Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a generalized term used to describe the condition of patients who received poor results after a back or spinal surgery. These patients often experience continued pain in their backs or legs following the surgery. For those suffering from FBSS and who cannot repeat the surgery, there are other options for them to help reduce residual pain and return to a normal quality of life.
Who is at Risk for FBSS?
It’s unclear how many people suffer from FBSS, but estimates indicate that anywhere between 5% and 50% of individuals who undergo spinal surgery experience it. There is no one symptom for FBSS across all spinal surgeries; rather, it refers to any pain that persists even after surgery, whether it is worse, unchanged, or even slightly improved.
Factors That Contribute to FBSS
FBSS also doesn’t indicate a failure on the part of the surgeon. Doctors theorize several different factors can play into the development of the condition. For example, issues before the surgery occurs could affect the outcome of the procedure, including spinal instability or anomalies in clinical images. Preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and peripheral vascular disease, could also contribute to the development of FBSS.
When people do experience it, repeat surgery is actually less likely to succeed than the primary surgery, which means additional treatments by a pain management physician might be needed to address the residual pain. These physicians have various options when it comes to managing FBSS, including minimally invasive treatments, such as epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency neuroablation, or blocks. These treatments can also be paired with physical therapy and other comprehensive treatments, which can improve pain levels and overall quality of life.
In other cases, a physician may try spinal cord stimulation (SCS), a treatment proven to be more effective for FBSS than repeated surgery. This procedure delivers low-voltage electricity to the spinal cord, interrupting pain signals before they reach the brain. Patients are able to try the system before permanent implantation options and, if they decide on the permanent version, can often reduce their intake of opioid pain medications. In some cases, a physician may also recommend intrathecal pumps, which deliver medication directly to the spinal cord to block pain signals.
Pain Management Options
Like many conditions, it’s easier to prevent FBSS than treating it once it develops. If you can resolve your pain issues without the use of spinal surgery, then surgery may not be the right option for you. Talk to your physician about pursuing less invasive options, some of which are used to treat the symptoms of FBSS.
If you’re interested in discussing pain management options before or after an invasive surgery, talk to one of our Orlando pain management physicians at Pain Medicine Group. Our top priority is identifying, treating, and alleviating the symptoms of chronic pain sufferers so they can get back to living life without suffering. Our doctors are highly trained to both identify and treat the sources of the pain, rather than just masking the symptoms. Our clinic uses the most cutting-edge medical technology available in the field, and our physicians have undergone specialized, intensive training in managing and treating chronic pain issues. Let us see what we can do for you.
Schedule an appointment by calling us at (888) 832-3597 or filling out our online form today.