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What are failed back surgery syndrome treatment options?

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) treatment is intended to address existing pain that continues or worsens — or new pain that develops — after a spine procedure. Rather than a true syndrome, FBSS is a general term that is used to describe the condition of a patient who has an unsuccessful surgical outcome.

What causes FBSS?

FBSS can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the body produces scar tissue during the healing process. If scar tissue is situated in such a way that it presses on the spinal cord or a nerve root, uncomfortable symptoms can occur, such as localized and traveling pain, muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, spasms, sleep disturbances and even depression.

Furthermore, when performing a decompression procedure, it is not always possible for a surgeon to completely decompress a pressured nerve root. The unresolved issue can then be a source of continuing or worsening discomfort afterward. While patients who experience outcomes like these may understandably be frustrated and disappointed, there may be treatment options available.

Common treatment options

Because FBSS can have many causes and produce a number of symptoms, its treatment can vary. In order to determine the most appropriate (and potentially effective) approach, it is essential to begin with a complete and accurate diagnosis. In most cases, a failed back surgery syndrome treatment plan will include one or more nonsurgical therapies, such as:

  • Medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be helpful for reducing spinal inflammation, sometimes to that point that a patient feels comfortable enough to begin physical therapy.
  • Physical therapy. An individualized program can be designed to strengthen and stretch the core and abdominal muscles that support the spine. As these muscles become stronger and more flexible, painful pressure on the spine can be reduced.
  • Hot and cold therapy. The application of an ice pack or heating pad is a simple home remedy that can be performed as needed to provide temporary but immediate relief.
  • Counseling. Through psychological therapy, a patient can explore new ways to think about and deal with long-term pain and any associated stress.

Additional surgery

Before considering additional surgery, many patients who experience FBSS are encouraged to try one or more nonsurgical treatments, and also to allow those treatments some time to work (generally a few weeks or months).

If conservative FBSS treatment proves to be insufficient and surgery is recommended as the next step, a patient may understandably be hesitant to undergo an open spine procedure. But, this may be unnecessary. The skilled surgeons at USA Spine Care perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that are safer and effective alternatives^ compared to traditional open spine surgery.

If you’re wondering if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive outpatient surgery for failed back surgery syndrome treatment, you can contact USA Spine Care to receive an MRI review at no cost.*

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