Failed Back Surgery Syndrome – Integrated Pain Solution

Failed back surgery syndrome, also known as post-laminectomy pain syndrome, is the unfortunate result of surgery which did not result in the anticipated goal of pain and symptom relief. Though a patient may have acute surgical pain, with healing for at least six months after major spine surgery, these failed surgical procedures result in patients who are still suffering for at least one year and longer after their operations. We all know of someone who has had many spine surgeries; sometimes with the same spine surgeon and sometimes each surgery with a different surgeon, in their desperate attempt to have a successful outcome. It is important to realize that this is not necessarily the fault of a poor surgical technique; it occurs in the best of hands and at the most prestigious institutions. It frustrates and angers the patient as well as the surgeon. No surgeon would agree to operate without a reasonable expectation of a positive outcome.

The possible reasons for this painful syndrome are many, but sometimes occur for no apparent reason. If the pre-operative status was that of severe nerve compression and injury, no matter what the source, then decompressing that area may not reverse the nerve damage that has already been done. Patients may develop scar tissue in the spine after surgery, which serves as a new source of pain. Surgically removing that scar tissue would only lead to more scar tissue formation. Sometimes the pain is due to persistent muscle spasm from surgical dissection and trauma, or just a persistently painful scar from small, superficial, cutaneous nerve damage. Patients who are depressed and markedly deconditioned before surgery- a status not uncommon with patients with deteriorating spines, tend to have poorer outcomes.

As a general rule, patients who are poorer candidates for any spine surgery are those who have a history of obesity, smoking, advanced age, pain for longer than 6 months duration, psychological instability, diabetes, are deconditioned, or those who had a previous failed back surgery. Patients with pain radiating down an extremity- radicular pain, do better than those with just pure neck or low back pain. Patients with secondary gain issues, such as desire for disability or extreme dissatisfaction with their careers, tend to have poorer outcomes. For the surgically- failed back patient, it is very important to undergo a comprehensive medical and radiologic workup to rule out reversible causes for their persistent pain. Often and unfortunately, the workup is normal, and technically the surgery was defined as a “success” by excellent anatomic results with radiological evaluation, but the procedure is considered to have “failed.”

If you feel you may be suffering from a failed back surgery, make an appointment to come see us at Integrated Pain Solutions today.  We can help you get out of pain and go on to live your life pain free.

Our friendly staff at IPSSF is prepared to provide you with excellent services at both our East Fort Lauderdale and Sunrise, Florida locations.