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Causes and treatment for back pain after surgery

Montana patients who have undergone back surgery might have heard about Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, which refers to new or ongoing pain following spinal surgery. FBSS also applies to persistent pain in a person’s arm or neck after neck surgery. The term does not necessarily imply that there were mistakes made during the procedure, however.

For some people, this pain could reduce, although it is always present. For others, it could get worse, which is a sign that there is excessive scar tissue surrounding spinal nerve roots. Some patients may also experience muscle spasms, restricted mobility, numbness, anxiety, sleeplessness and sharp, stabbing pain.

There are two main causes for chronic pain following a major back operation. One may be a misdiagnosis or because of an incomplete physical evaluation prior to the surgery. In both these cases, those who are not good candidates for spine surgery may end up with new symptoms. The second cause for the pain may be because the surgery was incorrectly performed. Other causes of FBSS include a bone graft rejection, postoperative infection and a fusion hardware failure.

Treatment for FBSS most likely begins with patient undergoing x-rays, MRI or CT scans. Pain management can include medications, such as anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, short-term use of opioids, epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks and trigger point injections. Some FBSS patients may also be advised to have transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation treatments or visit a chiropractor or physical therapist.

Performing surgery on a patient who is not a good candidate for the procedure could in some cases constitute medical malpractice. An attorney will have to determine whether the choice represented a failure to abide by the requisite standard of care.

Source: The Valley Patriot, “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome – THE DOCTOR IS IN!”, Dr. Rami Rustum, Nov. 30, 2016

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