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What to do After a Failed Back Surgery

Person clutching back in pain

If you’ve had back surgery and you’re still in pain, there is still hope. Keep reading to learn more about what to do after a failed back surgery.

It’s important to understand the risks and benefits prior to undergoing any type of surgical procedure. Whether it’s minimally or extremely invasive, understanding each possible outcome you could encounter is essential. When you understand the risks and benefits, you’ll be able to make a fully informed decision.

As you probably know, every surgical procedure involves some level of risk. However, some surgical procedures have a higher failure rate than others. If you are preparing to have back surgery, you need to be aware that some procedures carry with them a high risk for FBSS, or Failed Back Surgery Syndrome than others.

For more information on what failed back surgery syndrome is (and what you can do if you’re still in pain after a procedure), just continue reading.

What Is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is a term used to describe patients’ conditions who have not had successful surgery results when attempting to treat back or neck pain or conditions. This term is used when the surgery has not only been unsuccessful, but it has also created additional problems which result in increased pain for the patient.

Estimates have been made that upwards of 40 percent of those who have undergone open back surgery may suffer from FBSS.

Certain areas of the back are more susceptible to the occurrence of FBSS, though. For example, when failed back surgery syndrome occurs, it usually takes place in the lower lumbar than higher up on the spice. In addition, the risk of suffering from failed back surgery syndrome will be much greater if it follows a highly invasive, open procedure than a less invasive technique.

To decrease the likelihood that you’ll fall victim to failed back surgery syndrome, you may want to try to look for and only undergo those procedures which are as minimally invasive as possible. Generally, the complexity of the back surgery procedure is what is thought to increase chances of failed back surgery syndrome occurring.

What Are the Symptoms of FBSS?

Before you can begin to treat a condition like FBSS, you must understand the symptoms. If you experience the following symptoms, you may need to seek treatment for FBSS.

  • Constant, chronic pain
  • Spine conditions which are previously un
  • Pain near the treatment area
  • An inability to move around easily
  • A dull, aching pain which radiates to the neck, back, and legs
  • Muscle spasms
  • Anxiety and/or depression

These above are some of the most common symptoms of FBSS. In addition, sufferers may also find themselves relying on prescription drugs to cope with their symptoms.

What Are the Causes of FBSS?

FBSS doesn’t occur in every back surgery patient. However, there are some factors which may increase the likelihood of developing FBSS. They are as follows.

Spinal Fusion Failure

Spinal fusion procedures are typically done to help relieve nerve compression. This is achieved by removing the damaged disc from the back. The vertebrae are then stabilized using implants or bone grafts. These often heal naturally once the procedure is complete, by they don’t always. When spinal fusion fails, it is often because the surgeon did not identify the cause of the patient’s pain accurately.

The Migration of an Implant

FBSS can also occur when an implant migrates to another location. Occasionally, an implant can migrate after it’s been placed in surgery. Most often, this will occur during the recovery stage – well before the patient’s body has healed enough to allow the implant to fully attach to the intended vertebrae.

An ineffective or shifted implant can affect the body’s neural tissue, causing additional pain.

The Formation of Scar Tissue

Part of the healing process after a surgical procedure is the formation of scar tissue. If scar tissue forms after spinal surgery, for instance, it can impact a nerve root by binding or compressing it.

This compression can result in epidural fibrosis – often leading to increased pain post-op, and, in some cases, the development of FBSS.

Other Nerve Damage

If a nerve root is decompressed via spinal surgery, it may result in some inflammation. The inflammation may also cause pain that won’t subside until it does. Additionally, there have been cases of nerve damage which have resulted in constant, chronic pain and other FBSS-like symptoms.

How Can I Manage FBSS?

Believe it or not, being diagnosed with FBSS doesn’t have to leave you with a life full of unbearable, chronic pain. There are ways to manage FBSS which will allow you to improve your quality of life if you’ve been diagnosed.

Physical Therapy

One of the ways to manage FBSS is through attending physical therapy. At physical therapy, a therapist will work with you to help improve your muscle strength and optimize things like posture and gait.

Medication Management

Managing the amount of medication used is necessary also, as providing narcotics as a form of treatment for FBSS has become increasingly controversial.

This is because heavy painkillers can become addictive if they’re not taken as prescribed by a doctor or surgeon. Becoming dependent on painkillers can wreak havoc on your body, too.

For example, side effects such as depression, constipation, and suppression of the immune system may occur. The continued use of opioids is associated with an increase in morbidity and mortality as well.

Adjustments to Your Lifestyle

Another way to manage FBSS is to adjust your lifestyle. Wearing appropriate footwear, sleeping in the correct position, regularly undergoing massages can also aid FBSS sufferers by reducing both pain and inflammation.

Spinal Cord Stimulators

Spinal Cord Stimulators are gaining popularity among people experiencing FBSS because of their ability to reduce or cure chronic pain. While the name, Spinal Cord Stimulator can sound intimidating, they are actually quite the opposite. Spinal Cord Stimulators use Neurostimulation to interrupt pain impulses before they reach the brain helping patients manage pain and drastically improving their quality of life. These are a perfect option for patients who aren’t responding to the traditional treatment options mentioned above. Patients are also moving to spinal cord stimulators from pain medication because of the adverse affects of these narcotics.

Through a minimally invasive procedure, patients can try it to see if it works for them before making a commitment to a spinal cord stimulator. Other benefits of spinal cord stimulators include: FDA approved, covered by insurance, completely reversible, and pain control at the touch of a button with an ipod. To learn more about Spinal Cord Stimulators click here.

Don’t Let Failed Back Surgery Get You Down

While failed back surgery may understandably make you feel like you’re doomed to a life of pain, that’s not the case. By paying attention to your symptoms and working on a treatment and management plan as soon as they arise, you’ll make dealing with FBSS easier.

And we can help you. Contact us today for more information about all of our services. We’ll work with you to find the best possible treatment for you.

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