Do you find our website to be helpful?
Yes   No

Restoring sensation after surgery by scar tissue mobilization

Physical Therapy is beneficial after all types of surgical procedures including Total knee replacements, carpal tunnel release, Rotator cuff repairs, Laminectomy or spinal fusions. Etc

 In all these cases, patients are healing from a surgical incision and the incision site leaves scar tissue long after the staples or steri-strips are removed.

Can scar tissue be harmful?

Collagen tissue which helps to form scar tissue can create what is called keloid formation. Based on hereditary factors the body can make an excessive amount of scar tissue. Not only does this look disfiguring, it can cause restriction to the muscle or joint motion underneath.

How soon can I start to loosen the scar tissue and prevent keloid formation?

Surgical scar tissue can be mobilized as soon as the stitches get removed which typically occurs 10 days post surgery. In Physical Therapy here at All Health PT we teach you how to mobilize your own scar tissue using techniques such as skin rolling, picking up and if the scar is sensitive, light petrisage techniques to reduce sensitivity.

What is alodynia?

Alodynia is a condition whereby the peripheral lnerves which are in an excitatory state, become over-active. Instead of infrequent firing of the sensory nerves, there is a collective firing in response to touch. If the scar tissue is on the hand or the foot, the pain or hypersensitivity can cause the patient to limit their use – either by not walking as much (to prevent foot pain), or not using the hands for daily activities (to prevent hand pain). Lack of use results in the condition worsening as sensory nerves start to run amock. A dampening effect is needed in order to prevent mass firing. Therefore forcing use, or introducing touch in gradual and varied ways, can actually reverse the condition and prevent hypersensitivity from persisting. The body then adapts to repetitive contact which results in a lowering of the response to the sensory input as the threshold to the stimulus increases. Over time pain lessens and disappears leaving a normal sensation on contact.

What are the techniques that can be used for desensitization?

We teach the patient a daily routine of simply starting to touch the scar. The direction of pressure as well as the depth of pressure can be varied. Contact can also be made using a washcloth, cottonball, or lightly tapped. The initial response will be one of discomfort therefore monitoring the intensity of the discomfort as well as the time it takes for the sensitivity to return to baseline is encouraged. The patient can make a daily report to track their progress and modify the input given to the scar based on the reactivity of the tissue and the response to the home program.

Lynne Repasky Physical Therapist and Owner of All Health Physical Therapy

You Might Also Enjoy...

Telehealth: The Advantages of Telemedicine

Struggles to get to the clinic? Trying to reduce your exposure to COVID-19, as well as other contagious illnesses, and still need to see your doctor? Telehealth is safe and easy — receive quality care from anywhere.

Working from home?

Have you noticed that your back, neck, or shoulders have been aching at the end of the day after working from home or have you heard from another about this being a recent problem?

What is my pain?

Pain is a very subjective experience and can also be complicated because there are different types of pain produced by the body. Did you know that pain is recognized as the “fifth vital sign”? Below are a few different types of pain and common descriptors


If you are planning on undergoing any surgery in the future your doctor may have talked to you about going to physical therapy afterwards, but what you should also consider is looking into doing some pre-surgery exercise known as pre-habilitation or prehab