Impairment and disability after back surgery is a common diagnostic and therapeutic problem. For the most part the reasons are unclear. Of 178 patients who had undergone laminectomies 2-5 years earlier, 14 patients with good recovery and 21 patients with poor recovery but no evidence of restenosis on computed tomography were selected by the Oswestry index. According to radiologic, neurophysiologic, and muscle biopsy evidence most patients (13 of 15 studied) suffering from the severe postoperative failed back syndrome had dorsal ramus lesions in one or more segments covered by the scar and local paraspinal muscle atrophy at the corresponding segments. Disturbed back muscle innervation and loss of muscular support leads to the disability and increased biomechanical strain and might be one important cause to the failed back syndrome. It may be possible to develop operating techniques that save back muscle innervation better than the usual ones.