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What Is the Treatment for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Failed back surgery syndrome can disrupt your life. Make an appointment with a physician at Metro Healthcare Partners by calling (718) 550-2056 to explore treatment options. 

When you undergo back surgery, you expect great results and a life of less pain and discomfort after recovery. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen for everyone. Failed back surgery syndrome is a common condition in which the procedure doesn’t eliminate the pain, leaving patients to wonder whether they’ll have to spend the rest of their lives with it. 

If a surgical procedure like a spinal fusion, laminectomy, or discectomy doesn’t make a measurable difference to your chronic pain, you should seek failed back surgery syndrome treatment in Brooklyn, NY, as soon as possible. You could benefit from various treatment options that can improve your overall quality of life.

What Is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

In many cases, back pain resolves itself within a few weeks or months with conservative treatments like rest, pain relievers, activity modification, and physical therapy. 

When conservative options don’t make a measurable difference, your doctor might recommend surgery. Depending on the source and cause of the pain, a surgical procedure can help. For example, if you have a herniated disc, a discectomy will remove the bulging portion of the disc and any bone fragments so they no longer press on the nearby nerves and cause pain. 

Although most back surgeries are successful, some fail to achieve the desired results. For instance, the National Library of Medicine estimates that 10 to 40% of lumbar laminectomy procedures lead to failed back surgery syndrome. This outcome doesn’t mean that the surgeon made errors or botched the procedure but rather that the surgery was unsuccessful.

Signs of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Your doctor will most likely diagnose failed back surgery syndrome if, after undergoing a procedure, you have the same symptoms you did before surgery without any measurable improvement. You might also have additional symptoms, including: 

  • A slow or stalled recovery 
  • New pain in a different part of the back
  • Reduced mobility 
  • Sharp or stabbing back pain near the surgery location
  • Leg pain 
  • Numbness or pain that starts in the lower back and spreads through the legs
  • Muscle spasms in the back
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Increasing dependence on pain medication 

It’s important to speak to a physician about these symptoms and your concerns right away to prevent them from worsening. 

Treatment Options for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

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If you suspect that your back surgery wasn’t successful, you probably wonder, “What is the treatment for failed back surgery syndrome?” and whether you’ll ever find relief for the discomfort.

Depending on the extent of your symptoms, your doctor will likely recommend several treatments to help you feel better. Most people find relief via a combination of the following options:

Medication 

Medication can be an effective treatment for failed back surgery syndrome. Doctors may prescribe:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin 
  • Muscle relaxants 
  • Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation 
  • Neuroleptics to help reduce pain from nerve compression

Doctors typically only prescribe opioid pain relievers in extreme cases and for short periods due to the high risk for addiction

Spinal Cord Stimulation 

A spinal cord stimulator is a small device that the doctor attaches to the spine. When you experience pain, you can use a small remote control to deliver electrical impulses to the spine to mask the pain. The Cleveland Clinic reports that this option can reduce pain by as much as 50% for most patients. 

Trigger Point Injections 

trigger point injection directly delivers pain medication to a specific spot to alleviate tension and reduce pain-causing inflammation. These injections are ideal when the failed back surgery causes tension and pain in the muscles surrounding the surgical site. The results last for about a month. 

Radiofrequency Ablation 

Radiofrequency ablation delivers a radio frequency signal to essentially “burn” the ends of nerves that send pain signals, preventing them from doing so. Studies indicate this treatment can reduce pain by about 48% for several months.

Additional Surgery 

Rarely will a doctor recommend a second surgery to deal with failed back surgery symptoms, preferring conservative and noninvasive measures instead. The success rate for subsequent surgeries decreases with each procedure; a second surgery has only about a 50% chance of success, and the rate decreases to 30% with the third procedure.

Get Help With Failed Back Surgery Symptoms From Metro Healthcare Partners 

If you continue to have pain even after undergoing back surgery, make an appointment to see a doctor at Metro Healthcare Partners. Our cutting-edge approach to pain management and treating spine conditions will help you live with less pain and enjoy a more fulfilling life. Make an appointment by calling (718) 550-2056.

Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available.

Do you have back pain not related to failed back surgery, or do you want to try a more conservative approach to managing your pain? Talk to us about physical therapy for lower back pain and other treatment options in our Brooklyn, New York, office. 

FAQ

Is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Curable? 

Doctors have several options to treat patients who still have back pain and other symptoms after surgery, including medication, physical therapy, nonsurgical treatments, or, in some cases, additional procedures. These treatments can reduce the effects of FBSS.

How Common Is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)?

Up to 40% of people who have had back surgery still have ongoing back pain, also known as failed back surgery syndrome. 

Why Does Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Occur? 

Back surgery can fail because of a misdiagnosis, surgical error, an adjacent segment disease, hardware failure or rejection, scar tissue formation, or recurrent disc herniation. An incorrect diagnosis is the most common reason for failure since many common conditions share symptoms.

Is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome a Disability? 

Failed back surgery syndrome can cause debilitating pain and limit mobility, which can prevent some people from working. It is possible to receive long-term disability payments for FBSS.