Opinions on scars tend to vary pretty widely. Some people hide them, some wear them proudly, some even seek them out. A random smattering of famous quotations about scars gives us some scope regarding just how widely viewpoints can vary. Rose Kennedy, J.F.K.’s mother, once stated, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” Then there’s Rumi ultimately spiritual take on the issue: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” And the writer Chuck Palahniuk somewhat famously and shockingly proclaimed “I don’t want to die without any scars” in his novel, Fight Club. This blog post will discuss how scars can affect us, as well as using acupuncture for scars.
From the Chinese medicine (CM) perspective, scars can be absolutely no problem, or they can be the cause of significant long-term heath problems. This is because scar tissue isn’t flexible, and can impinge upon other critical structures in the body, including nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. In CM, we call this type of problem “qi and blood stagnation”, which basically means that movement or flow is inhibited. Because of the stiffness of scar tissue, its effects can be both local and non-local, meaning that the a scar can tug and pull on the tissues around it, both nearby and further away. When trying to imagine this, picture what would happen if you pinched and twisted a single point on a flat fabric bed sheet – the effects ripple out over quite a long distance of that sheet. This same effect occurs in the fabric of the body. Fascial tissue acts like 3-D webbing, surrounding all the other cells in the body, including muscle and skin. Trauma or malformation of that fascial tissue, as is created with a scar, can have detrimental effects on distant parts of the body.As a result, effects of scar tissue can be quite unpredictable. For example, we’ve seen digestive symptoms improve significantly when a 30 year old scar on the forearm was treated. Why is this the case? Meridian theory, which is the basis for Chinese medicine, can become quite helpful when trying to piece out these cause and effect scenarios. In this particular case, the scar was on the Large Intestine channel, and must have been impeding digestive function in some way! Often, however, the effects of scar tissue are much more obvious to the layperson. A patient who has had open heart surgery can develop chronic chest pain from scar tissue. A mother who has had a Cesarean section can develop menstrual cramps, constipation, or other types of abdominal pain or distress after healing from her surgery. There are so many examples of similar cases. Scars can be major blocks to healing – if a person has scar tissue that is impacting the health of the body, the scar must be treated before healing can occur.What about acupuncture for scars? Most people go their entire lives believing that there is nothing to be done about the scar tissue that is causing their discomfort, or in many cases they have no idea that it is in fact scar tissue that is causing the problem! In truth, Chinese medicine can frequently relieve discomfort using acupuncture and herbs to break down old scar tissue, reduce adhesions, and minimize systemic effects. If you are in the process of healing from a recent surgery, acupuncture and herbs can also be utilized as a prophylactic against major scar tissue formation.
If you have or suspect that you have an issue with scar tissue, consider coming in for a consultation at our office in Richmond, Virginia. It just might change your life.