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Around 70-90 percent of spinal surgery patients will experience significant pain relief. Failed back surgery syndrome is a term used to describe when patients have had back surgery but still experience pain. In these cases, the pain is never relieved or it only goes away temporarily. 


Symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome may depend on the back pain and the type of surgery.

The following are symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome:

  • Shooting, stabbing, and throbbing pains at the surgery site
  • Pain above, or below the initial surgery site
  • Chronic back pain after the surgery
  • Lack of recovery
  • Limited range of motion
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and legs


Back surgery is performed to change the anatomy of the source of the back pain. 

The common causes of failed back surgery include:

  • Improper surgical technique
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Nerve impingement
  • Scar tissue around the nerve root
  • Nerve damage from the back surgery
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