Psychological Disorders and FBSS
It takes a lot of strength to decide to undergo surgery for back, leg, and neck pain. But for those that struggle with chronic pain and immobility, there are very few other options. Patients choose to undergo the risk and recovery associated with surgery in order to finally live free of that severe pain.
Yet for a small percentage of patients, spine surgery may not be effective. The pain may come back, or a new severe pain develops. This is referred to as “failed spine surgery syndrome,” or “FBSS,” and is a blanket term that refers to patients that experience severe pain and immobility despite undergoing spine surgery.
Causes of FBSS – and Mental Health
Although the term “failed back surgery syndrome” makes it sound like it is one specific issue, the term really refers to any type of pain from any cause that arises within about a year of back or neck surgery recovery. It has a loose definition, which means that any number of factors can cause FBSS, including:
- Spinal fusions that did not fuse.
- Hardware that breaks into the spine.
- Spinal cord damage caused by surgical error.
- Recurrent herniated discs.
- Degeneration of adjacent segments, infections, and more.
These issues are both real and measurable. Often an expert in failed back surgery can successfully diagnose why the surgery failed, and provide an appropriate treatment.
But for some patients, the cause of their failed back surgery is not physical – at least not entirely. Psychology can also be a factor:
- First, pain is affected by psychology. Some people are more prone to psychological sensitivity, where their minds focus on pain so much that it amplifies it. That is why some people can touch a stove and feel only a slight burn, while others are in severe pain for minutes.
- Second, some mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression, seem to have a connection to chronic back pain. Indeed, it is possible, although uncommon, for pain to be solely caused by mental health issues. In addition, mood is known to affect the perception of pain, as well as how that pain controls behavior. Ironically, pain can also affect mood and mental health, causing the two to cycle.
- Third, some patients may be more sensitive to pain after back surgery specifically because they went through surgery hoping to treat it. If any pain comes back, even if it is mild or manageable, that pain may feel more severe and significant because of how frustrated, sad, scared, and stressed you may be that any pain has come back.
These are only some of the many links between failed back surgery and mental health. It is also why an FBSS patient should also be examined for stress and related issues, not just the measurable, structural issues that may cause pain.
Failed Back and Neck Surgery and Mental Health
It is possible for mental health to be the sole contributor to failed back pain. Although in most cases, it is a combination of some structural issue or abnormality as well. It’s why Dr. Chappuis and his team at Spine Center Atlanta try to learn as much as they can about each patient, because the only way to truly treat failed back surgery is by understanding the person holistically – their mind and their body.
If you are struggling with pain after cervical, lumbar, or thoracic spine surgery, please call us today at 404-620-5523. We are happy to see both Atlanta locals, or treat those nationally that want to work with FBSS specialists.