After an injury or surgery, our bodies naturally make scar. Scar tissue can become a problem if it limits function and/or is unpleasant to look at. Scar tissue can be treated. A physical or occupational therapist who specializes in treating upper extremity injuries can help. There are several factors a therapist assesses to determine the best course of action for scar management. These factors may include the following:
- How close the scar is to a tendon or muscle: A scar may become adherent to the surrounding tissue such as tendons and/or muscles. As tissues heal, scar adhesion can make movement more difficult. Therapists prescribe specific and directed movements that can reduce adherent scarring.
- Shape of the scar: If your scar is from a surgery, it is usually a thin line. If scar is from an accident, it may be irregularly shaped and/or vary in depth which could make it unpleasant for you to look at.
- Type of scar: As skin heals, it shrinks slightly and can cause pain and interfere with motion. Hypertrophic scarring can occur causing scar tissue to form outside the normal borders of the wound. Keloid scarring can also occur which causes a large, raised scar.
- Sensitivity of the scar: Skin is used to being touched by different textures during the day such as clothes, jewelry, and resting surfaces. After an injury or surgery, the wound area is covered for a short amount of time to keep it clean and protected. During this time, the skin can become hypersensitive. This can be very painful, cause you to protect your scar during use, and may also affect your sleep.