Causes of failed back surgery syndrome — the effects of aging

There are many causes of failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) including misdiagnosis of the condition, technical error during surgery or complications related to the healing process. One factor that is possible to overlook is the effect of natural aging on the body. FBSS is a general term referring to circumstances in which a patient continues to experience pain and/or other uncomfortable symptoms following a surgical procedure that was intended to address those symptoms.

This can be a devastating condition to deal with, since people who undergo back surgery are expecting the procedure to relieve symptoms and offer a return to normal activities. Whether you are considering spine surgery and are trying to prevent the development of FBSS, or you are seeking relief after an unsuccessful procedure, educating yourself about potential causes and risk factors can be beneficial.

How aging is related to failed back surgery syndrome

The gradual spinal deterioration that occurs along with the aging process is a key contributing factor in the development of many neck and back conditions for which patients seek treatment, including surgery. For instance, common age-related degenerative spine conditions include herniated discs, bone spurs and facet disease. If debilitating symptoms do develop, relief can very often be found through a course of conservative treatment options, with surgery usually being seen as a last resort.

When surgery does become an option, patients over age 65 tend to face a higher risk of an unsuccessful outcome, making age a factor in the development of FBSS. However, a patient’s chronological age does not paint a complete picture. When determining whether a patient is a candidate for spine surgery, it is vital for a physician to perform a comprehensive assessment of a patient’s overall physical condition, including factors such as:

  • Chronic illnesses that could complicate surgery
  • Body mass index
  • Current level of mobility
  • Other issues that could be causing back pain and related symptoms, such as SI joint or hip dysfunction

Whether you are older or younger, it is important to make sure you and your spine specialist are thorough in making a determination about whether you are fit to undergo spine surgery.

Advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery

Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive spine surgery that is an alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering our patients a lower complication rate and no lengthy recovery.^ By using muscle-sparing techniques to access the spine, we are a surgical option for older patients who may not otherwise be candidates for a traditional open spine surgery. Our procedures can also be an option for patients diagnosed with FBSS who have exhausted conservative treatments and are seeking a follow-up surgery.

To learn more, reach out to the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute today. We offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.