Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

What is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)?

  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is a diagnosis given to individuals who experience chronic pain after spinal surgery. Spinal surgery is usually performed to accomplish two goals: stabilize a painful joint or decompress a nerve root that is pinched. FBSS is a condition when these goals have not been achieved.

What causes FBSS?

  • Scar tissue
  • Facet joint degeneration
  • Sacroiliac osteoarthritis
  • Nerve damage from surgery
  • Disc herniation
  • Altered joint mobility
  • Facet joint degeneration

What are some symptoms of FBSS?

  • Chronic back or neck pain
  • Leg or arm pain
  • Sharp, burning or stabbing pain in the arms, legs, or back
  • Tingling and numbness

How can FBSS be treated?

  • Conservative Methods: More conservative treatment options, which are done at NOVA Interventional Pain and Spine, include the administration of steroid injections and nerve root blocks. These procedures can be done multiple times and they can provide temporary relief (a few months to a year). Another option is to insert a spinal cord stimulator into the spine, which can decrease pain and correct any degeneration that has occurred.
  • Decompression: This is a minimally invasive surgical option which can relieve any pressure in the nerves of the spine, which is primarily caused by issues like herniated discs and stenosis. This can be achieved by removing soft tissue or bone in the intended region.
  • Fusion / Stabilization: Fusion surgeries are usually performed with the intent of removing a damage disc and fusing the bones together; special hardware may also be used in order to further stabilize the region. A similar procedure is artificial disc replacement – a damaged disc is replaced with a synthetic disc and the vertebrae need not to be fused.
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