A percentage of patients may be in pain after a surgery, while they are recovering. This doesn’t mean that the procedure was not successful. Yet, when we are talking about back surgery that aims at alleviating and eliminating pain, some patients may suffer from what is called failed back surgery syndrome.

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is defined by persistent or recurring symptoms that appear despite surgical intervention or after surgical intervention for spinal pain. This condition is characterized by chronic pain and the inability to return to daily activities.

If you have recently undergone surgery and are still experiencing pain and can’t live your life normally, keep on reading this article to learn more about failed back surgery syndrome.

Why does failed back surgery syndrome occur?

There isn’t a specific reason why failed back surgery syndrome, but rather the fact that there are some risk factors that may affect the procedure itself, or appear as pain after the surgery. These are some factors to take into account before the surgery itself:

  • Patients with chronic pain related to other conditions such as fibromyalgia
  • Dealing with a patient who has no chance of improving with surgery
  • Poor surgical planning that doesn’t take into account the patient’s overall health

Yet, there are also risk factors that may appear during or after the procedure, which may lead to failed back surgery syndrome. Let’s go over some of them:

  • Inadequate decompression
  • Spinal infection
  • Sagittal imbalance, which can accelerate degeneration
  • Spinal nerve root irritation, which can cause radiating pain
  • Pseudoarthrosis

What is the rate of success of back-related surgical procedures?

We understand that you may feel scared of your procedure not succeeding as expected, this is why we want to share the success rate of different procedures. It is always important to remember that, even if some treatments don’t work, your doctor will assess what the next steps should be and provide you with the right treatment to help you return to your daily activities.

Researchers believe that failed back surgery occurs in anywhere between 10% to 40% of lumbar laminectomy surgeries. The number of people who experience failed back surgery syndrome has been increasing in the last decade due to a growing aging population, resulting in a higher number of spine surgeries.

With each spine surgery you have, the chance of success drops:

  • 50% success rate after the first repeat surgery
  • 30% after the second
  • 15% after the third
  • 5% after the fourth

What treatments can help with failed back surgery syndrome? 

It can be very frustrating when it turns out that spinal surgery didn’t give you the results you expected, but treatment can help relieve pain and get you back on track. Surgery cannot solve it.

Doctors may use a multidisciplinary approach to managing pain. This means that rather than relying on one treatment (such as medication or surgery), we may recommend a combination of treatments that comprehensively address different aspects of pain. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to restore function.

At Greater Houston and Greater Victoria Interventional Pain Management we provide different treatments that can help you if you’re experiencing failed back surgery syndrome. Contact us today to receive the best care at the nearest clinic.