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Failed Surgery Syndrome

Surgery and medication have a time and a place. Too often, patients have unnecessary surgery for conditions that could have been successfully treated non-invasively. Surgery may result in residual or new pain and dysfunction that often leads to subsequent "revision" surgeries. 

Low back surgery (1):

-failure rate up to 40% within 3 years

-21.5% chance of having additional low back surgery within 11 years

Neck surgery (2): 

-35% of patients required revision surgery within 2 years

Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery (3):

-failure rate up to 57% within 5 years

Knee meniscal repair surgery (4):

-failure rates up to 19% within 9 months

-failure rates ranging to 40% within 5 years

Surgeries fail for a number of reasons. Many times the "problem" identified is not the main cause of pain. In other words, just because a patient has a disc herniation or meniscal tear does not necessarily mean those are causing the patient's low back or knee pain.


MRIs, CT scans and x-rays do not show the most common, main contributors to musculoskeletal pain: muscular imbalance, weakness, and dysfunction. Most of the time, these conditions can effectively be treated without surgery

(1) Ragab et al (2008) The American Journal of Medicine. 

(2) Laratta et al (2018) Journal of Spine Surgery. 

(3) Louie et al (2012) American Association for Hand Surgery. 

(4) Majeed et al (2015) Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology.

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