What is Scar Tissue? Does it work with physical therapy?

Cuts and other injuries in our body damage the connective tissue. Tissues such as nerves and cartilage have less self-repairing capacity. On the other hand, the regeneration and repair ability of tissues such as connective tissue and bone is high. In the natural course of healing, scar tissue occurs instead of the lost tissue. After a good healing, the scar tissue shrinks to an almost imperceptible extent and the tissue can regain its former appearance. However, in large tissue losses, additional problems such as infection or other personal reasons, a large scar may occur and become permanent.

How Is Scar Tissue Formed?

Scar tissue is made up of collagen fibers. Collagen fibers are part of the connective tissue that has many functions in the body. Collagen is found in various tissues such as muscle, tendon, ligament, skin, bone. In the scar tissue, it takes part in the repair of the damaged connective tissue as a result of injury. Although scarring is most commonly associated with skin incisions, it can also occur after muscle, ligament and tendon injuries.

Since it is less flexible than normal tissues, scar formation can restrict movements during the healing process and cause joint stiffness. The reason for this is that although the fibers are arranged in a certain order in normal tissue, the fibers are arranged more complexly in the scar and reinforcing connections between the fibers have not yet been formed. Scar tissue undergoes a remodeling process over time. Collagens gain flexibility and durability by being organized close to normal tissue. The remodeling period can take weeks, months or even years, depending on the extent of the injury. Sometimes the scar can become permanent.

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There may be complaints such as pain and hypersensitivity due to the nerve endings damaged during the injury or the nerve fibers compressed by the scar tissue. By restricting blood and lymph circulation, harmful metabolism products may accumulate in the tissue.

When Does Scar Tissue Form?

  • Breast surgery (mastectomy)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery
  • Hand tendon injuries
  • shoulder surgery
  • burns
  • And many more traumas or surgeries can cause scarring.


Various physical therapy methods are used to dissolve scar tissue, reduce pain and increase range of motion. Massage , mobilization, taping, stretching are some of them. Device methods such as ultrasound , laser , short wave , whirlpool can also be used to soften the scar and accelerate healing.

With scar tissue massage, adhesions can be opened and tissue remodeling can be encouraged. Special oils can be used during the massage. In order for the massage to be beneficial, it must be applied in the appropriate direction and strength; therefore, it should be done by experienced therapists who have received special training.

With kinesiology taping (kinesiotape), the skin can be stretched in the desired direction and a gap can be created between the muscle and connective tissue layers. Increased blood circulation accelerates the healing process. It is important to apply the mentioned techniques at the right time. If it is started early, the wound may reopen. This can delay healing and even lead to infection. In general, it takes 4 to 6 weeks for the soft tissue and scar to heal after an operation, and techniques such as massage, stretching, taping are started later. The doctor decides which physical therapy method is appropriate and when.

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