In our Napa office, we see a number of men and women with sciatica pain. Thankfully, Dr. Bettencourt is able to help a lot of them conquer this problem and lead a pain-free life. But what happens when you’ve already tried back surgery in an effort to heal your sciatica and it failed? Can chiropractic therapy still help then? The answer is yes and the reason why first requires understanding unsuccessful back surgery syndrome.
Failed back surgery syndrome, also called post-laminectomy syndrome, happens when you’ve had back surgery yet still find yourself in a considerable amount of constant pain in your back or leg area. This can be tremendously frustrating from a patient’s perspective, especially when you go into the surgical procedure hoping that it lessens your pain levels, yet it seems to have no effect on them whatsoever or, if it does, it is only short lived.
Causes of unsuccessful back surgery syndrome include inability to actually fix the problem due to your physical anatomy, failure of the bones to fuse, recurrent spinal herniation, excessive scar tissue, and more. Sadly, the only thing that back surgery can do is diminish the pressure on a pinched nerve and steady problematic joints. Meaning that a large number of issues cannot necessarily be corrected by a surgical procedure, thus possibly giving you false hope of better results.
Additionally, the top suggested reason that many back surgeries fail is because the cause of the pain, the lesion that exists, is not the area the surgeon focuses on. This results in not correcting the issue, thereby also not relieving the problem.
An article published in Neurosurgery Clinics of North America confirms the insufficient function of back surgery, further saying that “reparative surgery has real, but limited use.” The author also concluded that other forms of rehabilitation should be tried first. One of the remedies that have proven to be effective at treating sciatica is chiropractic, and it can even help after back surgery fails, as a couple of studies show.
The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine posted a study involving a 24 year old male who had faced back surgery only to continue to experience discomfort due to squished nerves in his spine, formation of scar tissue near the nerve’s root, and repeated disc herniation. However, after participating in chiropractic treatment which included spinal manipulation and exercises to help encourage rehabilitation, the individual had improvement in both his symptoms and level of functioning.
Another piece of research printed in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found similar results. In this study, three individuals who had previously faced surgery to fuse their spine due to disc herniation had the discomfort and disability return to pre-surgical levels.
All three of the participants reported clinical improvements after engaging in just three consecutive daily chiropractic adjustments sessions while under anesthesia and the positive effects remained after finishing eight weeks of physiotherapy and rehabilitation, as well as one year post-treatment. This shows that chiropractic therapy gives both short and long term effects, even when back surgery has previously failed.
To learn how chiropractic can help you, even if you’ve had back surgery and it failed, contact Dr. Bettencourt today at (707) 257-3600. We’ll do our best to help you get and remain back pain free.
Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS): What it is and how to avoid pain after surgery. Spine-health. Retrieved from http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/failed-back-surgery-syndrome-fbss-what-it-and-how-avoid-pain-after-surgery Long, DM. (1991, October). Failed back surgery syndrome. Neurosurgery Clinics of North America, 2(4), 899-919. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1840393 Morningstar, M and Strauchman, M. (2012, March). Manipulation under anesthesia for patients with failed back surgery: retrospective report of 3 cases with 1-year follow-up. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 11(1), 30-35, doi: 10.1016/ j.jcm.2001.08.006 Welk, AB et al. (2012, December). Conservative management of recurrent lumbar disk herniation with epidural fibrosis: a case report. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 11(4), 249-253, doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2012.10.002