The term “failed neck surgery” refers to any type of neck procedure that failed to correct pain that existed prior to neck surgery. It could also refer to pain that momentarily goes away after surgery and returns soon after or entirely new pain that develops. Experiencing lingering post-surgery pain usually means the procedure didn’t address the true source of the discomfort, leaving many patients wondering if it can be corrected.
Reasons for Failed Neck Surgery
Some pain following neck surgery is normal. Failed neck surgery isn’t something that’s immediately determined until you’ve had some time to heal unless you’re experiencing sharp or extreme pain. Neck surgery may “fail” to provide the intended relief for a number of reasons, including:
- Misdiagnosis of the original condition
- Existence of multiple neck pain sources
- Complications from the surgery itself
- Improper healing following surgery
- Not following post-surgery or rehab recommendations
Reassessing and Diagnosing
If there is no issue with the initial surgery that needs to be corrected, an effort is usually made to once again diagnose the source of your neck pain to determine how to proceed. A reassessment starts with a physical exam and will likely include another set of image tests to determine if there is a source of pain that was not corrected during the first surgery or developed during or after your neck surgery.
Retrying Non-Surgical Remedies
Correcting failed neck surgery doesn’t necessarily mean a return to the operating room. Oftentimes, physical therapy is recommended or you may be referred to a chiropractor. Antibiotics will be prescribed if the source of your renewed neck pain is an infection. A different mix of medications may also be suggested, including a combination of muscular relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs. Additional non-surgical treatments may include
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Epidural or corticosteroid steroid injections
- Selective nerve root blocks
- Therapeutic massages
- Heat and ice applications
Another attempt at surgery is rarely the first option after failed neck surgery, especially if another structural reason for your neck pain can’t be found. Surgery may, however, be recommended for situations where a fusion didn’t take or if another part of the cervical spine became unstable from the initial surgery.
For more information or a second opinion, reach out to The Spine Institute Center at (310) 828-7757. We specialize in minimally invasive spine surgeries and can help you determine how best to proceed after a failed procedure. Reach out today.