Failed back surgery syndrome (also called FBSS, or failed back syndrome) can occur in 10-40% of people who undergo spinal surgery.
Although it is not actually a syndrome, as such, as it is just a term for a number of factors to describe the pain some patients have even after having surgery.
There is actually nothing else like this term ‘failed’, as in ‘failed knee surgery syndrome’. Failed back surgery syndrome is completely on its own.
Some factors which can cause failed back surgery are scar tissue which can form around the incision site, or an infection can occur (which did in my case) or that simply the actual technicalities of the operation were not successful.
Surgical operations are usually performed for spinal decompression and spinal fusion using cages, bone graft, bars and screws (which I have) and if a patient continues to have pain after the procedure, then the condition is then called ‘failed back surgery syndrome‘.
In my case my first spinal surgery was a fusion done some 30 years ago which simply wore out and so had to be repeated. The second surgery included a cage, bone graft, bars and screws but this surgery ended with a bad infection. This has since be classed as a FBSS.
The only options they can offer me now is conservative treatments like the injections I have and pain medication. Having further spinal surgery in my case is not an option any more even though there are a lot more successful keyhole procedures available now. In fact with today’s knowledge and technology people can recover from spinal surgery in a matter of weeks which when I had mine was months or longer.
As a result of the FBSS and other issues I was then also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and sometimes I find it hard to decipher if my symptoms are FBSS related or Fibromyalgia related, as they can be so similar.
Although when I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia it was not as well known as it is now, I still feel that there is an awful lot of help and knowledge available for Fibromyalgia but not for FBSS.