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Back Pain From Old Abdominal Surgeries

Schehr Center For Wellness

Chronic lower back pain? It might be your abdominal scars.

Whether you have had a surgical procedure through an external incision or a less invasive, internal procedure,  the resulting scar tissue knits together the disrupted tissue as a means to healing.  In a perfect world, that is all it does in order to heal the body. However, scar tissue can also bind to other surrounding tissue, including nerves, arteries, and fascia which form adhesions.  This binding may restrict movement in the area, cause shifting in the body; forward, sideways and/or twisting, which can cause or worsen existing back pain.

For abdominal surgeries, it is easy to see the surgical scars that result from being cut through the skin, but once the scalpel cuts through the dermal layer, it must also cut through muscle, connective tissue (fascia), and sometimes an organ. Many times the deeper scars are not directly under the surface scar seen on the skin. Layers of scarring must heal in their respective tissues.  If there was no excision through the skin, it may be difficult to know exactly where the scar has formed. These recommendations may help identify underlying scar tissue.

Perform this self assessment by LOOKING and FEELING in the scar region.

  • Where the scar is visible, look for bumps or dimples
  • The visible scar should appear shiny or look like the surrounding tissue, NOT pink or red
  • Using a mirror, check to see if your navel is off-centered
  • Press in the area of the scar for tenderness as compared with the same tissue on the other side of the body
  • Press deep into the skin and slide the skin and tissue beneath from side to side and up and down (towards head and feet)
Back pain from abdominal scar
Abdominal scar**

Scars can form adhesions, or tissue that binds to other tissue.

Scars never go away, but adhesions, which may alter posture and limit movement, can be managed.

Just imagine what happens when you tuck a stiff shirt or blouse in and then go to reach upward.  Your movement is restricted and it feels like you’re being YANKED…unless you un-tuck part or all of your shirt.  Then movement becomes freer, less restricted. You don’t have to compensate or shift to perform an activity.

This is what can happen deep under your skin when there are adhesions. 

Check all scars, as even the tiny laparoscopic ones can have adhesions that reach out like tentacles deep into the body.

Some lower back pain may be reduced without surgery by mobilizing scar tissue. 

Over the years, many of my patients have found relief in lower back pain with treatment to scar tissue and adhesions that form. Sometimes it involves direct mobilization to the scar that is visible, but not always. If the scar tissue is irritable, relief may be obtained by releasing areas surrounding the scar. This helps to reduce the tenderness directly attributed to the scar adhesions.

Last year, I had surgery which left a large vertical scar on my abdomen.  Dr. Schehr worked on the scarred area allowing me to stand straighter and feel more flexible . That made me feel better overall  and I was able to move as I did before the surgery.”    Joyce K.

YOU can learn how to manage your pain caused by adhesions after being assessed for your particular needs.

CONTACT Schehr Center for Wellness to schedule your consultation and move towards a healthier lower back!


*Photo Credit – hands: BeGreen_Studio original format, 
**Photo Credit – abdominal Scar: Dr. Susan Schehr
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Comments (2)

  1. Came in to see Susan for back pain and in one visit back pain was almost gone by releasing numerous abdominal scars. Definitely a believer in scar adheasine release now.

    1. Im glad you had relief from back pain so quickly. Many don’t realize how important the management of scar adhesions is in the relief of back pain. Scar adhesions can be a source of chronic pain in other areas of the body as well.

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