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Failed Back Surgery

Half a million people go into surgery to correct back pain every year. The majority of patients receive pain relief after surgery, however up to 20% of those patients may suffer from failed back surgery or post laminectomy syndrome. For these individuals, other therapies are needed to help with their pain and help them return to full and active lives.

What is a Failed Back Surgery?

Post laminectomy syndrome includes any surgery or procedure that fails to accomplish the results intended of the surgery or procedure causing you to continue to suffer from back pain. Any pain that is persistent after a laminectomy, spinal fusion, discectomy, or surgical procedure would be categorized as post laminectomy syndrome.

It can occur in any region of the back. Depending on the region, there are different symptoms pointing to what the cause of the pain is. The pain may be muscular or nerve-related. Muscular pain, although rarer than nerve related, may include aching, cramping, and soreness around the surgery site. Nerve pain may involve shooting pain, tingling, or weakness in the area affected by the surgery site.

What Causes Failed Back Surgery?

Many things may cause pain after a spine surgery or back procedure. Since post laminectomy syndrome is an all encompassing phrase for pain experienced after back surgery, there are numerous scenarios leading to a patient feeling pain. Some of these include:

  • Formation and build-up of scar tissue that may surround nerve roots causing chronic pain
  • Returning or new disc herniation and nerve root compression
  • Spinal or pelvic instability or hypermobility
  • Facet joint problems
  • Spinal stenosis decompression
  • Spinal fusion
  • Laminectomies
  • Discectomies
  • Spinal nerve root being unable to recover from trauma, despite surgery
  • Surgical complications
  • Incorrect diagnosis to begin with

These are just a small example of causes for a failed back surgery. Another reason is a new problem may arise after a previous problem was corrected with surgery. At times, a person suffering from anxiety, depression, sleep problems, or tobacco addiction could be the cause. Pain in your back can also return following a surgery as a result of systemic reasons such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders and other diseases.

Symptoms of a Failed Back Surgery

The most common symptom of a failed back surgery is that the symptoms there were experienced before surgery, such as pain, stiffness, tingling, or numbness, persist after the surgery is performed. A number of people experience a dull aching sensation in the back or legs. Stabbing and pricking sensations are also common.

In some cases, the individual who has had surgery will initially feel relief from their symptoms, however, within three to six months after surgery their pain will return. Some people will find that, instead of relieving their pain, surgery makes it worse or introduces types of pain they did not experience before, or pain in new areas.

Living With a Failed Back Surgery

Living with a failed back surgery can be miserable. People usually resort to surgery with the expectation of it relieving their pain. They become disappointed and discouraged when the pain is still there after surgery. Living with chronic pain can disrupt your life, which makes even daily tasks difficult. Some patients may not be able to work, and therefore not be able to financially support themselves. There are options for those suffering from post laminectomy syndrome. Clearway Pain Solutions offers various treatments for patients.

Diagnosing a Failed Back Surgery

Diagnosing a failed back surgery is similar to the diagnosis of any other back problem. The steps toward a diagnosis include:

  •  A detailed medical history that includes the onset of symptoms and lifestyle factors that can affect back pain. We will also look for factors outside the spine that can be causing back pain.
  •  A physical exam. This exam will include an assessment of your mobility, pain levels, and pain triggers.
  •  Diagnostic tests. In many cases, diagnostic tests like X-rays and MRIs can help provide more information about the cause of back pain.

Failed Back Surgery Treatment

Our team is dedicated to working with our patients to find a treatment plan to help you live a pain free life. Because post laminectomy syndrome affects so many different areas of your life like social, vocational, psychological and more, it is important to consider all treatment options. We perform a thorough consultation with a physical exam, going through your medical history, and listening to the symptoms you have. In order for us to find an effective solution to help manage or eliminate chronic pain, we must first understand the nature of the pain and identify the underlying cause of chronic pain.

Treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy to learn how to stand and move in a way that eliminates pain as well as strengthening exercises
  • Chiropractic adjustments to alleviate pain and pressure
  • Massage to help muscles relax
  • Medications like painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxers
  • Interventional medicine like trigger point injections, nerve blocks, and epidural steroid injections to target the source of pain

Clearway Pain Solutions specializes in minimally invasive procedures and physical therapy to treat pain. If you are suffering from a failed back surgery, contact Clearway Pain Solutions to schedule a consultation.

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Request an Appointment

Are you ready to alleviate your pain and restore your physical function so you can live your best life – the one you want and deserve? The entire Clearway team is ready to help.

To request an appointment, please click the button below. You will be routed to our Patient Portal, where you can register with us by providing us with some basic information. We will get back as quickly as possible to set up and confirm your appointment day and time. Just below the form, we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, as well.

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