Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: What are My Options When The Pain Returns After Surgery?

Medical research estimates that up to 40% of back surgeries fail. Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is the term used to describe this type of surgery complication, and what it means is that you still have pain even after your body has healed from the procedure.

Back surgery can fail for different reasons. Whether you developed an infection after surgery or scar tissue interfered with healing, it’s very common to experience ongoing neck, back, or leg pain after getting back surgery.

Ripul Panchal, DO, FACOS, FACS and our team at American Neuro Spine Institute in Plano and Frisco, Texas, are experts in helping patients with FBSS. Offering treatment options that include revision surgery, we’re here to help you find relief from your chronic pain.

Non-surgical options for FBSS

If your pain returns after back surgery, book an appointment with Dr. Panchal. He assesses your condition and works with you to find pain relief. In general, he recommends non-surgical treatment options at first.

Physical rehabilitation

Back surgery is an invasive procedure, and recovery can take a significant amount of time. If you’re experiencing pain linked to FBSS during recovery, physical therapy may help. Physical therapy includes controlled exercise that builds strength and balance in the body.

Routine exercise with physical therapy can promote healing and reduce your risk of experiencing ongoing pain after back surgery.


Prescription pain medication can be an effective option to help you manage FBSS pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen might be prescribed. Opioid pain medications can be prescribed for back pain as well, but they have addictive qualities and should only be used as a short-term solution.

Revision surgery for FBSS

Revision surgery is an option for patients who don’t find adequate relief from more conservative treatments for FBSS, but Dr. Panchal understands that choosing to have revision surgery is a significant medical decision.

Before suggesting revision surgery, he completes a comprehensive review of your symptoms, previous surgeries, and medical history. He works to understand the cause of your ongoing pain so that he’s better able to address it with revision surgery.

Revision surgery may include removing part or all of the damaged vertebrae. Bone fusion or disc replacement are other common types of reconstructive surgery. If your previous surgery involved placing screws in the spine, removing them and performing a different type of restorative procedure may reduce pain.

In some cases, spinal problems might develop as a result of a previous surgery even if back pain wasn’t an issue. Revision surgery to address this new issue, called iatrogenic disease, can help eliminate pain.

If you’ve had back surgery and you’re still living with pain, it’s important to learn about your options. Dr. Panchal can help you find a solution that works for your FBSS pain. Call one of our offices or book a consultation online to learn more.

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