If you’re considering back surgery to relieve your back pain, remember this: 10% to 50% of spinal surgeries fail. And, as many as 40% of patients develop a condition called failed back surgery syndrome, which involves long-term complications

Back surgery can be helpful under certain circumstances, but anyone who is planning on pursuing surgery should consider the risks. 

What are the risks of receiving anesthesia? What kind of pain can result from surgery? What are some ways to cope with back surgery complications?

Answer these questions and you may find that surgery may not be the best choice to relieve your back pain. 

Anesthesia Risks

Nearly all back surgeries require anesthesia. Local anesthesia numbs the area of the surgery while general anesthesia puts a person to sleep. 

There are only a few complications of local anesthesia. A surgeon may inject it into a person’s skin, so there may be temporary bleeding or muscle stiffness. 

Yet there can be extensive complications for general anesthesia. Someone may experience delirium and memory loss for a long period of time after the surgery. A person may develop malignant hyperthermia, creating a high fever and muscle contractions.

Other risks of anesthesia include:

  • nausea/vomiting
  • aspiration
  • allergic reaction
  • stroke
  • cardiac arrest
  • damage to teeth
  • and more


Pain is a side effect of any surgery. The skin, muscles, and nerves need time to repair themselves after incisions. However, back surgery pain can become a significant problem. Many forms of back surgery involve the spinal cord, including back fusion surgery. If the spinal cord becomes damaged or moved, pain can be sharp and debilitating. 

Even after you’ve healed from the surgery, scar tissue can become a source of continued pain after back surgery. 

Blood Problems 

The most common blood complication is bleeding. Incisions into the skin will cause a small amount of bleeding, though surgeons can respond quickly to it.

Blood clots are more significant. After surgery, the body clots blood to prevent bleeding. But a clot can develop inside an artery and travel into the lung, which can threaten someone’s life. 

It is essential that someone exercise after back surgery. They should perform some light stretches and get out of bed for brief walks.


Another complication of surgery is infection. Skin incisions can become infected after any surgery and if an infection breaks through the skin, it can enter the spinal cord and cause a severe problem. 

Signs of infections include stabbing pain, a fever, and redness around the wound. Anyone who sees signs of infections should go to their doctor right away. Their doctor may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of a serious disease.

The Many Back Surgery Complications

Back surgery can help relieve pain, but it can also have more risks involved. A person’s body may react badly to anesthesia, resulting in memory loss or a dangerously high fever, blood clots or scar tissue may develop, or on rare occasions, infections can spread into the spinal cord. 

Before considering surgery, it’s best to try nonsurgical procedures to help relieve pain. Treatments such as the DRS Protocol® have helped thousands of patients relieve pain without back surgery.

If you suffer from back pain, contact Busch Chiropractic today to find out more about nonsurgical treatment options. More than a chiropractor, Busch Chiropractic is a pain relief clinic serving Fort Wayne and surrounding areas. Request an appointment today to learn more.