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How is failed back surgery syndrome diagnosed?

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) can be a difficult condition to diagnose, especially since everyone heals differently following spine surgery. What you think are signs of FBSS may actually be your body’s normal healing process. For this reason, it’s important that you let your physician make the determination of whether or not you are experiencing FBSS symptoms.

Failed back surgery syndrome can be caused by several factors, including scar tissue growth, failure to decompress a nerve root, spinal fusion failure and implant migration. Symptoms can include pain that radiates to the extremities, tingling or numbness, joint stiffness and muscle weakness.

To properly diagnose whether you are experiencing FBSS symptoms, your physician will likely go through a three-step process that includes:

  • A review of your medical history — to identify any factors that may predispose you to FBSS
  • A physical exam — to evaluate your reflexes and range of motion and pinpoint areas of discomfort
  • An imaging procedure — to identify any areas of the spine where nerve compression may be occurring

Once the specific cause of your discomfort has been identified and FBSS has been confirmed, your physician will likely suggest a combination of conservative treatments that, when attempted for several months, could reduce your symptoms to an acceptable level. Some of your options will likely include physical therapy, pain and anti-inflammatory medications and the use of heat and cold packs. You may also choose to incorporate alternative treatments including restorative yoga, massage therapy and chiropractic manipulation.

In many cases, conservative and alternative treatments are able to successfully reduce the symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome. However, if symptoms persist or even grow stronger, you may need to consider additional surgery. While nearly 40 percent of individuals who undergo traditional open back surgery experience FBSS symptoms, USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive spine surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative.^ If you’d like to find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures, we’d be happy to provide you with a free MRI review.*

If you would like to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures, which can treat a wide range of degenerative spine conditions, contact USA Spine Care today.

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