Failed Back Surgery / Pain After Surgery

Failed Back Surgery / Pain After Surgery

Back Pain After Surgery

While many back problems can be addressed with non-surgical treatments, in some cases patients may require back surgery as a result of a progressive spine-related condition (e.g. spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease or spondylolisthesis), or they may choose to undergo surgery as a last-resort treatment for pain relief. Unfortunately, back surgery does not always achieve its desired results. Sometimes, patients experience chronic pain after a lumbar spine operation. When this happens, it is often referred to as Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, or Post-Laminectomy Syndrome.
Some common causes for back pain after surgery include:

  • The formation of scar tissue around a nerve root
  • The spinal nerve’s inability to recover from a prior compression/trauma
  • The development of structural changes in the spine near the site of a spinal fusion
  • A new or recurrent disc herniation
  • Spinal or pelvic ligament instability as a result of the surgery

Failed Back Surgery Symptoms

The symptoms associated with a failed back surgery may be similar to those experienced before the operation. However, it is possible that the location and intensity of pain may change, depending on the cause. Patients may feel a sharp or stabbing pain, for example, that moves from the back to the legs, or they may experience a heightened sensitivity to pain (hyperalgesia).
If your pain symptoms continue after back surgery, your doctor will need to re-evaluate you to determine whether the cause of pain was not addressed during surgery or if you have new symptoms caused as a result of the operation. During your examination, be sure to describe your symptoms in detail, mentioning new symptoms, changes in pain, and changes in where your pain originates.


After a diagnosis is made, your doctor will determine the best treatment plan to address your symptoms. There are treatment options besides surgery that can help alleviate pain symptoms. These include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, epidural injections, medial nerve branch blocks, spinal cord stimulation, and more.
At Paradigm Pain and Spine, we develop customized treatment plans to alleviate and manage pain after surgery. Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our double or triple board-certified pain experts.