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.


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 After Surgery Could Be Faulty Implant

Are you suffering from back pain, even after receiving surgery to correct the issues that existed there?

This is not an uncommon complaint of back pain patients and one we hear often in our pain clinic. To find out more about how we treat failed back surgery syndrome at Interventional Pain Associates, click here.

However, now there is new hope for correcting the prolonged suffering.

It has been found that in many cases, pain after surgery is linked to malfunctioning hardware implants or bone grafts. With the use of PET scans and CT scans, Dr. Andrew Quon, assistant professor at Stanford University, was able to pinpoint to problem area in patients.

With the ability to detect the malfunctioning implant, doctors would be able to correct only what was absolutely necessary to improve the patients’ physical status.

The use of bone grafting and hardware implantation is not uncommon. They are used to improve spinal stability and to correct the damage of certain diseases. Twenty patients were followed in the prospective study. Each presented with spinal pain at least eight months after surgery. PET scans and CT scans discovered twenty-four bone or tissue abnormalities, occurring in seventeen of those patients. Twelve received exploratory surgery to correct the found problems. Another four patients elected to receive nerve blocks to numb the affected nerves.

It was determined that in at least eighty-five percent of the cases, the medical scans were highly effective in detecting the exact issue.

For more information on the study, you can read the full article at sciencedaily.com


New Report Aims to Remove Chronic Pain Treatment Barriers

For those who suffer with chronic pain, the statement that ‘pain is a major health problem in the U.S.’ seems a vast understatement. In fact, pain is the single most common complaint among emergency room visitors in America. But, there is good news for those who are troubled by it.

A report to Congress entitled ‘Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Treatment, and Research’ is the first step in a campaign to raise awareness of chronic pain and the effect it has on the lives of millions across the nation. This presentation was delivered by the Institute of Medicine.

In addition to the generalized purpose of promoting better health care for long term sufferers, it is also highlighting those treatments that have shown great promise in recent years. For instance, spinal cord stimulation, or SCS, was noted as an excellent option. The goal is to continue to improve methods like these and break down barriers existing for the patients who only want to feel relief. SCS has been shown to have dramatic effects on chronic pain in the lower back and limbs, including that caused by Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.

The hope that is wrapped up in this thorough report is for a day when all pain sufferers are able to receive the help they need and that doctors in the field will continue to receive up-to-date briefing on all available research and strategies, so the very best map of care can be laid out.

For more information on what was presented and about Boston Scientific’s SCS system, visit the full report.

To find out how Interventional Pain Associates can help relieve your chronic pain, please visit our website by clicking here.