View Full Version : Scar tissue treatment???

09-23-2016, 09:56 PM
I've had a couple low back surgeries and the scar tissue is now causing me pain. The surgeon says there's nothing that can be done for it. He said going in to remove it won't help because more will form. I had a spinal cord stimulator inserted but unfortunately I'm not getting the relief I was hoping for. Is there any options for scar tissue removal in your lower back?

09-24-2016, 09:43 AM
Unfortunately what your surgeon told you is the current prevailing thought regarding scar tissue that forms after spine surgery. While there is a procedure called lysis of adhesions, it is very painful and has an extremely low success rate when done in the spine....you can read about it online.

The problem is, in part, that scar tissue is just collagen tissue that the body naturally forms as part of the healing process of any surgery. The problem in the spine is that sometimes the tissue grows in a disorganized pattern...think of a curly head of hair that is all messed up after sleeping vs. sleek, smooth hair that is all going in the same direction. When the tissue is disorganized there is a greater chance that it can wrap itself around a nerve, or nestle right up to it and become attached. It is these attachments that cause symptoms.

The problem with trying to surgically intervene is that more tissue forms to replace that which is cut out...and every surgery runs the risk of creating more scar tissue.

I'm sorry your neuro stimulator is not helping with your pain. Perhaps it is not properly placed and can be adjusted? Or perhaps more scar tissue has developed around the leads?

I should add that much of the information you will find online pertains to abdominal scar tissue. Some suggestions for dealing with it do not necessarily work or apply to spinal adhesive tissue.

09-24-2016, 10:43 AM
Thank you for taking the time to respond. I appreciate that.

I have another question

My pain management doc is recommending a pain pump now since the scs is not helping. I have hesitations on this for a few reasons. 1. Its another foreign body in me.
2. It's another operation
3. Will it really help?

I'm only 37 and the thought of having another permanent implant concerns me.


09-27-2016, 08:13 PM
I'm sorry but I can't help with thoughts on a pain pump as I have no experience with them. I would be hesitant too and wouldn't want further surgery at this point.

I would be more likely to go see a different spine surgeon just to get another opinion.

How long ago was the last surgery?

09-27-2016, 08:34 PM
My last surgery was in March of 2015. I've seen a neurosurgeon and based on my CT scan (can't get an MRI because of the scs) he doesn't see a need for another surgery and he can't see the extent of scar tissue on a CT. So unfortunately I'm chalked up to be a failed back surgery patient and need to live with it at this point. I do need a revision of my battery and anchor placement of the scs because the anchors are very superficial and causing me a lot of discomfort in my mid back. It just doesn't end.

10-12-2016, 06:20 AM
Obviously I don't know what are your issues now, or were your issues when you had the surgery...but If I were in your situation, I would find a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon who specializes in reconstruction and I would make an appointment for evaluation.

It might turn out that there is something causing pain that can be addressed...perhaps there is some instability that is pinching a nerve, or a disc has herniated, or there is stenosis. When they go in to remove or repair what's going on, scar tissue could be cleaned up at that time.

Scar tissue is nothing more than collagen that we have throughout the body. It is the body's way of addressing a void left from surgery. It's just that sometimes instead of growing in with fibers all going the same direction, it gets disorganized and grows in so it resembles a bird nest with tendrils going every which way....When one of these tendrils wraps around a nerve, it becomes a problem.

Based on what I went through, I hate to see people throwing in the towel before exploring all options. I found that many surgeons, particularly a neurosurgeon, are rather unimaginative when it comes to imaging what else might be causing pain. They tend to spend a few minutes looking at the imaging and decide the most obvious thing must be the cause of pain. They tend not to look further. Once surgery is completed, if the person is left with most of the same symptoms, they say nothing can be done and they are eager to pass one off to pain management with a diagnosis of failed back syndrome ( which is just a made up thing, by the way).

Even if the person gets a neurostimulator and is lucky enough to have it help, the pain generator is still there and may be causing more and more damage.

If I had listened to my first surgeon, who performed a PLIF at L4-5 which was medically successful but only resolved the spondylolisthesis but not the symptoms that kept me from walking or standing, I believe I would be in a wheelchair now. My MRIs appeared to show there was no nerve compression and they could see no reason why I should still be in pain. I simply refused to believe that this was as good as it was going to get, so I refused to "try" a neurostimulator. Instead I went on a tour of various specialists until I found someone who was willing to try some things.

By this time the nerves had been compressed for five years, so my surgeon didn't hold out much hope that surgery would improve my symptoms, but we want ahead anyway. He was surprised to find, after opening my spine, that the facet joint at L3 was worn down to a little nub due to the bones rubbing together at this point, due to instability. This had not shown up on MRI. The surgeon reconstructed the joint, took out old hardware and installed new, fusing me from L3 to S1. Much to my great delight, on day four all my sciatic pain symptoms were gone and I have been walking and exercising happily ever since. I shudder to think where I'd be today if I had followed my first surgeon's advice and resorted to pain management.

It is for this reason that I encourage people to explore all options available to them.

10-25-2016, 10:42 PM
I appreciate reading your story. I feel the same regarding not throwing in the towel but unfortunately this is a workmans compensation case and my choices on physicians are so limited. I'm truly looking forward to the day where i can seek out other opinions and options because at the age of 38 and a mother of 3 young children, I hate to think this is it. It is amazing to read what you said about neurosurgeons. That is exactly what happened in my case.

Again, I appreciate your story and you taking the time to share it. It was eye opening to me. I needed to hear it. I was getting to the point of just giving up on hope with my pain and settling with the fact that pain medication is all they can do for me for life and that's not acceptable to me.
Thank you.

10-26-2016, 08:22 AM
I was a bit extreme in the number of surgeons I saw, but it took that many to finally find one who could help me. At the same time, I was encouraging a woman I met online to not give up. Her surgeon kept telling her everything looked great a year after lumbar fusion. Further he was head of a surgery dept in a teaching hospital. When she tried to get a second opinion, the surgeon would ask who had performed the surgery and then say that her surgeon was wonderful, etc. and that there was nothing further to be done. She was sent to pain management and it got to the point where she was told the pain was all in her head and she was sent to a pain psychologist. Now she was not only in pain but was thinking she had mental problems, too!

Eventually she took my advice to search out someone not connected to the first surgeon. He took one look at her new MRI and ordered a bone scan. Turned out she had not fused completely so had instability at that level, and one screw was bisecting a nerve! Eventually she had more surgery but she had some permanent nerve damage and was never able to return to the work she loved.

Don't give up. You will find some answers, even though it may take awhile.

10-26-2016, 10:57 AM
Thank you so much! I will not give up. Unfortunately, i was convinced to get the scs and now am being told I can not obtain MRIs on my back. Which I do understand but at my age and with my back history it seems to have been the wrong decision knowing that eventually I'll need something else to be done on my back. Plus, the scs isn't working the way i hoped it would.

I know that someone out there will be able to help me so again once I am allowed to seek out other opinions, i will.