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Scar tissue often forms when injuries penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. While injuries are frequently the culprits, surgical procedures also inevitably leave scars, affecting not only the skin’s surface but often deeper tissue layers as well.
Besides the aesthetic concerns associated with scars—especially when tissue knots or inadequate skin regrowth occur—they can also have broader health implications.
From persistently disrupted meridians to fascial tissue blockages, it’s essential to recognize that scars can serve as potential sources of health issues.

Tissue Regeneration Challenges

Regrettably, the body typically cannot regenerate damaged tissue precisely as it was before the injury. Stem cells, responsible for generating new functional tissue cells, may not always be abundant enough to fully restore the damaged area, especially in cases of extensive injuries. Instead, the body’s response often involves the formation of connective tissue to minimize damage and expedite wound closure. Consequently, the injury site is quickly sealed by connective tissue fibers growing in a haphazard pattern, rather than aligning themselves along a specific tensile direction, as seen in the repair of tendons or ligaments through regular movement.

While this rapid, uncontrolled, and disorganized tissue growth serves to repair the damage and ensure survival, it can lead to deficiencies in essential skin components such as hair, sweat, and sebaceous glands. Consequently, skin function in these areas may be compromised.

Wound healing disorders often manifest through scar tissue

Excessive body reactions can lead to the formation of hypertrophic scars, which occur more frequently with infected wounds or delayed healing. Keloids, another type of excess scar tissue, often extend beyond the original wound and are colloquially referred to as “wild flesh.” They result from disturbed wound healing processes that trigger excessive tissue overgrowth in an attempt to limit and close the damage.

Conversely, inadequate tissue regeneration can result in retractions, where the scar appears sunken or contracted. For instance, larger muscle fiber tears may leave a visible dent on the tissue’s surface, indicative of scar formation in deeper layers. One prevalent example is the ‘Prophet’s Thumbprint’ seen more frequently in thoroughbreds.

Horse with torn muscle fibres on the chest
© Sanoanimal

Impact on Movement and Energy Flow

Scars can significantly disrupt the surrounding area, as the new fibrous connective tissue is often less elastic than the original tissue it replaces. When scars form near joints or other mechanically stressed areas, they can lead to movement restrictions. Permanent limitations are commonly observed in horses that have undergone arthroscopy. Furthermore, scar tissue may adhere or fuse with surrounding connective tissue,

exerting traction via the fascial system and causing distant effects. For example, a scar in the neck area could induce rhythmic imbalances in the hindquarters. Such imbalances and recurrent musculoskeletal blockages are often linked to fascial adhesions and old scars, though pinpointing the exact cause can be challenging.

Interference Fields and Energy Flow

Scar tissue can impede or block energy flow in the body, particularly when it affects meridians — energy pathways that crisscross the body. Scar tissue, rich in connective tissue, exhibits different electromagnetic conduction properties than normal tissue, leading to disruptions or interference fields in the energy flow.

These interference fields can trigger functional disorders in organ systems connected via the meridians, leading to therapy-resistant organ dysfunctions. Additionally, scar-induced interference fields can manifest as tension, pain, or lameness.

A notable example is the castration scar in geldings, often exhibiting coldness upon touch—a sign of a significant interference field. As the incision for castration typically intersects the kidney meridian—a crucial component of the meridian system—the repercussions of such interference fields can be extensive. Some castration scars may feel warm to the touch but exhibit a knotty texture. Additionally, disturbances in the fascial system are often observed in these cases, potentially contributing to the horse’s reluctance to bear weight on its hindquarters. However, not every scar necessarily becomes an interference field.

Recognizing Problems

Pigment disorders around the scar, itching, bulging scar tissue, or poor healing of the previous wound may indicate an interference field. Many animals exhibit discomfort or defensive behavior when a disturbing scar is touched, especially scars on the hindquarters like castration scars. However, some scars may cause numbness, leading to no reaction upon touching.

Increased coldness or unusual warmth in the scar area may also indicate an interference field, although warmth could also signal inflammation. Experienced therapists can often determine whether a scar is potentially problematic.

It’s worth noting that the appearance alone of a scar does not reliably indicate whether it’s problematic. Some large and severe-looking scars may cause no issues, while small scars from minimally invasive surgery could represent strong interference fields.

Treating Interference Fields and Scar Care

Scar tissue in the skin often feels inelastic and harder than surrounding tissue, with impaired microcirculation.

Scar treatment aims to increase microcirculation, improve tissue elasticity, and stimulate energy flow.

The younger a scar is, the better the chances of success, but with a little patience, older scars can also be improved very well.

Scar Massage

Massage can begin once external wound healing is complete. The wound or suture must be completely closed and any scabs must have fallen off on their own. There must also be no infection in the area. If there are no complications, even very young and fresh scars can be treated with daily, gentle massages to make the tissue more supple and promote blood circulation. Mild scar gels or high-quality calendula oils can also be used for nourishment.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can aid scar massage, offering aromatherapeutic effects to resolve trauma. However, dilution with a neutral oil like almond oil is essential, as they can easily irritate the horse’s skin if the concentration is too high. If in doubt, simply ask your trusted therapist which essential oil – or mixture – they recommend for treating a particular scar.

Colored Light Therapy

Colored light can support wound healing and prevent severe scarring, with significant improvements possible for existing scars by supplying or dissipating energy as needed.

Laser Therapy

Deeper scars, such as those from surgery, respond well to laser therapy, The high penetration depth of the laser beams into the tissue stimulates regeneration processes. Blood circulation and cell metabolism are increased and degradation products, some of which can be responsible for pain, are removed more quickly. This biostimulation allows the tissue to normalise much more quickly. As deeper layers of tissue – in contrast to the outer skin – do not keratinise, it is often possible to achieve a significant improvement in the scar structure through appropriate treatment.

Leeches

Leeches can be effective for old and troublesome superficial scars, promoting circulation and reducing inflammation. The hyaluronidase in leech saliva loosens scar tissue, making it more supple. By utilizing these treatments, scar tissue can be managed effectively, improving tissue health and reducing potential interference with bodily functions.

Energetic Ointments and Acupuncture

Energizing ointments like APM cream can be applied to older scars, but caution is advised due to the potential for severe lymphatic swelling. This is particularly relevant for castration scars, as lymphatic swelling may occur in the scrotum of geldings. However, this swelling is not harmful and usually resolves within a few days.

APM cream should be applied at least three months after complete wound healing to avoid reopening the scar tissue. APM cream is especially effective for scars that disrupt the body’s energy system by lying on meridians.

Alternatively, acupuncture can be used to treat such scars, restoring a blocked energy flow in the long term.

Scar Taping for Fascial Adhesions

Scar taping with kinesiotapes developed for animals is a newer technique primarily used for adhesions in the fascial system affecting the musculoskeletal system. It is particularly effective after manual treatments in helping to further loosen the tissue, modulate muscle tone and release adhered fascia. Properly applied tape can remain in place for several days, allowing the body to gradually reorganize its fascial system. There are now also tapes that contain magnets or are electrostatically charged and therefore have an effect on the flow of energy in addition to their mechanical effect.

Procaine Treatment for Hypersensitivity

In cases of severe hypersensitivity in scar tissue, procaine, a local anesthetic, can be injected into the tissue or used in an ointment. This temporarily stops chronic irritation, allowing the overreactive nervous system to calm down. With each treatment, hypersensitivity can decrease and normalize.

Conclusion

There are numerous methods for treating scars to improve function or eliminate disorders. However, prevention is preferable. Ensuring injuries heal quickly and undisturbed is key. Colored light therapy and gentle massages can support the healing process once the wound is closed, helping to prevent severe scarring and adhesions.

If your horse has persistent health issues resistant to treatment, examining accumulated scars may reveal hidden causes. Scar tissue often holds clues to unresolved problems.

Team Sanoanimal
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