Failed back surgery syndrome, or FBSS, is a potential (though uncommon) complication of spine surgery. While some people choose not to focus on the “what-ifs” before an operation, others prefer to prepare themselves for the possibility of an outcome that differs from what they envision.
Signs that back surgery might have failed
It can take several weeks (or even months) for the outcome of a back surgery to become fully apparent. The initial recovery period often involves rest and activity limitations, which can make it difficult to conclusively determine if the operation succeeded. A complete or partial reduction in symptoms is a good sign, but the following symptoms may indicate an unsuccessful surgery:
- No reduction in previous symptoms. Sometimes, a misdiagnosis can lead to an inappropriate procedure (e.g., surgery performed on the wrong joint or vertebra). When this happens, the cause of the patient’s symptoms will go unaddressed and, as a result, the pain may persist after surgery.
- Pain in a new location or the development of additional symptoms. If a surgical implant is placed incorrectly, a different part of the spine becomes compressed or recovery does not go as expected, new symptoms may develop after surgery.
- Anxiety, depression and other emotional complications. While most people are attentive to how they feel physically after spine surgery, mental wellness is also important. Some people experience significant emotional complications after a back surgery fails, with anxiety and depression accompanying the physical symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome.
Treatment options for FBSS
After a failed back surgery, conservative treatments such as medications and physical therapy are usually the first to be recommended. Nonsurgical options can often provide a significant amount of pain relief. However, depending on a patient’s symptoms, diagnosis, medical history and imaging scans, another surgery might eventually be considered.
At USA Spine Care, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery and have helped many individuals with failed back surgery syndrome find much-needed relief. Our surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques and our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis.
USA Spine Care has a 3 percent complication rate versus other traditional spine surgery providers with 16.4 percent, making us a top choice for individuals who are considering a neck or back operation.^ To learn more, contact us today.
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