• Jennifer Bodnar


Scars are something I deal with a lot in my work. We often look at scars as “healed”, problem solved. The truth is scars create problem points of their own...

  • Inelastic. Because the body lays down scar tissue in a hurry to stabilize a wound it is done haphazardly, not in neat aligned rows like healthy tissue. This makes it less tensile causing restriction and a weak point for re-injury.

  • Painful. Scar tissue can often trap and squeeze or damage nerve endings causing intense pain.

  • Adhesions. Scar tissue will often adhere to other structures around it like the myofascial layer, nerves, or blood vessels causing restrictions in movement, and pain.

Scar tissue is best addressed early in its formation. Ideally I do manual soft tissue work to soften scar tissue and encourage functional alignment of fibers to preserve range of motion as soon as a wound has healed and is cleared by the vet. If scar tissue is older, while more limited it can still be improved! Keeping it softened, stretched and loosening adhesions will help prevent recurrent injury to the area.

A good example of scar tissue that should really not be ignored is fibrotic myopathies. These are traumas to the hamstring muscles that cause a shortening of stride in the affected hindlimb. When the limb reaches forward it abruptly hits the end of its range of motion and slaps the hoof to the ground. It’s extremely common and often caused by horses that slip on wet ground and “do the splits”. Restoring as much range of motion as possible and keeping the area free of tension will help prevent recurrent injury to the hamstrings.

*pictured QH with a kick wound that when probed went about 1 1/2” (on a diagonal plane) into the muscle! This one I got to work on early and although visible on the most superficial layer you can barely feel the scar. It is soft and this mare has maintained full range of motion.

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