Questions? Call Toll-Free 1-

Contact us today. We're here for you seven days a week.

Contact Us By Phone 1-
Am I a Candidate for Surgery? Learn More
Request an MRI Review Submit Information

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)


Failed back surgery syndrome affects up to 40 percent of patients who undergo traditional open back surgery


The incidence of FBSS depends upon many factors and occurs less in the cervical region (neck) than the lumbar region (lower back) of the spine. The risk of developing FBSS is much lower after discectomy than following open spinal fusion. After review of the studies published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the only scientifically defendable statement that can be made about the incidence of failed back surgery syndrome is that the less invasive the spinal surgery, the less likely that FBSS will result. To date, the least invasive spine surgery is minimally invasive spine surgery, such as the procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute to treat degenerative spine conditions.

What is FBSS?

FBSS is not actually a syndrome but a generalized term used to describe the condition of patients who have not had successful results with spine surgery to treat neck or back pain. Specifically, the term applies when spine surgery has not alleviated the problem or has created even greater problems, and when patients experience continuous pain after surgery.

Primary causes

Many factors can contribute to FBSS, including:

  • Failure to adequately diagnose the condition(s)
  • Failure to adequately treat the condition(s)
  • Spinal fusion failure
  • Surgery performed at the wrong level of the spine
  • Creation of new spine conditions at another level after open-spine surgery (very common)
  • Scar tissue formation
  • Hardware insertion
  • Missed fragment of disc or bone still pinching nerve
  • Inadequate decompression of nerve root
  • Nerve damage

Symptoms

Patients with FBSS may experience or develop:

  • Continued/chronic pain
  • New spine conditions
  • Pain above or below the treated level of the spine
  • Limited mobility
  • Inability to recuperate
  • Dull/aching pain in neck, back or legs
  • Sharp/stabbing pain in extremities
  • Joint immobility
  • Spasms
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dependence on prescription drugs

Solutions and treatment for failed back surgery syndrome

Since FBSS is not one specific spine condition, the symptoms and history of each patient need to be properly diagnosed in order to determine the best course of treatment. As a first step in the individual diagnostic process, Laser Spine Institute offers a complimentary review of your most recent MRI or CT scan. A member of our medical staff will contact you to discuss your symptoms and history.

Need an immediate response?

Our live chat feature allows you to talk instantly with a representative.

  • - -

Download your free info packet on
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
& receive our e-newsletter.



What is Laser Spine Surgery? Can Laser Spine Institute Help You?

You can get these answers by attending a complimentary medical seminar.

Back to Health

Be inspired, informed and connected.

Expert answers, informational videos and inspiring stories of patients who returned to life at its fullest with Laser Spine Institute.


Laser Spine Wellness

Patient Reviews and Stories

Natalie Gulbis shares her story about her road to recovery from back pain after minimally invasive surgery.



Learn about Natalie Gulbis' Recovery

Meet our Physicians and Surgeons

Our medical professionals know that you expect excellence in terms of medical attention. We strive to go Above and Beyond your expectations and deliver quality, patient-centered care at each of our surgery centers.

Learn about our physicians & medical staff