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Understanding Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) is a condition where patients continue to experience chronic pain following spinal surgery. This persistent pain can severely impact the quality of life, making it crucial to understand the underlying causes, symptoms, and available treatment options. In Dubai, Dr. Sharik is recognized as one of the leading chiropractors, offering specialized care to manage and resolve FBSS effectively.

What is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)?

FBSS refers to the condition where spinal surgery fails to achieve the desired outcome, resulting in ongoing or worsening pain. This syndrome can occur after various types of spinal surgeries, including discectomy, laminectomy, and spinal fusion. The pain can manifest in different forms and intensities, often leading to significant physical and emotional distress.

Causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Several factors contribute to the development of FBSS:

  1. Incorrect Diagnosis: The initial diagnosis might not accurately pinpoint the root cause of the pain, leading to ineffective surgical intervention.

  2. Surgical Complications: Issues such as nerve damage, scar tissue formation (epidural fibrosis), and spinal instability can arise post-surgery.

  3. Recurrent Disc Herniation: A previously operated disc may herniate again, causing similar or new pain symptoms.

  4. Adjacent Segment Disease: Degeneration of spinal segments adjacent to the surgically treated area can lead to new pain.

  5. Persistent Post-Surgical Pain: Some patients may experience chronic pain due to ongoing inflammation or nerve irritation.

  6. Inadequate Rehabilitation: Insufficient post-surgical rehabilitation can impede recovery and lead to FBSS.

Symptoms of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

The symptoms of FBSS can vary widely among patients, but common signs include:

  • Chronic Pain: Persistent pain in the back, neck, or legs that may resemble pre-surgical symptoms.

  • Radicular Pain: Pain radiating down the legs (sciatica) or arms, often accompanied by numbness or tingling.

  • Weakness: Muscle weakness in the affected limbs, impacting mobility and function.

  • Limited Mobility: Reduced range of motion and stiffness in the spine.

  • Emotional Distress: Chronic pain can lead to anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life.


Accurate diagnosis of FBSS is essential for effective management. Dr. Sharik employs a comprehensive approach, utilizing advanced diagnostic tools to identify the underlying cause of persistent pain:

  1. Medical History and Physical Examination: A thorough review of the patient's medical history, previous surgical records, and a detailed physical exam to assess pain patterns and neurological function.

  2. Imaging Tests:

    • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Provides detailed images of the spinal structures, highlighting any abnormalities or complications post-surgery.

    • CT Scans (Computed Tomography): Offers cross-sectional views of the spine to identify structural issues.

    • X-rays: Useful for assessing spinal alignment and hardware placement post-surgery.

  3. Electrodiagnostic Tests: Nerve conduction studies and electromyography (EMG) to evaluate nerve function and identify any nerve damage or compression.

Treatment Options for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Managing FBSS requires a multidisciplinary approach, combining various treatment modalities to address both the physical and emotional aspects of chronic pain. Dr. Sharik in Dubai offers a range of advanced treatment options tailored to each patient's unique needs.

Conservative Treatments
  1. Physical Therapy: Customized exercise programs to improve mobility, strengthen muscles, and alleviate pain. Techniques may include manual therapy, hydrotherapy, and therapeutic exercises.

  2. Medications:

    • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter or prescription medications to manage pain.

    • Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Reduce inflammation and associated pain.

    • Antidepressants: Used to treat chronic pain and associated emotional distress.

  3. Spinal Injections:

    • Epidural Steroid Injections: Deliver corticosteroids directly to the epidural space to reduce inflammation and pain.

    • Nerve Blocks: Anesthetic injections to block pain signals from specific nerves.

  4. Chiropractic Care: Dr. Sharik utilizes spinal adjustments, manual manipulation, and other chiropractic techniques to alleviate pain and improve spinal function.

  5. Acupuncture: An alternative therapy that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain and promote healing.

  6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Addresses the psychological aspects of chronic pain, helping patients develop coping strategies and improve their mental well-being.

Advanced Interventional Treatments
  1. Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS): Involves implanting a device that sends electrical impulses to the spinal cord to block pain signals from reaching the brain.

  2. Intrathecal Pain Pumps: Deliver pain medication directly to the spinal fluid, providing more effective pain relief with lower doses.

  3. Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: For some patients, minimally invasive procedures can address specific issues such as scar tissue removal or decompression of nerve roots.

Surgical Options

In cases where conservative and interventional treatments are ineffective, further surgery may be considered:

  1. Revision Surgery: Corrective surgery to address issues from the previous operation, such as hardware removal, decompression, or spinal fusion.

  2. Vertebral Augmentation: Procedures such as kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty to stabilize fractures and relieve pain.

  3. Artificial Disc Replacement: Replacing damaged discs with artificial ones to restore mobility and alleviate pain.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Successful management of FBSS involves a comprehensive rehabilitation program:

  1. Gradual Return to Activity: Patients are encouraged to gradually resume daily activities, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous tasks initially.

  2. Ongoing Physical Therapy: Continuous physical therapy to maintain mobility, strength, and function.

  3. Pain Management: Regular follow-ups with pain management specialists to adjust treatment plans as needed.


Preventive measures can reduce the risk of developing FBSS:

  1. Accurate Diagnosis: Ensuring a precise diagnosis before the initial surgery to address the correct underlying issue.

  2. Expert Surgical Technique: Choosing an experienced surgeon and appropriate surgical technique.

  3. Comprehensive Post-Surgical Rehabilitation: Following a structured rehabilitation program to support recovery.

  4. Lifestyle Modifications: Maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and proper posture to support spinal health.

Why Choose Dr. Sharik in Dubai?

Dr. Sharik is renowned for his expertise in chiropractic care and the management of spinal conditions, including FBSS. Patients in Dubai benefit from:

  • Expertise and Experience: Dr. Sharik has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating FBSS, employing advanced techniques and personalized care.

  • Comprehensive Care: A multidisciplinary approach that includes physical therapists, pain management specialists, and rehabilitation experts.

  • State-of-the-Art Facilities: Access to the latest diagnostic and therapeutic tools.

  • Patient-Centered Approach: Individualized treatment plans tailored to each patient's unique needs and condition.


Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is a complex condition that requires a thorough understanding and a comprehensive approach to treatment. With advanced medical facilities and the expertise of Dr. Sharik in Dubai, patients can achieve effective management and relief from chronic pain. By exploring the various treatment options and preventive measures, individuals can take proactive steps towards recovery and a better quality of life.

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