.
If the scar is thick enough and very visible, it may affect the person psychologically. The person may become too self-conscious of the body part in question causing him/her stress, embarrassment, anxiety, depression, and unhappiness.
Other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Treatments for Scars
Practitioners may use the following TCM modalities along with acupuncture to treat scars. They include:
-Tui Na (Chinese massage)
-Gua Sha (scraping)
Some of the benefits offered by acupuncture and TCM in the treatment of scar tissue are as follows:
-Better posture due to the improvement of the immobility of the scar
-Reduction of the swelling
-Enhanced circulation of blood to the affected site potentially assisting in the improvement of healing
-Better flexibility, mobility, and range of motion
-From a cosmetic standpoint, acupuncture scar treatment can help “flatten” out thick scars which makes them “invisible” to the eye. This can improve the person’s well-being and boost his/her self-esteem.
– A scar that is mobile from a Chinese medicine standpoint can help improve vital energy (Qi) flow
Is Acupuncture for Scar Treatment Painful?
In a word, no. Because it involves the sticking of needles into parts of a person’ body, acupuncture may seem to be a very invasive procedure. The truth is, it is a surprisingly quite painless procedure that can even be used on children and even babies. In the treatment of scars, depending on the constitution of the patient and the type of scar to be treated, there may be some level of discomfort that lasts for a few seconds which is often replaced by a relaxing feeling.
Unlike the thick hypodermic needles used for transfusing or drawing blood or for injections, acupuncture needles are as thin as the hair in your head and most patients sense a mild pressure or light prick; some even experience no sensation at all when the needles are stuck in their skin.
Some side effects one can expect during an acupuncture procedure include numbness, aching, soreness, heaviness, or heat. These reactions are normal and differ from patient to patient. Around the acupoints where needles are inserted is where a lot of blood vessels and nerves are found. The treatment mainly affects the nervous system. When the nervous system is stimulated, a Chinese medicine term known as De Qi (which means the arrival of the Qi) occurs. This means that the treatment is effective and the Qi is moving.
It is quite normal to see patients getting significantly better after just one treatment. Results are often quite dramatic although, in general, each patient responds to the treatment in his/her unique way.
For people who are still experiencing dysfunction, tightness, or pain several weeks or months after surgery or for those suffering from chronic pain, you need to consider acupuncture treatment for your problem. Acupuncture and the other TCM modalities may help treat your immobile and thick scars which can help you move more efficiently and resolve your scar problem from an aesthetic viewpoint.