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  • Writer's pictureSimone Grove

Can scar massage reduce pain following surgery for breast cancer

Updated: May 8

Connective tissue massage (otherwise known as myofascial release massage or scar massage) is something I love to use with my patients because it can have a truly transformational effect on residual pain following breast cancer surgery.

This specialist massage works to release tight scar tissue, or soft tissues surrounding a scar. I commonly use connective tissue massage to reduce neck aches and pains and generalised pain following surgery for breast cancer – but it can be beneficial post-surgery in many different situations.

What is connective tissue massage?

Connective tissue massage works by focusing on the connective tissues (fascia) which can become tight over time, especially following surgery. Relieving this tightness releases muscle constrictions, resulting in lessened discomfort and free movement in tight, painful areas.

The movements of connective tissue massage are very light, gently stretching and releasing the fascia.

Why do we recommend connective tissue massage after breast cancer surgery?

I love connective tissue massage because the results patients experience often provide multiple benefits for their physical and emotional wellbeing (more on this below). It isparticularly useful in the release of tissue following surgery such as lumpectomy, mastectomy and breast reconstruction for breast cancer. It is also very useful following radiotherapy to this area – as radiotherapy can cause increased scarring and tightening as a side effect. The onset of this tightening may be several years after treatment. This type of massage also improves shoulder movement and can relieve post-surgical pain.

Why is connective tissue massage important post-surgery?

Following surgery, connective tissues can become tight during the healing process. In these cases although the surgery has been successful, patients may be left with lasting or even chronic pain in that area.

Sometimes ladies start to experience neck and shoulder pain years after surgery. This is often linked to tightening of the scar, which responds very well to this treatment.

Often ladies also worry that their symptoms are the cancer coming back. The relief they experience once they know that the pain is in fact a side effect of the surgery itself, and that it can be remedied through connective tissue massage, is huge. One of my clients once told me: ‘You wouldn’t believe what a difference this specialised massage makes…it relieved all my pain and stiffness, and gave me back full movement. Not to mention the relief of worry and anxiety.’

This is the other reason I love this type of massage - indirectly, connective tissue massage also has a positive impact on mental and emotional wellbeing, as reduced pain, increased mobility and lessened anxiety around pain in the area help patients to feel ‘normal’ again.

Find out more about connective tissue massage at PhysioCare Holistics or book a session here.

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