Why failed back surgery syndrome happens

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a general term used to describe any continued pain or symptoms, or the development of new pain and symptoms, after back surgery.

Back surgery, especially highly invasive traditional open back surgery, comes with both possible risks and benefits; there is no guarantee that any surgery will be fully successful. In fact, about 40 percent of back surgery patients experience at least some form of FBSS — some with even worse symptoms than before the operation.

Before undergoing surgery, it is important to understand why failed back surgery syndrome happens and what you may be able to do to improve your odds of avoiding a failed surgery.

The causes of FBSS

Part of the presurgical conversation between you and your surgeon should include a discussion of postsurgical responsibilities you can be expected to complete. These postsurgical guidelines will include anticipated limitations and precautions, such as not driving for a certain amount of time or a particular sleeping posture you should follow.

The details will vary from patient to patient, but the general idea of the postoperative guidelines is to help you heal safely and efficiently. In order to decrease your risk of failed back surgery syndrome, you must be sure to follow these guidelines and report any pain or discomfort to your doctor or surgical team.

There are, of course, several failed back surgery syndrome causes that are beyond your control, such as:

  • Bone graft rejection
  • Hardware malfunction
  • Incorrect diagnosis
  • Surgeon error
  • Transitional segment (problems with a nearby section of the spine)
  • Lateral stenosis (undiagnosed narrowing elsewhere within the spine)

While these risks are present, you should be aware of other safer, effective alternatives to traditional open back surgery. The minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute requires a smaller incision and no muscle disruption, which allows our patients to experience a lower risk of complication and infection and a shorter recovery time^ than patients who choose traditional open back surgery.

Getting help for failed back surgery syndrome

If it has been determined that additional surgery may be able to help relieve your FBSS symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute to find out whether you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, many of whom were suffering from failed back surgery syndrome from a previous traditional open spine surgery.

To see if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a review of your MRI or CT scan. We can help you take the next step toward finding relief from your chronic back pain.