Back pain is one of the most pervasive medical conditions in the world and a leading cause of disability. It is estimated that approximately 31 million Americans will experience it, and it accounts for 264 million work days lost per year, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Being so common, many different forms of treatment exist for this condition. They range from chiropractic therapy, to surgery, to opioids, and more. People of all ages and backgrounds experience back pain, and many suffer for extremely long periods of time without relief.

Back pain reoccurs in many people, and the failed treatment plans can pile up quickly, leading to depression and disability. So many different factors can contribute to back pain, making treatment plans difficult to devise and the root of the problem hard to identify. Though back pain can appear simple, it can result in lost jobs and strained relationships, and quickly take over a person’s life.

Chronic Back Pain

Like most chronic pain conditions, back pain keeps working people from their livelihoods and can be detrimental to relationships and one’s feeling of control over their own life. The causes of back pain are nearly limitless, as the back is a part of the human body full of many vital bones, nerves, muscles, and joints. A person can experience back pain as a result of ordinary, everyday movements, or from severe injury, or anything in between. Lifestyle factors like weight, diet, and exercise can also affect the presence of back pain, meaning every case will be different and challenging to treat.

Back pain may be the most diverse and complicated chronic pain condition, which makes proper treatment extremely daunting for both the patient and physician. Another complicated facet of back pain treatment is the overuse of opioids, and the commonly resulting dependencies. Opioids may be helpful for acute pain cases, but when back pain persists, relying on opioids can easily become dangerous and debilitating.

Some small lifestyle choices can prevent back pain, like maintaining one’s posture and a healthy weight, but because causes are so fickle, there is no definitive mode of prevention. To make matters worse, treatment attempts for back pain can sometimes worsen the condition instead of help a patient heal. Failed surgeries for back pain have become so common that they are recognized as a condition: “failed back surgery syndrome.”

The Struggle of Failed Back Surgery

According to Practical Pain Management, 20 to 40 percent of back surgery procedures result in failed back surgery syndrome. When a procedure meant to alleviate your pain fails, or even worsens it, the possibility of depression and a hopeless outlook are understandably heightened. Before surgery becomes an option, a multidisciplinary approach to pain management is vital. Pharmacological means of treatment are not comprehensive enough and should be combined with behavioral and cognitive therapy methods to ensure the highest chance of recovery. Pain is a condition with an extremely wide scope, and surgery is only one facet of proper treatment.

Failed back surgery is a frustrating occurrence on many levels outside of the physical. The emotional and financial strains it poses on a person make it that much more disheartening and difficult to manage. Repeatedly spending money on invasive and unsuccessful surgeries is no way to realistically alleviate one’s pain, and only adds to the financial and mental burden.

Individuals suffering from chronic back pain, especially chronic pain resulting from failed back surgery, need to know that they can break the cycle. At the Institutes of Health, we understand how bleak chronic pain and repeated failed treatments can make life seem. We are committed to understanding and advocating for those who struggle with this pervasive condition.

For more information on how you can take back your life from chronic pain, contact us at