Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A scar is a scar right?

"He with the most scars wins." Scar tissue distorts the body. But what does that mean, "distorts the body?" And should we be concerned? In short, yes. No one can achieve top performance with scars on the body, or rather scar tissue in the body. The physical appearance of a scar is one thing what is occurring underneath is altogether different. It pushes, pulls, distort cells and the extracellular matrix (myofascia...that thin layer you clean off the chicken breast.) thereby distorting the body and biomechanics. Donald Ingber, Phd, MD studies what this all means and writes about it in this paper titled  Mechanobiology and Diseases of Mechanotransduction (a mouthful I know but do not shut down the browser yet). Here, the winner with the most scars is not the winner. 

"The global shape of the cell determines it's behavior (e.g.growth versus differentiation (from simple to complex) or apoptosis (cell death)), and these effects are mediated through tension dependent changes in cytoskeletal (cell skeleton) structure and mechanics." Whew! OK, what does this mean? "The global shape of the cell determines its behavior..." means a cell that has changed shape by means of something such as scar tissue which pushes, pulls or crowds its way in will alter the function of the cell. Not good! Scar tissue from surgical procedures or traumas will therefore alter the function of cells. A scar becomes a stress point because the scarred tissue is not able to move fluidly thus causing a pull onto surrounding tissue, or cells. What happens next is loss of range of motion, altered biomechanics and altered cell function. Right sided ACL surgery? I consistently see tighter shoulders and hips. Hysterectomy, c-section and appendectomy scars...yikes...often low back pain, tight shoulders, tight hips, etc. The scar tissue is not able to move as freely as healthy tissue which puts stress on surrounding tissue and distorts at the cellular level. Distortion of the tissue or cells is what will lead to disease often local to the area of injury

Communication is also altered at the cellular level. Remember that myofascia I mentioned above? Well that is a matrix (Alfred Pischinger's research explains this nicely) where communication signals are relayed to call for an action such as neurological function, hormone control, and circulation. Restoring this communication is paramount toward relieving that distortion...it is like a black hole otherwise. Once communication is restored and the adhesions removed the body's response can be nothing short of shocking. I have seen major gains (up to 40 degrees of range of motion) in hip movement from the release of both knee surgery scars and scars such as those from c-sections. Strength in muscle that have been tight and weak will suddenly start to fire and feel relaxed and strong again. This unwinding of the body allows for less distortion and better biomechanics. It also allows for better cellular function and less chance for disease. These are very profound changes and it is the reason I ALWAYS impress the need to release scars and do so within the first 2 visits for my new patients. It is a fundamental piece of restoring optimum health.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me. Thanks for reading.