Failed Back Surgery Syndrome


Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a condition that affects individuals who have undergone multiple back surgeries. If you’ve had a spine-related surgical procedure recently but continue to feel pain in your back, you may be suffering from FBSS. About one-fifth of back surgery patients will develop FBSS following spinal surgery, and that ratio increases with each repeated procedure.

What is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Failed back surgery syndrome is a chronic condition that sometimes develops after spinal surgery. The affliction is categorized by reoccurring pain in the back and legs. This syndrome generally develops after a laminectomy, a surgical process that removes part of the lamina bone. Failed back surgery syndrome is a slightly misleading term as the condition only describes the occurrence of persistent back pain and is not an indication of problems during surgery.

The Causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Because open back surgery patients have a high risk of developing FBSS, the condition may develop due to a variety of factors. Some causes of FBSS are a result of the body’s natural healing process. Scar tissue can accumulate at the surgical site and press against nerves in the area, resulting in acute pain. If surgery fails to rectify the patient’s original issue, that condition can also develop into FBSS after surgery. Nerve damage that does not properly heal post-op can also develop into FBSS. If a patient was incorrectly diagnosed before surgery, it’s likely their procedure did not address their problem and instead develops into FBSS. Furthermore, incorrect or incomplete surgery can also result in failed back surgery syndrome.

The Symptoms of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome has a wide-range of symptoms as its root causes are numerous. The most prevalent symptom of FBSS is a chronic pain in the back that radiates through the legs. Individuals with FBSS may experience spasms near their surgical site in addition to pain. Afflicted patients may also experience slower recovery times or find themselves unable to recuperate at all. Some individuals may even experience a loss of flexibility and mobility due to acute pain.

The Treatment of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

FBSS treatment options include chiropractic care, medication, and physical therapy. To assuage pain symptoms, your doctor will prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. If you are experiencing severe pain, an injectable medication may be necessary.

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