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Ask the Professionals: Massage Therapy after Surgery

Can massage therapy help with recovery after surgery?

Q: I had surgery on my elbow earlier this year and, through rehabilitation, I have been getting more flexible and strong. I have some puckering scar tissue that is causing some restriction, and trouble straightening my elbow. I am wondering if Massage therapy will help at all?

A: I am so glad that your rehabilitation is going well and I think that massage therapy can definitely help with scar tissue. When it comes to an injury, our bodies lay down scar tissue to help heal wounds, but also to restrict movement in that body part in the first few weeks of healing so that it is harder to re-injure the area. Some of that scar tissue breaks down naturally as we gain mobility back and start returning to our regular activities, but sometimes it lingers a bit longer than we would like. Once your incisions are healed, massage therapy can assist in that process by breaking down scar tissue so that you have less puckering, pulling and
restrictions with your movement. Massage therapy can also help with muscle tension that arises from protecting your injury, or from being in a cast for an extended period. Furthermore, if there is residual or trapped swelling since your surgery, massage can help increase circulation and
drainage to relieve it temporarily. Massage therapy fast tracks the body’s natural abilities to recover from injury and facilitates a speedier return to the activities that we need and love to do!