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SCAR TISSUE, failed surgery, re-herniation, and a world of pain ahead....

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well, my soul-crushing post-op review with the surgeon happened, and this is what I was told:

Large amount of scar tissue around incision area and around root of S1 nerve. Acute radiculopaty.

He showed me a couple of film slides, and it certainly looks like a clear white stain around incision and all the way to the nerve.

The prescription: six month of physical therapy and pain management, and "then we'll see". The doctor dispatched me quickly, and didn't answer all my questions. He referred everything to the "we'll see then what next steps to take".
I like to have the bird's eye view of my situation, personally.

I started physical therapy and it's not making a lick of difference. Just like before surgery. The pain keeps increasing, and even extending to the other leg too. I'm limping profusely, and using cane to walk.

I scheduled my appointment with the pain mngmt doctor, and it's not coming until a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I met with another physician that I trust, he looked at the new MRIs and mentioned something that the surgeon and the MRI report did not mention: in addition to the scar tissue formation, there is a large re-herniation in the L5-S1 area. He showed me in the film slide. It's as obvious as a thumb jamming the spinal cord. He suggested I get a second opinion from a highly qualified specialist in the field (either neuro or orthopedic).

I'm nervous, scared, and feel I need a really, really good second opinion, so I can tackle this problem and move on with my life. This has been going for too long, and I'm exhausted of being in so much pain. If anyone can help me, thee are my questions:
  • First and foremost, I need a detailed, thorough SECOND OPINION on my case. Is it scar tissue, is it a re-herniation, or both? I need a recommendation for a top-notch spine neurologist or orthopedic doctor in NYC (you can send me your doctor's suggestion as a private email if it makes you feel more comfortable).
  • Scar tissue: how do you deal with it? All doctors recommended against a second operation, because they say it would cause more scar tissue. The physician put it very bluntly, said this could become a chronic condition. Aside from potential corticoid shots and the physical therapy, is there anything I can take or do to soften it? What are my options? Someone mentioned "enzymes" that soften it up. Which enzymes are these, and how can I get them?
  • (Potential) Re-Herniation: The surgeon and the MRI lab people apparently missed this, but my physician just showed me this slide from the last MRI, and it looks like a large bulge poking the spine at L5-S1 (I'm no doctor, but to me it looks larger than before surgery). What are my options here? How can they miss this? What can I do to further look into this matter? Do I bring it up to the surgeon or the MRI lab, or should I wait until I get a second opinion?
Any advise, recommendations, and suggestions are highly appreciated.


  • Scar tissue discussion thread:



    scar tissue treatment study:


    If you reherniated then surgery could decompress the nerve. We have similar issues just different levels and my doc is gonna do exploratory surgery and clean things up. Use of laser to minimize bleeding and scar tissue regrowth. Then I want to take the PTX and Vit E. starting at 4 weeks post op to limit scarring regrowth also.

    Hope this info helps. Your doc needs to be open minded. ESI's wont work if scar tissue has clogged up the epidural space.

    Good Luck Johnny!

  • I'm sorry that you're in this position, and I understand how you feel. Buckeye, Gwennie, and I along with other members are going through similar things and we are trying to find answers on how to deal with scar tissue.

    In my case both back surgeries I had failed to alleviate the pain and I developed complications listed below in my signature line. The scar tissue is pressing against the nerve root at L5-S1 and the thecal sac at L4-5 (left S1). I had an ESI for this but it didn't help.

    For now all my lower back pain and permanent nerve damage is managed with strong medication until I have a morphine pump put in. It's not a fix, but thankfully a good option available to me for improving quality of life.

    I hope you find the answers you seek and get the help you need. Take care
  • Sorry about your situation.
    Here is what I know from my surgeon:
    Scar tissue will form.It just depends how strong our bodies respond to the trauma(surgery).Two things I know
    of to help "break up" scar are massage and stretching,
    if you can tolerate them.
    Re-herniation is not fun.If you surgeon really missed it on the MRI...maybe it's time to look for a new one.
    Has anyone mentioned infection?My disc(L4/5) got infec
    ted post MicroD.The pain was driving me insane.The inflammation was so bad,my thecal sack was compressed to half of it's normal size.Fun...I don't wanna scare you but you need to look at all possibilities.
    Good luck to you.Keep us posted.

  • This whole situation does not sound good. It does sound like you need a second opinion from a highly qualified doctor. Next time you see your present surgeon, point out that spot and ask him to explain it to you. I'm thankful that my surgeon puts my pics up for me to look at and I get to ask whatever questions I want. I'm not really sure what can help scar tissue, but if massage works, you might find a PT that does Graston Technique. I won't tell you it doesn't hurt -- it can be quite painful -- but it does tend to get the knots out. With my lumbar fusion (and instrumentation), I was feeling like I had been nailed to a board and the Graston got me moving again. I can actually even dance a little bit, when I'm feeling good and actually feel like dancing!

    I wish you the very best. I live in fear of scar tissue. I have the nastiest of scars on my abdomen from my spine surgery, but the back scars are great. I'm praying someone will do some plastic surgery to help my stomach.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Do you have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon?

    I really find it hard to believe that he missed something on your new MRI, and I would certainly ask him about it.

    I'm guessing here, but from the surgeon's perspective, you are not that far out from your surgery date. Most surgeons do not get concerned about anything this early in the healing process. Perhaps I am reading you wrong, but I got the impression you were blaming the surgeon for your results to this point.

    You do know that he has nothing to do with your body's formation of scar tissue. We all develop scar tissue when something is removed from the body. It is nature's way of healing and filling in for what was removed. Depending on how the tissue grows, it can be benign or it can cause problems. When a surgeon sees scar tissue on an MRI, he does not automatically see it as a cause for concern.

    Get a second opinion so you know what's going on.

    xx Gwennie

  • Thanks for the post to the scar-tissue forum thread.

    I'm looking for the right enzymes to take for the softening of scar tissue. I see Neprinol as one mentioned in the forums. Any other supplements? Anything else I should be taking? Anyone has experiences with Neprinol?

    I think I'm going to give it a shot.
  • Hi gwennie17,

    I'm sorry, but I'm not sure where I gave you that impression, but I did not blame my doctor for the scar tissue. I understand this bodily process. I am certainly saddened and worried about the formation of scar tissue after my surgery, and need info on how to better deal with it. I just wanted to clear that that at no point I blamed my doctor for it. Cool?

    My issues with this doctor are not with the results, but how he's handling my case, and his general attitude towards me: From dismissing me when asking questions (literally walking out of the room saying he's not going to discuss any more options with me), to trying "Jedi mind tricks", as I call it, trying to convince me that i am "probably better than before surgery", when that is not the case. There's something about his attitude that doesn't help, frankly.

    My main worry, as I posted above, is that I took the latest MRI films to my family physician, and he mentioned that while there's a major focus on scar tissue, they are missing a protruding mass in L5-S1, very large, that seems to be pushing into the spine. It's very obvious from a lateral view in the films, as it looks like a thumb jabbing into the spine.

    To my physician, it looks like a re-herniation. I looked online for similar photos, and what I see in that MRI sline kind-of looks like these:


    (I wish I had a scanner, so I could post my MRI pictures)

    The MRI report from the lab mentions it by passing, saying that it "may or may not" put pressure on the spine. My physician suggests I find a good doctor for a second opinion, and maybe suggest a "stand up MRI", which may show how that re-herniation puts even more pressure in the spine.(my pain is much worse standing up)

    That's my situation. I need a second opinion because, in addition to the scar tissue, I may have a re-herniation. I want to make sure that if I indeed have a re-herniation, that it is not neglected and we make more damage while I undergo several months of PT for the scar tissue.

    If I have two issues here, I want to deal with both. But I need to know for sure.
  • Hi there...I am in the exact same position right now...Its almost creepy reading your post. I am stuck inbetween reherniation and scar tissue and have been put into a holding pattern by my neurosurgeon. The ER and radiologist say herniation and my neurosurgeon's resident says it isn't...I didn't actually get to see my surgeon because he was called away to surgery. Ugh...Now I have to have nerve conduction studies and epidurals, but I can't get the insurance approval...I have been waiting 9 weeks for the approval so far just to make the appointment for the neurodiagnostics. In the meantime, I am also using a cane and feel utterly disabled. An otherwise active person, this is driving me ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!!! I feel for you =( I hope you get your situation figured out. Take care of yourself.

  • Chadwick?

    Did you finally get approval? New treatment plan?

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