Adhesions (scar tissue) - Muscular Injuries Series Part 4
Updated: Feb 21
Cast your mind back to Part 2B where I talked about strains (tears to muscle fibres) and how dogs heal!
What is scar tissue?
Scar tissue is made up of collagen fibres. It is produced immediately after injury to repair damaged soft tissue (torn muscle fibres) and protect from further harm. Scar tissue is not as elastic as muscle fibres, it is tough and fibrous and forms a haphazard pattern over the injury. This restricts the muscle’s natural flexibility and range of motion by up to 50%. This increases the risk of re-strain unless the scar tissue is broken down and remodeled.
What are Adhesions?
Adhesions are dense collections of scar tissue that bind together within the belly of the muscle. They act like glue between muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and fascia making the dog weaker and less flexible as the muscle requires more force to function within normal range. This restricts movement in the joint creating an uneven distribution of weight throughout the joint. This then leads to pain, injury, and deterioration if left untreated.
What are the symptoms of Adhesions?
· Limited flexibility and movement due to reduced muscle length
· Reduced strength due to reduced muscle function.
· Pain and stiffness in the muscle and corresponding joint.
Adhesions can mimic the symptoms of many other conditions such as arthritis. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, veterinary advice should always be sorted to rule out any other injuries, health issues or conditions.
What is scar tissue remodeling?
Therapists of the canine massage guild have been trained in the art of scar tissue remodeling. This helps break down the haphazard patterns of collagen fibres so that they lie in line with the direction of the muscle fibres.
The manipulation of the soft tissues through massage warms the tissues of the body and increases blood flow to the area. Fresh oxygen and nutrients flood the tissues and metabolic waste is drained away. This assists in breaking down and re-aligning of the scar tissue fibres. The fibres are no longer stuck to the surrounding muscle fibres and soft tissue. This relieves restrictions and tightness and increases elasticity and flexibility. Subsequently pain is reduced or even eliminated.
How can massage help?
The timing of massage after injury is vital. Too soon and massage may cause further injury but leaving it too late will allow restrictions to form making the scar tissue harder to remodel and realign.
· Breaks down and remodels scar tissue
· Relieves tightness and stiffness
· Increases elasticity and flexibility
· Promotes muscular relaxation and increases range of motion
· Reduces/ resolves pain
· Helps manage areas of over-compensation
· Promotes the bodies natural healing process – speeds recovery
· Restores blood circulation which increasing flow of oxygen and nutrients to muscles. Metabolic waste is also removed. This keeps the muscle tissue healthy and reduces soreness and fatigue.