What Causes Back Scar Tissue?

C. Daw

Back scar tissue can be caused from various different medical problems and procedures, but the most common is from surgery. Scar tissue is formed when the body is injured and forms into fibrosis tissue that acts like a web, stabilizing the injured area while the damaged muscles or tendons try to heal themselves naturally. These adhesions can eventually heal on their own, may remain without causing any major problems, or they can be a steady source of pain for the person that has them. Even though surgery is the main cause for back scar tissue, basic damage due to repetitive motions and impact injuries can also cause the tendons and muscles to form adhesions.

Back injuries may cause damage to the spine or swelling to the spinal cord.
Back injuries may cause damage to the spine or swelling to the spinal cord.

Surgical procedures cause varying amounts of internal and external back scar tissue. The external scars are caused from the incisions made by the surgeon because once the skin is cut into sections, a line will be present, forming the scar that is visible. The internal scar tissue is similar to the external ones except for the fact that they cannot be seen. As with the exterior scars, these scars form when muscles and fatty areas are cut and spread apart in order to allow the surgeon access to the damaged area, or areas, within the back. Adhesions begin to form immediately, and when the incision is closed they will build a bond between the two sides that have been cut, forming the internal back scar tissue.

Surgery is the most common cause for back scar tissue.
Surgery is the most common cause for back scar tissue.

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Repetitive movements can also cause back scar tissue. The reason for this is because as the muscles and tendons overwork themselves, they can stretch and rip, causing internal damage. As described above, adhesions will form in an attempt to form a bond between the two damaged parts, allowing them to heal naturally. In severe cases the adhesions will not disappear, but will form into back scar tissue instead.

The final way for adhesions to form is when impact injuries occur. Damage to the back can cause injuries to the spine that allows fluid to drain into the back, or can cause swelling within the spinal cord. When spinal fluid is drained into the back, fibrous tissues form, producing the scar tissue. Swelling of the spinal cord works similarly to this except that the adhesions are formed due to the lack of oxygen within the surrounding muscles and tendons. The oxygen deficient areas will form internal back scar tissue in an attempt to heal them.

Impact injuries may cause back scar tissue.
Impact injuries may cause back scar tissue.

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Discussion Comments


I had a lumbar fusion and ever since then my lower back is one and a half times its regular size, and I have numbness and pain all across my lower back into my hips. Excruciating!


I had a back surgery in 2007 and ever since, I have a large lump on the side lying on my shoulder blade. It's been five years now and no doctor can help me. I have had injections help, but it still gets bigger at times.

Do I have a lipoma, keloid or internal scar tissue problem? I can't even raise my shoulder anymore. My osteopathic surgeon says I do have a rotator cuff tear and he is going to repeat this, but I can't live with this pain. Do you think a orthopedic doc can help this problem? I go see him this week or is this too much of a surgery to have done at the same time?


I was talking to a nurse a while back and she was telling me about the awful pain that patients experience after back surgery. The internal scar tissue causes a pain that she described as tingling and pins and needles type of pain.It isn't actually the scar that hurts, it's the tissue next to the scar that is painful.

This can also happen if a person performs the same movement of the back over and over again until the tissue is torn or otherwise injured.

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