Scarring is the natural process by which injuries and wound are repaired. Scar formation is an important function of the body following any injury or surgery. Scar formation goes through many phases as it progresses from the forming to the remodeling stages. Scars can initially appear and feel thick, be raised and tender, and appear reddish in color. The scar also "sticks" to underlying tissues as, when it forms; it does not differentiate between the tissues that slide upon each and just binds all the tissues together. This adherence can limit joint motion, prevent the appropriate sliding of tendons, and cause pain. At about 12 weeks post injury or surgery, the scar begins to remodel and, over 6 months, becomes a mature scar that is flatter, softer, more pliable, and whitish instead of red.
Hand therapists can provide information on a variety of techniques that help manage and minimize scarring. Such techniques may include:
use of compression bandages, sleeves or gloves
use of silicon gel scar sheeting or scar molds
scar massage techniques
desensitization techniques to help manage pain and scar sensitivity
mobility exercises that help the body know to lay down the scar in a lengthened position.
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