Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome (also called FBSS, or failed back syndrome) is a condition that describes any patient who has not had a successful outcome with back or spine surgery. For example, a patient may continue to experience back pain after surgery.

What designates a failed surgery?

Spine surgery is able to accomplish two things: decompress a pinched nerve root, and stabilize painful joints. These aren’t the only causes of back pain, however, so surgery may not be effective at eliminating pain.

Other causes of FBSS

If a patient undergoes fusion surgery, the joint may fail to fuse. There may also be implant failure. If a compressed nerve is the issue, the surgery may not provide adequate decompression. There may also be preoperative nerve damage that doesn’t heal after surgery. Scar tissue can be another factor.

Other Considerations

Some back surgeries require more than just an operation. Physical therapy is essential after some operations to eliminate pain. In fact, rarely is surgery the end of back treatment.

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