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APM Spine & Sports Physicians

Post-Laminectomy Syndrome (Post-Surgical Pain or Failed Back Syndrome)

What is it?

Recurring pain in the back or legs is a fairly common occurrence for patients who have had spinal surgery. This condition is known as Post-Laminectomy Syndrome (Failed Back Syndrome). The term “Failed Back” is a misnomer, as it is used to describe a surgery that did not have the desired results from the back or spine surgery, and pain persists.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can include dull and aching pain in the back and/or legs as well as stabbing pain in the feet. The pain can be persistent, severe, and debilitating.

What factors contribute to the condition?

  • Recurring disc herniation (bulging)
  • Retained disc fragments
  • Incomplete decompression of disc
  • Persistent pressure on nerves
  • Joint instability or changed joint mobility
  • Scar tissue
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Weakness in muscles that support the spine
  • Depression and/or anxiety

How is the syndrome diagnosed?

A variety of state-of-the-art techniques, along with an interdisciplinary approach, have proven effective in diagnosing, managing, or eliminating post-operative pain.

First we conduct a comprehensive examination. Then we may recommend diagnostic studies to help us pinpoint the source of the pain. These can include MRIs, X-rays, nerve conduction studies, and diagnostic spinal injections that are done under fluoroscopy.

How is the syndrome treated?

The syndrome should be treated with an interdisciplinary approach working toward a common goal for the patient. This therapeutic approach could range from non-surgical to surgical intervention.

Therapeutic techniques that have proven effective include:

Treatment of Post-Laminectomy Syndrome requires a comprehensive evaluation of the causative factors and effects on the patient’s function. Utilizing all of the diagnostic tools that are available and our expertise in providing the care, as well as patient education, we strive to assist our patients in achieving the best possible outcome that will lead to improved function as well as improved quality of life.