Herniated discs can be painful. That is why many surgeons perform discectomies (or micro-discectomies) to try to relieve the pain. For about 90% of patients, the surgery is successful. But for a small number – fewer than 10% – the herniation comes back and causes the same intense pain and immobility that was initially caused by the first herniated disc.
This is another form of failed spine surgery, where the surgery was unable to prevent back and neck pain from recurring. Recurrent herniated discs may also occur when being treated for a completely different condition, often in a different area of the spine. It is treatable, but understanding the causes of recurrent disc herniation is an important step towards finding the right doctors to help fix it.
Why Do Herniated Discs Come Back?
The treatment for a herniated disc – usually a discectomy or microdiscectomy – is generally very effective. Studies have tried to determine why some patients are more prone to recurrent herniated discs than others. Possible reasons include:
- Anatomical Reasons – Spine shape, spacing, health, and more may make some patients more prone to recurrent herniated discs.
- Lifestyle Reasons – Obesity, weightlifting, smoking, and lack of commitment to recovery may also contribute to recurrence.
- Disc Degeneration – When the discs of the spine have broken down due to aging and dehydration, it is possible that surgery may be less effective.
Men seem more likely to have a recurrent disc herniation, and it may be more common in those with larger tears.
It should be noted that recurrent disc herniation may also be the result of other surgeries as well. Issues such as segmental instability, stenosis, and more may all play a role, possibly as a result of weaker protection or more pressure on the other spinal discs. Some people may also be more prone to herniation.
Symptoms Of Recurrent Disc Herniation
Disc herniation tends to have symptoms that are easier to distinguish. While many causes of failed back surgery occur gradually, the pain of disc herniation tends to be more immediate and severe. Sudden, debilitating pain, especially if it is similar to the previous herniated disc pain, is a sign that the herniation may have come back.
Treatment For Recurrent Disc Herniation
Treatment varies by patient, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recurrent disc herniation treatment. We may recommend an additional discectomy or a discectomy with a lumbar or cervical fusion, or a different technique depending on the location and cause of the pain.
Led by Dr. James Chappuis, Spine Center Atlanta is the leading choice for both location and national FBSS treatments, including recurrent disc herniation. As specialists in revision spine surgery, our team is able to help diagnose the problem, and provide an effective treatment. Call today at 404-620-5523.