How to tell if you suffer from failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS)

How can you tell if the post-surgery symptoms you’re experiencing are a normal part of recovering from surgery or a product of failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS)?

Understanding the difference between standard postoperative soreness and FBSS can be difficult because there is almost always a little pain and discomfort following spine surgery. In addition, the rehabilitation and physical therapy required after surgery may aggravate the healing muscles and other tissue, causing some discomfort.

While this type of soreness can be expected for the first few weeks following back surgery, a more intense, chronic pain or the development of new pain and symptoms may be signs of something more serious.

Examples of potential FBSS symptoms

Symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome may strongly resemble the symptoms initially associated with your spine condition — the same symptoms that prompted you to treat your condition. These symptoms can include:

  • Pain that travels the length of a nerve into the extremities
  • Tingling or numbness in the area or areas of the body affected by the compressed nerve root
  • Weakness or a reduction in reflexes of a muscle or muscle groups affected by the compressed nerve root

Although you can expect a certain amount of postsurgical discomfort, extreme pain that prevents you from functioning normally should be a red flag for a potentially more serious condition. This is especially true if the discomfort lasts longer than a month, or if it becomes progressively worse, rather than fading during the first few weeks after surgery.

Only a physician can diagnose FBSS

If you suspect that the pain and discomfort you’re experiencing in the aftermath of spine surgery is not normal, let your physician know. Only a medical professional can diagnose failed back surgery syndrome.

Everyone heals at a different rate, so even if you experience discomfort or extreme pain, do not assume that the operation has failed. Nerve compression symptoms can have more than one source that needs to be addressed.

If you have been diagnosed with FBSS, contact Laser Spine Institute to find out how our minimally invasive spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, some of whom were suffering from failed back surgery syndrome. Our procedures are safer and effective than traditional open back surgery^ , allowing our patients to experience a shorter recovery time ^ and lower risk of complication.

Contact Laser Spine Institute and request a review of your MRI or CT scan to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.