Can Muscles Have Scars?
In a similar way that our skin develops a scar after an injury that can be painful, thick, and feel tighter than the normal skin around it, our muscles can develop “scars”. The biggest difference is that we cannot see it. Sometimes we feel it when our muscle are tight and sore and we mistake it for a trigger point. When this happens, and it very commonly does, no amount of stretching, pushing or pulling is going to adequately address the problem, or even worse, the source of the problem.
How do our muscles get injured in the first place?
There is the traditional acute type injury where you roll your ankle and feel a pop, mis-step and strain your groin, or fall on an outstretched arm and tear your rotator cuff. Those are all injuries causing tissue damage that we can definitely help, but the injury does not have to be traumatic to cause significant problems in your body. The damage from a very small but repetitive stress can be just as damaging as or more damaging than one major accident. For example, weakness and instability in our core muscles and gluteal muscles can put an incredible amount of abnormal force on our knees. We don’t feel the pain every day but a small amount of damage is done to the supporting muscles and ligaments of the knee with every step you take. This starts the process of tissue change – the muscles start feeling tight and slight inflammation is present, the muscle then begins to heal but fibrous scar tissue that is tough and disorganized is laid down instead of normal contractile muscle tissue. It is not something you notice until you begin having constant unexplainable knee pain or worse, take one wrong step and have that major devastating injury. Similarly, constant tightness in our neck and upper back muscles combined with poor neck and shoulder posture can put abnormal stress on the joints in our neck, and even worse on the intervertebral discs that are little cushions between each of the bones in our spine. This is often tightness and discomfort that we do notice early on but often can do nothing about. You stretch and stretch but still have tightness and pain at the end of each day.
How do I fix the problem?
Stretching may help slightly by loosening up the muscle but it doesn’t take care of the abnormal “scar” tissue in the muscle, which we refer to as myofascial adhesions. Our treatment at Pearson Chiropractic is two-fold: we address these adhesions using either Active Release Technique (A.R.T) or Graston Technique. A.R.T. utilizes localized pressure with the doctor’s thumb and active movement of the muscle by the patient. Graston is similar but instead of the doctor’s thumb, we use an instrument to break up those adhesions and make room for normal healthy muscle tissue to grow back. After this initial form of treatment, the doctors at Pearson Chiropractic will determine what is causing this problem in the first place, be it abnormal posture, muscular imbalance, or even the placement of your computer screen at work, and help you correct the problem so the injury and pain does not return.
For any questions about these soft tissue techniques, or to schedule an appointment today, call our office at (701)-852-5230.
In health and happiness,
Drs. Paul and Devanni Pearson