Failed Back Syndrome


Failed back syndrome is an umbrella term for the symptoms experienced after an unsuccessful back/spine surgery.  In certain cases, for a number of reasons, some patients do not experience relief from pain after surgery.  The first 3 months following the procedure are the most uncertain since the pain could be due to normal healing processes or due to the surgery being unsuccessful.  If pain persists past that time, it is safe to assume that the surgery was unsuccessful.  Below are some of the reasons for the failure of back and spine surgeries.

1)      Scar tissue forms around the nerve root about 6 – 12 weeks after the operation, as part of a normal healing process.  This can cause temporary pain.  It is important to note that if the pain commences immediately after the surgery or about 1 year after the surgery, it is not due to scarring.  Special post-operative exercises must be implemented to minimize scarring, and associated pain, during the healing process.

2)      Complications after the decompression and fusion surgical procedures can arise; excessive swelling and pain around the area which was operated on as well as failure of the assistive equipment to achieve spinal stability or properly support spine during fusion can cause the failure of a surgery.

3)      Recurrent compression may also develop years after the surgical procedure, although it is more likely during the first 3 months.  About 5 – 10% of patients will suffer a regression to the painful condition experienced before surgery.

4)      Permanent nerve damage during the surgeries is very rare, but has been observed to occur in 0.1% of cases, resulting in sensations of tingling, numbness, and weakness at least a year afterwards.

5)      A common mistake in the diagnosis stage is failing to identify the actual area of lesion.  Sometimes, the area that is operated on may not actually be the one causing the pain.

Complications and persistent pain may often be resolved by ongoing therapy after the surgery.  Certain types of procedures carry a higher risk of being unsuccessful in eliminating pain.  For example, discectomy for a lumbar disc in the lower back, and fusion surgery for multi-level lumbar degenerative disc, are less predictable than other types of surgery and have a higher risk of failure.

Patients must ensure that they ask questions and keep themselves informed as to the risks before they agree to any type of surgery. It is important to be aware of the possibility for failure when surgeries are undertaken, but patients must also remember that their medical professional has their best interests in mind when they make the suggestion. All surgeries have risks, no matter how big or small.

Our clinic offers ultrasound guided diagnostic injections with local anesthetic and therapeutic injections with cortisone or dextrose (prolotherapy), facet joint injections, medial branch nerve block injections, nerve blocks with sclerosing agent, epidural injections, Botulinum toxin injections, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, active exercises, medication, psychotherapy, biofeedback, lumbar support, TENS/MET devices, and orthotics for patients suffering from failed back syndrome.

Source: 

http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/failed-back-surgery-syndrome-fbss-what-it-and-how-avoid-pain-after-surgery

 

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