Post Laminectomy Syndrome
Failed back syndrome (FBS), also called "failed back surgery syndrome" (FBSS), refers to chronic back
and/or leg pain that occurs after back (spinal) surgery. It is characterized as a chronic pain
syndrome. Multiple factors can contribute to the onset or development of FBS. Contributing factors include
but are not limited to residual or recurrent disc herniation, persistent post-operative pressure on a
spinal nerve, altered joint mobility, joint hypermobility with instability, scar tissue (fibrosis),
depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and spinal muscular deconditioning. An individual may be predisposed
to the development of FBS due to systemic disorders such as diabetes, autoimmune disease and peripheral
blood vessels (vascular) disease. Smoking is a risk for poor recovery.
Common symptoms associated with FBS include diffuse, dull and aching pain involving the back and/or legs. Abnormal
sensibility may include sharp, pricking, and stabbing pain in the extremities. The term “post-laminectomy syndrome”
is used by some doctors to indicate the same condition as failed back syndrome.
The treatments of post-laminectomy syndrome include physical therapy, minor nerve blocks, transcutaneous electrical
nerve stimulation (TENS), behavioral medicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, membrane
stabilizers, antidepressants, spinal cord stimulation, and intrathecal morphine pump. Use of epidural steroid
injections may be minimally helpful in some cases. The targeted anatomic use of a potent anti-inflammatory
anti-TNF therapeutics is being investigated.
The amount of spinal surgery varies around the world. The most is performed in the United States and Holland.
The least in the United Kingdom and Sweden. Recently, there have been calls for more aggressive surgical treatment in
Europe (see infra). Success rates of spinal surgery vary for many reasons.
Patients who have undergone one or more operations on the lumbar spine, and continue to experience
and report pain afterward can be divided into two groups. The first group are those in whom surgery
was never indicated, or the surgery performed was never likely to achieve the desired result; and
those in whom the surgery was indicated, but which technically did not achieve the intended result.
It has been observed that patients who have a predominant painful presentation in a radicular pattern
will have a better result than those who have predominant complaints of back pain. Litigation tends to
decrease the successful results of all spinal surgery. This includes personal injury cases (tort) and
worker’s compensation cases.