Some surgeries are the result of trauma. Other patients are hoping the surgery will end their chronic back pain.
The unfortunate truth is, for many, the pain continues even after surgery.
A study published in Spine revealed that almost half of back surgery patients have post-surgery pain.
The study examined more than 700 patients who underwent surgery for lumbar fusion.
Use of painkillers increased after surgery for 41 percent of patients. After two years post-surgery, only 26 percent of patients had returned to work.
Of those patients, 27 percent had to have additional surgeries.
Revision spine surgery is common.
Surgery is always a risk. For some people, having additional surgeries to reverse effects of a previous surgery sounds like an unnecessary risk.
But if you’re living with excruciating back pain, it’s a risk worth taking. If you’re still not convinced, keep reading to learn 8 reasons why revision spine surgery may be for you.
1. You’re experiencing complications with hardware put in place during a previous surgery
Various hardware is used for some back surgeries. This is especially common in surgeries aimed at re-fusing the spine.
Screws may be put into place to apply pressure to the spine and promote fusion.
Like any piece of hardware, those used in back surgeries may fail from time to time. If they aren’t placed correctly, they may not aid with fusion, or they may cause discomfort for the patient.
In either case, surgery may be necessary.
Without effective hardware, it is unlikely that the initial surgery will be successful. Therefore, revision spinal surgery would be the only chance to treat the injury and reduce pain.
2. Your bones did not re-fuse post-surgery
While the risk of hardware failure can be a concern, without screw, clamps, or other devices some patients may not heal properly after surgery. Proper fusion between bones requires pressure. Hardware can assist with this.
If your spine doesn’t re-fuse after surgery, you may have needed extra pressure.
With revision spine surgery, hardware may be added to help promote fusion.
Without the surgery, healing is unlikely in this case. As a result, a patient may experience the same pain that existed before the initial surgery.
3. You didn’t follow post-surgery recommendations and a complication arose
Patients sometimes choose not to follow all post-surgery recommendations from their doctor. Doing so may render the initial surgery ineffective.
For instance, not resting following some back surgeries will prevent proper healing.
Even smoking or taking certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, after lumbar fusion surgery can cause your bones not to fuse properly.
4. You’re experiencing adjacent segment degeneration
Some patients never experience pain relief following a back surgery. Others don’t need revision spine surgery until several years later when the pain returns.
That is the case with patients who experience adjacent segment degeneration, or ASD.
ASD involves anatomical changes to the spine after surgery that cause pain.
Surgeons and experts aren’t sure whether ASD is the result of pre-existing conditions worsening or other causes.
This condition is most common after spinal fusion surgeries.
A patient could go two or more years with no pain before ASD occurs. When it does set it, it can be very painful. Revision spine surgery is often the only treatment option.
5. You’ve had a second disc herniation
When a patient undergoes surgery for a herniated disc, the surgeon will often remove onlypart of the damaged disc. Sometimes, the remaining part may herniate as well.
When this occurs, a revision spine surgery will be necessary. During surgery, the surgeon will remove the remaining damaged pieces of the disc. Until those parts are gone, pain will continue.
6. A preexisting problem has persisted or worsened post-surgery
Surgery for deformities such as scoliosis and kyphosis may be onlytemporary fixes.
Depending on the patient’s condition, an initial back surgery may only temporarily reduce pain or deterioration.
Non-surgical treatments may help reduce pain or keep a condition from worsening. But these treatments are not always enough.
Some patients may need surgeries every few years to keep up with the deterioration.
Additionally, conditions that cause poor bone quality may lead to deterioration and pain after surgery. Sometimes, revision spine surgery can reverse the effects these conditions have on treated areas.
7. You develop an infection or nerve pain after surgery
Infections are not uncommon following any kind of surgery. The causes for them vary, as do the complications that infections can cause.
If you develop an infection around a piece of hardware used for back surgery, a revision spine surgery might be necessary to remove or replace it.
Another complication that isn’t uncommon following back surgery is nerve pain.
Nerves may become compressed after an operation on the spine. In this case, the pain can be severe. Medications and other non-surgery treatments may reduce pain, but won’t fix the problem.
8. Your initial surgery wasn’t successful
Surgery for chronic pain isn’t always an exact science. Sometimes, surgery is performed on the wrong site. In this case, the patient still experiences pain.
A patient’s initial diagnosis could be wrong. Other times, the pain a patient is feeling is from several injuries or conditions. As a result, one surgery isn’t enough.
In either case, revision spine surgery may be necessary.
Are you a candidate for revision spine surgery?
There are many treatment options for back pain. Sometimes, pain can be treated by non-surgical techniques. Other times, the only effective way to treat conditions and reduce pain is through additional surgeries.
If you are experiencing any of the above complications, you may be a candidate for revision spine surgery.
If revision spine surgery is required, a minimally invasive procedure may be possible. Other times, however,a more complex surgery is necessary.