Scar tissue is a dense, fibrous tissue that affects everyone. It is an underlying factor in many injuries as the collagen proteins grow in a single direction, making the tissue less elastic compared to healthy skin. As scar tissue builds, muscles become shorter and weaker. This can lead to a reduction in range of motion, loss of strength, pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness.
There are two different ways that scar tissue can form. The first way is if a muscle, tendon, or ligament is torn or crushed. The body forms scar tissue in order to “glue” together the torn pieces as scar tissue is a necessary part of the healing process.
The second way that scar tissue is formed is by soft tissue in the body not receiving enough oxygen, also known as hypoxia. Hypoxia is more common than one may think. Poor posture, athletic pursuits, repeated use, and sustained pressure, like sitting, increase muscle tension and result in hypoxic conditions. When muscle tension is increased, blood supply to the area is reduced. Blood flow is essential as blood carries oxygen to the muscles and a reduction in blood flow means less oxygen, resulting in hypoxia. This can lead to free radicals accumulating in muscles. These free radicals attract cells that produce scar tissue. After time, scar tissue begins to affect the surrounding muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves.