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Failed back surgery syndrome: overview and guidelines for avoiding this condition

Prior to spine surgery, a patient should become familiar with the guidelines for identifying failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). While no one wants to think that a spine procedure they are about to undergo may be ineffective, it is a possibility that needs to be considered. Spine surgery can be an effective treatment for many degenerative spine conditions if conservative forms of treatment have not been able to bring the relief necessary to engage in everyday activities, but like any form of surgery there are risks. By learning more about FBSS and the potential ways to avoid it, you can make an informed and confident treatment decision with the best chance of providing you with lasting relief.

What is failed back surgery syndrome?

Failed back surgery syndrome occurs when a patient does not find the relief that he or she expected from a spine surgery. Some symptoms include:

  • Experiencing the same chronic pain that was present before surgery
  • New symptoms that weren’t present before surgery
  • Joint immobility in the neck or back
  • Pain immediately above or below the region of the spine that was surgically treated

It can sometimes be difficult to determine if postoperative pain is normal or a sign that something may be wrong. Generally speaking, if the symptoms worsen or do not seem to be improving over the course of your recovery period, something may be a problem. That’s why it’s so important to maintain open communication with your doctor and surgeon in the weeks and months that follow your operation.

How can FBSS be avoided?

While it is difficult to predict the likelihood of failed back surgery syndrome with absolute confidence, there are a variety of things that you can do to help reduce the chance of a problem. For instance, your surgeon will provide detailed guidelines regarding the activities you should avoid directly after surgery and the steps you should take to assist in your rehabilitation process. These instructions should be followed very closely.

Additionally, some types of spine surgery have a lower risk of failed back surgery syndrome than traditional open spine surgery. At USA Spine Care we provide minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures^ offering our patients a lower risk of complications like FBSS.

To learn more about failed back surgery syndrome guidelines and the steps that you can take to avoid postsurgical complications, speak with your doctor or spine specialist. If you’re interested in learning about our minimally invasive procedures, contact USA Spine Care. Find out how to receive a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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