Failed back surgery syndrome FAQ | frequently asked questions

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is difficult to live with physically and emotionally, and it can come with many questions. As you continue to work with your doctor to better understand your specific condition and find treatment, Laser Spine Institute can provide some general information about FBSS to get you started.

Below, we’ve listed some of the frequently asked questions that we hear from our patients, as well as some basic answers.

Q: What is failed back surgery syndrome?

A: Failed back surgery syndrome is a broad term used to describe symptoms and complications resulting from an unsuccessful back surgery. The symptoms can either be the return of the original symptoms or development of new ones from your surgery.

Q: What causes failed back surgery syndrome?

A: Many factors contribute to the occurrence of failed back surgery symptoms, from the underlying condition to the type of procedure being performed. Immediate causes are often due to complication during a procedure and include:

  • Nerve damage during surgery
  • Spinal fusion failure
  • Inadequate removal of disc or bone causing symptoms to not be relieved
  • Creation of new conditions at other levels of the spine

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: Symptoms of FBSS vary widely, depending on the patient and the specific issues he or she experienced during surgery. However, here are a few possible examples:

  • Pain at the site of incision
  • Muscle spasms
  • Aching in the neck, back or legs
  • Tingling, numbness and muscle weakness
  • Sharp pains in the extremities

Q: What are some treatment options?

A: Because failed back surgery syndrome is such a wide-ranging condition, individual treatment options will differ just as widely. In many cases, doctors will recommend that patients recommit to a routine of conservative measures to manage their symptoms. This can include pain medication, physical therapy, periods of rest, weight management and hot and cold compression therapy.

Q: Will I need additional surgery?

A: Since this is a wide-ranging condition with different causes, each individual circumstance will vary. Another surgery can become a more serious option if weeks or months of conservative treatment don’t improve symptoms, or they worsen.

At Laser Spine Institute, we can help you take the first step in determining whether you’ll need surgery by offering a no-cost review of your most recent MRI report or CT scan.*

Contact us today for information about our minimally invasive spine surgery options and to learn how they may be able to address your failed back surgery syndrome.