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Failed Back Syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome is a medical condition in which a patient develops persistent back pain after undergoing a surgical procedure. Experiencing back pain following surgery is not necessarily a sign that the procedure was a failure. The condition is also known as post-laminectomy syndrome. Although the symptoms are associated with this common spinal procedure, the treatment doesn’t fail any more frequently than any other types of surgery.

This condition is treatable and avoidable. Diagnostic tests can determine if a surgical mistake or another issue is responsible for your symptoms. After identifying the underlying cause, your physician can recommend a treatment to permanently eliminate your pain.

Symptoms of Failed Back Syndrome

Patients who develop the condition generally notice the symptoms within days after major spinal or back surgery. It can cause pain near the surgical site or your extremities. If left untreated, the condition can become chronic and generate lingering back pain. It can cause a dull pain in the back of your legs, discomfort when you stretch and a stabbing pain in your extremities.

Causes of Failed Back Syndrome

Many patients blame themselves or the surgeon for the syndrome because it usually occurs shortly after an operation. There are several potential reasons that increase a patient’s risk for developing failed back syndrome. Common reasons include diabetes, scar tissue, blood vessel disease, insufficient recovery time and ongoing herniated disc problems. Other prevalent factors are post-surgical infections, compromised healing and psychological anxiety. Some of these medical issues may have existed prior to the symptoms. Preexisting autoimmune diseases and diabetes can trigger the condition. Smoking and other activities that restrict your oxygen and blood flow increase your risk for developing failed back syndrome.

The syndrome can occur if the surgical procedure was performed on an area that was not responsible for your original back pain symptoms. The success rate of a surgical procedure usually declines when you have had numerous surgeries on various areas of your back. It is essential that you discuss the success rate of any surgical procedure with your physician. Other preexisting medical conditions can also cause the success rate to vary significantly.

Treatment for Failed Back Syndrome

Contact the doctor who recommended or performed the procedure if you are experiencing chronic, post-surgical back pain. The doctor needs to know the symptoms that you are experiencing and what you have done to resolve your discomfort. A thorough evaluation and diagnostic tests will identify the underlying problem and the best way to treat the symptoms.

Intensive physical therapy and reducing your psychological and emotional distress are effective failed back syndrome treatments. Most spinal surgical procedures readjust your spinal column and muscles. Physical therapy can relieve discomfort by realigning the areas responsible for your pain. Stretching exercises and working the muscles may reduce lesions and other injuries and will help your spine recover.