The Vault

flatback, spine surgery, surgeon
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April 28, 2017
spine doctor, pain management
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Failed Back Surgery Syndrome & Options

back surgery, spine surgery, spine doctor

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is a phrase used to indicate the condition of and individual who has had an unsuccessful result from their back procedure. Unfortunately, up to 40 percent of people who have had back surgery fall into this group and continue to experience pain.  Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is far more common in the lumbar (lower back) region than in the cervical area (neck). There are some reasons why surgery may not alleviate the symptoms.

Causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome are:

  • The site that at which the operation took place was not the actual area causing the pain
  • Excessive scar tissue formation around the surgical area
  • Failure of the bones to fuse after a fusion procedure
  • Recurrent spinal stenosis
  • Recurrent disc herniation
  • Nerve damage before surgery that doesn’t heal
  • Implant failure (shifting after surgery)
  • A surgical error
  • Inability to eliminate compression of the nerve
  • The specific procedure was not the best choice for the patient

The primary symptoms of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome are continued pain despite surgical intervention.  A physician’s detailed physical exam paired with imaging such as a CT scan or MRI can often locate the exact source of the pain.

There is not a definitive treatment protocol for individuals suffering from Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. However, there are effective methods for decreasing the likelihood that scar tissue formation is triggering the problem. Stretching the nerve root and hamstrings during the first three to twelve months after surgery can reduce scarring. Pain medications are also an important therapy to incorporate to provide relief.

The best ways to avoid Failed Back Surgery Syndrome include:

  • Choose procedure options with the highest success rates. These may include minimally invasive techniques.
  • Explore all non-surgical options before deciding to have surgery
  • Choose a surgeon with extensive experience performing the procedure you are having
  • Consider a getting a second or even a third option before making your final decision.

If you are experiencing continuing back or neck pain after surgery and would like to discuss treatment options, please call our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.

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