Post-Laminectomy Syndrome: When Back Surgery Fails
Post laminectomy syndrome refers to chronic and unexplained pain you experience after back surgery. If you’re suffering from neck or lower back pain of an unknown origin that develops following surgery, it could be post laminectomy syndrome. This painful syndrome is also known as failed back surgery syndrome. Post laminectomy syndrome is associated with a specific type of back surgery called a laminectomy.
There is no definitive reason as to why back pain persists after surgery for some patients.
Before treatment, you need a diagnosis. The first step is visiting a doctor. A physical examination will be completed followed by imaging tests, which are done to pinpoint the cause of your back pain and help with treatment planning.
Once your doctor has finished tests, they can help you determine if you’re suffering from post laminectomy syndrome.
Treating post laminectomy syndrome can be difficult, as the cause for your pain is often unknown. If you’re suffering from this condition, discuss your symptoms in detail with your pain doctor. With a full list of symptoms, they can begin to develop the most effective treatment plan to manage your pain. Treatments for post laminectomy syndrome may include:
- Physical therapy
- Medications, such as NSAIDs or antidepressants
- Epidural steroid injections
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Radiofrequency ablation
- TENS therapy
- A mixture of these therapies
Patients suffering from severe and chronic pain may benefit from more intensive forms of treatment.
One of the best options are epidural steroid injections. This type of therapy can provide significant pain relief. It’s also minimally-invasive. Your doctor can perform it in an outpatient setting.
Spinal cord stimulation is another treatment that has been shown to provide measurable pain relief. This treatment involves inserting a device that emits electrical impulses near your spine. This device sends out electrical impulses near painful areas. These impulses help control pain signal transmission from the spinal nerves, thereby reducing your pain.
Radiofrequency ablation is another treatment option. Studies have shown this treatment to be quite effective in more than 50% of cases.
Finally, another alternative, minimally-invasive treatment is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy. TENS units are small devices that are similar to spinal cord stimulation, except they go on top of the skin. Electrodes are placed on the skin’s surface. These electrodes deliver a very small electrical stimulation to the affected area. Like spinal cord stimulation, this can interrupt pain signals.
If you need help with your lower back and neck pain, and think it may be caused by a previous surgery, it’s time to find help.