What Causes Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

What is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Failed back surgery syndrome can be defined as any set of pain or symptoms that either has not been relieved by back surgery or that has developed as a result of back surgery. For those who have undergone surgery to relieve neck or back pain, discovering that the surgery was unsuccessful or even that it created new problems can be devastating. 

Since there never is a guarantee that back surgery will be successful, the potential development of failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) should always be taken into consideration before electing to undergo a procedure. This is especially important with highly invasive surgeries like traditional open spine fusion. This risk is higher than minimally invasive spine surgery because traditional open back surgery often requires a large incision. This increased level of invasiveness increases the risk of complications after surgery, such as failed back surgery syndrome. 

Causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

In general, there are two primary reasons chronic pain may persist after someone undergoes a major back operation.

First, for a variety of reasons, the patient may not have been a good candidate for surgery to begin with. This can be due to a misdiagnosis or a pre-surgery physical evaluation that was not thorough. Either way, if a patient is not a good candidate for spine surgery, the surgery has the potential to create new symptoms outside of the ones already experienced by the patient.

Second, the surgeon may make a mistake while performing the surgery. In the midst of the highly invasive nature of traditional open back surgery, the surgeon may damage a nerve root. During traditional spine surgery, there is a higher likelihood something may go wrong. This is why it is so important to do significant research before selecting a surgeon.

Specific causes of failed back surgery syndrome include:

  • Surgery performed at an incorrect location
  • Bone graft rejection
  • Fusion hardware failure
  • Scar tissue compressing a nerve root
  • Inadequate decompression of affected nerve or nerves
  • Postoperative infection

When to Consider a Follow-Up Surgical Procedure

At BEST Health System, many of our patients turned to our minimally invasive spine surgery after their traditional open back surgery resulted in months and years of chronic pain and FBSS. Our procedures are minimally invasive, meaning we only require a small incision and limited muscle disruption. This approach allows our patients to experience a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.

Contact BEST today if a spine specialist has recommended you consider minimally invasive spine surgery. and have been recommended to undergo a follow-up procedure after exhausting conservative treatments. Our minimally invasive spine surgery can help you reclaim your quality of life.