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Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a generalized term used to describe the condition of patients who have not had a successful result with back or spine surgery and experience continued pain after surgery.
Development of FBSS
Multiple factors can contribute to the development of FBSS, including:
- Recurrent spinal disc herniation
- Persistent pressure on a spinal nerve after surgery
- Altered joint mobility and scar tissue (fibrosis)
- Pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, autoimmune disease, and vascular disease
Postoperative pain is normal, but this pain should begin to fade after a week or two, even if it does not entirely diminish. If the pain and symptoms do not lessen, or if they start to worsen over time, you may be suffering from failed back surgery syndrome.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Symptoms
The most obvious sign of failed back surgery syndrome is persistent, dull, and aching pain involving the back or legs not associated with the healing process. Other symptoms include:
- New pain at a level different from the location treated
- Inability to recuperate
- Restricted mobility
- Sharp, stabbing back pain
- Numbness or pain radiating through the lower back into the legs
- Back spasms
- Anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness
- Potential dependence on pain medication
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Treatment Options
Diagnosing where the pain is coming from is the first step in reducing pain and restoring function. Treatments may include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications
- Physical therapy
- Microcurrent electrical neuromuscular stimulator
- Nerve blocks
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Membrane stabilizers
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Implantable pumps
If your chronic pain persists after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, a surgery may be recommended.
Why Choose Weill Cornell Medicine for Muscle or Joint Pain Treatment?
Muscle and joint pain can be challenging and difficult to live with. The physicians at the Weill Cornell Medicine Division of Pain Management use the latest research, the most advanced equipment, and innovative therapies to diagnose pain and develop a customized pain management plan for each patient.
Weill Cornell Medicine also offers clinical trials, giving patients access to treatments that may not be widely available. Learn more about Pain Management's current clinical trials.
We work closely with a broad team of specialists to help our patients regain independence, functionality, and improve quality of life. After assessing your case, we will tailor a treatment plan that may include medication, pain management, and physical therapy. When surgery is part of the plan, we offer the most advanced, minimally invasive techniques.
Why Choose Weill Cornell Medicine for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?
The physicians at Weill Cornell Medicine Division of Pain Management are experts in helping patients with failed back surgery syndrome. Our team uses the latest research, the most advanced equipment, and innovative therapies to diagnose pain and develop a customized pain management plan for each patient.
We work closely with a broad team of specialists to provide the highest quality care, often in our spa-like, office-based setting. We collaborate with the Center for Comprehensive Spine Care in New York City, which consists of neurology, pain management, neurosurgery, psychiatry, radiology, and psychology specialists who provide personalized and precise treatment plans.