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deni's avatar

Why is this specific scar I have so much more painful when I hit it off things compared to any other scar or body part?

Asked by deni (22139 points ) December 20th, 2013

Wow, sorry, this question was hard to word.

I was in a car accident in July that left me unscathed except for a gash on my knee that I sustained while crawling out of the window and dragging my knee across glass (car was upside down). In the ambulance, the paramedics suggested that I go to a hospital and have them cut the chunk of skin off, because it appeared to be just hanging there, and it was a large chunk. After a few hours and taking a shower and getting it cleaned up, I saw that it was not detached and to remove the chunk of skin would have been to cut the skin in two separate places, not something I wanted to do. Because of the amount of glass that was on every part of my body, they also thought there could be some glass in there and I should have it checked out for that reason as well.

Well, I was on a trip so I never did. I don’t personally think there is glass in my knee because I think I’d have felt it at some point, and I haven’t.

Here are some pictures:
Right after it happened
Later in the healing process

As you can see it is a fat, chunky scar.

Anyhow, since this has happened, and because I am generally clumsy by nature, I have smacked my knee, on the scar specifically, off enough things to know that it hurts infinitely worse than bumping any other body part with equal force off of the same object. I am simply curious why this is. Generally it hurts so bad when I hit it, I either scream, grunt, clench my teeth, bite my lip, something. I literally have to do something to get through the pain! And not only that, it doesn’t go away soon after like it normally would on an undamaged body part. It seems to resonate, and get worse over the course of a minute or so. I don’t have a particularly low pain tolerance and I’ve given myself enough injuries over the years to know that I’m not just being a baby.

I just don’t get it. I am simply wondering if someone can explain it to me. Or has had a similar experience? I have had a lot of nice sized scars but none of them have been this deep, or chunky, so I feel that may have something to do with it. Thanks for your thoughts in advance!

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14 Answers

Seek's avatar

I think it might have something to do with the fact that the scar tissue is thinner than skin, and thus there isn’t as much space or padding between the surface and nerves than other areas of your body.

I know my surgical scars and stretch marks on my belly itch like hell from time to time. Since it’s usually just the area covered by my t-shirt and pants waistband, I chalk it up to irritation from the fabrics rubbing on them. Still… annoying, eh?

deni's avatar

Hmmm maybe. It just seems like the scar tissue is so thick in this particular spot, but maybe its that scar tissue is more sensitive? Would that make sense, then, cause I have a lot of it? I don’t know, its been stumpin me. And yeah, they itch so bad! I have one on my foot from a surgery I had twice in the same spot. The nerves are crazy in that area, and I have to be so gentle when I itch it, but I want to itch it really hard! Haha.

Seek's avatar

Maybe @Rarebear will chime in soon, and soothe our worries – or at least explain them.

I say as I feverishly scratch my chole scar through my shirt

Coloma's avatar

You were on a trip? Yes, it appears so, LSD? lol
You should have had it seen but, it looks as if it has healed fairly well.
If there is stil pain you might have a fragment of glass still in the original wound.

deni's avatar

@Coloma haha! no I was on a road trip in the middle of nowhere Utah, heading to Oregon. I totally could have made time for a trip to the hospital or doctor but I’m just not big on hospital visits that don’t seem absolutely necessary. Anyhow, the thing is there isn’t pain all the time, or usually, that’s why I don’t think it’s glass. It’s not a sharp pain and I guess I feel with glass it would be a more specific sharp pain. But it feels more broad, if that makes ANY sense lol

deni's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr What does chole mean?

livelaughlove21's avatar

I have a few small scars on various parts of my body that I don’t even notice – all from having suspicious (or just ugly) moles removed by my dermatologist. I had one removed from my chest (midline, 1–2 inches from my clavicle) and she warned me it would be a thick, ugly scar because of the location. I didn’t care and had it done anyway. Well, it was thick and ugly (though, not as ugly as the mole), but it also hurt – months and months after the procedure. It was tender to the touch and redder than any scar I’ve had. I actually had to get some kind of steroid injection in it to make the swelling go down (ouch!). Now, it’s still noticeable but not nearly as much as before, and there’s no pain.

So, yeah, it may be the location and size of the scar. I even had a mole removed from my breast, which I’d think is more sensitive than my chest, and had no problems at all.

Not sure how helpful that was, but I gave it a shot.

Seek's avatar

Short for cholecystectomy. I had my gallbladder removed a year ago.

JLeslie's avatar

Could be something with the nerves in that area. RSD would be an extreme example of nerves gone haywire after an injury where pain is u usually intense, sometimes not even near the wound itself. The nervous system seems to get all whacked. I don’t think you have RSD, but I was just making an example of how injury screws with our system sometimes. The scar tissue inside maybe presses on something? Some places I have scars it is more sensitive, it feels like the skin is thinner, as someone mentioned above, but I don’t know if that is actually true, but it does feel that way. Scars have the fibers of the skin laying in a different way than normal skin, and that is why they look like scars.

Also, knees are tricky. I hit my knee really badly in my accident, the bruise was from my mid calf up above the knee with deepish road rash on the side of my knee. I was so worried I would have knee trouble following that. I went to my friend who is an orthepic surgeon and he told me he believed it would heel perfectly with no lasting injury, and he was right, except for my scar. I’m so glad he was right, I wish it was the case for my other bumps and bruises from the accident. I think an orthopedist would probably know by where you hit your knee what exactly is going on maybe? But, if I were you I would not bother going to one, but that’s me. You know I am not a doctor, hopefully a doctor will come visit the Q.

hearkat's avatar

It sounds to me like there might be residual bits of debris inside – they might not be large enough for you to feel with palpation, but they don’t need to be much for your nerve endings to find them incredibly annoying.

ccrow's avatar

I agree with @hearkat , there might be tiny bits in there. I had a similar thing happen when I was in my teens: I fell and took a big chunk out of my knee, but the chunk wasn’t entirely detached. I cleaned it up really well- no glass involved, just rough paving- and then replaced the skin. It healed up ok but was painful for a really long time. I always just assumed that although the surface had healed, the underneath part took a lot longer to heal completely.

Rarebear's avatar

Agree with @hearkat.

gailcalled's avatar

FWIW, I had a total knee replacement in late Sept. of this year that left me with an 8” vertical scar over knee. In early Nov. I developed an abscess (about 3.5×4 mm) that was locally very painful and initlally infected, unlike the long scar it embellished.

After a 10-day course of antibiotics, the discovery that I was allergic to sulpher drugs ,and a long month of using warm compresses, I had a few days of gunk and fluid leaking out. I noticed on Friday, Dec. 13, what I first thougth was a small sub-Saharan tape worm extruding from the abscess. It turned out to be 2 .5” piece of white silk suture thread that had worked its way to the surface.

The surgeon had predicted that it was a stitch that had come loose; when I brought my suture in (taped to a piece of green origami paper for clear visiblity) he laughed. Apparently 23 of us had had problems with that particular material this fall, and the practice was no longer using it. “Thanks a lot,” I told him.

10 days later, I am stilll soaking the spot which has a few areas that are tender to the touch. There are still a few nerve endings that find it incredibly annoying (lovely turn of phrase, @hearkat).

(Along the way, I did have two separate x-rays of the area).

The surgeon did not want to keep the suture, on its kelly green background, for “Show and Tell.”

deni's avatar

@hearkat @Rarebear Though I do think that’s a possible explanation it just seems funny to me that it would not hurt ever otherwise. The scar does not cause me any pain, even if I touch it and push on it in different spots, that is the only reason I assumed that there was no glass on it. I figured if there was I’d feel a shooting pain when I pressed on it, or even when I hit it off something I assumed it would be more of a sharp, extreme pain. But, I could absolutely be incorrect. So thank you for the answers :)

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