Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) describes patients who experience chronic pain after one or more surgical procedures to the spine. It’s slightly misleading because it isn’t an indication of the success or failure of your surgery, but rather that you still experience pain after a procedure. Successful pain management through chiropractic care focuses on reducing the need for potentially addictive pain medication or further invasive surgery.

Much like the symptoms that led you to pursue surgery as an option the first time, pain is the primary symptom. It will present as mild to severe diffuse, dull and aching pain in the back or legs. You may also experience sharp, prickly and stabbing neuropathic pain in your extremities or spasms near the surgical site. Recovery will be slower for patients who do not find pain relief from the surgery and will cause a loss of flexibility and mobility.

Spinal surgery should be limited to patients who have an identified probable cause for their pain, and for a cause in which the surgery has a high rate of success. Failed Back Surgery Syndrome can be a result of the patient’s condition being a poor match for the initial surgery. Surgery is most effective for decompressing a nerve root that is being pinched by a specific disc herniation and stabilizing a single painful joint. Outside of these parameters, surgery results are less likely to result in pain relief.

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome can also occur if you have a recurrent disc herniation.You’re likely to experience this if you had substantial pain relief post-surgery, but it recurred after you fully recovered. It’s also possible to have chronic pain if a fragment of your herniated disc material remains after the surgery, or a piece of bone was left adjacent to the nerve. The resulting compression of the nerve can cause ongoing symptoms.

Your doctor will thoroughly review your medical history and perform a physical exam, and then may order diagnostic tests to confirm Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. X-rays and other imaging tests can determine where your pain originates before recommending treatment. Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is complex and requires a thorough evaluation of the patient and surgical history to be performed before treatment.

Chiropractic care is one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of musculoskeletal and nerve complaints. A highly skilled chiropractor can provide the most effective non-surgical approaches available. Most patients respond well to chiropractic care and adjunctive stretching techniques and rehabilitative exercises designed to strengthen the low back to minimize chronic pain. Ultrasound and electrostimulation may also be prescribed as necessary.

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