Friday, March 21, 2008

Collagen Run Amok

After several weeks of either increasing my hip pain/leg numbness or keeping it at a steady state, my physical therapist tried a different approach on Monday and the results have been startling. He decided to take a look at my c-section scar and see if scar tissue might be the culprit. Sure enough, while spending 15-20 minutes working on my scar, we discovered a correlation between prodding one area of the scar and numbness and pain in my leg.

Scar tissue is formed by collagen fibers laying down in the place of injured skin. When there's a lot of damage (as I experienced), or if the genes responsible for this part of the healing process aren't regulated quite right, the collagen fibers can go a little bonkers and keep laying down well beyond where they're needed. And, of course, the way collagen works is to attach itself at both ends: damaged skin to be repaired and an anchor elswhere in the body. In my case, probably intestines, bladder, muscle, and maybe even all the way back toward my spine.

So in addition to loosening my hip muscles, strengthening my abs, and improving my posture, we're going to start a regimen of intense scar tissue massage. And if I thought anything I had endured as part of my physical therapy before this point was painful, I was given a whole new set of data points to adjust my perceptions. Breaking down scar tissue, particuarly when it's built up and spread out as in my case (and anchored to a whole host of internal necessities), hurts like a mofo. Twice a week is what we're doing now, and my therapist is thinking it's probably not a bad idea to up the tally to three times a week.

While the idea makes me whimper, I will submit to that regimen, because if 15-20 minutes of pain 3 times a week means I get my body back to its (mostly) functional state, then bring it. But I think I might also schedule some time for curling up in the fetal position under my desk.

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