Life After Failed Back Surgery

Life After Failed Back Surgery

When you have back surgery, it's natural to expect the procedure to take care of the underlying problem and relieve your pain. Unfortunately, not all back surgeries succeed. Those patients find themselves with a condition known as failed back syndrome. 

At Integrated Spine and Pain Services in Falls Church and Alexandria, Virginia, our board-certified provider Daniel Kline, MD, and the team understand the frustration and disappointment of failed back surgery. We're committed to helping you navigate life after a less-than-successful procedure.

Take a moment to learn about failed back syndrome and your options for reclaiming your quality of life.

About failed back syndrome

Failed back syndrome describes chronic pain and discomfort after back surgery. It's not necessarily a failure by the surgeon or the procedure. 

Different factors outside your surgeon's control can lead to failed back syndrome, like scar tissue formation, nerve damage, incomplete healing, or underlying issues that surgery didn't address. 

Signs of failed back syndrome include:

Your Integrated Spine and Pain Services provider carefully reviews your medical history and current symptoms to determine why you're experiencing these symptoms after surgery. We recommend waiting at least three months after surgery for an evaluation.

Living with failed back syndrome

While your initial response to failed back surgery might be to consider another surgical procedure, the success rate of repeat surgeries tends to be lower. In addition, each additional surgery can create more scar tissue and potentially cause more complications. 

For this reason, living with failed back syndrome means it’s often better to explore nonsurgical treatments and minimally invasive procedures that can address continued back pain without the risks associated with more extensive surgeries.

Here are some ways you can live and thrive after failed back surgery:

Activity changes

Modifying daily activities, ergonomic improvements, and lifestyle changes can significantly reduce pain and improve overall spine health.

Physical therapy

Tailored physical therapy programs help strengthen muscles and increase flexibility, which can lead to better pain management and recovery.


Different medications, such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or pain relievers, may be prescribed to manage pain.

Minimally invasive procedures

Nonsurgical procedures like epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulators can be excellent ways to manage pain without additional surgery.

The importance of a comprehensive approach

At Integrated Spine and Pain Services, Dr. Kline and the team comprehensively treat failed back syndrome. By evaluating the root cause of your ongoing pain and considering your overall health, we create a personalized treatment plan that doesn't just focus on relieving symptoms but aims for long-term recovery and well-being.

Life after failed back surgery doesn't have to be a never-ending cycle of pain and disappointment. With the right care and guidance, effective solutions without repeated surgeries are available.

If you're struggling with persistent pain after back surgery, let Dr. Kline and the Integrated Spine and Pain Services team help you find the path to a more comfortable life. Schedule an appointment at our Northern Virginia location nearest you. 

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