Although many people with chronic and severe back pain consider back surgery the treatment option most likely to cure their ailments, surgery is neither required nor advised in the majority of back pain cases.
All too often, back pain surgery fails to treat chronic pain over the long term. Even with debilitating back pain, there’s a significant chance that within a year of having surgery, you’ll function at about the same level as you did before you had surgery.
Several factors can contribute to pain following back surgery, including:
The routine formation of scar tissue around the roots of the nerves in your back is the leading cause of “failed back surgery syndrome,” a term used to describe situations in which a surgical treatment for back pain was ineffective or made matters worse.
Patients who have undergone spinal fusion surgery are at risk for recurrent pain several years following surgery. This is because the area above or below the segment of vertebrae that was successfully fused is at risk of breaking down, a condition known as adjacent-segment disease.
Failed lumbar discectomy surgery often leads to recurrent lumbar disc herniation. It’s estimated that up to 15% of such surgeries fail, causing even more pain and possible disability further down the road.
This problem happens when the tear in the exterior layer of a spinal disc doesn’t seal completely after surgery, leaving the weakened disc prone to rupture.
Receiving steroid injections in your lumbar spine, or lower back, can help reduce inflammation to relieve post-surgery back pain and improve movement. The pain physicians at Garden State Pain Control offer both transforaminal and interlaminar epidural steroid injections, which are specifically used to address chronic lower back pain.
If persistent post-surgery back pain is thought to be caused by degenerative or arthritic conditions or a physical injury, it can usually be treated with a facet joint injection. This injection, which is administered directly to the facet joints of your spine, uses a local anesthetic to block the specific nerve signals that are causing pain.
Patients affected by chronic or severe post-surgery back pain may also benefit from one of the following treatments:
This minimally-invasive procedure uses X-ray guidance to direct a radiofrequency (RF) needle alongside specific nerves in your lower back. A small amount of electrical current passes through the needle to the nerve, where it disrupts the nerve’s ability to transmit signals.
Lumbar disc decompression surgery seeks to relieve pressure on an affected nerve root, usually by removing small pieces of bone that lay over the nerve root, or by removing material from underneath the nerve root to ease pressure and give it more space.
A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a pain management device that’s surgically placed under your skin. The electrical current that the device sends to the affected nerves in your back interrupts the nerves’ pain signals, so they don’t reach your brain.
An intrathecal pain pump is a drug delivery system that uses a small pump, which is surgically placed under the skin of your abdomen, to deliver pain medication directly to your spinal cord through a catheter. An intrathecal pain pump is a common treatment solution for patients with one or more failed back surgeries.