Pain in Incision Months After Surgery

Pain in Incision Months After Surgery

Surgeons make incisions during surgery to access the specific organ, tissue, or structure that needs correction. However, most people don’t feel any pain at all during the process, and that’s because they’re under anesthesia. When the effects of anesthesia wear off after the surgery, it is normal to experience some degree of pain or discomfort at the incision site after surgery, but that usually resolves.

While recovering from surgery, incisions begin to heal, and they become surgical scars. There is also a significant reduction in the level of pain over time. However, if the pain of a surgical scar persists for months after the surgery, you might need medical attention at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy.

Symptoms Of Pain in Incision

Several signs may indicate pain in surgical scars, even months after surgery. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Sharp pain: Sharp pain in your surgical scar may come as sudden and intense sensations in the incision site several months after surgery. This may be caused by many factors (as you’ll soon see) and can indicate possible nerve damage or inflammation.
  • Dull pain: is another common symptom of pain in the incision site months after surgery. Dull pain is a persistent throbbing discomfort that may result from forming scar tissue or muscular strain.’
  • Burning pain: This is another distressing symptom characterized by a tingling sensation of heat or burning-like discomfort. Burning pain often results from nerve hypersensitization or neuropathic pain.
  • Redness and Swelling: Prolonged redness and persistent redness around the incision site months after surgery may indicate pain, inflammation, infection, or fluid accumulation.
  • Itching: An irritating sensation may make you want to scratch the incision site often. Itching is an uncomfortable symptom however, unlike other symptoms that may indicate a more significant problem, itching may just be a normal part of the healing process and scar tissue formation.
  • Restricted mobility: This symptom refers to a reduced or limited range of motion of a body part. This may result from tightness around the incision site caused by scar tissue and affect joint mobility and flexibility.

Other symptoms of pain in incision months after surgery include fatigue, sleep disturbances, and an overall reduction in the quality of life due to chronic pain.

Causes Of Pain in Incision Months After Surgery

There are several reasons why you might still feel pain in the incision site several months after a successful surgery. It is important to know the particular reason for pain to understand how to treat it. Some causes of pain in an incision months after surgery include:

Nerve Damage or Regeneration

The nerve is a bundle of fibers that play a crucial role in transmitting signals from the body and the brain and vice-versa. During your surgical procedure, there is a lot of cutting through skin and tissues. This may lead to damage of the nerves in the incision area from the cutting, tissue manipulation, or trauma. The severity of nerve damage from a surgical procedure varies. It may be a minor bruising or a more significant injury resulting in persistent pain months after the surgery. 

Another nerve-related cause of pain months after surgery is nerve regeneration. Nerves can regenerate and heal over time, especially when the damage is minor. While healing, the damaged nerves regrow and try to connect with other nerves in the incision site. This may lead to discomfort, such as itching, hypersensitivity, tingling, or persistent pain. 

The most important thing to know here is that pain from nerve damage or regeneration can be treated through physical therapy in Bedford, TX.

Formation and Adhesion of Scar Tissues

The formation of scar tissues to cover up incisions is normal and a natural healing process after a successful surgery. Scar tissues form as the body goes through the repair and rebuild of tissues damaged from incisions. However, despite their crucial role, scar tissues may be the reason that you experience pain months after your surgery. 

Sometimes, the body may produce more scar tissue than is necessary to cover up and heal the incisions made during surgery. This overproduction of scar tissue leads to the formation of hypertrophic or keloid scars. Hypertrophic and Keloid scars are formed as a result of excess production of collagen at the incision site. However, Keloid scars extend beyond the boundary of the original wound. These scars are itchy and painful and can limit the range of movement, even for months after surgery.

Another cause of pain in the incision months after surgery is the adhesion of scar tissues. Adhesions are fibrous bands that form within the body to connect adjacent structures. Adhesions may develop due to inflammation, infection, or as a part of the healing process after successful surgery in Bedford, TX. These adhesions may restrict movement, cause pulling sensations, and pain in the incision site, for a long time after surgery. Pain from the formation and adhesion of scar tissues can be treated through surgery, laser therapy, or physical therapy at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy. 

Infection or Inflammation

Another significant cause of pain in an incision, even months after surgery, is infection or inflammation. Surgical site infection occurs when harmful bacteria or other microorganisms enter the incision. Sometimes, this prevents the incision site from healing fully and leads to prolonged discomfort. 

Inflammation, on the other hand, is the body’s natural response to injury or infection. It is needed to trigger the initial stages of healing; however, it may become prolonged and contribute to persistent pain. Inflammation in the incision site may result from the body’s response to foreign objects, slow/poor wound healing, and underlying medical conditions. Treatment methods for pain in incision caused by infection or inflammation include antibiotics, NSAIDs, wound care, etc.

Treatment Options for Pain in Incision Months After Surgery

Persistent pain in an incision site months after surgery can impact an individual’s life quality. If you have been wondering how to treat the lingering pain of a surgical scar, several treatment options are available in Bedford, TX, that help manage and eradicate pain.

To decide how to treat pain in an incision, our physical therapists must first establish the underlying causes of your condition. The following are some treatment options for the lingering pain of a surgical scar:

Pharmacological Treatment Options

Pharmacological treatment options aim to manage pain by using medications to resolve the underlying mechanisms that cause pain. Pharmacological treatment options may include over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, nerve blocks, topical treatments, and antidepressants. 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, etc., are effective in relieving mild to moderate pain and reducing inflammation. For severe and persistent pain, stronger analgesics such as opioids or nerve pain medication may be used to manage incision pain. 

Topical treatment involves using creams or gels with analgesic properties to relieve pain by applying them to the incision area. For individuals who experience severe pain, nerve blocks may be administered to the incision area to block pain signals temporarily.

Non-pharmacological Treatment Options

This treatment option is a non-invasive alternative to managing pain in incision months after surgery. It focuses on techniques and strategies that effectively relieve pain away from medications. The most common non-pharmacological treatment option is physical therapy.

Physical therapy in Fort Worth & Bedford, TX, is crucial in managing pain and promoting healing. At Barkman and Smith Physical Therapy, therapists use techniques such as therapeutic exercises, stretches, manual therapy, and pain relief techniques to manage pain, improve your range of motion, and restore optimal function. 

1. Scar Tissue Massage: The formation and adhesion of scar tissues is one of the major reasons you may feel pain in an incision months after surgery. Physical therapy in Bedford, TX, involves the use of gentle massage techniques to break down adhesions in scar tissue, promote circulation, and improve tissue flexibility. Physical therapists in Bedford reduce scar tissue and alleviate pain by applying pressure and special strokes.

2. Therapeutic Exercises: Physical therapy involves exercises to improve or restore the range of motion constrained by the affected area. These exercises prevent stiffness, reduce pain, facilitate healing, and improve overall function.

3. Cold and Heat Therapy: Cold therapy reduces inflammation at the incision site and prevents pain by constricting the blood vessels. On the other hand, heat therapy relaxes muscles and relieves incision pain.

4. Ultrasound Therapy: This technique is employed by physical therapists to manage pain. Ultrasound therapy uses high-frequency sound waves to heat the tissues deeply. This will increase blood flow and reduce pain in the incision site.

5. Electrical Stimulation: Electrical stimulation, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), delivers low-level electrical currents to the affected area. This will reduce pain in the incision area by interfering with pain signals and promoting the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain-relieving chemicals.

Before treatment commences, a physical therapist will thoroughly evaluate your condition to understand the underlying cause of the pain. Based on this evaluation, the therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan to address your needs and goals. 

Other non-pharmacological treatment options include heat and cold therapy, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), massage and manual therapy, relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acupuncture, etc.

Surgical Intervention

Surgical procedures are available if conservative and non-invasive procedures fail to relieve pain in the incision site months after surgery. Some surgical procedures that help manage and relieve incision pain include scar revision, neurectomy, spinal cord stimulation, etc.


Pain in the incision site months after successful surgery, is a distressing and very challenging experience. Fortunately, a wide range of treatment options are available to manage this discomfort effectively in Bedford, TX. By understanding the potential causes, such as nerve damage, scar tissue formation, infection, or inflammation, you can get the most suitable treatment option at Barkman and Smith Physical Therapy