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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago


If a patient continues to have pain several months following back surgery, it is important to determine which, if any, of the possible causes (such as recurrent disc herniations, failed fusions and continued nerve compression) may be repaired with additional surgery.

If it is determined that another back surgery is not the best course of action, therapies include physical therapy, medication and surgical options:

Medication treatment options:

    Oral Medications

    • Anti-inflammatory drugs: ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen
    • Narcotics: morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl patches
    • Neuromodulatory drugs: gabapentin, amitriptyline, pregabalin, duloxetine

Surgical treatment options:

    Nerve Blocks

    Injections of anesthetic or steroids into the spine can provide significant relief. Injections of steroids will reduce inflammation and thereby decrease pain.

    Spinal Cord Stimulation

    This minimally invasive technique, in which electrodes are placed in the spinal canal but not on the spinal cord, offers relief for many people without medication-related side effects, and it allows people significant control over the device.

     Spinal Cord Stimulation: Pre-Operative Checklist (pdf) 

    Intrathecal Drug Infusion

    This therapy utilizes pumps and implanted catheters to continuously send pain-relieving medication into the spinal fluid, which enables the patient to receive a significantly enhanced effect from the medication at a much lower dose without the usual side effects like drowsiness.


The Functional Neurosurgery Program ( Campus Map )
675 N. St. Clair Street, Suite 20-100
Chicago, IL 60611

Last UpdateJune 8, 2011