Demographic characteristics of patients with severe neuropathic pain secondary to failed back surgery syndrome

Pain Pract. 2009 May-Jun;9(3):206-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2009.00276.x. Epub 2009 Mar 5.


Background: Neuropathic pain commonly affects the back and legs and is associated with severe disability and psychological illness. It is unclear how patients with predominantly neuropathic pain due to failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) compare with patients with other chronic pain conditions.

Aims: To present data on characteristics associated with FBSS patients compared with those with complex regional pain syndrome, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.

Methods: The PROCESS (Prospective Randomized Controlled Multicenter Trial of the Effectiveness of Spinal Cord Stimulation, ISRCTN 77527324) trial randomized 100 patients to spinal cord stimulation (n = 52) plus conventional medical management (CMM) or CMM alone (n = 48). Baseline patient parameters included age, sex, time since last surgery, employment status, pain location and severity (visual analogue scale), health-related quality of life (HRQoL), level of disability, medication, and nondrug therapies. Reference population data was drawn from the literature.

Results: At baseline, patients in the PROCESS study had a similar age and gender profile compared with other conditions. PROCESS patients suffered from greater leg pain and had lower HRQoL. PROCESS patients treatment cost was higher and they commonly took opioids, while antidepressants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were more often used for other conditions. Prior to baseline, 87% of patients had tried at least 4 different treatment modalities.

Conclusions: Patients suffering from chronic pain of neuropathic origin following FBSS often fail to obtain adequate relief with conventional therapies (eg, medication, nondrug therapies) and suffer greater pain and lower HRQoL compared with patients with other chronic pain conditions. Neuropathic FBSS patients may require alternative and possibly more (cost-) effective treatments, which should be considered earlier in their therapeutic management.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain, Intractable / epidemiology*
  • Pain, Intractable / physiopathology
  • Pain, Intractable / therapy
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / therapy
  • Sex Distribution
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord / surgery
  • Treatment Failure


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antidepressive Agents

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN77527324