The incidence of Chronic Post-Surgical Pain, or CPSP, varies from operation to operation, but what is clear is that it is common. Depending on the type of surgery your chance of developing chronic pain ranges from 5% all the way up to 85%! The odds are not in your favor.
Many patients who suffer pain after surgery assume that something went wrong or the surgeon made a mistake. Luckily this is not the case. Most of the time the surgery accomplished what it was meant to do and the pain is not a sign that something went wrong with the surgery. To many people’s frustration, the surgeon does not give you many options as to what to do for the pain. If they accomplished their goals in the surgery they will often say the surgery is a success and you need to get on with your life. If you continue to complain about the pain they might give you a prescription for pain killers, but this does nothing to fix the problem, it just masks the pain temporarily. If you really complain a lot they might tell you that you need another surgery….who wants more of what is causing their pain!
We have good news for you! There are treatments available to you that can get rid of your pain. The really good news is that these treatments are natural and non-invasive.
Most commonly CPSP is caused by scar tissue. Scar tissue is one of the most overlooked causes of pain and other symptoms in the medical community. It can create problems locally at the site of the scar, but it can also create pain and dysfunction anywhere else in the body. Unfortunately, most doctors will deny that scar tissue can create any problem at all, and therefore people do not receive the treatment that could put an end to their misery.
Why is it important to treat scar tissue?
Scars can affect the body on many different levels. A basic understanding of the different ways scar tissue affects the body may help you understand better why it is important to get them treated.
1. Soft Tissue Restriction
Scars form in the connective tissue of the body also called fascia. This fascia is all connected, therefore a restriction from a scar in one area of the body will create tension throughout the entire body. This is one of the reasons why a scar may create pain and dysfunction anywhere else in the body. These restrictions in the fascial can cause muscle and organs to be unable to perform the function normally. An extreme example of this would be an obstruction of the digestive tract. Sometimes when it is this severe the only solution is surgical removal of the scar tissue. More commonly, people will experience constipation that can be simply corrected by non-surgical release of the scar tissue. Fascial restrictions can create abnormal strain patterns that squeeze or pull the bones out of proper alignment. This results in the compression of joints, compensatory body mechanics, dysfunction, and pain throughout the body. Nerves, veins, and arteries can also become entrapped in these restrictions, causing neurological or ischemic conditions. The smallest adhesion or scar (whether physical or emotional) has major ramifications on the body’s ability to function properly and our overall health.
2. Nerve Damage
The small nerves are damaged when the body is cut. The scar tissue can impede the nerves from healing properly.
The blood vessels are also damaged when there has been an incision to the body. Scar tissue can also create an obstacle to the blood vessels returning to their prior level of function.
The lymphatic system is our fluid transport system. Often time people will notice ongoing swelling in an area long after the wound has healed. This is due to trauma to the lymphatic system which decreases the efficiency of its ability to transport excess fluids out of the area.
This may be one of the more difficult to understand from our western point of view. There are energy highways called acupuncture meridians that run up and down our bodies. Scars can block the flow of energy along these pathways that can create dysfunction in many different ways.
A simple scar, whether from a childhood fall or from a major surgery or medical procedure as an adult, can have a lifelong effect on the body. Once scar tissue has formed it has the potential to continue to spread in any direction (including internally) throughout the body. Scar tissue can restrict movement or function throughout the body, often as a result of its effect of pulling on the surrounding fascia and healthy tissue. The disruption in function caused by these restrictions created by scar tissue can effect anything from a joint to and organ.
Here are some tips on how you can help break up existing scar tissue or decrease the chances of larger scars developing after injury:
1) Aloe Vera – Aloe Vera is an abundant and natural way of treating a multitude of different skin complications. It is also very effective in treating difficult scars. The juice of the Aloe Vera plant is a natural bleach and when applied on scars it aids in reducing dark marked tissues. It may eventually lead to visible disappearance of the scar.
2) Honey Scar Treatment – Honey is a very versatile product that can be used in treating several complications of the skin. Honey also happen to be a great natural remedy in effectively treating scars. It has antiseptic properties and keeps the scar area clean. If the scarring is on your face and due to acne, by incorporating the honey into a mask and applying it to your face twice a week, not only will the scar be reduced visually, but the surrounding skin will also be more supple and healthy. Honey has been used as a dressing for burns and wounds for centuries. In 2006, a review of 22 clinical trials involving more than 2,000 people found that honey had antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and could stimulate the growth of new tissue.
3) Coconut Oil – Coconut oil works with your body to protect and heal your skin. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil actually perform like antioxidants, preventing and reversing free radical damage. Free radicals attack the skin’s connective tissues and reduce their ability to regenerate. Coconut Oil can be used daily (both internally and externally) to combat free radicals and to soften the skin.
4) Olive Oil and Almond Oil – These are natural oils from food sources that are readily abundant and have been known to reduce and eventually eliminates scars. Each of these oils can be purchased at your local grocery store. The application is to massage the oil into the scar repeatedly, over time, and the scar has been known to visibly disappear.
5) Massage – As wonderful as it would be to visibly reduce the appearance of scars, the reality remains that scar tissue still exists and grows beneath the surface. It is important to maintain the flexibility and integrity of the tissue to prevent adhesions that could eventually lead to dysfunction. You can begin to massage any scar once the wound has fully healed. IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW OLD YOUR SCAR IS! massage it anyway 🙂 It feels good and your body will thank you later.
6) Let The “Pros” Help – Maybe you know someone or have access to a professional with experience or understanding of the importance of treating scars. Some of our scars are hard to treat by ourselves. There may even be some scars that we aren’t entirely aware exist (physically and emotionally.) These are the types of scars that would best be treated by a professional. You can search your area for LMT’s and PT’s who treat scars or have experience working with the myofascial system.
In addition to massage and the topical application of oils, there are many other techniques and resources offered by trained professionals who can help you with the treatment of scars. Some of these techniques include: Manual therapy such as the S.T.R.A.I.T Method and Myofascial Release as well as modalities which may include the use of class IV lasers or cold laser therapy and Microcurrent Point Stimulation to help break-up the scar tissue. The important thing to know is that you don’t have to just live with your pain, help is available!
Visit our Ocean Therapy website to learn more about how we can help you live a pain free life. Better still, call for a free consultation at (954) 351-2299.