A suddenly painful a scar tissue can cause you significant discomfort and interfere with your day activities particularly if the pain is accompanied by a change in skin function e.g. belabored muscle movement. This article will give you a rundown of everything you need to know about scar tissue pain.
Can Scar Tissue Cause Pain – Does Scar Tissue Cause Pain, Is Scar Tissue Painful
People often head on to the search engines to query them, “can scar tissue cause pain” when a scar tissue that has been sitting on their skin completely drama-free to almost be forgotten suddenly becomes unbearably painful as to eventually affect their movement and range of motion.
The simple answer to this question is, yes! Scar tissue can become painful in the event that they lead to formation of adhesions.
The term adhesions is used to describe a situation whereby a scar tissue binds the tissues surrounding it together leading to stiffness, and/or reduced muscle strength and range of motion. Adhesions usually make two internal body surfaces that are typically not connected to join together.
When this happens, nerves may get trapped in between the adhesions and the resulting pressure point can make the scar tissue (now more appropriately referred to as an adhesion) painful.
Adhesions often make movements in the affected area painful which usually result in less activity. Less activity often lead to further reduction in range of motion as well as the strength of muscle tissue.
Surgery is the most common cause of adhesions. Infection, injury, radiations and inflammation of organs such as appendicitis and cholecystitis can also cause adhesions and so can foreign objects in the body, for example, a metallic object left during surgery.
Adhesions can affect various parts of the body including the bowel, hands, spine, female reproductive organs (in which case they can lead to infertility), and the tissue around the heart.
In a nutshell therefore, scar tissue is not painful by default but can cause pain if it leads to formation of adhesions.
Scar Tissue Pain Symptoms – Painful Scar Tissue Symptoms
There are usually no other scar tissue pain symptoms associated with adhesion – the most common factor for painful scar tissue – except for the pain itself (commonly experienced in the pelvis and abdomen).
It is however important to note that abdominal and pelvic pain is not always a symptom of adhesion. It is advisable to consult your GP if you have such pain or bloating continues for a more than a few days.
In some cases, the adhesions can result in a group of symptoms that is usually referred to as ARD (Adhesion Related Disorder) which may include:
- Chronic pain (in the pelvis, abdomen or any other area)
- Painful bowel emptying
- Urinary bladder dysfunction
- Pain when walking, sleeping or sitting in specific positions
- Bowel obstruction
- Depression and other emotional disorders
These scar tissue pain symptoms (associated with ARD) can be confused for a whole lot of conditions including, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, and depression.
Diagnosis usually revolves around conducting appropriate tests to rule out such related medical conditions after which laparoscopy may be done to confirm the presence of adhesions. For adhesions inside the uterus of the fallopian tubes, Hysterosalpingography is usually used for diagnosis.
Scar Tissue Pain after Surgery
If you are experiencing scar tissue pain after surgery, you could have developed adhesions in the scarring site. Adhesions are a common problem and certain surgical procedures are very likely to lead to development of adhesions.
For example, according to the Australia Better Health Channel, as much as 93 percent of patients who have had an abdominal surgery will develop adhesions. Pelvic surgery is also likely to cause adhesions. The risk is even higher in patients who undergo major surgeries or multiple procedures.
Gynecological surgery is also commonly attributed to adhesions and as much as 90 percent of women go ahead to develop post-surgery adhesions.
Post-surgery adhesions can also lead to other complications such as infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and small bowel obstructions. Adhesions also increase the risk of complications and complexity during subsequent surgical procedures.
Abdominal Scar Tissue Pain
Abdominal scar tissue pain – often as a result of pinching of nerves – is a common symptom of abdominal adhesions which is often attributed to abdominal surgery, presence of foreign objects in the abdomen (for example, your surgeon may have forgotten an object during surgery), inflammation of organs (e.g. appendicitis and peritonitis), inflammatory diseases such as pelvic inflammatory diseases, and bleeding into the peritoneal cavity.
As the Australia Better Health Channel reports, abdominal adhesions affect 93% of patients who have had abdominal surgery and 10 percent of people who have never undergone surgery.
Scar Tissue Knee Pain
Can scar tissue cause all this pain in my knee? That is a question asked by one of our readers who didn’t disclose his name. Well, a scar tissue is a body’s natural way to heal itself after injury (trauma), surgery, and infection among other factors.
But when the scar tissue binds together two surfaces (or organs) that are usually separate – a medical phenomenon known as adhesion – it might end up culminating in painful movement of the knee (or any other part of the body for that matter) especially if nerves gets tugged or pinched in the process. It is best to talk to your doctor about it.
Painful Scar Tissue after Surgery – Pain from Scar Tissue after Surgery
“Is it normal to have painful scar tissue an year after an abdominal surgery?” Peter.
I am in a dilemma how to answer the first part of the question about it being normal or not, but as the Australia Better Health Channel reports, as much as 93 percent of patients who have had an abdominal surgery will develop adhesions. Your first line of action should be to talk to your doctor for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Old Scar Tissue Pain
Old scar tissue is normally replaced by normal tissue over time and gradually fades away. This however doesn’t happen. The Scar tissues sometime attach themselves to anything they can, leading to formation of adhesions.
This can result in tugging and pinching of the nerves and nerve roots leading to considerable pain. If a scar tissue that has been around for a while decides to get painful all of a sudden, it is advisable to talk to your doctor as this could signal the onset of adhesions.
Scar Tissue Pain Relief, Scar Tissue Pain Treatment – What To Do
Among the options available to offer scar tissue relief are:
Medication: This is usually the first line of treatment for acute scar tissue pain and forms part of the treatment for chronic scar tissue pain. Cortisone injections and over-the-counter and prescription painkillers and analgesics can be used but they often lead to side-effects or may not be effective, necessitating other treatment options.
Therapies: various therapies can also help in treatment of scar tissue pain. Massage therapy, for example, involves applying pressure to drain the tissue fluid and make the tissues softer and pliable.
Other therapies include the Active Release Technique (ART), Myofascial Release, and Graston Technique which are all used by chiropractors to release pinched nerves and thus control scar tissue pain.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient alternative medicine option that can as well offer relief from painful scar tissue. Small sharp objects, particularly needles are typically inserted through the skin to alter the activity of the nervous system and thus minimize pain.
Exercise: Exercises that workout and stretch the scar tissue are also commonly used to get rid of scar tissue pain.
Surgery: otherwise known as keyhole surgery, Laparoscopic surgery is most commonly used to treat painful scar tissues. The main benefit of this surgical procedure is that it involves making numerous small incisions in the affected area (usually the abdomen or the pelvis) as opposed to one large incision as is integral to traditional open surgery.
This minimizes the risk of formation of new adhesions. Your doctor may also decide to use open surgery whereby the adhesion is removed using electric current or a scalpel.
It is generally advisable to talk to a healthcare professional to offer you advice and recommendation for appropriate options for your specific case.