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screw loosen & irritating feel after spine fusion

Started by vincent on 04/14/2010 9:46am

Hi, I got 2 level spine fusion T12-L2 last summer, because I got burst fracture on L1.
I got some refered pain inside the area of colon once in a while especially if I am under stress or driving too long. That pain went away, but then I got another kind of pain which is kind of irritating and burning feeling on the lower left abdomen area, but it is at the skin level. It gets worse when I drive after 10 minutes or so, or sitting at a bad posture.
X-ray shows the I have loosen screw at T12 area, and it is backing out when I bend backward. The doctor suspects my fusion has been failed which he thinks my fracture was more severe than he thought, so the fusion healing has been failed. He suggests to take out the hardware and then do a CT scan to see exactly what has gone wrong.
I am at mid-40 with good health and nutrition.
Anyone has this kind of experience before and can share your opinion would be appreciated.

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Hello Vincent,
I am very similiar to you in age, health & nutrution...and in bad luck with fusion surgery. I had my L5-S1 fused in September of '08. Fortunately (?) my screw backed out right away, or was never actually properly seated. Anyway, four days after the initial fusion I was back in the operating room having one of the screws removed. I had severe pain and was in the hospital for eight days and also, the screw did some damage to my L5 nerve root so I now have a condition known as dropfoot...so unfortunately, there will be no more running for me. I have to use a brace to walk. I have to say, it has been very disheartening, I have always been very active and played competitive team sports. I had already had two discectomies before the fusion and so my best prognosis was a 40% drop in pain. But I got the worst case scenario, the same or more pain, depending on the day and now this dropfoot. If I learned one thing it is to trust your instincts, if you are in pain, see a doctor. If he doesn't have any answers for you, see another doctor. Also, don't try and be brave, let them know you are in pain and it is affecting your ability to enjoy your life. I wish that the doctor had removed the screw right away and not let it keep on causing damage for four more days...I wish I had not listened to my first surgeon who told me to be patient...I wish this had never happened. Anyway, just don't let too much time pass, I know that another surgery is probably not what you want but if after getting a second opinion with the same diagnosis I would waste no time in having the hardware removed. Good luck to you.

take care,


Hi Pimmn,

Thank you very much for your sharing and advices!! Yes, I will not postpone my surgery appt.
Pimmn, still try to do some exercise at your capability. I don't know if your nerve is completely damaged. If not, do you think acupunture could help? along with some moderate exercise.



Hi Vincent,

Thank you for your advice. I have tried acupuncture and I mostly walk for exercise. I also have an elliptical trainer that I can use and it's nice because it makes me feel like I can walk normally, I don't have to use my brace on it. I hope everything turns out well for you.

good luck,
lori (PIMMN)


Hi Lori,

Thanks for your blessing! I try to walk about 5 minutes daily to start picking up exercise, but not too much before the surgery.
There are things already done to our lives, and nothing we could change back to the perfect condition. Sometime, I treat the incident/accident as a lesson, because if I continue to do thing without thinking it deeply. I mean the action comes before the brain, then I could lose my life next time.
From now, I could only try to do more exercise to make body even stronger and have more strength.

Thanks again & I also hope you stay strong and overcome all these pain!!


Hello Vincent,

Thanks again for sharing your experience with me...another thing I tried before surgery was going to the pool and walking in the water at different depths. The bouyancy the water provided made me feel like I was walking normal and strong...good for the soul. If you have your surgery and would like to share your outcome or just to chat I'd love to hear from you. I wish you well Vincent .

take care,


Hello Vincent
I had a fusion at the L5-S1 level back in 92, the surgery went well but the pain didn't completely go. In 94 I underwent my 4th back surgery to remove the hardware, this was successful and the pain was relieved, there were still times when I would get a flare up but it would settle with some TLC. 18 months ago I had an accident and have since ended up with that horrible pain in my leg and back. A recent CT shows further disc problems/stenosis and some other issues. I also experience the burning feeling you talk about, only mine is at the donor site in the hip where I still have screws. Would I have the instrumentation removed given what I know now - YES, I have had 14 years of a normal life. My occupation is a figure skating instructor for 30 years. I am now 55yrs old so would have been around your age when I had my fusion.


Hi Pollywolly,

Thanks very much for your sharing!! Yes, I think to remove the hardware is the best approach especially it has loosen screw. The question I would like to know is whether the loosen screw or failed hardware causes my pain or not which I won't know until I do a surgery again and then CT scan. I hope there is no fusion failure.......
May God Bless me!!

I will post it after I do my surgery again.

Best wishes to you as well.