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Keywords:

  • Algorithm;
  • continuum of care;
  • failed back surgery syndrome;
  • neuromodulation;
  • pain therapies;
  • SAFE principles;
  • SCS;
  • spinal cord stimulation

Objective:  In this paper we review the literature on failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) and use principles of Safety, Appropriateness, Fiscal Neutrality, and Effectiveness (SAFE) to determine the appropriate place for spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for the treatment of FBSS.

Methods and Results:  We analyzed the most recent literature regarding treatments of pain due to FBSS and used the SAFE principles to reprioritize pain treatments, particularly electrical stimulation therapies, for FBSS in a more appropriate, relevant, and up to date continuum of care.

Conclusions:  Based on this review and analysis of the safety, appropriateness, cost-effectiveness, and efficacy of treatments for the pain of FBSS, relegating SCS to a last resort therapy is no longer justifiable. SCS should be considered before submitting a patient to either long-term systemic opioid therapy or repeat spinal surgery for chronic pain resulting from FBSS.