Understanding What Causes Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Understanding Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome can occur for several reasons. In some instances, there’s one, easy-to-identify issue, while in others, there’s a complex combination of factors at play. Frustrating as it may be, it’s important to figure out what went wrong before deciding on the next steps you should take. Even if you’re not planning to have another surgery — at least, not in the foreseeable future —you’ll still want to understand why your back surgery failed so that you can find the right combination of conservative treatments to help you feel better.

In the case where back surgery does fail and patients experience painful symptoms as a result, this is a condition known as failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). Continue reading to learn more about this condition.

Common Causes of FBSS

Often, failed back surgery syndrome is attributed to one or more of the following issues:

  • An appropriate procedure was performed on the wrong level of the spine (e.g., a discectomy was performed on the L3 vertebra when the L5 vertebra was causing the issue).
  • An inappropriate procedure was performed on the correct level of the spine (e.g., surgery was performed to remove a bone spur when a foraminotomy is needed to create additional space for a compressed nerve in a small opening between vertebrae (foramen)).
  • A surgical implant was improperly placed or has broken down.
  • Scar tissue has developed.
  • A patient did not fully follow his or her recovery guidelines.

Sometimes, spine surgery fails for no known reason. Even though neck and back procedures have become more advanced in recent years (and provide much-needed relief for many individuals), there are some situations in which a patient’s body does not respond as expected. Despite medical advances, there’s no way to accurately predict the outcome of an operation.

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome – Next Steps

It’s normal to be frustrated when dealing with failed back surgery syndrome — especially if you’ve been coping with pain for an extended period. However, there are a variety of options you can consider to help manage your symptoms, so you won’t necessarily need to start thinking about another operation right away. A series of anti-inflammatory injections, a tailored physical therapy program, or a monthly or bi-monthly chiropractic adjustment, for instance, may help reduce your pain and allow you to go about your daily activities.

If you are not able to find relief through conservative therapies, patients may consider surgical intervention. At BEST Health System, we offer spinal cord stimulation therapy to help patients achieve the relief they have been hoping for. Interested in learning more about spinal cord stimulator trials at BEST Health System? Contact us today to see if this is the right treatment for you.