Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)

Patients who undergo back or spinal surgery but still experiences back pain suffer from a condition known as Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS). There is some variation in how the pain can continue to be prevalent in each patient suffering from FBSS.  Sometimes, the pain subsides but is still present, while other times it gets worse. There are also instances when pain develops in parts of the back that were pain-free before. Several factors can cause this condition:


Hardware Malfunction

A common cause of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is when the surgical hardware malfunctions, particularly pedicle screws. A pedicle screw is a surgical instrument that is used in spinal fusion surgery to attach plates and rods to the spine and to restrict spinal movement at the surgical site.

Issues can develop, however, if the pedicle screw breaks. A broken pedicle screw could make it difficult to keep the spine aligned, which could lead to continued or new back pain. It could also create a situation where an operation to retrieve the broken screw would have to be performed.



The spine is complex with many interconnected bones and sections. And over time, it becomes susceptible to many kinds of irregularities and conditions, such as disc bulges, degeneration of the spine and spinal stenosis­. Because of this, diagnosing the root cause of the pain can be difficult. An irregularity, such as those noted above, may not always be the source of back pain.  If this is the case, then a well-executed surgery will not provide the patient with the relief they are expecting.


Recovery Issues

After undergoing back or spine surgery, it is crucial to adhere to all precautions and follow all suggestions for recovery to be successful. Recovery could be stunted if a patient does not carefully follow their suggested post-operative physical exercise guidelines. A related issue can occur if the patient engages in heavy lifting before they are fully recovered.

Smoking can also contribute to Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. In particular, with bone grafts, which are prevalent in spinal fusion surgery, ample oxygen from the blood is required for new bone growth to occur. Smoking, which affects blood circulation and reduces the delivery of oxygen to the surgical site, could prevent the bone graft from fusing (healing) which reduces the success of the surgical procedure.

Some orthopedic spine surgeons are apprehensive about working with cases of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome since it is difficult to diagnose and risky to treat. But spine surgeons James L. Chappuis, M.D., F.A.C.S. and Julio Petilon, M.D, specialize in diagnosing and treating Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. They are certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Board of Spine Surgery, and have established SpineCenterAtlanta as an industry leader in Failed Back Surgery Syndrome diagnosis and treatment.

Depending on the severity of the issue, SpineCenterAtlanta offers non-surgical and surgical approaches to treating Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. For less severe cases, patients can receive pharmaceutical assistance, aquatic therapy, targeted physical therapy, massage, acupuncture and psychotherapeutic support services. If the situation is more severe and requires additional surgery, these board-certified Orthopedic Surgeons can perform spinal fusion surgery, remove failed hardware and scar tissue, replace damage discs, and repair broken pedicle screws.


**If you’ve had back or neck surgery and still suffer from chronic pain, CLICK HERE to sign up for a consultation with one of our board-certified physicians or CALL 404-351-5812 to schedule an appointment**

Stretching for Pain Relief

One of the first things a personal trainer will teach you is the importance of stretching. Stretching is believed to be a critical tool for preventing injury, and has the ability to increase flexibility.

But stretching may have additional benefits as well. One such benefit is pain relief. Stretching has many positive advantages to the muscles that can assist in long term pain relief.

Stretching For Back and Neck Pain

If you struggle with back and neck pain, daily stretching can help. Stretching is a long term pain relief strategy, capable of providing less back and neck pain the longer you stretch regularly. Some of the benefits of stretching on pain relief include:

  • Improving Range of Motion – Often when some part of you feels injured, your body tends to overcompensate by leaning on other muscles, which in turn start to become overworked and harden. This eventually leads to further pain. Stretching helps make sure that the muscles stay loose, and make it easier for all of your muscles to stay mobile and active.
  • Greater Blood Flow – Blood flow is important for reducing pain and improving the healing process. It also moves oxygen throughout the body. Stretching improves blood flow throughout the body, which allows blood and oxygen to reach your muscles and speed up the healing process.
  • Endorphins – When you stretch, your body releases neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) known as “endorphins.” These brain chemicals play two roles in your body – they make you feel happy, and they reduce pain. Both of those are beneficial for those that are struggling with back and neck pain.

Stretching also simply makes it easier for you to move freely, and movement is known to reduce pain. That is why, if you suffer from back and neck pain, you do not just stretch your neck and back. You also stretch other areas of the body, like your calves and abdomen. This is because when your legs and core are loose, you’re able to have better posture and walk more often, both of which are important for improving blood flow and reducing pain.

Stretching alone is not a short term cure. Those that engage in stretching need to be prepared to commit to it, and combine it with other back and neck pain reduction strategies. But stretching is surprisingly beneficial, and because it can be completed in only a few minutes every day, it is something you should strongly consider if you’ve been suffering from chronic pain.

If you have been suffering from long term back or neck pain, contact SpineCenterAtlanta to learn about the wide range of treatment options we have to help you find relief.

How Acupuncture Works to Ease Neck Pain Stiffness

When you examine the biology of the neck, it’s easy to see why neck pain and stiffness can occur. Your neck is tasked with balancing the weight of your head and skull on the top of your spine. The muscles, tissues, and joints in your neck are under extended pressure, especially if you have had:

  • Poor Posture
  • Recent Car Accident
  • Stress and Tension, and More

Something as simple as sleeping in the wrong position or staring at a laptop puts a great deal of tension of the tissues in the neck, and can quickly lead to developing neck stiffness.

Acupuncture as a Neck Stiffness Treatment

At Spine Center Atlanta, we perform a variety of spine treatments for those that have persistent neck pain. One of our most popular non-invasive treatment is acupuncture, which has proven success at relieving back and neck pain.

In ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture works by restoring the flow of qi (energy) within the body. Small needs are placed in specific points in the body (acupoints) that release blocked qi and help energy flow throughout the body.

In modern times, acupuncture is still a popular treatment for neck stiffness. In addition to restoring the flow of qi, acupuncture:

  • Stimulates Natural Healing – The needles of acupuncture stimulate the natural healing process, helping support your neck muscles and tissues.
  • Releasing Natural Pain Killers – When the needles are placed in the neck and back, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are the pain killers of the body, reducing neck pain and increasing good feelings.
  • Reduces Local Inflammation – Research has shown that acupuncture seems to reduce local inflammation in the targeted areas. This makes it easier to move neck muscles, and alleviates neck tissue stiffness.

For those that are struggling with neck pain, acupuncture provides a targeted treatment that can address your neck discomfort symptoms and give you greater range of motion again. With a combination of both ancient Chinese medicine and modern technology, acupuncture provides a natural treatment that can relieve your neck pain symptoms.

Is Acupuncture Right For You?

Acupuncture is one of many effective treatments for neck pain, and a great choice for those that struggle with stiffness and discomfort. Our certified Acupuncturist, Taian Wang at SpineCenterAtlanta is top-notch. For more information about acupuncture or to learn more about some of the other useful treatments for neck pain, please call SpineCenterAtlanta today at (404) 620-6409.