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post-surgery scar tissue

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
Hi. I'm new here. I'm excited to find others who also are looking for help and hoping for relief. I just had a laminectomy 5 months ago on the L5-S1 disc. I just had an MRI about 4 days ago showing that I have scar tissue partially obscuring the margin of the S1 nerve root. I'm concerned of course, because my leg pain was getting better for 4 months until about a month ago. Now it's just as bad as before surgery, if not worse. Every movement hurts, even small ones. This was my second surgery in this area and the doctor told me he had found a lot of scarring from the first surgery, which he scraped out. Any suggestions on treatment or therapy for scar tissue that impinges on a nerve? I've been all over the net and have found nothing. Just hoping for a miracle, I suppose.

Thank you,


  • All I can say is, you're not alone and Welcome to My World! It sucks.

    I never had much, if any improvement after surgery last May, and then, in August, started feeling MUCH worse with pain in both legs and low back. I even went to another NS for a second opinion and came away with more drug Rx that I don't want to use (I chose pain over inability to drive a car or have a life).

    Anyway - keep on trying, that' is all we can do. I'm doing PT now, McKenzie method therapy. And doing the "wait and see" that both NS's told me. They both said - and many people on this site say - it can take a year or longer for the nerve pain to settle and heal. By the way, the second NS I saw said that the whole "scar tissue on the nerve" thing is very overblown and he thinks it's very, very rare, if ever, that that is the cause of the pain.

    Good luck, and you're not alone, and I believe we all, somehow, will feel better one day - even if it means waiting a few more years for advances in this field of medicine.

  • The best way to ward off scar tissue is to stretch and perform some physical therapy as prescribed by your MD. The idea is to keep the nerves free and moving so that scar tissue, which will develop as a natural response to a surgery wound, cannot attach to the nerve. When it does bind to the nerve, and then you move around, the nerve is held and you feel pain.
    Good luck with your recovery!
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  • what exactly causes scar tissue to develop? I had it in my head that if I did something stupid like wrenching my back too soon after surgery I'd mess up and cause scar tissue. Or I was thinking maybe it all has to do with the talent and skill of the surgeon. When I saw the nurse two weeks post op I asked about getting back ino PT. She told me it wasn't necessary if I was feeling better. Maybe I'd better go anyway or do you think it's too late. How quick can scar tissue form? :< Oh boy. I wanted to do exactly the right things post op to give myself the best chances for the greatest success.
  • Rosa,
    Just curious, did your 2nd opinion doctor or the first one ever order an MRI for you to see what was going on? Or did they just give you the exercises to do? For your sake, I hope they ordered an MRI so you can be 100% sure of what's going on.

    Thank you for your support- I'm also hoping to feel better as time goes on.

  • fatherof4,
    I agree about the moving of the nerves. However, right after surgery, I found a site that told me exercises on how to do this, so I've been moving and stretching this nerve since day one. Still, 4 months after surgery, I'm in pain and scarring has showed up on my MRI. What a disappointment. Have any exercise suggestions? Maybe I should try some others.

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  • I don't know how long it takes for scar tissue to form. I've been looking on line for that info. for awhile. Can't find anything. Seems that doctors all have different opinions on scar tissue. Some say it's nothing while others say it's a major cause of pain. Hard to know what to think. On one site I read that scar tissue forms between 6 weeks and 3 months. That's what I believed, until 4 months later I found myself in pain. Maybe it forms up until 6 months - who knows.

    I think all of us here tried to do the right thing right from the start in hopes of relieving pain. I hope it just takes time. Who knew I'd feel worse after surgery?

  • here's a great article on spine health about scar tissue ... it explains it quite well.

  • Yes, I had a follow-up MRI done about 8 wks after surgery. The NS who did the surgery showed me a lot of white area and said that was scar tissue and inflammation. But he didn't seem to think the scar tissue was abnormal and said ALL surgery produces scar tissue. The second NS I went to said the same thing and said he didn't believe the scar on nerve theory - said that was rare if ever.

    I must say the more I read and the more I hear - it apparently CAN take up to a year or more to feel "better". I know my husband and some other people had instant relief from back surgery. He literally woke up from the surgery with total relief. But those people seem to be people who had a sudden onset of sciatica or some very local pain (my pain is pretty much everything from the back/hips to the toes on both sides).

    Let's all stay in touch - I wish we had a board with a roster of check-in's for: 1 mo. post op, 2 mo. post op etc. for the various surgeries, like laminectomy, fusion, etc.. well - we all hear it all pretty much right here.

    Good luck and PLEASE post any news, Dx, improvements, etc. We all need all the info we can get!
  • Rosa,
    I just got back from my NS and he told me my MRI looked great. Of course, this doesn't get rid of the pain. I also have scar tissue. He told me that he didn't want to back in because it looked good right now, but to wait for about 6 - 8 months. Then, if it still is shooting down my leg, maybe he would go back in and put a "nerve wrap" around the nerve (after digging out the scar tissue again). Ever hear of that?

    Maybe it WILL just take more time than we thought.

  • Hey csp

    Any more surgery will just cause more scar tissue unfortunately - they can go in and scrape the old stuff out but scar tissue is the bodies natural mechanism after it has been cut open. It just depends from person to person how much scar tissue forms and how quickly.

    As fatherof4 said the only thing that seems to be "evidenced" for scar tissue is keeping the nerve gliding to prevent tethering

    I had a revision L5 S1 microdiscectomy in july and they had to remvoe a load of scar tissue from my first surgery which had tethered the nerve root and I am still suffering with my "rocky road" as my NS calls it so I know how you feel

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