Failed spine surgery syndrome is a general medical term that describes pain felt after back surgery. While many spine surgeries produce pain-free outcomes, it is possible that surgery will not provide patients with adequate pain relief. Spine surgery is often performed to either decompress a nerve root or stabilize a joint. These repairs may subsequently reduce pain, but the primary purpose of spine surgery is not to reduce a patient’s back discomfort; it’s to correct a malformation. Still, many patients undergo surgery to reduce chronic back pain and they typically experience optimal results. A TriState Pain Institute physician will evaluate your health history and symptoms before recommending treatment options for failed spine surgery syndrome.
Spine surgery can fail for many reasons, but the team at TriState Pain Institute wants patients to understand that pain relief can be achieved through other means, such as interventional pain care. Regardless, possible causes of failed spine surgery syndrome may include an incorrect initial diagnosis; performing surgery at an incorrect level or location; scar tissue formation; failure of spinal fusion with bone grafts and other materials; or nerve damage that occurs during surgery. Traditional, open back surgery may also increase a patient’s risk of developing failed spine surgery syndrome.
A notable symptom of failed spine surgery syndrome is continued chronic pain after spine surgery. Other signs of this condition may include limited mobility and flexibility; pain that radiates toward other parts of the body; muscle spasms in the back; pain felt above or below the treated spine location; anxiety; depression; dependence on prescription pain medication for treatment; and an inability to heal from surgery. These symptoms may begin shortly after surgery and continue until treatment is sought.
There are many minimally invasive treatment options that may help mitigate pain from failed spine surgery syndrome. Treatment typically depends on the exact cause of the condition, but patients often find relief through physical therapy, steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation, or another minimally invasive spine surgery.