The Gist: What are C-Section Scar Pain and complications?
Also known as: C-section Shelf
Overgrown scar tissue from a c-section can cause numbness, pain, and tightness in the lower abdomen. It can also be difficult to activate your abdominal muscles, leading to subsequent feelings of weakness or back pain.
The Anatomy of C-Section Scars
During a c-section, the doctor will make an incision low in your abdomen. They must cut through multiple layers of skin and fascia in order to reach the uterus and the baby. After delivery, the layers are stitched back together and you will have a linear scar just below your bikini line.
After a c-section, the various layers of skin and fascia may stick together during the healing process due to the formation of scar tissue. The incision itself may also form excess scar tissue. Furthermore, moms are typically less mobile for a few weeks after the c-section, which causes more tightness and restrictions in the lower abdomen.
Who gets C-Section Scar Pain? When does it occur for women?
Any woman can develop scar tissue after a cesarean delivery, even if you don't have a history of keloids or hypertrophic scars. However, if you do have a history of keloids or overgrown scars, early intervention can help.
The Origin Way: Physical therapy for C-Section Scar Pain and complications
At Origin, we do not shy away from c-section scars. We address the scar with a combination of manual scar mobilization, which is a firm massage to your scar and lower abdomen, cupping, heat, and, when available, cold laser therapy. In addition, we will retrain your abdominal muscles to increase support through your trunk and low back, as well as prescribe mobility exercises to improve the mobility of your abdominal fascia. You will also be taught how to massage your scar at home.
How long does it take?
It is never too late to start physical therapy for your scar, but a newer scar responds faster to physical therapy intervention. Every skin type is different, but it typically takes 1-3 months of physical therapy to achieve your goals.
What to expect in the future
Once physical therapy for your scar is complete, it typically will not bother you again unless you have subsequent c-sections.
Additional Reading and Sources
Pereira, Thalita R C, et al. "Implications of Pain in Functional Activities in Immediate Postpartum Period According to the Mode of Delivery and Parity: an Observational Study." Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy, Departamento De Fisioterapia Da Universidade Federal De Sao Carlos, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537436/
Wasserman, Jennifer B., et al. "Chronic Caesarian Section Scar Pain Treated with Fascial Scar Release Techniques: A Case Series." Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Churchill Livingstone, 10 Mar. 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S136085921600022X
Wasserman, Jennifer B, et al. "Chronic Caesarian Section Scar Pain Treated with Fascial Scar Release Techniques: A Case Series." Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27814873