Failed Back Syndrome

If you have undergone back surgery, such as an laminectomy, and are still experiencing pain, you may be suffering from failed back syndrome (FBS), also known as failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) or post-laminectomy syndrome. As with many surgeries, there is no guarantee that a back or spine operation will be a success. It is estimated that 95% of back and spine surgeries are successful, therefore, there are times where pain can persist following surgery.

The term “failed back syndrome” or “post-laminectomy syndrome” is an umbrella term used to describe an unsuccessful operation and no true syndrome exists. Each patient and their condition is unique, therefore, there are no typical scenarios to determine when a back or spine surgery will or will not be successful.

Reasons for Failed Back Syndrome

There are two main reasons that your doctor may recommend spine and back surgery. These reasons are as follows:

  1. To stabilize a painful joint or disc
  2. To decompress a pinched nerve root

Although the purpose of back surgery is to alleviate pain, at times pain can remain after the surgery is complete. This is usually due to the lesion that was operated on not being the cause of the patient’s pain. Therefore, in order to reduce the chances of a failed back surgery, it is best to work with a skilled surgeon who has expansive experience and a high degree of success for your particular operation, such as the doctors at The Physician’s.

Other reasons for a failed back surgery include:

  • Scar tissue around nerve root
  • Postoperative rehabilitation
  • Recurrent spinal stenosis or disc herniation
  • Inadequate decompression of a nerve root
  • Preoperative nerve damage that does not heal following surgery
  • Nerve damage that occurs during surgery
  • Failure to fuse and/or implant failure
  • Degeneration of the next level following a spine fusion


Symptoms of Failed Back Syndrome

If you have undergone back surgery and are still experiencing pain, you may be suffering from failed back syndrome. Lower back and neck pain are common symptoms and could be caused by the following:

  • Arthritis of the spinal joints
  • Herniated disc
  • Muscle spasm from trauma or poor muscle conditioning
  • Painful instrumentation
  • Complications from surgery such as infection or bleeding


Diagnosing Failed Back Syndrome

Following back surgery, it takes time to heal. It is normal to experience pain for several months after the operation. At times, the pain may even be worse than the pain you were experiencing prior to surgery. For this reason, during the first 3 months following surgery the success of the operation cannot be determined. However, after 3 months time if your pain is not better, there may be cause for concern.

If you are experiencing pain months after your back or spine surgery, schedule an appointment today. Our doctors will perform an examination to determine if there is a new lesion or a different type of problem responsible for your continued pain. From there, your doctor will decide on the appropriate course of action to take.


Avoiding Failed Back Syndrome

Although each case is different, following rehabilitation protocols, including follow-up visits with your surgeon, can lessen your chances of failed back syndrome. Allow your body time to heal and do not overexert yourself following surgery.


Treating Failed Back Syndrome

At times, a repeat surgery may be necessary,  however, if the surgery was not successful the first time it is not guaranteed to be successful the second (or third!) time around. That is why our doctors will work to determine where your pain is stemming from and recommend non-invasive treatments, such as neuromodulation (spinal cord stimulation), for alleviating and eliminating pain.


Don’t Suffer Any Longer

If you are suffering from a failed back surgery, also known as post-laminectomy syndrome, the skilled doctors at The Physicians can help. We make it our goal to perform the appropriate surgery on the perfect candidate at the right time and execute it with skill and accuracy. If you feel that you are out of options, think again. Request an appointment today.