When we are injured, our soft tissue heals it lays down a fibrous connective tissue called scar tissue. The good, bad and ugly of scar tissue is it’s ability to stick to everything……everything! Not only the soft tissue it’s intended to knit back together. It sticks to skin, fascia, old injury sites, surgical sites, organs, nerves and blood vessels. It is not uncommon for scar tissue to constrict nerve pathways, restrict circulatory or lymphatic flow, and reduce range of motion. Also due to the reduction of circulation, it can trap metabolic debris within the injury site creating more pain and dysfunction. If the scar tissue is left untreated it can create adhesions to the healthy tissue around it, creating an additional layer of dysfunction.
The more superficial fascia and soft tissue respond well to almost all therapies (heat, manual therapy, etc). The deep fascia does not. In order to restore function, the dehydrated scar tissue needs to be rehydrated, separated from the surrounding structures and realigned with the muscle fibers. This is especially important in the deep postural muscles. Manual therapy (like massage) can elicit changes, cupping therapy has been shown to be effective up to 4 inches deep! When the tissue is separated, hydration floods the tissue and beneficial blood flow is increased. This allows the body to bring fresh oxygenated blood to the soft tissue and remove any biproducts of metabolic activity. When the tissue layers are separated, the manual therapist can now go in and help realign the fibers and improve function. The most benefits are seen within the first 18 months of healing but cupping therapy is still very effective for more mature scars.