Scar Tissue After Back Surgery

Perfectly normal and often beneficial, scar tissue (epidural fibrosis) can also cause issues with flexibility and nerve sensitivity following spinal surgery. Beverly Hills patients should make an effort to limit scar tissue formation as much as possible. While the surgeon can take certain steps to achieve this goal, there are also things you can do during recovery to minimize the buildup of this fibrous tissue.

Scar tissue develops when incisions are made and healthy tissue needs to be cut to access the affected area of the spine. Controlled exercise, usually performed under the supervision of a physical therapist, restores muscle strength and flexibility and breaks up scar tissue. Initial exercise after spine surgery is usually mild and includes stretching.

The specific stretches you’ll need to do to keep thick scar tissue from forming will depend on where the surgery was performed. For upper spine and neck surgery, you would likely do side-to-side and up-and-down head motions and shoulder rolls. For lower back surgery, hamstring and hip flexor stretches will work spine-supporting muscles. Stretching helps reduce scar tissue by:

  • Minimizing fibrous adhesions on nerve roots
  • Allowing beneficial nutrients to get to the surgical site
  • Increasing mobility in the affected area of the spine

After an initial healing period, incorporate stretching into your post-surgery recovery plan by starting with light stretches before working your way up to moderate stretching. Scar tissue usually forms within the first three months, which is when stretching tends to be most effective for minimizing scar tissue.

Another way to minimize scar tissue is to consider minimally invasive spine surgery. Such procedures are performed in a way that reduces trauma to nearby tissues, which means fewer instances of scar tissue forming. Reducing inflammation with a post-surgery diet of green, leafy vegetables, fatty fish, and lean proteins may also reduce the risk of experiencing issues with scar tissue.

Whether they need spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement surgery, Santa Monica patients should make sure to take care of their bodies and prevent scar tissue from forming. Get in touch with The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration for additional tips on achieving a scar-free recovery. If you’d like to schedule an in-person evaluation, please call 310-828-7757 today.