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Excessive Scar Tissue | Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Updated on September 2, 2014

Smoking Can Cause Excessive Scar Tissue in the Lungs


What is Excessive Scar Tissue?

Excessive scar tissue is a serious medical condition that can occur from a number of causes and can affect a variety of parts of the human body. Scar tissue consists of contracted connective tissue that is fibrous as well as dense.

When someone suffers from an excess in the build up of scar tissue, they can experience extreme pain, immobility and arthritis in the joints. This condition which is still a large mystery to the medical community can cause silent problems and no pain at all, which complicate matters even more.

Scar tissue build up can block fallopian tubes, causing infertility, it can cause fibrous bands of tissue that pull on organs, making breathing difficult, and can cause glaucoma, pericarditis, intestinal blockage and more.

The genetic condition that causes scar tissue build up is known as scleroderma, the term for scar tissue build up from surgery and trauma is known as arthrofibrosis.

Scleroderma- A Scar Tissue Disorder

If you suffer from excessive scar tissue, it could be a result of a medical condition called scleroderma. A rare autoimmune condition, scleroderma causes unusual thickening of the skin and tissue.

Scleroderma can vary in the way it affects a specific person. Some people with scleroderma suffer from thickening skin alone, while others with scleroderma suffer from a more severe situation, where the connective tissue which supports and binds together the organs becomes too thick.

The exact cause of scleroderma is unknown and treatment of scleroderma depends on how it presents itself in the specific patient. At present, the only treatment of scleroderma is treatment of some of the symptoms; progression of the illness cannot be halted altogether.

What Abnormal Scar Tissue Looks Like

Result of Scar Tissue Removal Surgery


Signs and Symptoms of Excessive Scar Tissue

Because of the different causes of excessive scar tissues, the signs and symptoms vary dramatically. For that reason, the symptoms and signs of scleroderma and excess scar tissue NOT from sleroderma are listed separately below.

For those struggling with scleroderma, phyiscal signs include:

  • Swollen fingers and/or fingertips
  • A tingle senstion or loss of colors in the fingers
  • Joint pain and/or arthritis
  • Tight skin that may hinder mobility
  • Spider veins
  • Unusual popping noises when certain joints moveImmobility of the fingers, arms, or wrists
  • Scarring of the esophagus, lungs, or handsHeart failureKidney disease

Scar tissue build up unrelated to scleroderma (such as buildup from injury, trauma, smoking or surgery) presents itself in the following ways:

  • Pain in the place where the scar tissue is accumulating
  • Immobility of the joints or pain when moving
  • Breathing trouble and chronic lung problems
  • Sharp pains occurring to organs interfered by the scar tissue building up
  • Glaucoma, low optical pressure or discomfort in the eyes

Arthrofibrosis - Scar Tissue Build Up from Surgery and/or Injury

Arthrofibrosis is Greek for inflammatory joints, and is in fact a serious inflammatory condition that cause excessive scar tissue to build up around major joints and organs.

This medical condition typically results from surgery and/or severe injury. Common surgeries that can lead to arthrofibrosis include abdominal surgery, ACL surgery, and breast cancer surgery.

Very similar to scleroderma, arthrofibrosis causes build up of scar tissue inside the body, leading to pain, immobility issues and organ trouble. Unlike scleroderma however, arthrobrisis typically results from infections and bleeding into the body's joints.

When someone is suffering from arthrofibrosis, the scar tissue inside their body thickens, causing dense, fibrous tissue that interferes with the mobility of the person and can even damage organs.

Symptoms of arthrofibrosis include joint pain, stiff joints, redness or swelling of the joints, and decreased range of motion.

Treating arthrofibrosis is not easy- typically starting off with icing the joints and prescription medication, after which the patient moves on to physical therapy, and if the issue still persists, surgery is typically the last resort for trying to treat arthrofibrosis.

Contrary to popular belief, Manipulation Under Arthrits, a surgical procedure which involves manually adjusting the joints that have become immobile, is not a recommended treatment for arthrofibrosis.

Instead of MUA, experts recommend those suffering from arthrofibrosis who need surgery to undo the damage caused by the illness to try a surgical procedure called Lysis of Adhesions. During this procedure, the scar tissue is removed from the affected area in attempt to stop the binding of the tissue.

Talk to a doctor if you suspect that you have arthofibrosis of scleroderma, and never undergo treatment without consulting with a physician first.

The Physical Signs of Scleroderma

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Causes and Complications Related to Excessive Scar Tissue

Excessive scar tissue is caused by a number of factors, some of which are still being discovered. Current known causes include serious trauma/injury, genetic issues, surgery and/or smoking.

Both arthrofibrosis and scleroderma are serious illnesses that can cause life threatening problems if untreated. The difficulty with these conditions is that often the signs are not visible, not felt, and not noticed until the condition has progressed extensively.

"The public needs to know that scleroderma is a very severe disease, more severe in its mortality rate than breast cancer," says Sergio Jimenez, MD. Internal scarring can form tethers or a biological barrier that interferes with the functions of major organs.

Scar tissue can form inside of reproductive organs, around the tissues of the heart, inside of the bowel, along the spine, basically anywhere. Scar tissue is actually the body's response to trauma and is how the body heals itself.

The problem is created when the scar tissue begins to bind to parts of the body that it shouldn't bind to, such as internal organs and other parts of tissue, causing something known as adhesion.

When adhesion occurs within the body, a biological barrier is formed and the body can not heal properly. In essence, adhesions hook together body parts that are not normally connected. This tension results in a tugging and pulling sensation that can be extremely painful.

Build Up of Fibrotic Tissue Can Occur Anywhere in the Body

Treatment for Excessive Scar Tissue

Currently there is no cure-all for arthrofibrosis and scleroderma, however there are ways to treat the symptoms of both conditions.

Prescription medication, physical therapy, deep tissue massage, moisturizing and taking vitamin E supplements, stretching, and icing the infected areas are the most popular non-surgical approaches to treating scar tissue build up.

As a last resort or in emergency situations surgery can be done to cut the fibrous tissue that has built up, binding up the body's internal organs. The recommended surgery for arthrofibrosis is Lysis of Adhesions, while the recommended surgical procedure for scleroderma is Manipulation Under Anesthesia.

Scar tissue that occurs because of surgery is much easier to remove by LOA or MUA procedures than scar tissue built up from other causes.

(All information provided in this hub is for educational purposes only. The author is not a doctor and does not claim to be an expert on the condition(s) mentioned within this hub. For more information, speak to your general physician.)

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Ihave exsess tissue buildup after ankle surg and fallopian tube surge and else where.Severe dermatus exema lichen planus sojgrens auto immune disease.Noone will do anything.I know can lead to cancer.Have swollen lymph nodes and severe rash on neck also had thyroid halph removed chronic infections cellulitus

    • Luisa Last profile image

      Luisa Last 

      3 years ago

      I had a small procedure six weeks ago, the wound became very hard and I cannot move at all due to the intense pain in the hard area. I looks like I may have a serious problem after reading this article :(

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow. This is pretty serious. Thankfully, I don't suffer from either one. Knowing the symptoms is a help. Thank goodness I'm not a hypochondriac!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      This sounds like a very unpleasant disease. Thanks for sharing the information, as I didn't know much about it previously.


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