Failed Back Surgery Statistics In 2020

Told you need back surgery? You’re not alone. Back pain is the most common type of chronic pain in the U.S.

However, if you’ve been told by your doctor that you need back surgery (or spine surgery) such as spinal fusion, you may want to reevaluate your options.

Various research studies have shown that most back surgeries fail to relieve pain completely. Read on for failed back surgery statistics in 2020.

Back Surgery Success Rate & Failure Rate: Statistics

Despite the high number of back surgeries, unfortunately, many people don’t get better after back surgery.

In fact, up to 74.6% of low back spine surgeries fail to alleviate back pain, according to a 2016 review in the Journal of Pain Research.

The number is so high, there’s an official medical term for this—failed back surgery syndrome. FBSS, as it is often called for short, refers to chronic back pain following back surgery.

How’s that for failed back surgery statistics?


According to another research study, it’s estimated that around 80,000 people yearly are suffering due to back surgery failure. Failed back surgery statistics show that anywhere from 10-40% of FBSS patients are affected.

Another alarming stat, most patients who take opioids narcotics for chronic pain before lumbar fusion surgery continue taking them long-term after surgery.

According to Steven Atlas, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, “Based on the evidence, the indications for fusion are few and far between, but that doesn’t stop surgeons from doing them or patients from getting them.”

“As a result, fusion has become the poster child for expensive, risky, and unnecessary back surgery.” Harvard Men’s Health Watch, When is back surgery the right choice?

“Your pain is typically decreased by 50 percent,” Dr. Atlas says, “but there are very few people who really have no pain after spinal fusion. The relief may last only a few years before the condition worsens again.”

“When there is pain relief, it is often limited. The pain, measured on a scale of 1 to 10, may decrease from an 8 to a 4.” Harvard Men’s Health Watch, When is back surgery the right choice?

Alternative to Back Surgery In Louisville: Nonsurgical Treatment & Integrative Medicine

Before making the decision to undergo back surgery, you should talk to your doctor or get a second opinion with another local back doctor near you that can offer alternative, nonsurgical treatment options.

Schedule An Appointment At Kentuckiana Integrative Medicine!

Find out more about our nonsurgical back pain treatment in Louisville to help reduce your pain. To schedule an appointment with our back pain doctors in Louisville, contact us today!