5 Treatments for Failed Back Syndrome

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You’ve had chronic, life hindering back pain. You’ve tried pain medications, back exercises, and even surgery. Yet, your pain has persisted for more than three months post-surgery.
You likely have failed back surgery syndrome. This is a condition described as continued, worsening, or new pain after back surgery.
The causes behind failed back surgery can vary depending on your unique situation. Back pain conditions that might lead to surgery include:
• Spinal stenosis due to osteoarthritis
• Unstable joints associated with degenerative disc disease
• Chronic bulging or herniated discs
• Pinched nerves in the lower back or neck

Some of these conditions have better success rates than others. For instance, surgery to repair a single unstable joint is often successful, while repairing multiple joints at once has less of a guarantee for a successful outcome.
What Happens Next?
When failed back syndrome continues your journey of chronic back pain it is important to speak with your surgeon to determine a plan of action. Your doctor will use X-rays or MRIs to determine the cause of your pain.
If you have continuing pain after back surgery, it can be related to a number of things.
• Failure of an implant or bone graft to fuse
• Scar tissue
• Failure to treat the root cause of pain
• Greater damage to the spinal joints and discs than originally believed, such as is sometimes the case with degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis
Once your doctor pinpoints what is likely causing your ongoing pain, you can work on a failed back surgery syndrome treatment plan.
What Treatment Options Are Available?

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy should be a first treatment option for many types of back pain. Strengthening core and back muscles promotes proper posture, which relieves pressure put on joints, ligaments, and surrounding muscles. It also increases the range of motion and blood circulation, which speeds up the healing process.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a soothing and healing treatment option for failed back surgery syndrome. Deep tissue massage can help prevent and relieve discomfort caused by scar tissue after back surgery. Working the muscles stimulates cells deep in the tissue and promotes healing. Massage also promotes blood flow in the area which relieves pain.

Spinal Decompression Therapy

Spinal decompression therapy is a treatment that realigns the spine to relieve pressure and pain and restore range of motion. Spinal decompression uses a pulling force to manipulate the joints and shift spinal discs back into place.
Spinal decompression is ideal for those suffering from failed back surgery, spinal stenosis, and sciatica pain.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Pain management can often be done simply with heat or cold therapy. Ice, Aloe Vera, or warming agents can be placed on the affected area to offer relief. Other types of pain management can include electrostimulation, cold laser treatment, stretching, and ultrasound.
These methods can decrease swelling and relieve pain.


At times, patients may find increased pain relief using over-the-counter pain medications, or prescription pain injections directly into the affected area of the back. NSAIDs can help decrease swelling and pain. Numbing agents and steroid injections can bring temporary pain relief.

Most surgeons are reluctant to retry surgery for several months after a failed back surgery. This can be due to many factors, mainly the health of the patient. Finding alternate methods of treating back pain can allow sufferers to regain their quality of life.
The chiropractors at Michigan Chiropractic Specialists work with patients to put together a natural treatment plan for optimal health.