FAQ’s on Failed Back Surgery
This condition is simply the aftermath of when spinal surgery is not successful for the patient. Even if the physical procedure is correct, the surgery is considered to be failed if the symptoms return to the patient post-surgery, or if the patient continues to experience chronic pain.
Although physicians do their best to provide relief to the patient, not every surgery of the back is guaranteed to be a success. Even with the best physician and perfect conditions, spinal surgery is only considered to be at most a 95% success rate.
What causes Failed Back Surgery?
There are a variety of reasons that surgery for a patient may fail, even more so when it is possible for the surgery to be a physical success but not provide relief. It is important to note that there are only two main goals of surgery: to reduce compression of a pinched nerve, or provide stabilization to a damaged joint.
Surgery is not to remove the pain felt by a patient, and is not capable of directly providing pain relief. It will however attempt to reconcile the cause of pain, which can provide the relief many patients associate with surgery.
The most common cause behind a failed back surgery is simply that the area treated with surgery was not the root cause of pain. Other factors that can cause failed back surgery include further degradation of the joints, potentially causing re-injury, scar tissue accumulating in the area, or the compression of the same nerve once again.
The symptoms of Failed Back Surgery
The most common symptom that back surgery may have failed is simply for pain to either never fade, or to fade and return once again. Normally, the symptoms that will begin to occur in a patient when surgery fails will be similar, if not the same, as the symptoms they had from the original condition.
Depending on the surgery administered, there can be many reasons why a procedure would be considered failed. One symptom that surgery was not successful is that while the original symptoms may be gone, similar symptoms may appear in other areas of the patient’s body.
How is Failed Back Surgery diagnosed?
Diagnosis of a failed back surgery is really just an examination to see if the previous condition has returned. That being said, the diagnostic tests used will be the same as the ones previously used for the patient. The most important thing that a patient can do if they believe their symptoms have returned is to contact their physician in order to be re-examined. For some patient, diagnosis is as simple as informing symptoms have either not faded or have return.
Treatment options for Failed Back Surgery
Failed back surgery does not have a normal solution for patients, as surgery is typically one of the final options available to patients. That being said, the treatments that are available will vary both depending on what symptoms have re-emerged and on what surgery was performed for the patient to deal with them prior.
In many cases, patients will be provided medication in order to mask these pain symptoms once again while the physician decides on what to do for them. Assuming additional surgery is not indicated, potential nonoperative Denver pain management treatments included:
- Medications – oral or topical NSAIDS, narcotics, muscle relaxers, Neurontin or Lyrica
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic Treatment
- TENS Unit
- Interventional Procedures – trigger point injections, facet injections, medial branch blocks, spinal cord stimulator implants
Overall, over 75% of patients with failed back surgery syndrome are able to achieve excellent pain relief at Colorado Pain. Each patient is treated with individualized treatment options, which are typically combined for the best success.
As an absolute last resort, a spinal cord stimulator implant has been shown to work exceptionally well. The SCS implant does not “fix” the problem. But when failed back surgery syndrome does not have a cure, the option may be the best “band aid” available.
If you or a loved one is suffering from failed back surgery syndrome, let the top pain management doctors in Denver help you. At Colorado Pain, there are three locations with Board Certified pain management doctors and chiropractors offering hope and options to those in pain.
Call (720) 306-9575 for more information and scheduling today!