How Do I Manage Pain from Scar Tissue? (with pictures)

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud
Scar tissue may be present for a variety of reasons, including repetitive motion.
Scar tissue may be present for a variety of reasons, including repetitive motion.

Scar tissue is composed of dense, highly tensile, collagen-based connective tissue that medically is referred to as fibrotic tissue and might be present for a variety of reasons, including injury, surgery, trauma or repetitive motion. If this fibrous matter becomes sensed by nerves, then a person might experience a wide range of pain associated with the condition. Although there is no sure way to eliminate pain from scar tissue, there are a number of procedures and actions that a person can take to reduce their degree of pain. Among the ways to manage this pain are through painkillers, cortisone injections, surgery, massage therapy and acupuncture. It is best for someone who has scar tissue pain to consult with a healthcare professional regarding this matter before a plan of pain management is adopted.

Scar tissue may be present due to injury.
Scar tissue may be present due to injury.

The origin of what is commonly referred to as scar tissue is the overproduction of collagen and other materials during the healing process. When a joint, ligament, muscle or other body part is traumatized by excessive use, injury or surgery, the body triggers a multitude of physiological processes designed to heal. Often, this healing process might be improperly gauged, resulting in an excess of scar tissue. This scar tissue might affect the motion of surrounding body parts, leading to pain, in addition to becoming connected to the nervous system itself, which will worsen the problem. This process is complex and circumstantial, so the degree and duration of pain from scar tissue is known to vary widely.

Cortisone injections may help manage pain associated with scar tissue.
Cortisone injections may help manage pain associated with scar tissue.

As is the case with many chronic pain conditions, the management of pain from scar tissue is not a perfect science. The options available to sufferers, however, have continued to increase. Analgesics, or painkillers, are commonly utilized in the treatment of chronic pain for a plethora of medical conditions. They usually come in pill form and can be purchased over the counter or through a prescription. Many such drugs exist with varying strengths and side affects, so it is important for a person to seek a medical opinion before committing to such a treatment.

Massage therapy may be useful in the management of scar tissue pain.
Massage therapy may be useful in the management of scar tissue pain.

Surgery also is an option for people who experience scar tissue pain. The most common surgery performed removes much of the undesirable tissue to relieve tension. This procedure is often case-specific and might not be possible for certain locations of scar tissue.

Massage therapy in the treatment of chronic pain from scar tissue utilizes physical pressure to actively drain the tissue of fluids, leaving a softer, more pliable tissue. Acupuncture is an ancient alternative medicine procedure that involves the insertion and manipulation of small sharp objects, usually needles, as a method for altering nervous system activity. This practice can help reduce pain. A cortisone injection might also be used as a short-term treatment — four to six weeks — for the inflammation and pain associated with scar tissue.

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Discussion Comments

anon994702

Contact Marjorie Brook - she developed the STRAIT method to help break down scar tissue. I did one of her courses and practice in Dubai, but she's the best contact person and is based in the states. East coast.

anon245115

After searching for 18 months, I was told that the reason I do not have full motion after tkr is because I have arthrofibrosis, which I understand is scar tissue.

I was told that they could not go in arthroscopically, that they would have to remove the implant and then remove the scar tissue and then put in another implant. The doctor is telling me that might not work. What can I do? --mariann

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    • Scar tissue may be present for a variety of reasons, including repetitive motion.
      Scar tissue may be present for a variety of reasons, including repetitive motion.
    • Scar tissue may be present due to injury.
      Scar tissue may be present due to injury.
    • Cortisone injections may help manage pain associated with scar tissue.
      Cortisone injections may help manage pain associated with scar tissue.
    • Massage therapy may be useful in the management of scar tissue pain.
      Massage therapy may be useful in the management of scar tissue pain.
    • Acupuncture may help treat scar tissue pain.
      Acupuncture may help treat scar tissue pain.