Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) is the persistence of pain after an operation on a patient’s spine. This phenomenon is a devastating blow to between 20% and 40% of patients. As such, you must understand the symptoms and treatments of FBSS before undergoing back surgery.
Different spinal operations have varying levels of success. So, talk with your doctor before surgery to learn the failure rate.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Causes
A Failed Back Surgery Syndrome disability can stem from many factors. The most common factor is inaccurately identifying the source of a person’s pain. A lesion is an area in the tissue or an organ that has suffered damage from injury or disease. Because these factors often cause several types of damage, it can be hard to determine the source of pain.
Fusion failures are another common type of error. To create a more stable spine, surgeons will attempt to fuse parts of the vertebrae. However, it is difficult to tell whether the operation was successful right after completion. It takes months for the spine to fuse correctly, meaning a surgeon will be reluctant to operate again until an allotted time has passed. In addition, even if the surgery goes as planned, the fusion can fail. If the spine destabilizes, the tissue will refuse to fuse.
When operating on degenerative disc disease, it’s easy for a doctor to focus on the disc most worn. However, doing so often leaves other herniated discs untreated since patients may be unaware multiple discs are affected.
Failure to correct a problem is frightening. However, an even scarier occurrence is when surgery creates a whole new problem. For example, scar tissue can form around the base of a nerve creating new pain. Hematomas form when blood leaks into the surrounding tissue causing discomfort. And infection is a dangerous source of pain.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Treatments
Even if your pain worsens post-surgery, most physicians will be hesitant to operate again until you’ve fully healed. So your best hope for help is to try less aggressive treatments. If you’ve had surgery, you’ve likely already tried exercising, physical therapy, and non-steroidal injections. If not, do so. Here are some less well-known alternatives to surgery.
- Intrathecal drug delivery skips oral drug consumption. Professionals insert a catheter to carry drugs directly into the spinal fluid. Doing so reduces the amount of medication needed and the number of side effects.
- Radiofrequency neurotomy identifies the nerve that is the source of your chronic pain. From here, doctors insert a heated needle to destroy the problem nerve while avoiding damage to surrounding nerves.
- Electrical neurostimulation is a procedure that installs a device into a patient’s back. This device sends controlled amounts of electricity to the spine, reducing pain. Research suggests that this procedure is more effective at reducing complications than reoperation.
Whatever path you take, ask your therapist about an exercise program to strengthen your core.
Schedule a conversation with Accelerated Interventional Orthopedics today to learn your options for dealing with failed surgery syndrome. Our team will work with you one-on-one to find the best long-term solution for your problems.
- Verify the chances of your back surgery’s success.
- Consider using non-surgical treatment to reduce chronic back pain.
- Certain treatments have a higher rate of success than reoperating.