Failed back surgery syndrome and sports participation

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a term referring to unsuccessful results and the return of pain after a spine surgery. Patients can be extremely distressed to undergo an invasive procedure and a long recovery only to have symptoms return. While there are a range of causes, one of them can be not properly following postoperative instructions, which includes participating in sports before you are cleared by a physician.

Whether you are experiencing failed back syndrome or looking to prevent it, educating yourself as a patient is a great first step toward getting the relief you need. By learning more about the relationship between sports and FBSS, you can give yourself a better chance of continuing a healthy, active lifestyle with the people and activities you love.

Failed back surgery syndrome causes

Causes of FBSS include improper diagnosis, formation of scar tissue, insufficient nerve decompression and other medical factors. However, problems can also appear if patients don’t allow themselves adequate time to heal following their surgeries. Returning to activities — like playing sports — too quickly can lead to additional injuries or interfere with the body’s natural healing process.

How sports can impact recovery

If you’re an athlete, always remember to listen to your body as you recover, even if you’ve been cleared by a physician for a return to normal activities. Ease back into participating in your sport of choice and be sure to get plenty of rest and recovery. This is especially important in sports that involve repeated twisting motions or high impacts that may have contributed to the original spine condition. Here are a few examples of riskier sports:

  • Golf
  • Tackle football
  • Hockey
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Gymnastics

Treatment options

It is possible to find lasting relief from failed back surgery syndrome without the need for additional surgery. Many patients find success with conservative options like pain medication, exercise, physical therapy and steroid injections. However, in other cases, a follow-up surgery may be recommended.

Laser Spine Institute is able to treat FBSS with minimally invasive spine surgery that is performed on an outpatient basis. Because our surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques, these procedures can offer a reduced risk of the complication and a shorter recovery time compared to a traditional open neck or back surgery.

If you are considering surgery to treat FBSS or another condition, contact our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.