Post laminectomy syndrome, also called failed back syndrome, is a syndrome characterized by persistent, chronic pain following back surgery. It is most commonly associated with laminectomy surgeries, a procedure that removes part of the vertebral bone. The goal of the surgery is to trim the lamina to widen the spinal canal. The procedure is often done on patients with spinal stenosis, and the goal is to relieve pressure on the nerves and create more room for the thecal sac. While some pain after surgery is common, post laminectomy syndrome is diagnosed when severe pain persists for several months following surgery, or more pain is experience following the surgery.
Causes of Post laminectomy Syndrome
There are several known causes for post laminectomy syndrome. Most commonly, those affected have found to be smokers. Smokers, for unknown reasons, are less likely to benefit from spinal surgeries. There may be a connection between smoking and failed back syndrome.
Nerve injury during or prior to surgery is also a known cause. When there is more space in the spinal canal, the nerves would normally rebound and expand and the pain would stop, however, if the nerve was compressed for a long period of time, chronic nerve damage may lead to pain even after surgery. Spinal stenosis may not be completely cured by spinal surgery and thus, surgery may continue even after a laminectomy.
Management and Treatment Options
In past years those suffering from failed back syndrome were most commonly treated with narcotics. Narcotics were used to help manage pain, specifically in those who were greatly debilitated by the pain. Electrical stimulation and additional surgeries have also been used to treat failed back syndrome.
Another, newer option is now available. Functional Disc Rehydration is a non-surgical and drug-free treatment for failed back syndrome. Through a series of different movements the spine is manipulated so the spine can rehydrate the gel that serves as its natural buffer. Physical therapy is also performed to help strengthen the spine and core muscles while the rehydration process is taking place. It’s a simple approach to making the back healthier without surgery, injections or medications.
Many of our patients at Illinois Back Institute have suffered from post laminectomy syndrome and were finally able to find relief through Functional Disc Rehydration. Like Don, he suffered from back pain for 20-30 years when he finally decided to go forward with surgery. After his surgery he said, “I went back to my back surgeon. He said another surgery. And I was like why another one when I haven’t even gotten better from this one?” Then he heard about us at the Illinois Back Institute and decided to give it a try. After completing treatment Don said, “I can’t even put it into words. It’s like my life was given back to me. It’s like when you have a life and it’s taken away and then it comes back to you. It’s wonderful! I wish I would of came her before I had surgery.”
Prognosis and Outcome
The prognosis and outcome for those suffering from failed back syndrome has previously not been great. Many people continue to experience chronic pain, to some degree, for years after spinal surgery. Narcotics and electrical stimulation has been shown to decrease some level of the pain experience but not forever. This is just masking the pain and can lead to addiction. Functional Disc Rehydration has shown promise, in recent studies, in relieving significant pain. Many back surgeries end up failing. Before putting yourself through that pain you might as well try the all-natural way! You owe it to yourself! You have nothing to lose but pain. For more about the Illinois Back Institute and how to set up a free consultation click here.