Failed Back or Neck Surgery - When Back Surgery Fails You

Failed Back or Neck Surgery - When Back Surgery Fails You
December 20, 2013

Failed back or neck surgery, often called post-laminectomy syndrome, can sometime be the unfortunate result of a laminectomy procedure or other spinal surgery

What exactly is a laminectomy?

A lamina is part of the bony arch of the vertebra that protects the spinal cord from damage. When spinal material (for example a herniated disc, bone spur, or disc fragment) puts pressure on the spinal nerves, it can cause back pain that radiates down the lower leg, along with other symptoms. Patients experiencing such symptoms may be offered a surgical solution called a laminectomy. During a laminectomy the surgeon removes the lamina and any associated bone spurs, relieving pressure on the nerves by giving them more space within the spinal column.

What is failed back or neck surgery or post-laminectomy syndrome?

Post-laminectomy syndrome, also known as ‘failed back syndrome’ describes a variety of chronic pain symptoms experienced after undergoing a laminectomy or other spinal procedure.

So what spine surgeries to fail? Well, there are several possible explanations, including:

  • Scar tissue or excessive inflammation that occurred during healing
  • Residual disc herniation
  • A recovery process that had created undue stress on another weakened portion of the spine
  • Improper fusion after a spinal fusion surgery
  • An error in proper diagnosis
  • A decompression that was inadequate
  • Misaligned spine hardware
  • Incomplete removal of the lamina and its fragments
  • Infection in the disc space
  • Surgery occurred at a less than optimal location for the treatment
  • Nerve damage

What are some symptoms of failed back or neck syndrome?

Symptoms may include back or leg pain after surgery that is dull, aching and non-specific, sharp stabbing pain or the return of the similar pre-operative symptoms. There may also be tingling, numbness and muscle weakness or unusual and heightened sensitivity to things that would not normally cause pain.

It is also important to consider the emotional impact that a failed surgery can have on sufferers. Undergoing back surgery is rarely a decision patients take lightly or rush into, so when symptoms still exist afterwards, the disappointment can be devastating. Patients are often left feeling helpless and alone because of the continual pain and restriction to their daily activities. Understandably, a failed back or neck surgery can worsen pre-existing mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

What treatments are available?

Because of large number of potential causes and symptoms associated with failed back surgery or post-laminectomy syndrome, it is important to see a back specialist as soon as possible so you can obtain an accurate diagnosis and create an effective treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.

Treatment options may include anti-inflammatory medications, pain medications, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, facet joint injections, spinal cord stimulation and in some cases surgical intervention.

At Atlantic Spine Center, we can help identify the right treatment options for you. We can offer a range of often minimally invasive procedures that could have maximum impact on your life. A failed neck surgery or a failed back surgery can seriously affect patients’ long-term physical and mental health. However, with a correct diagnosis and proper treatment, pain can often be eliminated or very well managed. So when all else ‘fails’ – speak to Atlantic Spine Center.