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L4-L5-S1 Fusion Pain from Hardware and/or SI Joints

From: justmarried - on 09/13/2010 10:16pm

Hi! I am 32 years old and one year from my fusion and I bounced back quickly after the surgery. Within months I was back at th gym and feeling great. About 8 months I rapidly began to regress. My surgeon though it was stress and put me on rest and PT for a few weeks with no relief. He now thinks the hardware might be bothering my muscles. The pain is in my lower back (no pain down legs) and only hurts when I am walking like around the store, grocery shopping or just plain walking. Doens't hurt to sit or lay down. I am taking several pain medicines and NSAIDS and using patches with no relief. Went to see a pain management doctor and he thinks it's my SI joints. So I got injections on each side last week..and no relief whatsoever. I go back to the pain management doctor this week and I am sure he will want to try again. I am also trying to see a new ortho for a 2nd opinion. Has anyone had their hardware removed? My fusion is solid. What is the recovery? Any relief? I was super active, running, working out, yoga, pilates, and more and miss my life. I just got married and my husband misses the woman he fell in love with. Any advice is greatly appreciated! I see so much negativity on these boards there has to be light at the end of this painful tunnel.

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on 09/16/2010 11:19am

hi,

Had the same surgery, with 6 screws in my back. I, too, was fused. But differently. My dr. and his partner built this machine which produces the fuse without using any bone chip. It's all blood from the patient. He told me (kidding) that a truck could run over me and the fusion wouldn't break, lol.

From what I'm reading, it seems like your, for some reason, fusion has fallen. And that's why you're feeling the 'hardware' each time you moved. But, that's my opinion. Good luck.

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on 09/16/2010 12:20pm

HI
I had the same fusion but I had pain down my right leg an into my foot. But the doc removed all the hardware because my pain was getting worse so after the removal the pain was worse he then put me on Oxycontin and percocect and lyrica,naproxen witch dont really help I have to walk with A cane now.He said that injections would not help at all.So he recommended A spinal cord stimulator so I went to see a pain management DOC and last Thursday before Labor Day he put in A temporary stimulator it worked pretty well for me I didnt need hardly any of my meds and could walk with out my cane. So we are now waiting to get the permanent stimulator sounds like it will be November. This is something that you might want to talk to your Doc about.Let me know if you want to any thing else I will be happy to answer all that I can.

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on 10/02/2010 8:37pm

I haven't had my hardware removed but am going to when I am completely healed and I am almost 10 mos post op. My neurosurgeon told me it was no big deal and just an overnight stay. Your pain should be significantly reduced and just more like incisional pain. May I suggest you speak to a neurosurgeon not just an ortho.

I have same lower back pain and am acitve like you. And I also now have the S1 joint syndrome which causes swelling and is very tender. Standing in line at the market is terrible. I have same standing and walking issues as you.

I would suggest a good pain doctor and a neurosurgeon. Your pain doctor cannot keep doing injections as it weakens the tissue permanently. You will not want to rely on that. Have you tried any anti inflammatory drugs? Also an eval by a real good physical therapist will probably do more for you than pain doctor. But pain doctor can write the script. I would definitely suggest a neurosurgeon appt for the second opinion over the ortho tho.

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on 10/04/2010 11:43pm

Ok I am going in November 4th to get my permanent stimulator

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on 10/15/2010 1:19pm

I had fusion l5-s1 Jan of 2008. Same as you I did good for awhile, Have been having low back pain since April, on FMLA from work now cause I can't stand for more than 15 min wt/having severe pain. Had facet joint injection in July, didn't work. Epidural steroid injection in August, didn't work. Got S1 brace two months ago and another facet joint injection this past Mon. all w/no relief. My next step is to take my MRI pictures to my neurosurgeon for his opinion. Do you know how many injections you can get in a certain time period? My pain mgmt dr keeps saying I must have levels of inflammation and scar tissue and that's why the injections aren't working but I don't see the point of getting any more if they're not working!

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on 10/16/2010 1:50am

I had all my hardware removed and things just got worse I am finally going in on the 21st to have the doc install a spinal cord stimulator and if this thing quiets working it will not be good cause it will all be inside my body just hopping it works better than the trial one.

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on 10/28/2010 5:32pm

Help! I too am about a year and a half out of 3 level lumbar fusion. I am still in excruciating pain with severe nerve damage to left leg and foot. I can't wear real shoes because they hurt. I do have pain management doctor who has me on lortab and fentyl patch. The pain in my back as well as the pain and numbness in foot and leg has gotten worse. I am at my wits end and don’t know what else to do. I forgot to mention that I went for scs trial, and got no relief. Is there anyone that has any ideas. I go back to pain management in two weeks, and hoping that meds will be changed. I can't sleep, eat, work or pretty much anything else. I know that more ppl than just me are having these issues and I am not crazy. (I feel crazy at times ).

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on 10/28/2010 6:48pm

Hi sorry to hear about all your pain I have all the same same things going on I can tell you with my experience I had the trial stimulator and did get some pain relief BUT I just got the permanent stimulator put in on the 21st and I had to stay in the hospital over night but on the 22nd they came in and turned it on and WOW what A difference I Just cant wait till all the surgical pain gos away this thing is GREAT I am glad I went ahead and did it. I think in my opinion the trial stim is A joke. I to was very active and this accident really slowed me down.And I have been married for 24 years but my wife has stayed by my side the hole way. I know some thing like this can be very hard on A marriage so I hope your new husband will hang in there with you till you find what will work for your pain. Also I did also have my hardware removed and it seemed like I contendued to go down hill.

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on 12/17/2010 3:38pm

Hi!!! I just had my hardware removed on Sept 2, 2010, I had my fusion on May 19,2010, stayed six weeks in the hospital. When I had the hardwre removed I was hospitalized for a whole week. Don't want to scare you but I could not feel anything on my right side where the hardware was. I could not talk, my mouth was on one side, my doctor throught I had a stroke, but I didn't. I've never regain the feeling in my right foot or toes, so my doctor did another exam and now I have RSD, its a condition that affects your nervous system. Now I'm getting ready to do a trial of SCS(spinal cord stim). I had four plates, six rods, and eight screws removed. All I have now is the bone gralf he done. This will be my fifth procedural and I'm still walking like I'm 85 when I'm 47.

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on 11/11/2010 5:31pm

Saw my Surgeon today 11th November 2010 post operative appointment after ACDF SURGERY on 18th September re C4, C5 and C6. He said he was very pleased with operation but I have to con tinue to wear collar until January 2011. As I am getting numbness to left buttock, left foot and toes he feels part of metalwork may be pushing on nerves in L4, L5 and S1 areas so he is going to give me nerve block injections to these asap. Should these not work he said he would have to open up my lower back again and either realign the metalwork or remove it all together. Had PLIF + rebuild operation in December 2008. Thought the ACDF operation would be my last but alas. I live in UK and go to RNOH Stanmore, Middlesex where they have finest spinal surgeons in UK and World. Will keep you posted.

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on 11/14/2010 7:45am

I had PLIF Surgery plus rebuild in December 2008. Visited my Surgeon on 11th November 2011 with regards to ACDF Surgery I had in September 2011. He said he was very pleased as am I with this operation however I have been experiencing severe pain in the lumbar area. Apparently there is considerable swelling around L4, L5 and S1 which he said is probably being caused by the metalwork pressing down in this area. I am to have injections to attempt to bring down the swelling but if this is not successful he will look at opening me up again to either realign or take out the metalwork completely. Please do not become disheartened as I am told injections usually work okay. I shall keep you in touch with what happens. Good luck from the UK. Unfortunately I have to wear my neck collar for another 3 months!!

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on 11/18/2010 10:27pm

Hi. I am having the same problems. I had a fusion back in 2001, felt good for a couple years and now I'm experiencing the same pain as you are. I was told by spine specialists that I could have another surgery (would be my 3rd surgery) to remove the hardware but the risks involved are 1. after cutting me open and it's not fused yet, they sew me back up, 2. there's always paralysis involved when dealing with the spine. So there is a 50/50 chance it's healed, there is no way to tell unless they go in. I don't know if I can go through another back surgery, the last one was horrid. I've also had numerous shots and I used to exercise regularly too, now I can hardly do anything and it's getting worse and worse. I can't even canoe! I'm tired of living like this. Since your post did you get a 2nd opinion?

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on 12/16/2010 6:39am

I had major PLIF Surgery in December 2008 and have been suffering for the past few months with pain in buttock area also in leg and numbness in foot/toes. Apparently there is some swelling in L3, L4. L5 and S1 so on 10 December 2010 my Surgeon gave me injections into these areas. These will take some weeks to act and I have to see him again in 6 weeks. If these injections have not reduced swelling he may have to open me up and realign/replace the metalwork. I also had an ACDF 4/5/6 done on 16 September 2010 so you can see my spine is in a very bad degenerative state although damage may have been caused to it when I was a British Nuclear Test Veteran in the Pacific in the 1950s! By the way the UK government refuse to pay any compensation. The ACDF operation has gone very well although for some 2 months I couldn't swallow solids! Hope you find this of some use to you..

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on 02/08/2011 10:26pm

I had a two level fusion in August of 2009 on L4/L5 and L5/S1 with two rods and six screws plus corepectomy, bone grafting etc. My back spasms stopped and I can feel my left foot again. Prior to surgery I had herniated discs with annular tears with pain going down my left leg. Now I have excruciating pain still around the S1 area in my butt down my leg with occasional numbness in left foot. I am 44 years old and in the worst pain in my life. I have been to my ortho surgeon, another surgeon for another opinion and I have a pain management doc. I just went to yet another specialist yesterday to help figure out what to do with me. My original surgeon said I may need nerves burned, hardware removed, now spinal chord stimulator. It seems no one knows what to do with me and I have been off work since April 2010. Every time I go to a dr. they say they will make me better give it time. I'm so frustrated and so miserable from the pain. This new dr, who I seen before and did my discograms, wants to have x-rays done with me trying to bend forward and back as far as possible to see if the hardware is loose. Then he wants to do a S1 test wtih cortisone injection. Has anyone heard of this test? He said it will be painful but necessary as the S1 may need more fusion. I've had at least 6 epidural, facet injections, hardware pain blocks over the past year. None give me any relief. I'm lost and don't know what to do. So sick of not living my life then having the insurance and disability people go you have a desk job really you cant work? I cant sit or stand without being in tons of pain. What have the rest of you done? Filed for Social Security? I can't believe this is my life. I was told I'd be better after the surgery and I'd recovery in 4 months. I can walk and move around but it hurts and causes so much pain. I'm never comfortable and so mean from all the pain. I'm on 75 mcg Fentanyl patch plus have the Lyrica, the oxycontin, darvocet, etc. Can any body offer any help/suggestions?

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on 02/10/2011 12:08am

I was told the same thing as you.The doctors that I seen said I would never be able to work again.I had to file for disability and that takes awhile to get (you might have to get legal help) I ended up with A spinal stimulator it helps with the pain in my leg (it does nothing for my back) and foot.I was able to reduce some pain meds.

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on 02/10/2011 1:52am

I'm 6 yrs. post-op from fusion L4,5,S1. My pedical screws have moved and Dr. said it happens to 70 percent of patients. I was very active and normal after the fusion.. But now osteopytes press on nerves! I checked with 3 attorneys about fusion screws moving and Stim lead left in spinal canal-They are clueless!! I hated all the pain meds and Fentynal patches, injections. The Stimulator worked for 2 yrs. The intrathecal pump has worked for 5 plus years. One doesnt have to just use morphine in the pump. bivicaine is best for my CDIP.

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on 02/20/2011 12:19pm

Hi Slappy5150, May I suggest you see a neurosurgeon rather than an ortho. The neuros are actually a better choice for these fusions. They can also run some EMT s on you which are painful but can check the nerves etc. I would start there if I were you.

If sitting is too painful then by all means apply for SSDI. And ignore the low level clerks who take themselves too seriously. It is scary to think THESE are the people who will be running Obamacare, which don't even get me started.

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