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. 

Some back surgeries do not always achieve the 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.


  • 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


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. Symptoms include:

  • Sharp or stabbing pain that moves from the back to the legs
  • High sensitivity to pain (hyperalgesia)

If your pain symptoms continue after back surgery, the doctor will need to re-evaluate the condition and determine whether the cause of pain was not addressed during surgery or if the patient has new symptoms caused as a result of the operation. 


During the examination, all the symptoms have to be described in detail. Mentioning new symptoms, changes in pain, and changes in where the pain originates is very important. 

After a diagnosis is made the doctor will determine the best treatment plan to address the symptoms. There are treatment options besides surgery that can help alleviate pain symptoms. These include: