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Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

If back surgery is unsuccessful, patients may experience symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS).

Symptoms of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

The following symptoms indicate failed back surgery syndrome:

  • Return of original symptoms

  • New pain emerges

  • Headache

  • Reduced mobility

Patients experiencing any of the following extreme symptoms should seek 

Illustration of soft tissue injection for failed back surgery syndrome
Patient experiencing failed back surgery syndrome

medical attention immediately:

  • Fever

  • Vomiting

  • New weakness

  • Difficulty walking

  • Electric-like pain in the lower body

  • Unintentional weight loss

  • Loss of bowel or bladder function

Patients experiencing the following symptoms or injuries should visit their nearest Emergency Department for treatment:

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The Causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

To reduce the risk of failed back surgery syndrome, patients should choose operations that have a high degree of success and ensure the correct lesion is identified beforehand.

Causes of FBSS include:

  • Operating on the wrong lesion

  • Fusion surgery considerations, such as failure to fuse or implant; the level above or below the fusion deteriorates and causes pain.

  • Lumbar decompression back surgery considerations, such as recurrent spinal stenosis or disc herniation, inadequate decompression of a nerve root, preoperative nerve damage that fails to heal after surgery, and nerve damage caused by surgery.

  • Scar tissue considerations, such as formation of scar tissue around the nerve root.

  • Postoperative rehabilitation, which refers to additional pain from a secondary source.

Digital illustration of pain from failed back surgery syndrome

Types of Pain Caused by Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

After failed back surgery, patients may experience one or more of the following types of pain:

  • Chronic pain, or significant pain that lasts more than 12 weeks.
  • Nociceptive pain, which is dull or sharp pain around the incision site.
  • Neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage to the nerves or spinal cord; may be accompanied by numbness, burning, tingling, weakness, and other unusual sensations.
  • Radicular pain, or pain that radiates from one part of the body to another.

Treatment Options

At Central Nevada Regional Care, patients with failed back surgery syndrome may be treated with joint and soft tissue injections, pain management therapy, and occupational medicine.

 

Joint and soft tissue injections may help alleviate pain from failed back surgery syndrome. Injections offered at Central Nevada Regional Care include piriformis injections, sacroiliac joint injections, epidural injections, and trigger point injections.

 

Patients may also benefit from pain management therapy, which may include hot and cold therapy, massage, acupuncture, cognitive behavior therapy, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, opioids, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

 

If failed back surgery syndrome interferes with a patient’s daily life and impairs their ability to perform job duties, occupational medicine could help the patient adjust to the demands of the workplace.

 

Staff at Central Nevada Regional Care are also trained to help employers adapt the workplace to the limitations of employees experiencing symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome. Occupational medicine can help both employers and injured employees adjust to the situation.

Advanced Treatment

Some patients may need advanced treatment to address symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome. Advanced treatment may include chiropractic adjustment, physical therapy, and even a repeat surgery. Patients are encouraged to speak to their physician at Central Nevada Regional Care to learn more about obtaining advanced treatment for failed back surgery syndrome.


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OPEN HOURS

Monday-Friday
8:00AM - 5:00 PM

APPOINTMENTS

call us to schedule
an appointment at

EMERGENCY SERVICE

we provide
emergency services

7 DAYS A WEEK