What Causes Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Many individuals who undergo spine surgery experience excellent results. The success rate of most spine surgeries is about 90%. When the surgery does not provide a positive result for the patient, failed back surgery has occurred. Failed back surgery can be caused by misdiagnosis, re-injury during the recovery period or a poorly performed surgery. In cases of failed back surgery it is important to find the exact source of the continuing symptoms. Once the exact source of the back pain has been found, treatment for failed spine surgery symptoms can be sought. As a spine surgeon, Dr. Braxton offers non-surgical and advanced, minimally invasive, surgical treatments to help patients suffering from failed back surgery.

How Do I Know I Have Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

The symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome are distinct. Following surgery there is a period of recovery that can include pain and discomfort. Persistent pain and discomfort lasting longer than several weeks following surgery may be caused by failed back surgery syndrome. Patients who have experienced failed back surgery syndrome may have:

  • Ongoing dependence of pain medication
  • Prolonged recuperation
  • Continued limitations in movement
  • Pain developing in locations other than surgical area
  • Stabbing pain in the back
  • Radiating pain or numbness to the lower back into the legs
  • Trouble sleeping, depression or anxiety

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How to Prevent Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Failed back surgery syndrome can be prevented by the concerted effort of both the patient and their doctor. Beginning with a very thorough diagnosis, it is important for the patient to provide a complete history so as not to miss a potential injury that may have lingering implications. It is also important to follow the doctor’s preoperative and post-operative surgery instructions carefully. Patients must also choose a surgeon they trust. Before having back surgery it is important to consider:

  • A comprehensive battery of non-surgical treatments beforehand

  • Ample time for non-surgical treatments to be effective

  • A thorough and accurate diagnosis correctly identifying the pain source

  • A thorough preoperative examination to ensure patient eligibility

  • Clear expectations following surgery

  • A pre-surgery psychological evaluation to evaluate for any underlying conditions that may contribute to poor outcomes

  • Ensure all proper precautions during surgery

  • Closely monitor postoperative recovery including pain management

  • Collaborate closely with postoperative medical care team and therapists

For the best possible result it is important for the patient to have clear expectations following surgery. Dr. Braxton can provide non-surgical and advanced surgical treatments to help patients suffering from failed back surgery syndrome.

How to Correct Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

A thorough patient diagnosis is crucial for determining the next course of treatment. The exact cause of pain following failed back surgery syndrome will help guide treatment. In some cases a second surgery may be required to alleviate pain. Alternative treatments such as a spinal cord stimulator have shown to be helpful. More traditional treatments including physical therapy, pain management, neuromodulation and reoperation are available for consideration. With the expertise of an advanced spine surgeon, Dr. Braxton provides a range of non-surgical and surgical treatments for patients who have experienced failed back surgery.

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