What is a Failed Back Syndrome & How is it Treated?

What Is Failed Back Syndrome?

Failed Back Syndrome is the name given to excruciating low back pain after an attempt at a surgical procedure to relieve back pain. A surgical procedure for back pain is recommended only after all measures at conservative treatment have failed and there is an identifiable pain generator like a compressed nerve or a disc herniation causing pain in the back. Back Pain may have enumerable causes and exact identification is extremely difficult unless extensive studies are conducted.

Failed Back Syndrome

What Are The Causes Of Failed Back Syndrome?

Failed Back Syndrome can be caused as a result of numerous causes like there may be complications that may arise during surgery or the joints or the nerves may get irritated due to the surgical procedure and cause pain. Additionally, any damage to the nerve during surgery may also cause pain. Additionally, insufficient amount of rehabilitation postsurgery, especially in individuals with deconditioned back can also suffer from Failed Back Syndrome. Another cause for Failed Back Syndrome is a spinal fusion in which rods, screws, hooks etc are used in order to stabilize the spine and in some cases these instruments fail and cause Failed Back Syndrome.

What Are Some Of The Symptoms Of Failed Back Syndrome?

The pain caused due to a Failed Back Syndrome is quite variable and is dependent on the surgical procedure performed and the initial condition for which the surgical was conducted in the first place. This pain may range from a dull ache to an extremely sharp stabbing pain. It can be localized to a solitary region of the back or it may radiate to the lower extremities.

How Is Failed Back Syndrome Diagnosed?

Failed Back Syndrome is diagnosed pretty much the same way as other conditions are diagnosed for Back Pain. It is usually diagnosed through radiographic studies to include x-rays, MRI scans, and CT scans which are used to look into the internal structures of the back so as to identify the abnormality causing pain and then repair it. Procedures like epidural steroid injections are also helpful in localizing the pain to one particular spot and help in pain relief.

How Is Failed Back Syndrome Treated?

Failed Back Syndrome is a difficult condition to treat. It is imperative to have an accurate diagnosis before embarking on a surgical procedure, more so for the back. Physical therapy is an important aspect of treatment postsurgery. One of the treatment options for people who have failed conservative treatments and are deemed poor candidates for a surgical procedure is Neurostimulation. This treatment involves implanting stimulating electrodes in the back which are powered by batteries. The function of the electrodes is to stimulate the nerves which are causing pain and then block the pain signals thus bringing pain relief. Another option for back pain relief is by administrating medications using a device called as intrathecal pump. This procedure involves implantation of a small pump and tubes and pain medications are delivered directly at the site of the pain through the pump and tubes. This procedure is similar to other procedures and involves the risk of bleeding and infection.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 20, 2018

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