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Causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Last updated 5 years ago

When you experience back pain, a pain management doctor is almost certain to recommend conservative treatment methods first. You may undergo a series of epidural injections, for example, or other non-surgical methods of pain relief such as cryoanalgesia and percutaneous disc decompression. If these treatments are insufficient to relieve your symptoms, your pain management specialist may refer you to a back surgeon. Unfortunately, sometimes not even spine surgery is enough to alleviate back pain. Failed back surgery syndrome refers to the recurrence or persistence of symptoms after a recovery from surgery.

Inappropriate Patient Selection

Most often, the inappropriate referral of patients to a spine surgeon is the cause of failed back surgery syndrome. Your spine is an intricate, complex part of your anatomy, and quite often, back-related conditions can mimic the symptoms of others. For example, piriformis syndrome may be mistaken for sciatica and pain from sacroiliac joint dysfunction is quite similar to symptoms of a lumbar disc herniation. This is one reason why it’s critical to receive an accurate diagnosis prior to surgical intervention, and why pain management doctors emphasize the importance of conservative treatments such as nerve blocks before attempting invasive treatments.

Disc Herniation

If you’ve undergone a discectomy or microdiscectomy spine surgery to treat a herniated disc, there is a risk of failed back surgery syndrome if you experience a recurring herniated disc. Initially after the surgery and recovery, you’ll likely enjoy noticeable back pain relief, followed by an abrupt recurrence of pain.

Surgical Error

Unfortunately, mistakes during surgery can sometimes happen. Occasionally, the spine surgery may operate on the incorrect disc or vertebra, or a fragment of bone may have been missed. If a bone fragment is left behind after surgery, it can compress nearby nerves, leading to pain.

A personalized treatment plan from Pain Specialists of Orange County can help you get back on your feet. Please call us at (888) 699-1334 to schedule an appointment with one of our leading pain management doctors. We offer convenient locations in Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, and Irvine.


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