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Failed Back Syndrome (“Post-Laminectomy Syndrome”)

Failed back syndrome (FBS) refers to chronic back and/or leg pain that occurs after back (spinal) surgery. Multiple factors can contribute to the onset or development of FBS. Contributing factors include but are not limited to residual or recurrent disc herniation, persistent post-operative pressure on a spinal nerve, altered joint mobility, joint hypermobility with instability, scar tissue (fibrosis), depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and spinal muscular deconditioning.  An individual may be predisposed to the development of FBS due to systemic disorders such as diabetes, autoimmune disease and peripheral blood vessels (vascular) disease. Smoking is a risk for poor recovery from such an operation.


Common symptoms associated with FBS include diffuse, dull and aching pain involving the back and/or legs. Abnormal sensibility may include sharp, pricking, and stabbing pain in the extremities. Failed Back Syndrome should be evaluated and treated with an interdisciplinary approach with a group of healthcare professionals from varied fields working together toward a common goal for the patient. The therapeutic approach to FBS may range from non-surgical to surgical intervention. The term “post-laminectomy syndrome” is used by some doctors to indicate the same condition as failed back syndrome.  


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