What are holistic approaches to relieve scar tissue pain?

29 Mar 2024

Adhesive Scar Tissue

Question: What is the common denominator of chronic pain?

Answer: Adhesive Scar Tissue

In order to have a holistic approach to relieve scar tissue pain, you first have to understand the different types of scar tissue. Scar tissue forms whenever there is an injury in your body. Good scar tissue forms approximately in the right places and allows you to heal without pain. Bad scar tissue which is called adhesive scar tissue is weak and in the wrong places.


The Culprit in Chronic Pain

In most cases of chronic pain, the culprit is adhesive scar tissue, whether the pain is in the lower back, the neck, the shoulders, thighs, knees, calves, feet, ankles, and so forth. Adhesive scar tissue is responsible for most chronic pain in the body.  When scar tissue forms randomly, things stick together inappropriately, and pain usually results. The scar tissue is like glue poured into the wrong places, causing body parts that should move independently to stick together. Movement that pulls on, stretches, or compresses the area where adhesive scar tissue has formed causes pain.


Identifying the Source

If your therapist can identify the source of your pain, which is frequently adhesive scar tissue in a particular muscle, tendon, or ligament, and has the skill to eliminate it, successful treatment will be accomplished.

Hamstring Anatomy

Hamstring Assessment Test










For example, an injured hamstring is identified by a few simple hands-on tests. Then, the precise areas of adhesive scar tissue are located in the muscle and its tendon. Successful treatment can now be administered. Once all of the adhesive scar tissue has been eliminated by manual therapy and full movement is restored, the chronic pain will be gone, and normal strength can be rebuilt.


The Subtle Atrophy Process

If an injury in your shoulder produces adhesive scar tissue, pain in the shoulder or arm results. Over time, without any therapeutic intervention, the body adjusts, and you unconsciously begin to use that part of your body less and less. You start avoiding the movements that will cause pain, your range of movement slowly diminishes, and the atrophy process begins. Atrophy means that you get weaker and weaker as you use your muscles less.


Physical Assessment Tests

I just saw a bodybuilder client who had a shoulder problem for over ten years. After doing a series of physical tests on his shoulder, I found that he was so strong that I had to use all of my strength and then some. In one test, he was so weak that I could overpower him with one hand. There was no pain until I made him work really hard on that test. It’s the one in this photo.

Arm Assessment Test

When someone is very weak in just one muscle, it usually means that some part of that muscle unit is injured. Every muscle unit has two parts: the muscle and the tendon that attaches the muscle to the bone. Because no one had been able to figure it out, his body found a solution: don’t use it, and it won’t hurt you. But what happens is you keep losing strength, and that’s dangerous if you suddenly have to catch yourself when you fall.

If you are experiencing chronic pain and live in the Boston area, schedule a complimentary 10-15 phone consultation.

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Ben E. Benjamin holds a Ph.D. in Sports Medicine and was the founder and President of the Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  He is the author of dozens of articles on working with injuries and chronic pain as well as the widely used books in the field, Are You Tense?, Exercise Without Injury and Listen To Your Pain: The Active Person’s Guide to Understanding, Identifying and Treating Pain and Injury. Dr. Benjamin has been in private practice for over 50 years and teaches therapists throughout the country.