Pain after back surgery, also known as failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS,) is more common than many people realize. Estimates show recurring pain after back surgery may happen in anywhere from 5% to 36% of cases. Causes for FBSS can include complications related to surgical error, infection and recovery problems caused by resuming activities too quickly.
In seeking pain relief, patients turn to a wide range of treatment options, from pain management to corrective surgery. Looking at high-profile cases of pain after back surgery shows us that many celebrities, particularly athletes, can have just as much difficulty overcoming FBSS as the rest of us.
In sharing the stories of these cases, including golfer Tiger Woods, we hope you can gain a better understanding of how to manage your symptoms while you seek the lasting pain relief you deserve.
The Back Pain Treatment Sagas of Tiger Woods and Steve Kerr
In January of 2021, Tiger Woods had microdiscectomy surgery to relieve nerve pain and other symptoms in his lower back. This was the fourth time Woods has undergone this particular surgery, and he has also received a spinal fusion procedure in April of 2017. Although Woods is currently back to golfing at a high level, it is still unclear whether back pain will rear its ugly head again.
Professional athletes put serious strain on their spine. Golfers in particular are prone to back pain due to the wrenching and twisting that occurs with every swing. Woods first began to experience problems in 2010 and underwent his first microdiscectomy in 2014. Although he had some success in the aftermath of that first procedure, it wasn’t long before he dealt with pain after back surgery that would lead him to have follow-up procedures in 2015, before having a fusion in 2017.
By many accounts, the single biggest factor leading to Woods’ struggles with FBSS may have been returning to action too soon and not following a full course of rehabilitation. Whether you are a pro athlete or not, it is important to follow all recovery guidelines and not resume activities until cleared by a doctor.
Another high-profile case of pain after back surgery is former NBA player and current coach Steve Kerr. The former Chicago Bull player and head coach of the Golden State Warriors made headlines back in 2017 when he had to undergo corrective surgery for a spinal cord leak. The procedure was required due to complications related to an initial back surgery a few years prior.
Kerr had a good outcome from the corrective surgery, fortunately, going on to win his third NBA championship as coach of the Warriors.
Key Takeaways for Avoiding and Treating Pain after Back Surgery
For anyone considering an initial surgery for back pain relief, there are several steps that can help you have a successful procedure and avoid pain after back surgery:
- Fully explore nonsurgical treatment and make any recommended lifestyle changes
- Ensure you have received the correct diagnosis for the source of your back pain
- Thoroughly research and vet your surgical provider
- Follow your recovery timeline and commit to any recommended rehabilitation
If you are currently dealing with pain after back surgery and/or FBSS, it does not automatically mean you need corrective surgery or a follow-up procedure. As with any type of back pain, an accurate diagnosis is essential to getting effective care.
Nonsurgical treatment, including physical therapy, pain management injections, alternative therapies like massage and acupuncture, and wellness steps like eating an anti-inflammatory diet can all help you achieve lasting FBSS pain relief.
When considering corrective surgery for FBSS relief, experience counts. Surgeons with specialized experience in treating pain after back surgery can identify and address the wide range of factors that can often contribute to your condition.
The Spine Center Atlanta Difference for FBSS Pain Relief
Dr. James L. Chappuis and the talented team at Spine Center Atlanta are recognized leaders in the field of FBSS treatment. At our beautiful facility, patients can find an advanced diagnostics suite, personalized conservative care, a world-class surgery suite, and a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center at one convenient location. Whether you need corrective surgery or you would benefit from acupuncture or massage first, we’ll design a customized, evidence-based treatment plan for your long-term wellness.
Our philosophy is built on patient-centered care and an individualized approach that identifies the sources of pain after back surgery and addresses them for lasting pain relief. FBSS is not something you should expect or have to live with.
No matter where you are on your treatment journey, contact us today to schedule an initial appointment and take your first steps back to a healthy and active life.