Treat failed back surgery syndrome

By Michael Perry, M.D.

No matter how accomplished a particular spine surgeon might be, there never is a 100 percent guarantee of success for any surgical procedure. While most back surgeries performed to treat degenerative spine conditions achieve the goal of relieving symptoms, thousands of patients have had unsuccessful back surgeries. The general term for their condition is failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS).

What causes failed back surgery?

There are many reasons that failed back surgery syndrome can develop. For example, the underlying origin of neck or back pain could have been incorrectly diagnosed, meaning the spine operation did not treat the true cause of symptoms. Another cause of FBSS is nerve damage unintentionally caused by the surgery. Inadequate decompression of the nerves during the previous spine surgery is yet another cause of FBSS. Additionally, infection, a buildup of scar tissue and rejection of hardware are all possible causes of FBSS.

What are the treatment options for failed back surgery syndrome?

The symptoms of FBSS might be those symptoms that led to the initial back surgery but were not reduced after the surgery. Or, there may be a new series of symptoms such as weakness, joint instability, pain (either localized or traveling), numbness, spasms, dependence on prescription drugs, depression, throbbing or aching.

If you have been diagnosed with FBSS, treatment will typically begin with a recommitment to conservative treatment. These options may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Low-impact exercise
  • Medication
  • Massage therapy

If conservative treatment options have proven ineffective for your symptoms and you are being recommended a follow-up surgical procedure, Laser Spine Institute can offer an alternative to traditional open spine surgery.

Minimally invasive spine surgery to treat FBSS

The minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery performed by the skilled surgeons at Laser Spine Institute is often the clinically appropriate first choice for addressing degenerative spine conditions, including FBSS, when compared to traditional procedures.

This is because minimally invasive techniques provide patients with many advantages over traditional open spine surgery, which generally requires a large incision and muscle disruption in order to provide surgeons with sufficient access to the spine. In contrast, minimally invasive spine surgery is performed using direct visualization and micro-instruments that are inserted through a small incision. As a result, these procedures are much less invasive than traditional open back surgery.

If you’d like to learn more about our treatment options for FBSS, contact our team today. We are happy to offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.