Pain Management for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Understanding Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome, also known as FBSS, is a spine condition that develops as the result of unsuccessful spine surgery. Patients can often identify this condition if they continue to experience chronic, debilitating pain after their surgical recovery period has ended. FBSS can result from various factors such as an incorrect diagnosis, inaccurate surgical technique, post-operative infections, nerve damage, scar tissue formation, or even psychological issues. 

Failed back surgery syndrome can be exceptionally frustrating for patients who are hoping to find relief after undergoing invasive spine surgery. Therefore, it is important that patients who suspect they have this condition promptly seek help so they can address the condition before it progresses further. Like many spine conditions that manifest chronic pain, early diagnosis and treatment are always beneficial. 

At BEST Health System, we see the value in patient education and we believe that their knowledge of their condition reflects more positive treatment results. Therefore, we are happy to share this guide that patients can use if they believe they have developed FBSS. Continue reading to learn more about managing chronic pain that has developed as a result of failed back surgery syndrome. 

The Challenge of Managing FBSS Pain

Failed back surgery syndrome is characterized as chronic, persistent pain following one or multiple unsuccessful spine surgeries. Managing this type of pain requires a comprehensive approach that places equal emphasis on pain management and treatment. Depending on the patient’s goals and their overall physical health, their physician may suggest a different approach to treatment. 

Like many spine conditions, it is difficult for patients with FBSS to engage in physical activities or therapies that can help them find relief. This tends to be one of the most challenging obstacles that prevents patients from participating in these more active therapies. Depending on the patient’s health and overall wellness goals, their doctor may recommend conservative therapies or surgical interventions. 

NonSurgical Treatments for FBSS Pain

Conservative, non-surgical therapies for failed back surgery syndrome focus on non-invasive methods to alleviate pain and improve functionality in patients who have not yet found relief from previous surgical interventions. This approach involves a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s medical history, imaging studies, and physical examination findings to tailor a personalized conservative treatment plan. 

Conservative therapy for FBSS may include medication management, physiotherapy modalities such as heat/cold applications and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques like spinal mobilization or manipulation, as well as counseling and education regarding lifestyle modifications and ergonomic principles. The goal is to address the underlying factors contributing to pain while promoting healing, reducing inflammation, optimizing range of motion, and ultimately enhancing the patient’s quality of life.

Surgical Intervention for Patients with FBSS

If conservative therapy for failed back surgery syndrome is ineffective or the patient is not physically capable of enduring these therapies, surgical intervention may become necessary. Since the patient’s spine has already been damaged as a result of spine surgery, comprehensive diagnostic testing, and a well-designed surgical plan is necessary. 

Patients with FBSS need to understand that this condition is unfortunately fairly common, and 20-40% of patients who undergo spine surgery suffer from it. These interventions often involve decompression surgeries, such as laminectomy or discectomy, aimed at relieving nerve compression caused by scar tissue or disc herniation. In more severe cases where structural abnormalities may be present, patients may consider fusion surgeries like spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement.

Spinal Cord Stimulation with BEST Health System

At BEST Health System, we offer an alternative to invasive spine surgery. Spinal cord stimulators (SCS) are an effective treatment option for patients suffering from failed back surgery syndrome. Spinal cord stimulator devices deliver electrical impulses to the epidural space of the spinal cord, thereby modulating pain signals and providing pain relief. 

At our clinics, we encourage our patients to try these devices first to see if they can help them manage their chronic pain. Our SCS treatment plan involves a trial period where patients can work with their doctor to determine if this device is the best option for them. If patients enjoy the effects of the device, they can decide to have it surgically implanted, making pain relief simple and attainable. 
Are you interested in learning more about spinal cord stimulation treatment with BEST? Contact us today to learn more about our SCS trials and how to start.