Scar Tissue Causes

Scar tissue is the formation of fibrosis connective tissue that is created to act as a protective barrier.  It replaces healthy tissues that have been damaged due to a number of reasons.  Scar tissue generally forms in muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and joints.  It is also called an adhesion.   When scar tissue is formed internally, the body will develop spider like web threads or adhesions that will help the body recover.

The most common reason for scar tissue in the back is from surgery; however, there are other causes that will cause scar tissue to form.  Repetitive motion, injury, and surgery can cause scar tissue to form.   Other causes for scar tissue can be sporting accidents or any other type of accident causing damage to the spine.  Scars or adhesions can be painful because they restrict movement and can compress on the nerves of the spine.

Repetitive motion, such as typing or using a hammer day in and day out can cause a muscle to tighten.  As the muscle tightens, swelling will occur.  This can restrict oxygen from reaching the muscles and the connective tissues.  This lack of oxygen can form scar tissue.

Another cause of epidural scar tissue is bleeding in the epidural space following surgery.  When disc material leaks from a rupture or herniated disc, epidural scarring is common.   Vertebral body fracture can also be a cause for scarring during the healing process.   Cervical injuries (neck) also can cause scar tissue to form.

Swelling of the spinal cord can cut off the flow of blood.  This also eliminates the flow of oxygen to the spinal cord tissue.  This lack of oxygen to the spinal cord tissue can cause scar tissue.

Whether tissue is damaged due to an accident or surgery, scar tissue is generally a result during the healing process.   After traditional back surgery, a person will go through three basic healing stages.  These are acute inflammation, repair, and remodeling.  As scar tissue is a form of healing, it will begin to develop during these stages.  In fact, scar tissue will begin to form during the very first stage of healing, which is the acute stage.  The acute stage is also called the inflammatory stage.  This is when inflammation will occur, and this is not always bad.  Inflammation during the healing process after back surgery will begin to neutralize toxins, and this will allow the repair process to begin.

Scar tissue does not contain nerve endings; therefore, the scar tissue itself is not painful.  The pain is caused by the tethers and binding of the lumbar nerve.  However, many associate the pain with scar tissue.

A doctor can diagnose scar tissue as a result of pain after surgery or an injury with the use of a CT scan (computerized tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or a myelogram.  When dye is injected into the epidural space, the presence or absence of epidural scar tissue will be revealed.  Scar tissue will generally become noticeable between six and twelve weeks after surgery.

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