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dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
edited 03/16/2014 - 5:15 PM in Chronic Pain
We here all to much about this, especially recently. But you really have to look and understand what this all means. So many times it is being used as a catchall or a means to explain why are patient isnt doing great after surgery.

By pure definition, it means refers to chronic back and/or leg pain that occurs after back (spinal) surgery,.

But if you break down case by case, that is not always the case.

For example, you have lumbar surgery on Day 1, then Day 45 into it, you are still having some pains and discomfort, so you can say it was a failed back surgery! However, in many cases, its just a matter of how long it takes to recovery from spinal surgery.

People expect that after they have spinal surgery everything is going to be great, no more pain, no more sleepless nights, nothing, but plain joy. And when that doesn't happen, its coined failed spinal surgery. Talking with others, they think these term will help them in a legal case against their doctor. I've been dealing with chronic pain for over 35 years now, have had so many doctor appointments, I have personally talked with surgeons, doctors, etc over the years and never until recently has this Failed Back Surgery Syndrome be talked about as frequently as it has.

There are times when in fact FBSS {failed back surgery syndrome) is valid. But those are the cases that are reviewed by the surgeon and perhaps another set of eyes to understand what actually happened.

The United States and Holland have the most reported spinal surgeries. And at the same time, they have the lowest amount of post surgical problems that are out of the ordinary

Should I say that I had my first lumbar surgery in 1978 and I still needed 3 other lumbar surgeries over the next 15 or so years, so they were Failed back surgeries? I dont think so Start to read some of the medical attorney journals and you will see that stating a failed back surgery could be one justification for a legal matter.

I may be so different, but I always channel my efforts into the successful stories. Sure there will be some that are not that good, but there are thousands of people today that can do so much more because of the various spinal surgery they had.

Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com


  • ron
    had my first fusion 13 years ago and it went fine except for some pain.. they wanted to wait 2 years and remove the metal to help but the pain was not really bad. i could move and play tennis and walk. then the first fusion made the disc above it unstable and i had to have another fusion. was that failed NO. then i had to go to a conference too soon after. i told the district that it was too soon but i went anyway due to guilt on my part. this move i think made my disc above it break. failed back surgery NO. then i had another fusion about 2 years ago to correct. so none were failed eventhough my back is worse now it is probably due to the excessive surgeries i have had scar tissue and whatever else. you are correct, only a doctor can rule if it is failed. pain and lack of motion after back is common so people who complain of pain or whatever after
    back surgery are incorrect . doctors have to reassess the back due more tests such as mri to reaccess if it is failed. even then that is a questionable call. what does failed mean. there are all sorts of issues including pain after. i have had chronic pain 13 years but never considered it failed and neither have my doctors. people have to quit using this catch all phrase. it is like with special ed. dyslexia is a rare form of disabillity very rare but it is a phrase people use to say they have trouble reading. one had to go through a whole battery of tests to state what you learning disability is. this is the same with failed back syndrome
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • pandqmamappandqmama Posts: 175
    edited 03/16/2014 - 6:33 PM
    I didn't give myself this diagnosis, my doctor did. From my understanding because between the two surgeries, there were some decisions that should have been made differently. My doctor also explained it as after having the damage done and because there was a longer amount of time before (the second) surgery my spinal cord and brain continued on to relay that pain message. That is also why the spinal cord stimulator works so well for me, the electrical current on my spinal cord confuses this message.

  • pandqmamappandqmama Posts: 175
    edited 03/16/2014 - 6:40 PM
    Is what it is titled as in my medical files
  • terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
    edited 03/17/2014 - 2:26 AM
    another term that is over and miss used is back pain and sciatica. to be honest, i never really had back pain per se. my pain mostly was sciatic pain. i first had so called back pain while running where i had a pain in my lower back which went away and reoccured when playing tennis, but it went away. when i first noticed something wrong was when i tried to walk and i could not due to leg not back pain, but pain in my right butt cheek down to my right knee. then my right foot was numb. i never had back pain again until afterwards. sciatic pain is not back pain but pain and numbness that goes from the rear end down the leg and not the whole leg a lot of times. it affected my right leg, not my back. after my third fusion, could i say i developed back pain. now my pain sometimes,and operating word is sometimes in my middle back. but most of the pain is still in my butt cheek down my right leg to my knee. i believe the majority of times true sciatic pain is not the whole leg just part of it. it generally does not go down the whole leg but part of the leg, at least in my case. it is not constant as some people complain, it goes from light pain to heavy and never never constant. i believe that is the case and when people complain of constant back pain, i take thought in that and so do doctors. when evaluating people, they listen to complaints about back pain also how far the numbness goes in the leg. rarely is the whole leg numb. i am sure there will be posts and accusations here that will say will i had continual back pain and my pain and numbness go down my whole leg. my pain doctor takes issue with that also. that is why they ask specific questions about pain, where and how. i don't care if others take offense with my statements, i just know in my case and with my back doctor. this is why we have breakthrough pain meds for when the pain gets worse. i never never never had have continual pain and back pain or sciatic pain does not really affect the back. it is from pressure from the disc that impinges the sciatic nerve not the back
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • This has been in the back of my mind since I first read this statement here. I would describe sciatic pain in a very similar way to Jon. I have different pains that I've identified over the years. The deep pain at the base of my spine that goes out to my hips is always there. I consider my pain reasonably well controlled but I can honestly say I have never had a pain free moment in over 4 years regardless of medications & other aspects of my blend.

    I'm not being argumentative. I'm honestly concerned. I mentioned this to my doctor & he simply said we're all different with a variety of conditions & mentioned my bone-on-bone state at the base of my spine.

    Am I understanding correctly.. Are you saying that even if you were not medicated you would have pain free times? Are these moments in the day or do you have whole days without any pain? Do you mean that with your blend there are times that you don't notice your pain or that the pain isn't there at all?

    Is everyone else the same? Can you all honestly say that your pain isn't constant? I thought that we were all in pain all the time. I thought that's what chronic pain is?

    (sorry if I've got the wrong end of the stick..it's one of 'those' days)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 03/17/2014 - 5:54 AM
    Sorry. Are you just talking about sciatic pain not being constant? That's my experience. The shooting, blinding pain that hits different parts of my leg comes & goes & is very intermittent.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • i am never pain free. i have times when it is less or more depending on the time of day, work, or whatever is going on. It is always there but sometimes it is a 7-8 pain and other times a 4-5 pain or whatever. sciatica never is constant. it comes and goes. when i first had it there would be days i did not suffer leg pain. as time came and went, my leg pain got worse and worse. it was not all of the time but when it flaired up it was so bad that i had to stop the car on the freeway due to leg pain. i could not get into the car due to the pain and walking to my car at work was problematic. another guy i workded with had sciatic pain also and both of us would be hobbling to our classes. he never had or wanted surgery even though his wife begged him. he was an x-green beret from vietnam war so he would never acknowledge his pain even though he took pain meds. one day he stopped cold turkey and he said he never had a problem with withdrawal from his meds. i believed him because he was honest and never lied. sadly though he died of a heart attack about 10 years ago, a few months after his retirement.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Thanks so much Jon. Like you, my pain is constant but my leg pain comes & goes over the years. The worst being after my fall when I couldn't feel the ground at all. Fingers crossed..I've always been able to manage it pretty well & get the pain back up into my bum (sometimes without injections) after a few days or weeks.

    Growing up my Grandad was my best friend. He took me on vacation every summer & played all the kids games. It never once occurred to me that he must be in terrible pain. He was bent & twisted by time & carried the scars of war both physically & mentally. Those guys were cut from a different cloth. He always said that I was his second chance..he was away in Europe WW2 when my Mum was growing up..he wasn't going to miss a moment with me. I miss him everyday.
    Every Rememberance day in Europe there are less & less of those men marching. It's very sad. 'Unless we forget' that generation paid dearly for all we take for granted.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • I have had a 3 level fusion in my neck in 2009, All it really did was make me taller.
    now if you look at the before and after Xrays they did amazing work in my neck. But it didnt really help at all with the pain. My nerves were so crushed from the discs that I may never recover from it. I am still in major pain 24/7. Was that a failed surgery? I don't think so. I just think I was beyond help for that to work.

    Since then I have had a spinal cord stimulatior installed in my neck. Two paddles, one on each side. And that doesn't really do much at all. The trial worked better that the actual unit. I don't want to remove it because I do think it helps a little bit. It is hard to tell. SO now I have the Stimulator, The fusion, And all my pain meds and I don't know if I am any better off now than I would have been without the surgery.
    All good things in all good time.
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