I’ve Had Surgery for my Back Problem: Why do I Still Have Chronic Pain?

Orthopaedic & Spine Center

Raj N. Sureja, MD on Chronic Pain Post-Surgery

Interventional Pain Management at Orthopaedic & Spine Center

In this blog post, I will define Failed Surgery Syndrome and help the reader understand why this condition can occur.

In my practice as an Interventional Pain Management Specialist, I see people who have had surgery for a specific problem, but they still experience the same or worse pain after the surgery.  They often ask me, “If I am still in pain after a surgery that was supposed to make my pain go away, did my surgeon do a poor job on my surgery?  Was something done incorrectly or did they make a mistake?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question.  It is my job to help the patient understand their illness or injury, what treatments were tried to ease their pain and loss of function and why it may not have worked.  I then must help the patient to find ways of reducing their pain to a level where they can function as normally as possible.

There is a name for the condition a person may find themselves in when they have had “unsuccessful” surgery, called Failed Surgery Syndrome.  In Orthopaedics, this is often Failed Back Surgery Syndrome or Failed Neck Surgery Syndrome.  It could be a Failed Bunionectomy (surgery to remove bone and realign the big toe) or just about any other type of surgery.  As an Interventionalist, I most often see and treat people who have had an Orthopaedic or spine/ nerve-related surgery in my practice.

There can be many reasons that a surgery is unsuccessful.  There is always the possibility that the surgery may not have gone as well as expected, due to surgical error or physician malpractice, but the actual percentages for this happening are really quite low.  There is the potential that the original patient diagnosis was incorrect and that surgery was not necessary or would be harmful. More often than not, other non-physician-related factors play a role in a surgery being called a “Failed Back or Neck Surgery”.

Next time….I will outline the factors which contribute to surgery failure.

Dr. Raj N. Sureja is a Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Interventional Pain Management Specialist, who currently practices at Orthopaedic & Spine Center in Newport News, VA.  For more information on Dr. Sureja or OSC, please go to www.osc-ortho.com.  For an appointment, please call 757-596-1900.