In our Portland office, we treat a number of people with sciatica issues. Fortunately, Dr. Helton is able to help a lot of them conquer this condition 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 care 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 discomfort in your back or leg area. This can be extremely frustrating from a patient’s perspective, especially when you go into the surgical procedure hoping that it lightens your pain levels, yet it seems to have no effect on them whatsoever or, if it does, it is only short term.
Causes of unsuccessful back surgery syndrome include inability to actually fix the issue 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 alleviate the pressure on a pinched nerve and steady problematic joints. This means that a large number of issues cannot necessarily be fixed by a surgical procedure, thus possibly giving you false hope of better results.
Furthermore, the top suggested reason that most back surgeries fail is because the cause of the discomfort, the lesion that exists, is not the area the surgeon focuses on. This results in not correcting the issue, thereby also not curing the pain.
An article published in Neurosurgery Clinics of North America confirms the inadequate function of back surgery, further saying that “reparative surgery has real, but limited use.” The author also said that other forms of rehabilitation should be tried first. One of the remedies that have proven to be effective at treating sciatica is chiropractic adjustments, 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 gone trough back surgery only to continue to experience discomfort due to compacted nerves in his spine, formation of scar tissue near the nerve’s root, and repeated disc herniation. But, after participating in chiropractic adjustments which included spinal manipulation and exercises to help boost rehabilitation, the patient 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 participants who had previously gone trough surgery to fuse their spine due to disc herniation had the pain and disability return to pre-surgical levels.
All three of the patients reported clinical improvements after engaging in just three consecutive daily chiropractic sessions while under anesthesia and the positive effects remained after finishing eight weeks of physiotherapy and rehabilitation, in addition to 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 adjustments can help you, even if you’ve had back surgery and it failed, contact Dr. Helton today at (503) 771-1974. 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