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Alternatives to Repeat Back Surgery

Alternatives to Repeat Back Surgery

Making the choice to undergo back surgery is a big decision. Any spinal surgery has some level of risk – and usually, an extended recovery time. Of course, some people with disabling back pain can accept the risks of back surgery, if they think it will alleviate their pain. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee after back surgery that the pain will go away.

Up to 40 percent of people who undergo certain types of spinal surgeries (such as lumbar laminectomies with or without fusion) experience persisting or even new pain and other symptoms after their procedure. This unexpected phenomenon, called failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), can be incredibly frustrating. Some patients undergo multiple revision surgeries in an attempt to correct FBSS, but in general, each subsequent surgery is even less effective than the previous one.

The good news is that there are Indianapolis alternatives to repeat back surgery. Take a look at these three options for treating FBSS:

  • Spinal cord stimulator implants: Called the “pacemaker for pain,” spinal cord stimulators use safe electrical impulses to block or minimize pain signals. The procedure to implant the stimulator takes about an hour, and patients are able to go home the same day.
  • Pain pump implants: Taking oral pain medications for extended periods of time is generally not recommended, because it could lead to dependency. A pain pump implant is a safer way to get pain-relieving medication to inflamed spinal nerves. A device about the size of a hockey puck is filled with medication and implanted under the skin, and it can be programmed to release specific doses of medication throughout the day.
  • Physical therapy: People with back pain can become trapped in a cycle of pain and muscle weakness – pain makes movement difficult, inactivity causes muscle weakness, and weak muscles are more likely to suffer injuries, which in turn leads to more pain. Physical therapy can help break that cycle, by helping people gradually increase activity and increase strength. This treatment is often used in conjunction with other therapies.

Compared to conventional back surgery, all these treatments come with lower risk and shorter recovery time. When provided as part of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and individualized pain management plan of care, patients can enjoy an improved quality of life.

Get the Help You Need

Center for Pain Management’s Indianapolis pain doctors could help you get back on your feet again. If you’re struggling with pain even after your back surgery, contact us today: 317-706-7246.