Symptoms of Epidural Scar Tissue

Scar tissue is formed about six to twelve weeks after back surgery during the natural healing process.  Epidural scar tissue is epidural fibrosis tissue that forms when tissue is damaged during back surgery or in the event of an injury to the back.  This scar tissue is not the same as healthy tissue.  However, it does what it can to act as a protective barrier.

The symptoms of scar tissue will depend on where the surgery was performed; however, the most common symptoms are pain and lack of movement in the back.    In fact, nearly 90% of those who have reported restriction movement have been caused by fibrosis.  Reduced back motion can be as large as twenty inches or sixty degrees.

Other Scar Tissue Symptoms:

  • If fibrosis is formed due to an injured tailbone, the natural shock absorbing function is affected.  A symptom for scar tissue in this area is restricted and shortened spring movement.
  • If a nerve root is compressed by scar tissue, this will result in a distortion of the nerve.  The severity of the pain will depend on how much pressure is being applied to the nerve root.  This pain can be chronic or intermittent.   If the pain is intermittent and mild, a person’s life-style or activity level will not be as affected.  Activities such as housecleaning, lifting, walking, or sitting can be limited, but possible.  For those who experience more intense pain, these activities are possible, but will be limited to about 15 minutes.  These patients will likely not have a good night’s sleep due to the pain, which will make them sleep deprived or exhausted often.
  • Epidural scar tissue that is progressive in the lumbar area of the spine can cause symptoms of numbness, lower back pain, radiating pain into the legs, movement restriction, and loss of coordination.
  • Scar tissue located in the cervical area can cause symptoms, such as pain extending down the arm, weakness of hand grip, and numbness in the hand, which can lead to dropping objects.
  • Symptoms can occur in areas that are a distance away from the nerve being compressed.  For example, if a pinched nerve is located in the lower back, the pain could end up in the calf.  Constant pressure can cause pain and weakness to increase.  A person can experience loss of reflexes, sensation in the area being affected, mobility, and atrophy of the affected muscles.
  • Muscle atrophy could develop into weakness of the ankle and foot, turning into “foot drop”. Foot drop is the paralysis of the foot and results in the inability to raise the foot upwards and to raise the big toe.  Foot drop symptoms appear to be dragging of the leg or foot.

Those who experience the symptoms of scar tissue will wonder how to remove the scar tissue.  Scar tissue is a natural healing process.  Movement prior to the formation of scar tissue will help to reduce the scar tissue substantially.  If a person has minor and intermittent pain, pain relievers will be prescribed.  However, if the pain is severe, there are minimally invasive surgical procedures that can be done to remove the painful scar tissue.

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