Hope for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome - Know Your Treatment Options

Oct 20, 2021

Hope for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome - Know Your Treatment Options

There can be many causes for a failed back surgery, including misdiagnosis, surgical error, and infection. No matter what the cause is, anyone who encounters an unsuccessful result from spine surgery knows what a devastating effect...

There can be many causes for a failed back surgery, including misdiagnosis, surgical error, and infection. No matter what the cause is, anyone who encounters an unsuccessful result from spine surgery knows what a devastating effect it can have on your life. For many, spine surgery is the last-resort treatment that is usually attempted after months, or even years, of other therapies have been unable to deliver lasting relief. 

To go through all the preparation and recovery involved with back surgery, especially intensive procedures like spinal fusion, only for it not to be effective can cause you to lose hope. The good news is that it is still possible to find relief, and learning more about your specific condition and the best available treatments is a key first step. 

That’s why the Spine Center Atlanta team is happy to share the following easy-to-understand guide to effective therapies for patients dealing with a failed back surgery. We invite you to reach out with any questions you have, or if you’re ready to start your treatment journey. 

The Importance of Correctly Diagnosing Failed Back Surgery Syndrome 

The recovery process for any type of spine surgery, from decompression to a more complex spinal fusion, always involves some amount of postoperative pain. Even when minimally invasive techniques are used, there will still be soft tissue disruption and an incision that needs to heal. 

Additionally, even if there is a successful procedure, patients must often undergo rehabilitation to redevelop strength and function in the back after long periods of inactivity. 

What this means is that it can often be difficult to distinguish normal postsurgical pain and dysfunction from those related to complications or potential failed back surgery. If you do believe you may be dealing with abnormal pain and symptoms related to failed back surgery syndrome, it is critical to be proactive and work to positively diagnose the condition as early as possible. 

This is especially true for cases, such as infection or rejection of a spinal fusion implant, that may constitute a medical emergency.

Because there are many potential causes for a failed or complicated back surgery, physicians also need to positively diagnose your specific condition to create a treatment plan that can relieve symptoms on a long-term basis. 

Recommitting to Basic Conservative Therapies and Spine Health

In many cases of failed back surgery, initial treatment may be similar to the conservative therapies you attempted after being diagnosed with a spine condition. Even if these are treatments you have attempted before, it is still beneficial to recommit to your treatment plan. Depending on the cause of your failed back surgery, your symptoms and pain may respond more positively than they did with your original condition. 

To manage pain and improve function, doctors may recommend:

  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Use of a heating pad and/or ice pack
  • Over-the-counter medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Getting regular exercise and performing low-impact stretches
  • Focusing on posture
  • Eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet 
  • Avoiding tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption 

Why Physical Therapy and Aquatic Therapy Helps 

Another highly helpful nonsurgical treatment is physical therapy. A physical therapist who specializes in helping patients with failed back surgery can develop a treatment plan designed to strengthen the back and improve function. He or she can also perform manual therapies that can promote improved blood flow and break up painful bundles of tissue that can develop before or after spine surgery. 

Aquatic therapy, or pool therapy, can be particularly helpful for patients with failed back surgery syndrome. This is because the increased buoyancy of water helps to relieve stress on the spine, while simultaneously providing increased resistance that helps build strength. 

Additionally, the soothing nature of being in water can have a positive psychological effect on many patients. 

Exploring Alternative Treatment Options

In seeking out the right treatment options for their needs, many patients overcoming a failed back surgery turn to alternative therapies that they may not have attempted the first time. The following treatments can be an important part of the treatment puzzle for many patients:

  • Therapeutic massage, which helps relax tense muscles 
  • Acupuncture, which helps to increase circulation and release natural pain-relieving hormones
  • Therapy and meditation, which can help the mind respond better to pain

It’s important to be patient and stay positive as you explore these options. It may take some time to find the right combination of treatments for your specific case. 

When to Consider a Follow-up or Revision Surgery 

In some situations, patients may need an immediate follow-up procedure after a failed back surgery. For other people, conservative treatments may be effective enough that additional surgery is never required. 

For others, weeks or months of recommitting to nonsurgical therapies do not bring the relief necessary for a good quality of life.

In any situation where a revision surgery is required for failed back surgery syndrome, patients need to have confidence that their surgeon has correctly identified the source of symptoms and complications. Patients are often reluctant to undergo a first spine surgery, and this is doubly true for a follow-up procedure. 

Ask questions and make sure that your prospective surgeon is taking the time to answer them and fully explain your condition and the proposed surgical plan. Never be afraid to seek out a second opinion. 

Spine Center Atlanta Has Extensive Experience Helping Patients Overcome Failed Back Surgery

Correctly examining, diagnosing, and creating an effective treatment plan for a failed back surgery requires highly specialized expertise and deep experience. At Spine Center Atlanta, our medical team is made up of experts from multiple disciplines, including orthopedic surgery, physical therapy, pain management, and alternative therapies with an intensive focus on treating patients with failed back surgery syndrome. 

This is why patients from across the country seek out our state-of-the-art facilities, including a diagnostic center, rehabilitation center, and ambulatory surgery center, to help them overcome their pain and find lasting relief. We are committed to the highest level of compassionate, patient-centered care to everyone who comes to us to get their life back. You can expect a highly personalized treatment plan based on your unique condition and recovery goals. 

Contact us today to learn more and schedule your initial appointment.