Why Do I Still Have Back Pain After Surgery?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 4, 2019

Back Pain Surgery

Spine surgery is often viewed as a last resort when it comes to treating back pain. However, just because the doctor is going in and manually fixing the problem doesn’t mean that you’ll always be pain free once healing has completed. Below, we explain why some people still experience pain after a spine surgery so you can appropriately manage your expectations.

Back Pain Following Surgery

Hopefully, your spine surgery rids you of the discomfort in your back, but it doesn’t work that way every time. Here are some of the reasons why you may still be dealing with back pain after an operation.

  • Surgery Can Only Do So Much – Surgery isn’t this magical option that can restore every structure back to perfect health. For example, we can help to free a compressed spinal nerve or strengthen your spinal column, but we’re not going to be able to reverse arthritis or the natural degeneration process. While you will probably feel much better following the operation, depending on the state of your spine heading into surgery, there’s a chance that there will still be some discomfort due to irreversible damage.
  • You’re Not Done Healing – Surgery is a major trauma on your body, so don’t expect to feel back to normal a couple days after the operation. Full healing can take weeks or months, so pain may take some time to taper off. We recommend documenting your pain in a pain journal so you can better see how your pain is decreasing over time, or in case you need to come back into the doctor’s office because it’s stagnant or gotten worse. Patience sometimes is all we need for pain to eventually subside.
  • Wrong Underlying Cause – One of the main reasons why we recommend that patients seek out a second opinion if they are told they need surgery is because there’s the possibility of misdiagnosis. Many spinal conditions present with the same symptoms, and if the doctor mistakes what they’re looking at or misses something on the imaging exam, you may end up having work done that doesn’t address the root problem. We offer second opinions at our clinic, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’ve been told you need surgery.
  • The Surgery Failed – Surgeries can fail for all sorts of reasons. Although we are very thorough at preventing failed operations, the surgery can fail due to doctor error, the patient becoming too active too quickly after an operation, a stabilization issue or defect with the hardware, or other reasons. Spine surgery is such a precise activity that even being off by a millimeter here or there can lead to a failed surgery. There’s a chance that you still have pain because the surgery didn’t go exactly as hoped.
  • Patient-Initiated Pain – Finally, one common cause of pain following spine surgery is due to the patient rushing their rehab. We understand that you want to get back to work or back on the treadmill, but upping your workload before you’re ready is a quick way to cause your surgery to fail or to reinjure a recovering spinal structure. Heed your doctor’s advice during your rehab, and only adjust your schedule after you’ve been given medical clearance.

Hopefully, you don’t experience pain following your operation, and we’ll do everything in our power to ensure your surgery goes exactly as planned, but it’s not a perfect science. To learn how we’ll do everything to help you live a pain free life after surgery, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s clinic today.

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