Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Back pain can be draining both physically and emotionally. This is true particularly when you’ve undergone a surgical procedure to fix the problem but are still living with chronic discomfort. This condition, known as Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, can be caused by a number of issues. To help you understand, we’ll take a look at the causes, symptoms and treatment options that may provide relief.

What is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is a term used to describe chronic pain that can develop in some patients following spine surgery. It most commonly occurs following a laminectomy procedure, in which bone is removed from the rear of the vertebrae to relieve pressure on spinal nerves. For that reason, it is also often known as post-laminectomy syndrome.

According to board certified Pain Management specialist Michael Zeringue, MD, "Continued back pain after spine surgery can result from scar tissue, muscle injury from surgery or improper spine posture secondary to surgery."

There are a several factors that can lead to pain post surgery, including:

  • The formation of scar tissue
  • Irritated and inflamed spinal joints
  • Chemical irritation of nerves in the spine
  • Bone or soft tissue pressing on the spinal nerves
  • Improper spine posture following surgery
  • Muscle injury from the procedure

"Continued back pain after spine surgery can result from scar tissue, muscle injury from surgery or improper spine posture secondary to surgery."
- Michael Zeringue, MD, MPH

What are the Symptoms of the Condition?

The primary symptom of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is pain, which can manifest in several ways:

  • Pain may occur at the surgery site.
  • Pain may radiate to the buttocks or legs.
  • Pain may be sharp or it may feel like a dull ache.

There are several treatments available for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, and choosing the correct one depends on the cause and severity of the pain.

Non Surgical Treatments

  • Medications

    Pain may be managed by drugs such as acetaminophen, NSAIDs or muscle relaxants.

  • Injections

    Caudal epidural steroid injection can be given in the epidural space surrounding the lower spine to help reduce pain. Some patients may see relief in as little as 30 minutes. Click here for more about ultrasound guided injections

  • Physical Therapy

    Exercises designed to strengthen muscles in the back and abdomen or modifications in posture can help relieve pressure on spinal nerves and reduce pain. Click here for more about physical therapy

Surgical Treatments

  • Spinal cord stimulator

    If non-surgical treatments are ineffective, this device can be implanted to send adjustable electrical signals to different areas of the spine to relieve pain. Click here for more about the spinal cord stimulator

  • Re-operation

    In extreme cases, another surgical procedure may be required.

Why Seek an Evaluation for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

There’s no reason to allow pain to interfere with life activities or work. The treatment for each patient with Failed Back Surgery Syndrome may be different, so an accurate diagnosis and plan of action is vital to helping you manage your condition and reclaim your best quality of life. Contact us today to find out what treatment options are available for you.

About the Doctor

Michael Zeringue, MD, MPHMichael Zeringue, MD, MPH is a triple board certified physician in Pain Management, Sports Medicine and Family Medicine and specializes in interventional spine and ultrasound guided injections. Dr. Zeringue earned his medical degree from Tulane University in New Orleans and completed his internship and residency in Family Medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. Following residency Dr. Zeringue finished two separate fellowships in Sports Medicine and Pain Management. He is a life long resident of the New Orleans area and served for several years as team physician for Brother Martin High School in New Orleans.


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