Also called post-laminectomy syndrome, failed back surgery occurs when a patient still experiences chronic pain even after back surgery. The pain might be the same as before, be worse, or be located in a new spot. It is a very frustrating condition that can affect everyday activities.
What are the causes of failed back surgery syndrome?
Pain after a back surgery can be the result of a few causes. Sometimes the spinal nerve root does not fully recover following surgery, which can result in pain. The healing that occurs after surgery can also cause scar formation, which surrounds the back’s nerve roots and causes pain. Finally, structural changes that are a result of a spinal fusion surgery can be painful.
What are the symptoms?
The additional symptoms of failed back surgery depend on the cause. Your pain might be similar to what it was before your surgery, or can be located somewhere else. Sometimes back pain after surgery is dull, and sometimes it is a sharp pain that radiates down the legs.
How is it treated?
The treatment for failed back surgery syndrome depends on the cause. An epidural, which delivers anti-inflammatory medication to the fluid around the spinal cord, can cause temporary relief. Spinal cord stimulation can block nerve signals that are sent to the brain and can be trialed first before being used as a permanent solution.