LET'S TALK. 541-386-9500

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a devastating condition that can occur when a patient undergoes spine surgery. Still, the procedure fails to alleviate their pain or even worsens their symptoms. This can be an incredibly frustrating and disheartening experience for patients who have already been living with chronic pain for years. However, it’s essential to know that there are effective treatment options available for those who are struggling with FBSS.

What Is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Failed back surgery syndrome describes a situation where a patient experiences persistent or new symptoms following a spine surgery. These symptoms can develop immediately after the procedure or may not appear until weeks or months later. According to a recent study, failure rates for spinal surgeries can be as high as 25% for decompression procedures and up to 46% for lumbar fusions.

Causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

There are several potential causes of FBSS, including:

  • Misdiagnosis: If the source of a patient’s pain is not correctly identified before surgery, the procedure may not address the underlying issue, leading to continued symptoms.
  • Surgical error: Mistakes made during the surgical procedure, such as incomplete removal of damaged tissue or accidental damage to surrounding nerves or muscles, can result in increased pain or complications.
  • Implant rejection or fusion failure: In some cases, the body may reject surgical implants, or the vertebrae may fail to fuse properly, leading to severe complications.
  • Scar tissue formation: Excessive scar tissue can develop at the surgical site, causing pain and contributing to FBSS.
  • Stress transfer: When one level of the spine is immobilized through fusion, it can put additional stress on the surrounding levels, increasing the risk of new pain and symptoms.

Other risk factors for FBSS include obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Symptoms of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

The symptoms of FBSS can vary depending on the specific procedure and the underlying cause of the failure. Some common symptoms include:

  • Persistent or worsening back pain
  • Severe shooting pain
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the extremities
  • Development of a limp

In some cases, symptoms such as fever, chills, or severe pain may indicate a serious complication, such as an infection, requiring immediate medical attention.

Treatment Options for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Treatment for FBSS will depend on the individual patient and the specific cause of their symptoms. In some cases, revision surgery may be necessary to address serious complications. However, in many situations, conservative treatment options are the first line of defense, including:

  • Pain medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Targeted exercises and stretches can help improve strength, flexibility, and mobility.
  • Massage therapy: Therapeutic massage can help alleviate muscle tension and promote relaxation.
  • Interventional pain management: Injections or spinal cord stimulators may disrupt pain signals and provide relief.

Revision surgery is generally seen as a last resort for FBSS, as these procedures have a lower success rate than initial surgeries. However, in some cases, minimally invasive surgery performed by a specialist may be the best course of action.

If you are struggling with failed back surgery syndrome, it’s essential to know that you are not alone and that there are treatment options available to help you find relief. At Columbia Pain Management, our team of experienced spine specialists is dedicated to helping patients overcome FBSS and achieve a better quality of life. We offer a wide range of conservative and surgical treatment options, and we work closely with each patient to develop a personalized care plan that meets their unique needs and goals. Contact us today at 503-654-5636 or 541-205-0173 to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards finding relief and reclaiming your active lifestyle.