Failed back syndrome

Failed back syndrome


Failed back syndrome is a common term used to describe various conditions. It basically refers to all conditions when the patient did not benefit from back surgery. The patients either continue to experience symptoms he/she had prior to surgery or gets worse. The reason for failed surgery is multifactorial. Lumbar disc herniation may recur following the discectomy, or new disc herniation may develop at other locations. If screws are placed into the back they may loosen or even break. This condition is called a non-union. The patient may have an infection after the surgery which may cause additional problems.


The main symptom seen in patients with the failed back syndrome is back pain. The pain is usually chronic and significantly affects a person’s quality of life. Depression and other psychological problems may develop in severe cases. In some cases, with ongoing nerve compression pain radiates down the leg. Numbness, tingling, weakness in legs are also frequent symptoms. Sometimes patients might need assistance for daily activities.


Evaluation is the most important aspect of failed back syndrome treatment. Correct pinpointing the problem is key to success. In many cases, highly experienced specialists are required to find the failure reason and eliminate it. Revision surgery is frequently performed for the failed back syndrome. However, this type of surgery is complex and should be done by highly experienced surgeons.