What is Scar Tissue?

Scar tissue replaces normal skin tissue after the skin is damaged. Though scar tissue is made up of the same substance as undamaged skin, it looks different because of the way the fibers in the tissue are arranged. Scars form every time the skin is damaged beyond its first layer, whether that damage comes from a cut, burn, or a skin condition like acne or a fungal infection. Though there are ways to minimize the appearance of scars, there is no way to remove them entirely.

How it Forms

Human skin is made up of three main layers, the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. When the dermis — the pink middle layer in the cross-section of skin — is injured, the body first responds by making blood clot in the area to close off the wound. After the blood clots, the body then sends in fibroblasts, a type of cell that helps rebuild skin tissue. These cells break down the clot and start replacing it with proteins, primarily collagen, that make up scar tissue.

Though both scar tissue and normal skin are made with these collagen proteins, they look different because of the way the collagen is arranged. In regular skin, the collagen proteins overlap in many random directions, but in scar tissue, they generally align in one direction. This makes the scar have a different texture than the surrounding skin. Scar tissue is also not as flexible as normal skin, and does not have a normal blood supply, sweat glands, or hair.

Types of Scar Tissue

How an individual scar looks depends on a few things, including the circumstances of the injury and a person's skin tone. For instance, a puncture wound causes a different looking scar than a burn wound, and whether the wound gets infected or not can also influence the appearance of the scar. A wound in a place where the skin is stretched tight, like the chest, often causes a thicker scar, since the body has to make more tissue to keep the wound from pulling open. Skin tone plays a role too. Though scars in general tend to turn white over time, those with dark skin may get scars that get darker with time. Those with darker skin may also be more prone to keloid scars.

There are five main types of scars:

Atrophic scars: These scars are sunken down into the skin. This type of scarring is often seen with acne scars or with wounds where skin or muscle is removed by an injury. This type of scarring can also happen when the body produces so much scar tissue in one area that it prevents new cells from growing where the wound took place.
Hypertrophic scars: These are usually red or purple and are slightly raised above the skin. They tend to fade and get flat over time.
Contracture scars: These types of scars often happen with burns, and end up pulling the skin in towards the site of the injury. This can make the skin look puckered around the wound.
Keloid scars: These are very elevated, red or dark scars that form when the body produces a lot of extra collagen in a scar. Keloid scars are actually a benign type of tumor, and often grow bigger than the area of the original injury. Those with darker pigmented skin are thought to be more prone to keloid scarring, but it's not clear why.
Stretch marks: Also called striae, these are considered a unique type of scar since they don't happen in response to an injury, but because of the skin being stretched rapidly, often during pregnancy or adolescence. The tissue here is often sunken a little into the skin, and tends to fade with time.

Preventing and Treating Scar Tissue

Though there is no way to entirely get rid of scar tissue aside from avoiding a skin injury, there are ways to minimize its appearance both while the wound is healing and after a scar has formed. Except for keloid scars, most scars will fade on their own even without treatment.

While the wound is healing:

Covering the wound with a bandage — This is particularly important before going out in the sun, since UV rays can cause the newly formed tissue to get discolored and may slow down the healing process.
Cleaning wounds properly — Doctors recommend cleaning a wound with a gentle soap and lukewarm water. Cleaning with hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or iodine can all damage the newly forming cells and lead to a more noticeable scar.
Soothing gels — Rubbing aloe vera gel on the skin after the wound has closed can help lessen redness. Vitamin E gels are not recommended, since studies show that they are not very effective are minimizing scars.
Anti-itch cream — This can help with the urge to scratch or touch the healing wound, which could irritate it and make a more noticeable scar.
Pressure bandages — Some doctors say that putting a specific type of pressure bandage on a wound can help prevent the appearance of elevated scars since it pushes the collagen down. There are several different brand name versions of these bandages, which are often called scar therapy bandages or scar sheets.

Ways to minimize scars after they form:

Massage — Massaging a scar with lotion or a doctor-recommended gel can help fade many types of scars. This is particularly recommended for keloid scars, since this can keep them from getting sensitive and painful, and can help break down some of the built-up collagen.
Injections — Steroid injections may help with hypertrophic or keloid scars, and atrophic scars can sometimes be filled in with collagen injections. One downside to this type of treatment is that it is almost always temporary, and has to be repeated regularly.
Skin resurfacing — This can be done with lasers or with equipment that works like very fine sandpaper in a procedure called dermabrasion.
Cryotherapy — This is a technique of freezing the scar, and can reduce the appearance of keloid and hypertrophic scars.

In extreme cases, a doctor might recommend surgery. Though surgery can't get rid of a scar, it can make it less noticeable. Surgery is not recommended for hypertrophic or keloid scars though, since it can make them worse. Another type of treatment for severe scars is radiation therapy, which can sometimes reduce keloid and hypertrophic scars.


This article originally appeared on wisegeekhealth.com

Myopathy: Dysfunction of Muscle Fiber

The myopathies are neuromuscular disorders in which the primary symptom is muscle weakness due to dysfunction of muscle fiber. Other symptoms of myopathy can include include muscle cramps, stiffness, and spasm. Myopathies can be inherited (such as the muscular dystrophies) or acquired (such as common muscle cramps). Myopathies are grouped as follows:
congenital myopathies: characterized by developmental delays in motor skills; skeletal and facial abnormalities are occasionally evident at birth
muscular dystrophies: characterized by progressive weakness in voluntary muscles; sometimes evident at birth
mitochondrial myopathies: caused by genetic abnormalities in mitochondria, cellular structures that control energy; include Kearns-Sayre syndrome, MELAS and MERRF
glycogen storage diseases of muscle: caused by mutations in genes controlling enzymes that metabolize glycogen and glucose (blood sugar); include Pompe's, Andersen's and Cori's diseases
myoglobinurias: caused by disorders in the metabolism of a fuel (myoglobin) necessary for muscle work; include McArdle, Tarui, and DiMauro diseases
dermatomyositis: an inflammatory myopathy of skin and muscle
myositis ossificans: characterized by bone growing in muscle tissue
familial periodic paralysis: characterized by episodes of weakness in the arms and legs
polymyositis, inclusion body myositis, and related myopathies: inflammatory myopathies of skeletal muscle
neuromyotonia: characterized by alternating episodes of twitching and stiffness; and
stiff-man syndrome:  characterized by episodes of rigidity and reflex spasms
common muscle cramps and stiffness, and
tetany:  characterized by prolonged spasms of the arms and legs

Treatments for the myopathies depend on the disease or condition and specific causes. Supportive and symptomatic treatment may be the only treatment available or necessary for some disorders. Treatment for other disorders may include drug therapy, such as immunosuppressives, physical therapy, bracing to support weakened muscles, and surgery.

Having a healthcare team enables you to understand your symptoms. Visit your physician for a diagnosis and recommendation of treatments.

See the original post and find out more about myopathy and resources for support here.

The efficiency of the body: Fascia and your health

Tensegrity and the body

Tensegrity is an elision of ‘tension + integrity’. Buckminster Fuller, building on the highly original sculptures of Kenneth Snelson, coined the term, to indicate that the integrity of the structure derived from the balance of tension members, not the compression struts. Can you see? (The easiest way to understand tensegrity is to have a model in your hand – then these properties are self-evident.) Cut the strings and it would collapse totally.

Most of our houses and other man-made structures are ‘compressionegrities’ – their integrity lies with the continuity of compression from the highest brick in the Empire State Building to the lowest block of granite – the compression runs in an unbroken line from element to element all the way to the ground.

Tom and Dr. Steven Levin, developer of biotensegrity

We have thought of our bodies in the same way: the skeleton is a stack of bones, like a stack of checkers – a continuous compression structure – with the individual muscles hanging off each bone to move it.

But every classroom skeleton you have ever seen is wired together. Similarly, in the actual skeleton the bones float in a sea of soft-tissue.


Fascial continuity suggests that the myofascia acts like an adjustable tensegrity around the skeleton – a continuous inward pulling tensional network like the elastics, with the bones acting like the struts in the tensegrity model, pushing out against the restricting ‘rubber bands’.

Tensegrity’s unique features

Playing with these models reveals several unique features: Put strain into a tensegrity structure and the deformation will get distributed all over the structure. Continuous compression structures like buildings do not show this property, but bodies do. Load one corner of a building with a huge amount of snow, and that corner might collapse, leaving the rest of building intact. Load a tensegrity, and it will distribute the strain around the whole structure. Ergo: Where will a strained compression structure break? where the strain is greatest. Where will a tensegrity structure break under strain? at its weakest point.  If we are a tensegrity structure, the ‘load’ that is causing pain or strain in the low back may be sourced in the foot or the shoulder – so we have to be able to see the pattern to know where to intervene.  Erik Dalton says “Don’t chase the Pain!”.  Ida Rolf said :Where you think it is, it ain’t.”  Both of these point to the tesnegrity nature of the body.

Often our clients’ bodies are contracted and retracted and immobilized in some ways, in some parts. We want to engender an opening, expansion, a filling of space until the person is fully expressed, not constrained. Tensegrities expand in all axes at once: open the structure in one dimension and every dimension expands. Neither buildings nor balloons display this property, but tensegrity structures and bodies do.

Research into fascia has shown how it works on many levels as a distributive network. The body is at least responding like a tensegrity structure, and many of us believe that it is operating as a tensegrity structure. Perhaps it operates more like a tensegrity structure in Fred Astaire than it does in Jackie Gleason.

Tensegrities can be built in hierarchies – each element of a tensegrity can be built out of smaller tensegrities – making for the most efficient use of materials, an evolutionary imperative. This efficiency is also a very important property, as the rule of biological evolution is efficiency – getting the most performance from the least material.

Research into fascia has shown how it works on many levels as a distributive network. The body is at least responding like a tensegrity structure, and many of us believe that it is operating as a tensegrity structure. Perhaps it operates more like a tensegrity structure in Fred Astaire than it does in Jackie Gleason.

This article originally appeared on www.anatomytrains.com

Avoid This When Foam Rolling

These days, foam rollers are everywhere — the gym, your physical therapist’s office, your living room and even your suitcase. After all, foam rolling has emerged as the darling of the fitness world and the cure-all for many different aches.

Essentially, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, or self-massage, that gets rid of adhesions in your muscles and connective tissue. These adhesions can “create points of weakness or susceptibility in the tissue,” according to Chris Howard, C.S.C.S. and LMT at Cressey Performance. “If the muscle isn’t contracting uniformly from end-to-end, it could lead to injury and pain.” Foam rolling also increases blood flow to your muscles and creates better mobility, helping with recovery and improving performance.

Sounds great, right? Yes, foam rolling offers tremendous potential to relieve pain and help you move better — if used the right way. If not, you risk irritating, and possibly injuring, your body further.

Here’s a breakdown of five common mistakes people often make when using the foam roller.

Mistake #1: You roll directly where you feel pain. When we feel pain, our first inclination is to massage that spot directly. However, this might be a big mistake. “Areas of pain are the victims that result from tension imbalances in other areas of the body,” says Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, manual therapist, creator and author of The MELT Method.

Let’s take the IT band, for example. Foam rolling is a commonly prescribed remedy for iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). While religiously rolling out your IT band might feel good, “the idea that you are going to relax or release the IT band is a misconception,” Hitzmann says. The phrase roll out your IT band itself makes it sound like you are rolling out a piece of dough, but your IT band is anything but pliable. It’s a remarkably strong piece of connective tissue, and research has shown that it cannot be released or manipulated by manual techniques such as foam rolling. “If you iron out areas of inflammation, you can increase inflammation. And if you are in pain, your body will be too stressed to repair itself,” says Hitzmann.

The fix: Go indirect before direct. “If you find a spot that’s sensitive, it’s a cue to ease away from that area by a few inches. Take time and work a more localized region around areas that feel sore before using larger, sweeping motions,” suggests Hitzmann. For the IT band, work on the primary muscles that attach to the IT band first — specifically the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in the buttocks) and the tensor fasciae latae (a muscle that runs along the outer edge of the hip).

Mistake #2: You roll too fast. While it might feel great to roll back and forth on a foam roller quickly, you’re not actually eliminating any adhesions that way. “You need to give your brain enough time to tell your muscles to relax,” says Monica Vazquez, NASM certified personal trainer and USA Track and Field Running Coach.

The fix: Go slower so that the superficial layers and muscles have time to adapt and manage the compression. Feel where the tender spots are with the roller, and use short, slow rolls over that spot. “There’s no reason to beat up the whole muscle if there are only a few sensitive areas,” Howard says.

Mistake #3: You spend too much time on those knots. We’re often told that if you feel a knot, spend time working that spot with the foam roller. However, some people will spend five to 10 minutes or more on the same area and attempt to place their entire body weight onto the foam roller. If you place sustained pressure on one body part, you might actually hit a nerve or damage the tissue, which can cause bruising, according to Vazquez.

The fix: “Spend 20 seconds on each tender spot then move on,” Vazquez recommends. You can also manage how much body weight you use. For example, when working your IT band, plant the foot of your leg on the floor to take some of the weight off the roller.

Mistake #4: You have bad posture. Wait, what does your posture have to do with foam rolling? A lot. “You have to hold your body in certain positions over the roller,” says Howard, and that requires a lot of strength. “When rolling out the IT band, you are supporting your upper body weight with one arm.” When you roll out the quads, you are essentially holding a plank position. If you don’t pay attention to your form or posture, you may exacerbate pre-existing postural deviations and cause more harm.

The fix: Work with an experienced personal trainer, physical therapist or coach who can show you proper form and technique. Or, consider setting up your smartphone to videotape yourself while foam rolling, suggests Howard. That way, you can see what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong, like sagging in the hips or contorting the spine.

Mistake #5: You use the foam roller on your lower back. “The thing that makes me cringe is when people foam roll their lower back. You should never ever do that,” say Vazquez. Hitzmann agrees. “Your spine will freak out and all the spinal muscles will contract and protect the spine.”

The fix: According to Vazquez, you can use the foam roller on your upper back because the shoulder blades and muscles protect the spine. “Once you hit the end of the rib cage, stop.” If you want to release your lower back, try child’s pose or foam roll the muscles that connect to your lower back — the piriformis (a muscle located deep within the glutes), hip flexors and rectus femoris (one of the main muscles in your quads).

Most importantly, understand what the origin of your pain is before you start. Know what you are trying to achieve through foam rolling and how to do it properly. And don’t forget to stick with it. “To get the benefits of self-massage, it’s repeated exposure that’s most important,” says Howard. “You have to show up and put in the work.”

This article originally appeared on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/18/foam-rolling-mistakes_n_4980975.html and was written by Christine Yu