What is Failed Back or Neck Surgery Syndrome?

Failed back or neck surgery syndrome is exactly what it sounds like. When spinal stenosis, sciatica or other chronic back pain continues after an open spine procedure, the patient's condition is called failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) as the constant lower back pain has not been relieved. Failed neck surgery syndrome (FNSS) occurs when a patient continues to feel neck pain or arm pain following an open neck procedure. Many factors can contribute, such as an inaccurate diagnosis, surgical error or lack of surgical skill, removal of too much or too little of the disc and supporting ligaments, hardware failure, or a bone graft that fuses incorrectly.

FBSS or FNSS Symptoms

Common symptoms are chronic lower back pain, aching pains in the area of the previous surgery and sharp or stabbing pains in the extremities with no back pain relief. Physical symptoms are often coupled with emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

How is FBSS or FNSS Diagnosed?

First, it's important to seek the opinion of a board certified spine surgeon at a comprehensive spine center. Successful treatment from back pain relief due to a failed procedure must begin with an accurate diagnosis and full patient history to truly understand the origin and cause of the chronic back pain and why the original procedure failed.

FBSS or FNSS Treatment Options

If you suffer from a failed back or neck surgery syndrome, we want you to explore your options and not feel discouraged during this process of repair. The board certified physicians and staff at our comprehensive spine center are here to help you understand what went wrong and correct your condition.


Initially, and depending on the severity of your issue, Spine Centers of America would try to repair the failed procedure by recommending a conservative treatment that includes targeted exercise, physical therapy, spinal cord stimulation, and depending on the severity and level of constant lower back pain, an implantable morphine pump.  


The important thing to realize is that you have options, many patients can experience permanent back pain relief from a minimally invasive spine procedure called endoscopic facet rhizotomy. This treatment is low risk with s minimal recovery time. However, because it involves the spine, it is strongly recommended that a board certified spinal surgeon perform the procedure.  Every physician at our comprehensive spine center is a board certified spinal surgeon.

For additional information about this or other conditions, feel free to visit our spine educational videos page or contact us to speak with a spine specialist.