What We Want You to Know About Failed Back Surgery

Feb 09, 2024
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When you opt for spine surgery, you have high hopes for pain relief. Unfortunately, that relief is far from guaranteed, as those who deal with failed back surgery can attest. Keep reading to learn more.

You’ve been struggling with lower back pain for a while, and you feel that you’ve run out of treatment options — leaving surgery as the last option. 

Whether you’ve already had the surgery or you’re contemplating this big step, it’s important to understand potential outcomes, which, unfortunately, often include failed back surgery syndrome.

At Sunshine Spine and Pain Specialists, PLLC, team leaders Dr. Amanda Fernandez and Dr. Peter Fernandez routinely provide help for patients who had high hopes for spine surgery, only to be left with ongoing back pain.

Here’s a look at failed back surgery syndrome and how we can help.

What we mean by failed back surgery syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) isn’t a disease. Instead, it’s a condition in which a patient doesn’t achieve pain relief after spine surgery. The pain may be persistent from the previous issue — the surgery didn’t fix the problem. Or, more frustratingly, you have a new type of pain after the surgery — the surgery created a new problem.

Defining success when it comes to spine surgery

In many cases, achieving a 50% reduction in pain qualifies as successful. In other words, you can undergo surgery and still have pain afterward, but the procedure is categorized as a success.

Failed back surgery — more common than you think

An alarming fact about FBSS is that it’s prevalent — more than 50% of first spine surgeries are successful, which means the remaining surgeries fail to bring meaningful pain relief.

The success rates also drop considerably if people follow a failed surgery with another surgery — for second, third, and fourth surgeries, success rates drop substantially to 30%, 15%, and 5%, respectively.

Following a less invasive path

Whether you want to avoid surgery or you're already dealing with FBSS, we’re here to help. At our practice, we’ve had great success in using minimally invasive approaches for back pain, such as:

  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Physical therapy
  • Epidural injections

We also offer minimally invasive procedures that take less aggressive approaches to spine problems than spinal surgeries, such as:

  • Intracept® — radiofrequency ablation of the basivertebral nerve
  • Mild® procedure — lumbar decompression
  • Vertiflex® procedure — spine spacer for spinal stenosis

We understand that the risk for failed back surgery syndrome rises the more complex the spine surgery is, so we prefer more direct procedures like the ones we list above. In fact, these procedures are so minimally invasive that we perform them on an outpatient basis, which means you can go home the same day.

If you want to find an alternative to spine surgery or you’re struggling with post-surgical pain and failed back surgery syndrome, we invite you to contact our Sarasota, Florida, office to schedule an appointment. Call 941-867-7463 or use our online booking request form.