What to Do When You Have Failed Back Surgery

You have probably heard that up to 90% of people experience significant pain relief after spinal surgery. For the rest, 15% of the pain persists after spine surgery. Although surgery seems to be the cure-all, spine surgery sometimes does not treat the pain. But there is hope. Casey Leong MD can help you manage back surgery symptoms and tailor effective treatment plans. This article is for you if you struggle with pain after spine surgery.

What is Failed Back Surgery

Failed back surgery is a condition where pain persists after spine surgery. Spine surgery does not treat the cause of the pain. However, it corrects spinal deformities such as spinal stenosis or decompresses a pinched nerve, relieving back, neck, and even hip pain.

Sometimes the pain won’t dissipate, resulting in a condition called failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). In other cases, you may experience respite from pain for a couple of days, but afterward, the pain returns with more intensity or initiates radiculopathy.

Why Does Failed Back Surgery Occur?

Back surgery is termed “failed” if it does not treat back pain or causes worse pain for the patient.

Failed back surgery can occur because the patient was not an ideal candidate for surgery. Open surgery, such as spinal fusion, needs careful assessment and accurate patient diagnosis. FBSS is likely to occur when spinal fusion fails due to an inaccurate diagnosis.

Also, FBSS can occur when the surgeon treats a herniated disk that seems to cause back pain, but later on, they find out there’s another herniated disk. The pain radiating where a particular disk has herniated may mask symptoms in other spine areas. Sometimes scar tissue may develop on the spine after surgery and compress a nerve root, which causes heightened pain.

Since failed back surgery mostly happens because of an inaccurate diagnosis, it is imperative to seek treatment from a reliable pain center. In general, the more surgeries you have, the more likely it is that your back surgery will fail.

What are The Treatment Options for Failed Back Surgery?

Usually, before you opt for surgery, you have to consider other conservative treatment options. Surgery has far greater efficacy than pain-relieving medications and non-pharmacological treatments. But if you don’t receive the pain relief you seek after back surgery, you’ll be glad to know that Spine Center Atlanta can help manage and treat the pain.

Some options for treating FBSS include:

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy relieves muscle tension and improves core strength to absorb shocks that can cause pain. A physical therapist employs stabilization and mobilization exercises to help ease the pain and improve your posture, contributing to better spine health.

Epidural Steroid Injections

Injections and nerve blocks deposit anti-inflammatory corticosteroids around the target area to reduce the symptoms of failed back surgery. Epidural steroid injections are usually injected into the epidural space.


Neuromodulation or neurostimulation uses light electrical pulses to interfere with pain signals and prevent the relay of pain signals. Doctors usually place tiny lead plates or beads beneath your skin, stimulated by a pulse generator. This method can provide up to 80% relief from failed back surgery symptoms.


NSAIDs and over-the-counter painkillers are still viable options for managing FBSS. Doctors may recommend pain meds while employing physical therapy for better pain management.

Failed back surgery does not mean you have to undergo another surgery. There are solutions to manage pain after failed back surgery. Do not let the pain stop you from enjoying your favorite activities and performing daily tasks.

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About the Author: Rachel

Rachel Mitchell: A seasoned journalist turned blogger, Rachel provides insightful commentary and analysis on current affairs. Her blog is a go-to resource for those seeking an informed perspective on today's top news stories.