Back pain after spine fusion

Back pain after spine fusion surgery is an all-too-common reality for many people. While some mild instances of back pain after surgery can be expected, it is important to know the difference between normal postoperative back pain and back pain that may signal a problem.

After back surgery, you may experience some tenderness and soreness near the incision site. This is often normal and should go away after the first week or two of your recovery period. However, intense pain that increases over time or pain that does not taper off after the first week or so of your recovery, could be cause for concern. If you are experiencing this type of pain, you should schedule an appointment with your physician to determine the cause of your pain and discuss any treatment options that can relieve your symptoms.

Causes of postoperative pain

Back pain from traditional open spinal fusion can have a number of causes:

  • Scar tissue buildup — For the body to heal from the large incision and tissue damage from traditional open spine surgery, it generates scar tissue. The problem is that excess scar tissue can lead to further nerve compression and, as a result, more pain.
  • Insufficient surgery — If the surgeon does not thoroughly decompress the nerve, or if other underlying problems are causing nerve compression, the back surgery may be ineffective.
  • Transference — Fusing two vertebrae together may transfer stress further up the spine to a different level, potentially speeding up the deterioration and leading to new pain.
  • Recovery — Even after a seemingly positive spine fusion, recovery is arduous and oftentimes painful as the body heals. Several weeks of extensive physical therapy is also necessary after the operation to get you back on your feet.
  • Failed back surgery syndrome — This general term describes the condition of patients who have not experienced sufficient pain relief after a traditional open spinal fusion. This can result from problems like nerve damage, inadequate diagnosis and surgical error, among others.
  • Rejection — Traditional open spine fusion requires bone grafts and implants to fuse the vertebrae together, which the body may reject months after the operation.

Alternative options to help avoid failed back surgery

Rather than risk back pain after traditional open spine fusion, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive, outpatient spine procedures.

Our procedures alleviate many of the causes of back pain and are an effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery. Because we use a minimally invasive approach to the spine, our patients experience a shorter recovery time,^ lower risk and higher satisfaction rate compared to patients who choose traditional open back surgery.

Call today to request a review of your MRI or CT scan and to schedule your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located surgery centers.