• Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

    Nearly 600,000 people undergo back surgery in the United States annually.  Many are relieved of symptoms, but some continue to have pain despite the surgery.  Some pain is more severe than before surgery.  When a back surgery results in continued pain, the condition is termed “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)”, or has often been referred to as Post Laminectomy Syndrome.  The American Chronic Pain Association describes Failed Back Surgery Syndrome as a “generalized term that is often used to describe the condition of patients who have not had a successful result with back surgery or spine surgery.”  Medical studies have shown that individuals who suffer from failed back surgery syndrome are showing up in clinicians’ offices in increasing number.

    What causes this syndrome in the first place?

    Spinal surgery is complicated and extremely detailed so there are many reasons and factors that weigh into leaving a patient suffering from FBSS.  One is the original procedure was effective in removing the anatomical lesion seen on a MRI, but this lesion was not the source of the pain.   Scar tissue is well known for causing pain after surgery, and scar tissue can begin to develop at the sight of surgery leaving the patient with increased pain.

    Other causes are often a mix of persistent nerve pain, muscular pain and recurrent disc herniations.


    What are the symptoms of FBSS?

    • Dull, ache in your back or legs
    • “Stabbing” or “pricking” pain in your legs or arms
    • Numbness, tingling, loss of sensation or burning


    What treatments are available for FBSS? 

    NewLife Medical Group in Jackson, TN, serving Nashville, TN, offers many treatments to their patients.  Doctor Roy Schmidt weekly assesses and treats patients who have lived with chronic pain for years as a result of FBSS.

    • Epidural Steroid Injection– ESI are performed to decrease inflammation around irritated nerves or muscles to help relieve pain.
    • Radiofrequency Ablation – The procedure uses radiofrequency energy (a type of heat) to stun the nerves. This procedure can provide pain relief for up to 6- 12 months.
    • Prolotherapy – Prolotherapy involves injecting a solution such as dextrose into the body to strengthen weakened tissue and thus alleviating pain.
    • Plasma Rich Protein injections (PRP) – PRP therapy is an approach to promote and stimulate healing from a tissue or bone injury using a patient’s own cells.
    • Spinal Cord Stimulation – SCS is a very successful treatment option for FBSS. This device places a lead or leads with small electrical contact points close to a nerve.  The device then stimulates them in a therapeutic fashion “covering over” the pain.   One of the benefits of this option is a patient can “try out” a SCS using an external trial for 5-7 days to determine if this is an effective pain reliever for them.    The benefits of SCS is it is widely effective and very safe.  Patients are usually able to reduce the oral pain medication and their associated side effects.  One last benefit is SCS can be programmable to fit a specific patient’s needs.


    New Life Medical Group in Jackson, TN, serving Nashville, TN, will design the best possible treatment plan to help eliminate as much pain as possible, resulting in a better quality of life.  A combination of treatment is usually required to achieve the best possible outcome, and this treatment usually allows patients to get their life back.




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