Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is the development of chronic pain and discomfort in the back, neck, arms or legs after any type of spine surgery. Any and all chronic pain that is either severe or debilitating in any way is considered to be FBSS. It is broadly defined to encompass all types of pain.
But there is one exclusion – the pain cannot be associated with traditional recovery, such as the aches and pains of muscles as they try to heal from surgery. Luckily, it’s not usually that difficult to tell the difference. Most forms of FBSS occur gradually. Pedicle screw failure, adjacent segment disease, epidural fibrosis – all of these pain causes tend to develop in the weeks or months after spine surgery.
Can Spine Surgery Fail Immediately?
Yet it is possible for spine surgery to immediately fail. Sometimes referred to as “immediate failed back surgery syndrome,” or “iFBSS,” in some cases it is possible for a spine surgery to be unsuccessful right away – with signs and symptom that indicate that something is amiss.
The cause if iFBSS is different in all cases. A study published in Neurosurgical Review found that 2.8% of lumbar disc herniation patients had immediate failure, with causes that included residential disc material, immediate recurrent disc herniation, lack of sufficient spinal decompression, dural tears, and epidural hematomas.
How To Diagnose IFBSS
Each individual spine surgery may have its own unique signs of iFBSS. But iFBSS can be complicated to diagnose. Immediate pain after surgery may not be iFBSS, because patients may experience normal pain as a result of their recovery process (especially if the surgery involved an open wound or a more significant procedure) and some spine surgeries take time to provide pain relief.
So patients worried that their pain means that their spine surgery failed may simply be responding to normal and expected pain after surgery. To see if your back or neck surgery failed, look for signs that include:
- Worsening of Pain After Surgery
- Pain that Doesn’t Match what the Surgeon Said to Expect
- Severe, Identical Pain that Occurs Before Leaving the Hospital
Immediate failed back surgery syndrome often requires immediate treatment as well. It may be that the surgeon performed the work incorrectly, or there was an error or misdiagnosis, or there was a complication that should be addressed immediately.
If you believe you may have iFBSS and require treatment, please call us right away at 404-620-5523.