Signs of failed back surgery syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome is often categorized as any new, existing or increased pain after a back surgery compared to the pain experienced before the back surgery. Because of the very general definition of this condition, it is sometimes difficult for physicians to diagnose.

Commonly, patients will experience some pain or discomfort after spine surgery that may last throughout the recovery period. In addition, the rehabilitation and physical therapy required after surgery may aggravate the healing muscles and other tissue. This may be uncomfortable, but it is to be expected. For this reason, physicians may have difficulty distinguishing what is “normal” postoperative discomfort and what is an indication of failed back surgery syndrome.

If you are concerned that your pain and discomfort is a symptom of failed back surgery syndrome, you should talk to your physician about what you are experiencing and determine if you need additional treatment to help alleviate your pain. Sometimes, simple regimens of stretching or at-home exercises can significantly decrease pain after spine surgery.

Recognizing failed back surgery syndrome

Even if your recovery after spine surgery is punctuated by bouts of extreme pain or discomfort, that may not be an indication that you are experiencing failed back surgery syndrome. In general, though, you should not experience the same or worse symptoms you experienced before the operation. These may include:

  • Neck pain, back pain and/or pain that travels to the extremities
  • Tingling or numbness in the shoulders, arms, hands, buttocks, legs or feet
  • Weakness or a reduction in functionality of a muscle or muscle groups

Extreme pain or other symptoms that prevent you from functioning in day-to-day life should be considered abnormal. This is especially true if the discomfort lasts longer than a month, or if it becomes progressively worse, rather than fading over the first few weeks following surgery.

Diagnosing failed back surgery syndrome

If you suspect the symptoms you are experiencing after spine surgery is not a normal result of the recovery process, inform your physician. Only a medical professional can diagnose failed back surgery syndrome through carefully identifying symptoms, performing a physical examination and possibly medical imaging, such as an MRI test or CT scan.

If you find that you are diagnosed with failed back surgery syndrome, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery has helped many over the last ten years help find relief from failed back surgery syndrome. Overall, Laser Spine Institute has a patient satisfaction score of 96 and patient recommendation score of 97 out of 100.^

Contact the spine experts at Laser Spine Institute today to review your MRI report or CT scan and help you find relief from your failed back surgery syndrome.