Many people with chronic and severe back pain consider the option of back surgery to cure their ailments, however, surgery is not required or advised in the majority of cases. Although people who suffer from back pain may feel like there is no cure as they are being bounced around from one treatment center to the other and given different kinds of medications, too often the surgery they opt for fails to treat chronic pain long term. In fact, 20% of back surgery patients are back for a second surgery ten years after their first. Even with debilitating back pain, there is a significant chance that a year after your back surgery patients function about the same as they did before the surgery was performed.
So many failed back surgeries leave millions without proper pain relief. Many wind up feeling as badly as they did pre-surgery, or worse. Several things may contribute to pain following back surgery, including the routine formation of scar tissue.
The formation of scar tissue around the roots of the nerves in your back, or epidural fibrosis, is commonly found in patients with both successful and failed back surgeries. It is the top cause of what is called “failed back surgery syndrome,” a term used to describe situations in which the surgery performed did not alleviate pain or made matters worse. Epidural fibrosis augments postsurgical back pain as the tissue builds up around the roots of the nerves in the back, leading to persistent pain and the continuation of symptoms experienced before surgery. Patients usually enjoy a period of pain relief 6-12 weeks after back surgery, after which symptoms for epidural fibrosis gradually occur.
Patients who have undergone spine fusion surgery are at risk for recurrent pain several years following the surgery as the level above or below the segment of vertebrae that was successfully fused is at risk of breaking down, creating a new source of pain. When this happens it is called “adjacent-segment disease.” This most commonly occurs during a two-level fusion in the lumbar region of your spine.
Recurrent lumbar disc herniation is common after failed lumbar discectomy surgery. Between 5 and 15% of such surgeries fail, leading to even more pain and possible disability further down the road. This happens when the annular tear, or the tear in the layer of hard tissue that forms the exterior of a spinal disc, does not seal completely after the surgery. The weakened disc continues to receive pressure it cannot hold up to.
It is unfortunate that there is such a high rate of failure for back surgery types with at least 10% of back surgery patients experiencing recurring pain. Come to our convenient offices throughout New Jersey to see how the pain specialists at Garden State Pain Control can do for you.