Failed back surgery syndrome symptoms and causes

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is defined as the continuation of symptoms or development of new symptoms after undergoing spine surgery. While recovery from spine surgery can often include some pain and stiffness that reduces over time, the symptoms of FBSS often worsen with time, indicating that the surgery was not successful.

Many times, failed back surgery syndrome is caused by the highly invasive nature of traditional open back surgery. Large incisions and muscle detachments can cause damage in the spine, resulting in painful symptoms after surgery. Once your physician diagnoses your failed back surgery syndrome symptoms and causes, you can work together to find the appropriate treatment option for your needs.

Failed back surgery syndrome symptoms

The symptoms of FBSS can sometimes be similar the ones present before spine surgery. For example, prior to surgery, a patient may have suffered from burning and tingling down the right buttock and leg due to a herniated disc in the lumbar (lower) spine. If these same symptoms reappear after spine surgery, he or she could have failed back surgery syndrome.

Another example of failed back surgery syndrome is the development of symptoms after surgery that were not present before the procedure. These symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Burning sensation
  • Difficulty walking
  • Limited movement
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control — medical emergency

These symptoms often continue to worsen throughout the recovery period. If you notice these symptoms after back surgery, schedule an appointment with your physician to determine the cause of your pain and the treatments available to you.

Failed back surgery syndrome causes

Failed back surgery syndrome causes can often be traced to the techniques used during traditional open back surgery. This type of procedure is highly invasive and often involves a large incision in the back that cuts through or detaches the muscles surrounding the spine. The exaggerated cutting and tearing near the spine can increase a patient’s risk of complication, such as developing excessive scar tissue or damaging a nerve root.

If a nerve root is compressed due to scar tissue buildup, the symptoms mentioned above may develop, leaving a patient in worse pain than what was experienced before surgery. Additionally, if the surgeon cuts through a nerve root while making a large incision in the back to access the spine, severe pain and other symptoms can develop.

Treatments for failed back surgery syndrome

If you have been diagnosed with failed back surgery syndrome, you should contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about how our minimally invasive spine surgery may be able to help you find the relief you deserve.

Unlike traditional open back surgery, our procedures use a small incision and muscle-sparing techniques to help reduce our patients’ risk of complication and lower their recovery times.^ To date, we’ve helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain with our minimally invasive procedures.

To find out if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, request a no-cost MRI review* from our team today.