Neck, back, and leg pain that originates in the spine can be severe. In many cases, it is a debilitating issue that requires surgery. That surgery is expected to reduce the pain. But for some patients, pain returns – either the exact same pain they experienced previously, or a new pain of some kind that is related to spine pain.
Known as failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), this type of issue encompasses all types of surgery and all types of pain. The good news is that it can be treatable. But it is critical that the reason for this pain recurrence is determined. When the cause of FBSS is non-structural, determining the cause of the pain can be more difficult.
What is Non-Structural FBSS?
Non-structural FBSS means that the cause of the pain is not easily determined by reviewing the structure of the spine. Most causes of FBSS are visible using diagnostic tests, such as:
- CT Scan
But some forms of FBSS do not seem to have a clear structural cause. If the issue appears to be non-structural, it changes the way that surgeons and doctors treat the condition.
Examples of Non-Structural Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
If the issue is non-structural, the exact cause may not necessarily be known. In some cases, it may still be some type of structural deficiency that is simply too small or minute to find using scans. It wasn’t long ago that conditions like arachnoiditis were not visible on these scans, and may have been a cause of “non-structural failed back surgery” in the past despite technically having a clear structural cause.
Other forms of non-structural FBSS may be related to the surrounding area. Damage to muscle fibers, for example, may be considered a non-structural cause of FBSS because the pain is unrelated to the spine itself – although some doctors still consider this type of pain to be structural, because it can be found using diagnostic scans.
But in other cases, the issue may be psychological or psychosocial. There is some evidence that patients with depression, anxiety, or over-sensitivity to pain may experience greater levels of actual, physical pain after the back surgery has occurred, despite no clear structural reason for the pain. The pain is real, but the cause isn’t necessarily physical in nature.
Treatment For Non-Structural FBSS
In the medical community, non-structural FBSS is considered harder to treat. But that generally refers to surgery. It is not generally recommended that a patient receive revision surgery if the cause of FBSS has not been clearly found. Instead, surgeons will try more conservative treatments, such as:
- Exercise/Physical Therapy
These and other non-surgical techniques allow FBSS specialists, like Dr. Chappuis and his team at Spine Center Atlanta, help identify the cause of the pain when there is no clear diagnosis to be made. The treatments act also act like diagnostic tools, helping provide pieces of a puzzle that surgeons can use to determine why the pain is occurring, and what can be done to treat it.
However, in many cases, the cause of FBSS can be clearly identified with the right tools, skill, and experience. That is why Spine Center Atlanta has become a popular location for FBSS treatment for patients across the United States. With the right expertise, it is possible to find the cause of failed back surgery, and then provide an appropriate treatment. For more information, call us today at 404-351-5812.