How Physiotherapy Can Help Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a post-operative complication for up to 40% of people who have lower spinal surgery designed to correct a range of conditions. If the outcome of your back surgery doesn’t meet your own or your surgeon’s expectations for pain relief and increased mobility you may be diagnosed with FBSS.
What are the symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome?
Chronic pain in your back and or legs is the most common symptom. Some of our FBSS clients report that their pain improved immediately after surgery but returned after a short while. Other clients tell us their symptoms never improved and the pain worsened after surgery. Some clients find their symptoms move between their back and their legs.
Why does back surgery fail?
Back surgery can fail for a number of reasons. Sometimes the surgery may have been technically correct but the diagnosis driving it was not. Sometimes the surgery itself can cause complications. Other times the underlying problem of wear and tear and spinal degeneration including bulging discs and trapped nerves spread to other areas of your spine.
As Justin Lin, our Senior Spine Consultant explains here, the causes of back pain and sciatica are complex. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to simply cut out your pain. One of the largest causes of FBSS is that the surgically removed anatomical lesion that showed up on your X- rays and MRIs wasn’t actually the source of the problem.
While surgery may change the anatomy of your back, it does not alter what may have
been the root cause of the back pain or sciatica. There are many possibilities here including flexibility and movement issues, dysfunctional hip joints, or being overweight.
Physiotherapy as a failed back surgery syndrome treatment
Our spinal consultants are trained to look beyond X-Rays and MRIs to target the diverse sources of your ongoing post-operative pain and other symptoms. After surgery, your body will move differently. After spinal fusion surgery, for example, your body may overload and overstress joints and muscles adjacent to your unfused, mobile vertebra. Physiotherapy may help you to rebalance and strengthen your body to adapt to these and other changes.
Our comprehensive Care Pathway is designed to give you rehabilitation plan that addresses all of the consequences of FBSS including:
- managing pain and reducing inflammation
- improving and restoring mobility and flexibility
- rebuilding strength and endurance
- correcting your posture
Your customised FBSS rehabilitation program may include some or all of the following therapies:
Is physiotherapy a back surgery alternative?
Back surgery may be the appropriate treatment option in some cases. However, there is growing evidence to support non-invasive treatments.
If you are considering spinal surgery, there may be some things your spinal surgeon hasn’t told you. Furthermore, if you would like to discuss non-invasive treatment options with one of our spinal consultants, our second opinion consultation may help you make a fully informed decision.