A randomized, controlled study involving 146 burn patients published in the journal “Burns” this March concluded that burn rehabilitation massage therapy is effective in improving pain, itching and scar characteristics in hypertrophic scars after a burn. Patients who receive massage therapy as part of burn treatment experience a significant decrease in scar thickness as well as improvements in skin elasticity.
The goal of massage therapy for burns and scarring is to help the scar mature to what experts call “good quality”--flat, pale, and pliable.
Experienced massage therapists have well developed palpation skills for finding the adhesions and constrictions in these tissues. Friction massage techniques and stretching may be applied to the site of the scar. Often, surrounding tissues and muscles are also be affected by the injury, with spasms and shortening or contracted fascia. Massage therapists can help significantly in the prevention of soft tissue dysfunction and compensation patterns through out the body in response to trauma.
Before receiving massage therapy, check with your doctor. Burns must be fully healed, with no open sores or fragile skin before massage therapy to the scar site may be performed. Scars may also cause nerve damage and reduced sensation, as well as increased sensitivity to heat, cold, and light, so extra caution and good communication with your massage therapist is essential.
Even if the localized burn and scar site is not ready for treatment, massage therapy may still offer substantial benefits to the patient even in the early stages of recovery. Burn victims often experience social and psychological challenges that may slow the body's healing processes and interfere with quality of life.
Another recent study indicates that massage therapy in general benefits burn victims during the initial healing process by significantly reducing levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol, as well as reducing symptoms of pain, anxiety, and anger. Massage therapy has also been shown to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, the "feel-good" hormone!
Research shows that even a single session of Swedish Massage produces measurable biologic effects!