Failed Back Surgery Syndrome – Common Causes

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Overview

Contrary to what its name suggests, failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is not a syndrome at all. Furthermore, the term is not necessarily meant to imply that something went wrong during a surgical procedure. Rather, FBSS refers to a general situation in which pain persists or new pain develops after spine surgery. Even if the intensity of the original discomfort is lessened, it may still be present or it may worsen after surgery. 

What causes FBSS? 

Failed back surgery syndrome can occur for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • An incorrect diagnosis of the initial problem. Many spinal conditions produce similar symptoms but have distinctly different underlying causes. This is one reason why spine surgery should always be preceded by a thorough and accurate diagnostic process. With that said, FBSS doesn’t necessarily mean that a surgeon misidentified a spinal issue. Rather, it means that the surgeon did not address the specific issue that is causing the problem. 
  • An incomplete surgical result. Even if a surgeon properly identifies the origin of painful symptoms, he or she must make sure that this cause is completely addressed during surgery. For instance, if a herniated or bulging disc is pressing on the spinal cord or a nerve root, the source of the pressure must be completely removed to provide the necessary relief. Otherwise, the problem may continue in the aftermath of surgery. 
  • The formation of scar tissue after surgery. Traditional open neck and back procedures are highly invasive and usually require large incisions. In turn, these large incisions can take a significant amount of time to heal and result in a considerable build-up of scar tissue. Scar tissue is not always problematic, but it can lead to FBSS if it compresses the spinal cord or a nerve root.
  • Recurrence. Sometimes, a spinal condition will simply recur, even if it is successfully treated with surgery. 

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Treatment with BEST Health System

BEST Health System provides a highly focused and streamlined patient experience. Since failed back surgery syndrome is not limited to one specific spinal condition, we work closely with each patient, thoroughly evaluate their symptoms, provide an accurate diagnosis, and recommend the optimal course of treatment. The board-certified surgeons at BEST are dedicated to helping patients find conservative solutions for their chronic back pain. Contact BEST to learn more about finding relief today.