What is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Guide to Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome is a combination of complications after a traditional open back surgery or fusion. The term is used to describe the conditions that arise when back surgery fails to accomplish the desired goals of pain relief. It can also include complications that occur during and after a surgical procedure that worsen the condition being treated or cause additional issues for the patient.

If you are recovering from back surgery, the last phrase you want to hear is failed back surgery syndrome. The characteristic symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome include the development of new pain or the increase of previous pain compared to the pain level prior to back surgery. It can also include limited mobility and spasms in the back or extremities.

For many patients, back surgery was a last resort treatment after years of suffering and ineffective conservative treatments. This type of diagnosis can be very overwhelming for a patient. By reading the following article and understanding what causes failed back surgery syndrome, you and your physician can determine the next steps necessary for pain relief.

What Causes Back Surgery to Fail?

One of the most common reasons that traditional open-back surgery fails is the highly invasive techniques used during the procedure. For many conventional open-back surgeries, the procedure begins with an incision in the back that spans between 6 to 8 inches. Once the incision is made, the surgeon removes the muscles around the spine that obstruct the surgery by cutting through them and sometimes detaching the muscles altogether.

This highly invasive incision and muscle-tearing procedure increases a patient’s risk of excessive blood loss, infection, and excessive scar tissue — all of which can lead to failed back surgery syndrome. Excessive scar tissue caused by the invasive incision of traditional spine surgery is one of the most common causes of increased pain and symptoms after the procedure.

As the body works to rebuild the skin, muscles, and ligaments around the site of the incision, scar tissue builds up internally to help seal the cuts. This scar tissue can protrude into the spinal canal, pinching a nerve root and causing severe pain and symptoms. Additionally, the scar tissue can expand into the spinal fusion area itself and prevent the fusion from fully forming.

Treatments for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

At BEST Health System, we offer advanced treatments to patients seeking help with pain management. We specialize in spinal cord stimulation treatment, which is a modern therapy for patients who suffer from debilitating chronic pain. 

If you have recently been diagnosed with failed back surgery syndrome, you deserve to find meaningful relief. Contact us today to learn more about our services.