Despite the name, failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is not a singular condition. When a back surgery fails, any number of complications can arise. Failed back syndrome refers not only to chronic severe pain experienced after a back pain surgery turns out to be unsuccessful, but to other symptoms appearing as well.
Surgery for back pain is mainly conducted when a patient experiences an identifiable source of pain with the surgery aimed at decompressing a pinched nerve root or to ease the pain from a degenerative disc, instability, etc.
Failed back surgery syndrome has multiple causes hence the identification of the actual source of pain is complicated. Even the best trained spine doctors can only identify the reason for a patient’s back pain half the time. Therefore even when a spine surgeon is very confident about the reason for performing surgery, the result may still end up failing.
Causes of Failed Back Syndrome
When performing a back pain surgery, complications may develop from inadequate decompression of the nerve root causing the pain to continue. It may also be that the nerves being pinched are too damaged to fully recover even with a technically great surgery.
Another common cause of failed back syndrome is that the surgery performed did not actually treat the root cause of the pain. Despite the best of intentions, it may still fail. Patient expectations play into this as well. If back surgery relieves half of an individual’s pain, is that a failure? Some would say yes, others would say it failed!
Symptoms of Failed Back Syndrome
The pain experienced from a failed beck syndrome will vary depending on the original condition and the surgical procedure involved. This pain varies from a minor dull ache to a sharp stabbing pain which may be concentrated to one area of the back or can even extent to the legs. For many patients, the symptoms experienced will closely resemble the symptoms originally felt prior to surgery.
Diagnosis of Failed Back Syndrome
Just like other back pains, failed back syndrome is diagnosed through the use of MRI and X-ray scans as well as computer tomography (CT) scans which show the structure of the back in an effort to locate the source of pain.
In diagnosis of the pain source, a diagnostic nerve block involving injection of steroids or pain medication may be performed. This also provides relief to the back pain briefly, facilitating rehabilitation and informing the Phoenix pain management doctor if the injected root is a source of pain.
Treatment options for Failed Back Syndrome
The treatment of failed syndrome and chronic pain is usually difficult. Any good surgical
treatment to the problem should start with accurate diagnosis of the source of the pain. If the pain problem is not solved by the first surgery, a corrective surgery can potentially still be done to eliminate the pain if the real cause has been diagnosed. Continuous physical therapy is very important and should be done as part of failed back syndrome treatment plan.
There are treatment options for failed back syndrome to patients who have not responded to other surgical treatment strategies. Epidural steroid injections or facet blocks may provide significant relief along with medial branch blocks.
Radiofrequency ablation may be able to offer over a year of consistent pain relief, and may be repeated with another year expected of relief. Spinal cord stimulator implants are an excellent last resort option when additional surgery is not indicated.
The best pain management doctors in Phoenix offer excellent success rates for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. At Arizona Pain Specialists, the Board Certified, Award Winning pain doctors and chiropractors help those with chronic pain achieve a much lower baseline level of pain. This means often being able to get back to work, playing with kids and participating in recreational activities.
Arizona Pain accepts most insurances, and has 5 locations including offices in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Chandler and Surprise. Call (602) 507-6550 for more information and scheduling today!