What are the symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome?

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a series of pain and symptoms that can result if a back surgery was not effective. In some cases, new pain and symptoms can develop as a result of a failed back surgery.

Before considering whether or not you are suffering from failed back surgery syndrome, it is important to understand the distinction between FBSS and general pain and stiffness that sometimes occurs within the first few weeks after spine surgery.

If you have undergone major neck or back surgery in recent weeks, you have most likely experienced residual pain near the site of your surgical incision. Traditional open spine surgery requires a large incision and often the cutting and tearing of the large back muscles that help support the spine. This can cause soreness and muscle weakness in the back for several weeks after surgery.

In addition, after spinal fusion, the body will take time to adjust to the new presence of metal or plastic implants. For all of these reasons, it is important to understand that postoperative pain is normal. This pain should begin to fade after a week or two, even if it does not completely diminish. If the pain and symptoms do not reduce, or if they begin to worsen over time, you may be suffering from failed back surgery syndrome.

Symptoms of FBSS

The most obvious symptom of failed back surgery syndrome is persistent, chronic pain that is not associated with the healing process. Other symptoms associated with FBSS include:

  • New pain at a level different from the location treated
  • Inability to recuperate
  • Restricted mobility
  • Sharp, stabbing back pain
  • Numbness or pain radiating through the lower back into the legs
  • Back spasms
  • Anxiety, depression and sleeplessness
  • Potential dependence on pain medication

What to do if you experience FBSS

If you suspect your back surgery has failed, the first step is to inform your primary care physician, as well as the surgeon who performed the procedure.

It is important to precisely follow the postoperative instructions given by your medical team in order to have your best chance of healing properly and avoiding FBSS.

To treat this condition, your physician will most likely recommend a series of conservative methods, such as pain medication, physical therapy and stretching.

If chronic pain persists after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, you should review the minimally invasive surgery options at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization surgeries have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, some of whom were suffering from failed back surgery syndrome from a previous traditional open back surgery. These patients all chose Laser Spine Institute because our minimally invasive surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional spine surgery. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery is often used to treat many causes of failed back surgery syndrome, though sometimes stabilization surgery is necessary to treat failed back surgery from a traditional spinal fusion or other severe damage to the spine.

For more information about how our minimally invasive procedures can help relieve your failed back surgery pain, contact Laser Spine Institute today.