Failed Back Syndrome Specialist

Integrated Spine and Pain Services

Interventional Pain Management Specialists located in Falls Church, VA & Northern Virginia, Alexandria, VA

If you still have back pain after spine surgery, it’s called failed back syndrome. Up to 40% of adults who have a lumbar laminectomy or discectomy experience failed back syndrome, so you’re not alone if your pain returns after back surgery. At Integrated Spine and Pain Services in Alexandria, Falls Church, Virginia, Diana Lam, PA-C, and Addison Lindberg, MS, PA-C, offer customized relief for persistent back pain. Even when surgery fails, there are innovative treatments that can help. Call one of the offices or use the online scheduler to get help today.

Failed Back Syndrome Q & A

What is failed back syndrome?

Failed back syndrome, sometimes called failed back surgery syndrome, means that you had back surgery and didn't get the expected pain relief. 

For some, the pain simply continues the same as before following a surgery. Others experience a short respite before pain returns. 

What causes failed back syndrome?

There are many possible reasons for failed back syndrome, including:


  • The area treated isn't the root cause of pain
  • Recurrent disc herniation
  • Recurrent spinal stenosis
  • Inadequate nerve root decompression
  • Incomplete healing after spinal fusion
  • Continued spinal degeneration above or below the surgical site


There may be other causes, as well. At Integrated Spine and Pain Services, the team carefully reviews your case to determine the exact reason for your continued pain after surgery so they can design the best recovery plan for you. 

How do you diagnose failed back syndrome?

It takes at least three months to see the full results of back surgery. If you have persistent pain three months or more after your back surgery, the team can perform a thorough exam to diagnose you with failed back syndrome. 

The diagnostic process involves a physical exam, during which your providers observe your spine both still and in motion. They may conduct a neurological exam to check for nerve damage, which can cause both pain and other symptoms like tingling and weakness. 

During your evaluation, you may need imaging tests like X-rays, an MRI, CT scans, or bone scans to look for slipped discs, fractures, displaced vertebrae, and other changes that could cause back pain following surgery. 

How do you treat failed back syndrome?

Another corrective surgery may seem like the simple solution. But with every successive back surgery you have, the success rates plummet. For a second back surgery, the chance of success is only about 50%. The success rate dips to 5% by the time you have a fourth back surgery. 

The low success rate for repeat surgery means that nonsurgical treatments and minimally invasive procedures are often a much better solution for continued back pain. Your back pain relief plan may include activity changes, physical therapy, and medication. 

Additionally, the team may recommend powerful pain relief procedures like injections, a spinal cord stimulator, or radiofrequency ablation to relieve your pain while avoiding another surgery.

Call Integrated Spine and Pain Services or click on the appointment scheduler to book your failed back syndrome consultation today.