Our Pain Management Blog


Symptoms of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. Back pain is such a common problem in the U.S. that some studies have estimated that we spend about the same amount each year for back surgeries as we do for cancer treatments!

While some back surgeries do resolve patients’ problems, that’s not always the case. In fact, continued pain after back surgery is so common that the medical professional has coined the phrase “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome,” or FBSS, and is a condition we see often at our pain clinic in Austin.

If you have undergone back surgery, but still suffer discomfort nonetheless, you could be experiencing FBSS. Here are a few symptoms to look for:

  • Significant, persistent pain in the back or leg(s) that cannot be completely relieved by medication or physiotherapy.
  • Tingling sensation and numbness in hands, legs, feet or arms.
  • Decreased mobility, including a limited range of motion in your back.
  • Weakness in legs and arms.
  • Depression and anxiety are often byproducts of the chronic pain brought about by FBSS. These conditions, in turn, can lead to abuse of alcohol or prescribed medications.

Although there is no absolute cure for FBSS – with the possible exception of additional surgery, which many patients are hesitant to do – there are ways to alleviate the pain associated with this condition. The first step is to obtain a diagnosis of the condition from your doctor. He or she will likely recommend x-rays, an MRI or a CT scan to assist in the diagnosis. Once you know you have FBSS, consider working with the trained professionals at a pain intervention center to discover how to alleviate the pain and other symptoms and return to a normal lifestyle.

For more information, continue reading here.


Back Pain Worsened By Smoking

After years of the media, schools, and other outlets expressing the dangers of smoking, most people would suggest that tobacco causes cancer and respiratory illnesses. Unfortunately, there is a large percentage of the population still unaware of how cigarettes impact back health.

It has long been known that tobacco use can increase the likelihood of back pain and disc disease. However, more recent research is even suggesting that the habit of smoking decreases the likelihood that a back pain patient will find relief.

Nearly every adult living in this country will see a medical professional regarding back pain at some point during his or her life. However, not all will suffer with that pain chronically. Those that light up each day are more likely to suffer long term. That also means the need for treatment continues. Unfortunately, for those entering programs as smokers, the chances of finding a method of alleviating the pain are much smaller.

More than five thousand patients were followed in the study that led to these findings. All had been diagnosed with back or leg pain due to a spinal disorder and would be treated via surgical and non-surgical methods over an eight month period. Those that had never started or who had managed to kick their tobacco habits reported less pain then those still toting packs of cigarettes.

There is actually good news to be found in this study if you are a smoker and back pain sufferer. Even those patients who quit the habit during the eight month span reported better levels of improvement than those who didn’t.

Quit now, and you could finally find relief from your chronic pain. For additional help treating chronic back pain, visit our website or call our clinic to schedule an appointment.

For more information about the study, continue reading here.


Scientists Working on Spinal Implants for Back Pain Sufferers

With millions of people reporting to doctor’s offices each year and billions of dollars being spent to ease the effects of ‘bad backs’, there is little wonder why scientists have placed so much emphasis on finding new and groundbreaking solutions.

The team led by Lawrence Bonassar, Ph.D. from Cornell University is no exception. However, this team may have just succeeded at creating something truly miraculous.

Bonassar and his team have developed artificial discs that could potential replace the bulging, ruptured, or otherwise damaged discs existing in a large percentage of chronic pain patients. The discs were engineered and tested in animals with great success and the hope is that this same procedure could prove useful for the millions who have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease or herniated discs.

Today, surgeons must rely on the practice of discectomy, whereby they remove the damaged disc and fuse the nearby vertebrae. Though effective, the surgery frequently leaves patients are often left with continued discomfort. Even if the pain is fully eliminated, the surgery can reduce mobility, making it a difficult decision for a person with an active lifestyle. Certain types of back surgery have a greater risk of resulting in failed back surgery syndrome, a condition we frequently treat at our clinic in Austin.

Using hydrogel and collagen, Bonassar’s team engineered discs that function in the same way that the natural discs would. By seeding the implants, they were able to encourage new tissue growth, which was actually seen to improve the spinal structure over time, as opposed to the implant experiencing degradation. Unlike other implants, these do not have the same risks of moving around in the body or depositing particles elsewhere from wear and tear.

This discovery holds great hope for a large population with back pain and possibly reduce the number of failed back surgery syndrome suffers. If you are interested in learning more about it, keep reading here


Back Pain Improvement Plateaus After 6 Weeks

Low back pain is a very common condition and one we treat often at our clinic. It impacts people of all ages, being particularly widespread in adults. A single injury can have long lasting impact on comfort levels and researchers have now exposed that fact. They are also making a call out to the financial backers of medical research, pointing to flaws in this area of research.

Opinions vary on the length of time required for the proper healing of low back pain, which takes many Americans and international citizens out of work each and every day. Researchers based in Australia and Brazil accumulated data from thirty-three previous studies. All together, this accounted for more than one hundred thousand patients.

Throughout those studies, there was a notable trend. Short term improvement was generally very favorable as patients gained great grounds within the first six weeks. This was often enough to get them back on the job and back to their day-to-day lives. However, improvement slowed at that point.

Residual discomfort was noted at one year for many acute low back pain patients, who reported an average of 90% progress when compared to the date of the initial injury. Less favorable results were seen in patients with more severe injuries who initially had symptoms common among moderate back pain sufferers. They saw a less impressive gain over the twelve month span, reporting just 50% improvement.

There is obviously a greater need for continued care, beyond the initial month and a half. This is particularly true for patients with persistent back pain. Furthermore, the researchers feel that the study of low back pain is not taken seriously enough. They vocalized their concerns that it is underfunded on an international level, despite the fact that there are millions of sufferers in the United States alone.

To continue reading about this study, visit the article here