When your body suffers an injury such as a cut or burn, a scar can form at that spot after the initial wound has healed up. The likelihood of a scar increases with the severity of the injury. Sometimes, restricted mobility at the site can result. However, there are ways to reduce scar formation and improve mobility after the fact.
While scars are nature’s way of healing the body and strengthening the connective tissues, sometimes this healing process can hamper movement – especially when the scar is on a joint such as the elbow or knee.
The Anatomy of a Scar
During the healing process, your body will lay down extra collagen fibers that will later lead to the formation of a scar. In fact, scar formation can last for a year or more after the initial injury, whether as the result of surgery, a sporting accident or a burn. At first, those fibers come together quite randomly, leading to a scar that is firm and thick. If you do nothing about this, the scar will bind together, get rigid and act like a glue of sorts.
The scar, in effect, starts to stick to tendons, muscle, tendons, and bone in severe cases. This makes it very difficult to freely move your joints near the area of injury. It can also be somewhat uncomfortable when you apply direct pressure to the scar. On top of that, you could become very sensitive to various textures.
Manipulating Scar Tissue
Thankfully, there are methods of manipulating scar tissue to limit the impact of scar adhesion. While there’s really no way to change how much scar tissue the body will create, there are things that can be done to affect the flexibility of the resulting scar.
Think of it this way: you have a mound of dough on your kitchen counter. We can equate this to what a scar looks like in the earliest stages of formation. But if you start kneading the dough with your fists or apply a rolling pin to it, the dough gets softer, thinner, and more pliable. This is exactly what happens when you repeatedly massage your scar tissue once the initial healing process is over with.
Here are some suggestions:
- Massage: Apply lotion with aloe, Vitamin E oil, or a silicone scar gel such as Scarfade, to the affected area. Using your thumbs and fingers, apply firm pressure to massage the area in a circular motion. Now, move your thumb and fingers along the length and width of the scar.
- Active Motion: Bend and extend your joints to minimize scar adhesion.
- Rolling: Starting at one end of the area, pinch the skin with your fingers and gently roll back and forth.
- Apply Sunscreen: This will minimize color changes, as scars are sensitive to UV rays and can darken in color if exposed.
- Silicone Scar Sheets and Gels: Use a silicone gel such as Scarfade to help reduce redness and improve scar texture. This will keep moisture in and thereby promote greater flexibility.