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Posted Oct 31 2010 11:38am

Failed back surgery syndrome (also called FBSS, or failed back syndrome) can occur in 10-40% of people who undergo back surgery.

Although it is not actually a syndrome, as such, as it is just a term for a number of factors to describe the intractable pain some patients get even after having spinal surgery.

There is actually nothing else like this or equivalent term for failed back surgery syndrome, for example failed knee surgery syndrome.

Some of the factors that can cause failed back surgery is scar tissue that forms around the surgery site, the actual technicalities of the operation are not successful, an infection could occur.

Surgical operations are usually performed for spinal decompression and spinal fusions using cages, bone graft, bars and screws. If a patient continues to have symptoms of back and leg pain after a surgical operation, the patient's condition is called failed back surgery syndrome.

In my case my first spinal fusion which was done some twenty years ago just wore out and so I had to have a repeat with a cage, bone graft, bars and screws. I got an infection and unfortunately the second operation has not worked as well as the first, so I am classed as suffering from FBSS.

The only treatment they can offer you is what I have, conservative treatments like my alternative therapies and pain medication. If this doesn't work then the surgeon may think about doing an endoscopic facet rhizotomy, which is a minimally invasive procedure which requires a very small incision and a short recovery time.

The last spinal surgeon I saw was nearly three years ago and at that time 'endoscopic facet rhizotomy' was not being done but he felt that in about three years time, there would be a lot more keyhole type surgeries available for me. After my last surgery I said 'never again', but in hindsight you can't really say 'never' with new techniques being developed all the time. However, I'm not in any rush at this stage to go through more surgery.

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