Failed Back or Neck Surgery Syndrome

Failed back or neck surgery syndrome occurs when a patient has not had a successful result from surgery, and is continuing to experience pain. We offer comprehensive treatment options to address your ongoing pain and restore your quality of life.

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Failed Back and Neck Surgery Syndrome

People with F.B.S.S are typically experiencing the same symptoms that they had prior to surgery with either no improvement or increased pain. With F.B.S.S. this pain is often in your back, neck, arms and legs. 

If you believe that you are suffering from failed back or neck surgery syndrome, our pain specialists can help evaluate your pain symptoms in order to accurately diagnose the cause.

Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we will work with you to create a treatment plan that comprehensively addresses the root cause your pain so you can start feeling better as soon as possible. 

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What Is Failed Back or Neck Surgery Syndrome?

Failed back and neck surgeries can create a different condition, “failed back/neck syndrome.” When the patient has not had a successful result from the surgery and is continuing to experience pain, the patient begins experiencing this syndrome. When necessary, spine surgery is performed to eliminate chronic back pain or pain in the extremities.

Most people have a successful surgery and go on to have few to no issues again afterward. Unfortunately though, in some cases, the level of pain does not improve, but may even increase. While there is a relatively high success rate of back and neck surgeries, it is estimated that there is a 5% to 25% failure rate. 

There are many factors that contribute to the surgery being unsuccessful, such as smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, poorly performed surgery, and/or non-adherence to post-surgical instructions. But each patient is different, and each surgery is unique. We can help establish the basis for the continued pain and help you determine the best route forward. 

For the best results, it is important to understand the root cause of the pain in order to treat it appropriately. Other issues that can be contributing to continued pain are repeated disc herniation, adjacent level disc breakdown, proximal junctional kyphosis, fracture at a fusion, epidural hematoma, spinal fluid leak, instrumentation failure, and pseudarthrosis. A comprehensive exam will establish what the leading issue is and reveal the best course of treatment to correct the problem.

Types of Failed Back/Neck Surgery Syndrome

There are multiple types of back and neck surgery and some of the most common types of failed back/neck surgery and possible complications are: 

Adjacent Segment Disease:

A spinal disorder that can result after spinal fusion. While it can develop due to the natural degeneration of the spine with aging, it is mainly known as a complication of spinal fusion, which is also performed more as people age. If the spinal fusion was in the lumbar spine or lower back then that person may feel lower back pain, pain that radiates from the lower back into one or both legs/feet, neurological symptoms (tingling, numbness, or weakness), and pain while walking or difficulty getting up. If the surgery was in the cervical spine or neck then that person may feel neck pain, pain that radiates from the neck into the shoulders and arms/hands, and neurological symptoms (tingling, numbness, or weakness). 

Failed Artificial Disc Neck Surgery: 

Artificial disc replacement surgery can often be the course of treatment for severe disc herniation. Herniated discs by themselves do not usually cause pain, but they can cause compressed nerves when they bulge and press against the nerve. This can lead to chronic pain and an artificial disc is meant to correct this problem, but it can fail for several reasons. The artificial disc may cause a bone fracture to an already weak spine, or it may not have been made correctly or be the best fit for your spine, or it can make the bone in the spine erode and result in a misalignment with the vertebrae.  

Failed Laminectomy Surgery:

A laminectomy is meant to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. During the procedure, the surgeon will make an incision on the back of the neck to remove a piece of bone on the back of the vertebrae, known as the lamina. While this can create more space in the spine to relieve that pressure, it can also make the spine less stable or possibly injure the nerves. 

Failed Laminoplasty Surgery:

An alternative to a laminectomy, it is meant to also relieve pressure to the spinal cord or nerves. Instead of cutting away the lamina, the doctor cuts it in a way to create a door-like hinge and inserts an implant to hold it in place. When this type of surgery fails it is often because the implants to hold the “door” in place did not work, there were progressive degenerative changes to the bone, and there was not enough decompression to be considered a success. 

Failed Spinal Fusion: 

Spinal fusions are one of the most common types of surgery for back and neck pain relief. During a spinal fusion, a surgeon removes the spinal disc between two or more vertebrae, then fuses the vertebrae with bone grafts or metal devices with screws in order to create a single, stable piece of bone. Spinal fusion is used to treat a wide range of issues that lead to chronic pain including degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, fractured vertebrae, infection, herniated discs, and tumors. Spinal fusion can lead to a loss of flexibility and can fail if the bone grafts or metal are not enough to hold the spine while it fuses and heals. 

Failed Spinal Implant Surgery:

There are many types of spinal hardware that are implanted to correct issues with the spine that cause chronic neck and back pain. Spinal implants are meant to offer support to the spine or replace parts that may be too worn away from age or degenerative disease. Spinal implants can fail due to the actual hardware eroding or breaking, fractures occurring in the bones of the spine, the implant dislodging or not being properly placed, or the implant is not the appropriate choice for that particular patient. 


Those who have had a failed back or neck surgery generally continue to experience the same symptoms they had before surgery. Usually, they do not see any improvements in their pain, and some people actually experience worse pain immediately post-surgery, or that sets in within a short time after surgery. This pain will occur in the neck or mid/lower back area and can extend into the arms and legs. Numbness and tingling are possible symptoms, as well, and should also be addressed to attempt to restore the full range of feeling in the affected areas.  


Our providers are board certified, and are dedicated to giving you a comprehensive exam that will aid in diagnosing the cause of your symptoms. Using advanced diagnostic techniques, our doctors will find out the reason for your pain, and then get you on the road to better health right away. 

Here are a few steps our physicians use when completing their comprehensive exams:

  • We take your medical history.
  • We conduct a thorough physical exam.
  • We carefully analyze your symptoms.
  • We may order diagnostic tests, including x-ray, MRI, and nerve conduction studies, to help us diagnose your chronic pain.

Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we will work together with you to create a treatment plan that will be successful for your chronic pain.


We offer many different treatments to address the pain caused by failed back or neck surgery. Treatments include:

To learn more about treatment options for failed back and neck surgery syndrome, give the professionals at Pain & Spine Specialists a call. We’ll schedule you a consultation so you can learn more and start your path to recovery.

Failed Back and Neck Surgery Specialists

At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team pain specialists are committed to giving you the most effective treatment when treating your pain. We believe that all patients should have access to exceptional care. 

Our Providers

At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team of physicians and nurse practitioners are committed to giving you the most effective treatment when treating your pain. We believe that all patients should have access to quality care, and that is why you can find us conveniently located throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

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Our Providers

At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team of physicians and nurse practitioners are committed to giving you the most effective treatment when treating your pain. We believe that all patients should have access to quality care, and that is why you can find us conveniently located throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

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Please note: We accept Workers Compensation Insurance and Personal Injury Patients 

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