Do you have an abdominal scar from a surgery like a C-section or hysterectomy? Did you tear during childbirth? Or did you have an episiotomy? As your body heals from surgery or tearing during childbirth, a scar forms. Scar tissue is fibrous connective tissue that develops during the healing process. Your body is unable to re-create healthy, normal tissue so when there is a surgery or trauma, a scar forms.
Abdominal or pelvic scars are usually never problematic. However, if the scar is tight or restrictive it can lead to problems. If a scar binds two or more tissues together, this can cause an adhesion. This prevents tissue (muscle, organs, connective tissue) from moving freely and normally. If this scar is tight and feels “bound down” it can prevent your muscles from contracting properly. This lack of mobility in the area can lead to pain around the scar or in surrounding areas.
If you have had a lower abdominal incision, your abdominal muscles were cut. These muscles are important for lower back support and core/pelvic stability. When the scar does not move well, it may be difficult for your abdominals muscles to contract efficiently. Lack of lower abdominal control can also lead to low back pain or pelvic muscle pain. This can lead to diminished bladder control as well. Have you noticed that you slouch more than you used to? The lower belly muscles are so important to support your spine and maintain “good posture”. Lack of mobility in the scar may be preventing you from standing up tall and holding your shoulder’s back.
The same concept occurs vaginally if you had a tear or episiotomy. The scar should move well in order to contract and relax your muscles correctly. A tight scar vaginally may cause pain with intercourse or difficulty with bladder or bowel control.
Is your scar tight or painful? Touch your scar and move it side to side and up and down. If that is painful or if it feels like it does not move well in a certain direction, your scar may need some attention. Fortunately, you can get treatment for a restrictive or painful scar. A physical therapist can teach you how to stretch the scar gently and improve the mobility in the area. Then you will learn exercises to perform to strengthen the area. Talk to your provider or visit www.womenshealthapta.org to find a physical therapist in your area that can help you.