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Why does back surgery fail?

Failed back surgery syndrome can occur for a number of reasons. In some instances, there’s one, easy-to-identify issue, while in others, there’s a complex combination of factors at play. Frustrating as it may be, it’s important to figure out what went wrong before deciding on the next steps you should take. Even if you’re not planning to have another surgery — at least, not in the foreseeable future —you’ll still want to understand why your back surgery failed so that you can find the right combination of conservative treatments to help you feel better.

The most common reasons that back surgery fails

Often, failed back surgery syndrome is attributed to one or more of the following issues:

  • An appropriate procedure was performed on the wrong level of the spine (e.g., a discectomy was performed on the L3 vertebra when the L5 vertebra is actually causing the issue)
  • An inappropriate procedure was performed on the correct level of the spine (e.g., surgery was performed to remove a bone spur when a foraminotomy is actually needed to create additional space for a compressed nerve in a small opening between vertebrae (foramen))
  • A surgical implant was improperly placed or has broken down
  • Scar tissue has developed
  • A patient did not fully follow his or her recovery guidelines

Sometimes, though, spine surgery fails for no known reason. Even though neck and back procedures have become more advanced in recent years (and provide much-needed relief for many individuals), there are some situations in which a patient’s body does not respond as expected. Despite medical advances, there’s no way to accurately predict the outcome of an operation.

What to do if your back surgery fails

It’s normal to be frustrated when dealing with failed back surgery syndrome — especially if you’ve been coping with pain for an extended period of time. However, there are likely a variety of options you can consider to help manage your symptoms, so you won’t necessarily need to start thinking about another operation right away. A series of anti-inflammatory injections, a tailored physical therapy program or a monthly or bi-monthly chiropractic adjustment, for instance, may help reduce your pain and allow you to go about your daily activities.

If, after careful deliberation, you decide that another operation might be your best course of action, you may want to ask USA Spine Care for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery. Our procedures have lower complication rates than traditional open spine operations and have helped individuals from across the nation find relief from failed back surgery syndrome.^ To learn more, contact us today.

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