Failed back surgery syndrome, also known as FBSS, is characterized by patients who have not experience success but instead still experience pain following back surgery. Most commonly, back surgery is performed in order to stabilize a joint or decompress a nerve root.
There are several reasons for a back surgery procedure to not work. Sometimes, the source of the original pain and discomfort is not accurately discovered. Other times, fusion failure can occur. It is also possible for scar tissue to form around the nerve root and result in pain. The two types of back surgery most likely to fail include:
- Spinal fusion for multi-level degenerative disc disease
- Discectomy for lumbar disc herniation causing lower back pain
Due to all of these factors, it can be difficult to determine if a condition or pain is actually due to failed back surgery syndrome, or if the pain is caused by a new problem that is surfacing. Usually, pain is considered to be due to failed back surgery syndrome is the patient does not experience improvement within one to two weeks following back surgery.
Fortunately, there are some treatments available for failed back surgery syndrome, including: