How to Respond if Failed Back Surgery Causes Emotional Challenges

Failed back surgery causes more than merely physical problems for a patient. The emotional and mental challenges in the aftermath of an unsuccessful surgical procedure can be just as difficult to overcome. Feelings of excitement and apprehension assail a patient before surgery. On one hand, it is perfectly natural to be nervous. On the other hand, the prospect of finally living a life without the debilitating neck or back pain and other symptoms is exciting. A patient naturally begins to anticipate a better life, and surgical failure rips that sustaining idea from them. So devastating can the emotional fallout be that a patient might need the help of a mental health professional to move forward in a healthy way.

Understand the science

One approach to consider when failed back surgery causes emotional distress is to take a step back and revisit the science behind the syndrome. At the very least, this might help you gain a greater understanding about what went wrong. This information can help you and your medical team develop a plan going forward, and it might help ease the disappointment, because you will feel proactive as opposed to falling into a mentally debilitating depression. Some of the terms and concepts you will want to understand include:

  • Fusion failure – rejection of bone graft material or malfunction of instrumentation
  • Transitional segment – vertebrae that form abnormalities due to additional stress being placed on them by the vertebral segment that was operated on
  • Incorrect diagnosis – the actual cause of the symptoms was not identified correctly
  • Surgical error – nerve damage, blood clots, infection

Make sure you ask your physician about every option available to you, as well as the immediate steps you will need to take to avoid further injury or discomfort. If you would prefer not to entrust your future health with your original surgeon, there is nothing wrong with seeking a second or even a third opinion moving forward.

Exploring your options

In general, failed back surgery causes a patient to consider his or her options. These usually boil down to one of two choices — undergo more surgery, or attempt to manage symptoms using conservative methods of treatment. If additional surgery proves necessary, contact Laser Spine Institute and submit an MRI or CT scan for a review to learn whether you might be a candidate for our minimally invasive, outpatient procedure.