PROBLEMS WITH SCAR TISSUE

Microscopic scar tissue is problematic because it is so dramatically different than healthy connective tissue. Some of the ways that it differs include:


  • SCAR TISSUE IS WEAKER: As you can imagine, the tangled “clump” of tissue that characterizes a microscopic scar, is far weaker than normal connective tissue. You already know this. Sprain an ankle, and it is easier to sprain it again and again and again.  This information is common knowledge and can be found in any Pathology Textbook.


  • SCAR TISSUE IS LESS ELASTIC: This is a no-brainer.  A hairball is less elastic than well-combed hair. Look at it another way. Put your hands out in front of you with the palms facing away. Now run the fingers from one hand, back and forth, between the fingers from the other hand. Notice how the fingers glide? Now run your fingers from one hand to the other, and ball up your fingers. This is what tangled and twisted connective tissues do microscopically. Subsequently, they loose their stretchiness and elasticity.  This is also common knowledge, and can be found in any Pathology Textbook.


  • SCAR TISSUE DOES NOT OXYGENATE WELL, CREATING A LOW (acidic) PH: Known as hypoxia, decreased oxygenation is terribly harmful because oxygen is critical for proper tissue healing to occur. When connective tissues are injured, swelling occurs; and it is this combination of swelling and twisted / tangled tissue that restricts the blood flow and oxygen supply to the connective tissues. Lack of oxygen also creates a very acidic environment, which is detrimental not only to the healing process, but to health in general. This fact is well known by doctors and can likewise be found in all Pathology Textbooks.


  • SCAR TISSUE IS DIFFERENT NEUROLOGICALLY: It is easy to see how microscopic scarring is different mechanically and chemically. What most doctors fail to tell you (many do not realize or understand this concept) is that scar tissue is different neurologically as well.  Why don’t doctors ever talk about this aspect of tissue injury?  It has not been around long enough to get into the textbooks! The latest scientific research tells us that the nerves in scar tissue can conduct pain up to 1,000 times more effectively than the same nerves in normal tissue.  WOW!  This is critical for you to understand.  Re-read the last few sentences a couple times and let it sink in.  This hyper-conductivity of the nerve system creates what is known as Type III pain (Supersensitivity).

Abnormally functioning nerves in scar tissue, lead to problems like diminished PROPRIOCEPTION (which causes degenerative arthritis and joint deterioration). It can also lead to HYPERALGIA (extreme sensitivity to pain —– stimulus that should cause a little pain causes extraordinary amounts of pain), or ALLODYNIA (stimulus which do not normally cause any pain, now causes pain). In people dealing with underlying scar tissue, these three frequently overlap.

If you are really interested in seeing how all of this works together to cause a wide variety of CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES, visit our COLLAGEN SUPER PAGE.

27 responses to “PROBLEMS WITH SCAR TISSUE

  1. Stephanie Gorham

    I had a bunionectomy a year ago on my left foot. The scar is still very sensitive and painful to even the lightest touch. I use a topical compound on it that the podiatrist prescribed but it only lasts a few hours. What is your opinion as to what might relieve my pain. It is clearly nerve pain attached to the scar.

  2. Michele

    I had open heart surgery and 3 ports in my right side of my chest and I have so much pain they say its scar tissue that im having in my right breast.. All they doing for me is givin me Flexeril. Nothing seems to work.. the pain is unbearable. at times.. can this really be scar tisssue

  3. renaecummings

    Very interesting and informative reading! My daughter (24) has been dealing with (undiagnosed) chronic lower back for nearly 6 years. MRI’s and CT’s reveal a degenerative disc and a bit of arthritis, but “not to the extent that it should be causing this much pain” and definitely not severe enough to warrant disc surgery. She has had no specific injuries to her back. She has tried multiple PT’s with various treatment philosophies, chiropractor, steroid injections, oral and topical pain medications and muscle relaxers…the list goes on. Some have offered short term pain relief (only hours) but nothing helps long term, and nothing gets to the root of the problem, which no one has been able to diagnose. In the last three months her pain has escalated so that she can’t work and not even the strongest pain meds offer any relief. We have asked repeatedly about scar tissue and we always get the same dead-end response, “It’s possible.” No one (except one PT who tried massaging the areas because she said there was SO much scar tissue there) has elaborated on, pursued, or suggested how to deal with this “possible” issue. My daughter’s 6 abdominal scars and 3 lower back scars are from surgeries occurring when she was1-9 years of age. She is extremely frustrated and losing hope that someone can find what is wrong with her and/or reduce her pain so that she can return to her normal activities/life and function on a daily basis.

  4. Matthew Roos

    Hello, I am interested in learning all I can about scar tissue. I am a chronic pain suffer from Adhesive Arachnoiditis from ether several SCI’s or from 4 back surgeries. I am not concerned with how, why or when I developed Arachnoiditis or who maybe responsible for it because I ultimately am.
    I know that it is scar tissue trapping and in tangled the nerves in my lower spine L4-S1 where I am also fused. I have constant pain with shooting sharp pain in my left leg lower back to toes and lower back to knee right leg.
    I have been told my body forms more than average scar tissue, based on what I don’t know.
    I guess what I am wanting to know is… does the scar tissue inside of my lower back possibility continue to grow or can everyday activities cause stretching and tearing of the scar tissue causing more scaring ??

    • Hello Matthew,

      I just had a similar conversation in the office yesterday. I do believe that some people are not only more injury prone than others because of differences in Connective Tissue. I also know that everyone heals differently. As to what is going on in your particular situation, it would be tough to venture a guess. Were I you I would definitely look into COLD LASER THERAPY.

      Sincerely,
      Dr. Russ

  5. Rosanne

    Dear Dr. Russ,

    I had a hysterectomy 4 weeks ago and everything related to the procedure is healing well, However on the left side of my groin I have been receiving numbness, soreness and most importantly a very sharp localized pain in the area. My doctor said that it is deferred pain from scar tissue resting or growing around a nerve. Can you tell me if this pain will go away once I have been fully healed, will it take longer to heal or is this something that I will have to live with for a very long time (or the rest of my life)? Is there a solution for this problem?

    Rosanne

  6. Mary Strong-Spaid

    Interesting. I am told I have interstitial cystitis. Lots of scarring on inner bladder wall. No one seems to know exactly what caused it. Doctor wants to do a “hydrodistention” to break the scars and bring the bladder back to a more normal (larger) size. I am afraid to let the doctor do this, because it doesn’t make sense to me. If scars are forcibly broken open, when it heals…won’t it make even bigger scars?

  7. Carolyn Smits

    I have been reading that scar tissue can be 1000 times more sensitive to pain than normal tissue. Causing Supersensivity to pain. My 40yr old partner has had 3 operations on his hip. The last one was a Tendon Release. He’s now in more pain than ever & unable to sit, stand or walk for more than 20mins. His surgeon now thinks he has nerve damage – Can any thing be done to help him ?

  8. Laural

    Hi; I know of this tissue first hand. I had received 5 c-sections in my life. When I had my second c-section the old scar was removed and I had no problems. But on my third, fourth and fifth they never removed the old scars. They had cut along my “fold” as well. I ended up with three scars at different angles that crossed over each other. Periodically I would have such intense pain in one specific spot that it would cause me to double over in a fetal position until it would subside. It had nothing to do with any certain movement or anything it would just do it without warning.
    When i would go in to talk about this problem with my doctor they would always assume I was just trying to get a tummy tuck… so the doctor finally said I will do a scar revision but I will not do a tummy tuck. I said I don’t care about that just make the pain stop.
    I went in for the surgery (I was to be awake and given drugs to relax me and they used lidocaine injections around the site to numb it. With a laser knife they began cutting away the tissue. Everything was fine until they reach that spot where the pain would be. I felt EVERYTHING. He tried to numb me again and it did not work. I felt every cut in that area. It was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life.
    I know that some military wives would go in and make bogus claims in order to receive plastic surgeries but they should never assume that everyone is lying. I am now experiencing the pain again but I am scared to even discuss it with my doctor. I do not want a repeat of what happened.
    What is this type of scar tissue called? Since I am creating it in my outer scars could there be some of this tissue inside as well causing the pains I feel so deeply? (I have also had 2 laparoscopic procedures, a nephrectomy and a nephropexy).

  9. Nicholas Henchal

    Dr. Schierling, Could scar tissue cause extremely high values on a nerve conduction study test? I saw that you mentioned pain impulses could travel faster, could general electrical impulses be carried faster as well?

  10. Reial

    Well we have been dealing with our daughters issue of pain due to an injury to her foot over 2 years ago. The razor sharp edge of a cafe table sliced down and through just shy of the bone in her pinky toe,removing a small chunk of flesh. We took her to urgent care but they could not stitch it up because they said there was not enough flesh to close it, so we would have to wait for it to heal with new skin.
    Well she has had swelling every since and pain in her foot, ankle, knees, hips and even back. She has been going to Chiropractor, DPM, PT and nothing seem to make this go away. If she stand for more than an hour there is swelling and pain.
    We have bought custom orthotics,tons of compression socks, she has taken water pills, takes ibuprofen, she goes to PT and see an LMT. We even took her to a vascular surgeon and they did the venogram and they could not find the cause of the swelling. He gave us a loose answer that it may be lymphedema or secondary lymphedema, but he was not sure. We are so irritated because one doctor says it could be May Thurner Syndrome but a very mild case. It’s like every one is guessing and know one understands the pathology of the injury. This happened on her 20th birthday and she never ever had a history of swelling prior to this.
    But even if she did have any of the above diagnosis via hereditary placement, would she be at higher risk of having increased swelling and slower healing?
    The area on the top of her toe is hard as a stone. I think that may be scar tissue that is pressuring her nerves and maybe blocking the blood flow. The store and manufacture of the table stated that her injury could not be causing her problems. So we have had to pay for all of her treatments. They did offer us a $50 in store gift card. We just want her to be able to fix this issue so she can lead a normal life.
    Most doctors are not into the holistic aspect nor pathology of a condition. It is all about, surgery or drug treatment.

    • Wow, how generous. A $50 certificate. Honestly Reial, it is tough to tell you anything about this without looking at her, but it certainly could be scar tissue blocking neuro / vascular tissues. Cold Laser or Tissue Remodeling would be good ways to go if this is the case.

      • Reial

        Thank you for your direction this will help us present some alternatives to her doctors. Everyone is stumped and we just want to see if we can stop the swelling.

  11. jOEY

    THANK YOU FOR THAT INFO…I JUST HAD A DEAR SISTER THAT HAD SUCH PAIN AND IN N OUT OF HOSPITAL WITHIN 2 WEEKS N TODAY I FOUND IT WAS SCAR TISSUE FROM AN APPENDIX SURGERY DONE.

  12. Tom

    I thought scar tissue didn’t have nerves in it and was numb. Where can I read about this super sensitivity scar tissue has?

    • Hello Tom,

      You are very correct that Scar Tissue can be numb or present with other paresthesias. Most of the time, these are from visible scars that are caused by injuries, accidents, or even burns. Sometimes, however, the Scar Tissue is super-sensitive. Although I do not see severe cases of this on a daily basis, they are more common than you think. Look at JILL’S RECENT TESTIMONIAL. She could literally not stand to be touched or she would be in severe pain for 2-3 days. There is lots and lots of information in the scientific literature about this. The first time I heard of it was from the venerable Dr. Dan Murphy —- one of the world’s foremost experts on whiplash injuries.

  13. This is good information if it’s true and I believe it is. However, it’s not about me, but about a friend who had a breast reconstruction operation because of breast cancer. The cancer is gone but the pain from the operation began about a year after the operation. The scar tissue is terrible and sits against her chest wall against her right rib cage. I saw it and was shocked. It’s like a cluster of scars impacting one another in something resembling a skewed target and flat against bone. She was given Oxycontin for several years and the pain got no better and scared her until she was finally taking 360 Oxycondone a month, 15 mgs per pill plus 120 Morphine at 60 mgs per pill. She wasn’t getting better and the pain wasn’t going away until finally the reduction in drugs which Washington State insists upon was worse than the chest wall pain. Your article gives her hope and she was amazed. I thought an operation to remove much of the scar tissue and somehow integrating health tissue into the operation, but that would take a true medical artist, obviously the plastic surgeon who did the initial operation was more a butcher than an one who practiced medical arts.

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