Why Did My Back Surgery Fail?

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You had back surgery to treat your chronic pain. But now you’ve healed, and your pain is still there. Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is common, and you deserve answers. Learn some possible causes and what your treatment options are now.

About 16 million American adults live with chronic back pain. It’s one of the most common types of chronic pain, and back surgery is a common solution that promises to alleviate pain and improve mobility.

However, back surgery comes with the risk of complications and failure — and up to 40% of people still experience back pain after surgery. Known as failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), it can leave you feeling frustrated and confused.

Dr. Maher Ibrahim and our team at Interventional Pain Management Associates are here to help. Here are a few possible reasons why back surgery fails and what your treatment options are now.

Common reasons why back surgery may fail

Your spine is a complex structure, and back surgery is a delicate task. Like other surgical procedures, it comes with a risk of failure. A few possible reasons why your back surgery may have failed include:

Incomplete decompression

Spinal decompression is one of the most common types of back surgery, and incomplete decompression could lead to FBSS. When you undergo spinal decompression, your surgeon removes a portion of bone or tissue in your spine to relieve pressure on spinal nerves. If the surgeon doesn’t successfully remove enough bone or tissue, your nerves might still be under pressure and you may continue experiencing pain.

Incorrect diagnosis

The source of back pain isn’t always easy to pinpoint, and that can lead to misdiagnosis. If your back pain is caused by a condition other than what was initially diagnosed, surgery may not effectively address the underlying problem. In these cases, surgery won’t fix the pain, and you may need further treatment.

Surgical complications

Surgery always comes with a risk of complications. And sometimes, complications can contribute to FBSS. Blood loss, infection, or nerve damage may cause new or additional pain even after you’ve healed from surgery.

Adjacent segment disease

Adjacent segment disease is a condition that can develop after spinal surgery. It happens when the spinal segments adjacent to the surgery site start to degenerate, because surgery changes the biomechanics of your spine.

How to know if your back surgery failed

The goal of back surgery is to relieve your back pain. If you’ve had back surgery and you still have pain or other symptoms after healing, it may be an indication that your surgery failed. 

Some common signs that your back surgery has failed include:

  • Continued or increased pain
  • New or worsening symptoms
  • Decreased mobility or range of motion
  • Numbness or tingling in your legs or feet
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with Dr. Ibrahim and our team. We can help determine the cause of your symptoms and explore your treatment options.

Treatment options for failed back surgery

FBSS is frustrating, but it doesn’t mean you have to live with back pain forever. If your back surgery failed, we can recommend a range of treatment options that may be available to you.

Dr. Ibrahim and our team specialize in minimally invasive remedies for FBSS. Depending on the cause of your condition and your symptoms, we may recommend physical therapy, nerve blocksfacet joint injections, or a spinal cord stimulator to relieve pain and improve your mobility.

Back surgery can be a life-changing procedure — but unfortunately, not everyone experiences the relief they were promised. If you think your back surgery might have failed, reach out to our team at Interventional Pain Management Associates for a treatment plan that makes a difference. Call our office in Hamilton, New Jersey, at 609-838-2900 or send us a message online.