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"Soft Tissue Mobilization Techniques Are Effective in Treating Chronic Pain Following Cesarean Section"

Publishing Journal:  

Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy

Study Purpose:

To determine whether soft tissue mobilization (STM) reduces chronic pain and improves impaired function & mobility resulting from C-section surgery...


"More than 1.27 million C-sections are performed annually in the United States, and of these, 6% to 18% result in significant chronic pain." 


Date Published:

December 2018

Study Type:  

Multicenter randomized clinical trial

'Multicenter' = Having been conducted at multiple medical centers or clinics

'Randomized clinical trial' = Subjects were randomly assigned (in this case, to one of 2 groups)



28 subjects reporting chronic pain following C-section surgery

What They Did:

The 28 subjects underwent 4 treatment sessions...

The Treatment Sessions:

  • Group 1 - Received superficial abdomen and lumbothoracic massage, as well as superficial skin rolling of the painful scar.

  • Group 2  - Received the same treatment as group 1 plus abdominal myofascial release and direct deep scar mobilizations.


Measures Taken:

Preintervention Measures: 2 baseline measures were collected 4 weeks apart to demonstrate stability of symptoms (there was no change to any outcome during the baseline period)

Postintervention Measures: Outcomes were measured at 2 weeks postintervention, and again at 10 weeks

Measured Outcomes:

  • Pressure pain threshold (PPT) - The minimum force applied that produces pain

  • Scar mobility

  • Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) - A patient-completed questionnaire that scores level of function (disability) in activities of daily living in those with low back pain

  • Global Rating of Change (GROC) - Provides a means of measuring self-perceived change in health status

  • Numeric Pain Rating Scale - Individuals self-report pain on a scale of 0-10 where 0 = no pain and 10 = worst imaginable pain


What They Found:  

  • Scar mobility, PPT, ODI, and pain all showed statistically significant improvements in both groups

  • There were no significant differences between treatment groups on any outcome, with both groups showing improvement

  • GROC was “quite a bit better”

Big Takeaway:

STM interventions are a useful, cost-effective treatment option for the many women with chronic C-section–related pain


Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy: September/December 2018 - Volume 42 - Issue 3 - p 111-119

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