Seven common symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome, or FBSS, is a term that may be used when a person undergoes neck or back surgery but does not experience the desired results. It is not a syndrome in the traditional sense of the word, but rather a diagnosis that can be given in situations where a person’s symptoms persist or even become worse after surgery.

What causes FBSS?

Failed back surgery syndrome can develop after surgery for essentially any condition involving the neck or back. It is most common in the lumbar (lower back) region, although it can also occur in the cervical (upper) and thoracic (central) regions of the spine.

FBSS can be the result of a surgeon working off of an improper diagnosis and thereby creating an ineffective surgical treatment plan (for example, surgery to treat a herniated disc won’t be effective if the cause of a person’s pain was actually osteoarthritis) or it can be the result of an incomplete operation, nerve damage, scar tissue formation or problems with a surgical implant. Sometimes a back surgery can simply fail with no known reason — it’s impossible to predict how any particular person’s body will respond to treatment. However, even if an initial procedure is not effective, it doesn’t mean that a patient is out of options.

How to know if your back surgery has failed

Before moving forward with another attempt at treatment, it’s first important to determine that a procedure has, in fact, completely failed. The most common indicators of this include:

  1. Continued or increased pain
  2. New pain that develops in a different area of the spine
  3. Limited mobility
  4. Muscle spasms
  5. Sharp or stabbing pain the extremities
  6. Anxiety and/or depression
  7. Reliance on prescription medications

Naturally, people may experience discomfort and temporary physical limitations as they recover from a back surgery, but this does not necessarily mean that the procedure has failed. However, if these symptoms persist beyond the normal recovery period (a physician can explain what this period might be for any specific procedure), it may be an indicator that the surgery was not successful.

If you’ve recently undergone back surgery and suspect that you may have failed back surgery syndrome, Laser Spine Institute can help you determine where to go from here. We perform a range of minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery that uses muscle-sparing techniques to treat conditions from herniated discs to spinal stenosis.

To find out if you are a candidate for our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review. *