FAQ’s on Failed Back Surgery

Failed back surgery refers to a condition where an individual suffers from persistent pain as a result of back surgery.  Primarily, it arises when the spinal surgical procedure failed to attain the desired result.

The patient in most cases may continue to experience similar level of pre-surgical pain, or worse, which normally prevents him or her from performing day to day activities. It may cause depression as well.

Up to 40% of back surgeries fail within two years, and 10% actually end up with worse pain than before the surgery.

The causes of failed back surgery

1. Surgery performed for the wrong reason.

2. Surgery performed for the right reason, just inadequately.

3. Technically perfect surgery – just have a bad outcome.

4. Excellent outcome initially, however, scar tissue forms around a nerve root or an adjacent level degenerates. This is called post-laminectomy syndrome or adjacent segment degeneration.

Diagnosis of this disorder

FBSS is actually a general term used to describe the syndrome-like symptoms; in fact it is not a syndrome at all. It is the painful condition of patients who had unsuccessful surgical intervention for their back pain and back pain symptoms.

Initially, a visit to a spine surgeon should occur to see if further surgery will help. This will look for broken hardware, failure to fuse, fractures, weakness and more.

If additional surgery is not indicated and persistent back/leg pain persists, then FBSS is present.

Treatment of failed back surgery

Depending on the intensity of the pain, the Dallas pain physician will establish the ideal treatment procedures that might vary from:

Prescribed oral medication to relieve the level of pain.

Physical therapy and Chiropractic

TENS Units

Injections – trigger point, facet block, epidural injections, hardware injections.

Radiofrequency ablation – can relieve facet related pain at adjacent levels if degenerative.

Spinal cord stimulator implant – as a last resort, SCS can relieve both back and leg pain that exists after a failed back surgery.