Spinal Cord Stimulation After Failed Back Surgery: What to Expect

Spinal Cord Stimulation After Failed Back Surgery: What to Expect

Spinal surgery is one of the most effective treatments for severe, chronic back pain when it’s successful. Unfortunately, up to an estimated 22% of people who have a traditional spine surgery end up back where they started within five years. 

When this happens, it’s known as a failed back surgery, or failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS).

Our expert team at Houston Pain Specialists, led by board-certified pain management specialist Hui Kang, MD, offers spinal cord stimulation to good candidates who struggle with back pain, including pain that follows spinal surgery. 

Read on to learn more about this option, including how it can help.

More about failed back surgery

Failed back surgery and FBSS are blanket terms for any procedure that doesn’t successfully do away with spinal pain. When it unfolds, it doesn’t usually mean the surgery was performed poorly, but that you need more care in order to get the full relief you need and desire.

In addition to the return of chronic pain, meaning back pain that lasts more than 12 weeks, failed back surgery may cause:

How spinal cord stimulation can help

Spinal cord stimulation uses a small device that we implant in your back. This generator sends mild, electrical currents to your spine through an electrode. These currents block pain signals in your brain related to nerve damage or compression. 

The goal of spinal cord stimulation is to minimize your pain, allow you to get any needed physical therapy, and get you back to leading a full, active life. 

What to expect during the process

Spinal cord stimulation takes place in two phases: a trial phase and a permanent phase. 

During the trial, we place a temporary electrode near the problematic nerves in your spine. We use a special form of X-ray called fluoroscopy to guide the electrode in place. The electrode then connects to a small generator on a belt that you wear for up to seven days. 

If the trial goes well, we likely deem you a good candidate for permanent placement of the spinal cord stimulator. It works the same, only all of the parts are surgically placed below your skin while you’re under anesthesia. After the procedure, you can expect virtually immediate pain relief.

To learn more about spinal cord stimulation after failed back surgery or to get the care you need, contact our Houston, Texas, office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kang.

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