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Spinal Fusion Mess Up

Started by jjarvis38 on 05/26/2017 11:06pm

I had back surgery back in 2009 at age 15, I'm now 23 and have two rods and 24 screws up and down my entire back. I've had back pain ever since the surgery, but my doctors didn't believe me for a while. I did physical therapy, but it didn't help any, so I stopped going. I've had multiple x rays in the past and they said everything looked normal, to just exercise more, so I did. Finally went to get another x ray done the beginning of this year and the doctor said I'm probably having lower back pain because two of my screws were never fused to my spine, (I also have a cracked screw, but it's not serious enough to fix). I'm just curious if the two screws in my back that were never fused would cause me to go through a spinal fusion again or if they would just let it be since it's been like this for 8 years. I'm going to the doctor in a month, but was just curious what to expect before going in because I'm terrified of having surgery again since the last one was so rough.

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the long paragraph.

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3 Responses


Hi, jjarvis38--thanks for posting your question. If your surgeon identifies a problem with your fusion instrumentation, a lot of factors are weighed to decide whether a second surgery is the best course of action. Though the instrumentation problems may be causing you pain, correcting the issue with surgery may put you at greater risk of more severe issues. Your surgeon should discuss the risks and benefits of all your treatment options, including surgery, with you.

It may be worthwhile to seek a second opinion to get a clear picture of the treatments you have available to you. Here are some resources about getting a second opinion that we hope are helpful ( Second Opinions: Five Things About This Patient Right ), ( Second Opinion on Spine Surgery: Rude or Smart? ).

We hope you find a treatment option that you're comfortable moving forward with and helps you best manage your pain. We wish you the very best of luck!


I had surgery to "correct" my scoliosis curvature in 2000. I was 16 years old at that time. Harrington rods were placed. I had pain that never went away. My surgeon dismissed my complaints and kept reassuring me that "it will get better". It never did get better, only worse. Finally I was told "rods never fused". Then it was discovered that several screws where "loose". In 2009, I decided to have all hardware removed although I was given several options to re-instrument. Immediately after surgery and several years following I was pain free! I could run, jump and sneeze/cough without feeling my back will blow out if I didnt brace myself. However, my scoliosis curvature over the years has returned and I am faced with chronic pain. I did not do any core strengthening exercises, nor did excercise or do pilates to strengthen/relax my back muscles after my hardware was removed. I am only now learning how to non surgically help my scoliosis and wish I worked with a scoliosis pilates instructor right after my hardware was removed to prevent my scoliosis from advancing. Get 2nd/3rd opinion in regards to surgery. If your back didnt fuse when you were younger, is there a guarantee it will this time? Strengthen your core muscles. Build up the muscles in your back (specifically the concave side) to halt to progression of the curve. Find a scoliosis pilates instructor in your area.


My surgeon told me that 33% of these back surgeries have no effect, 33% help you, and 33% leave you worse than you were with a small provability of being able to undo what was damaged or changed. Given those odds, surgery should be an absolute last option unless you are financialy well off and able to live off of some trust fund if surgery goes south. Always exhaust PT to its full benefits keeping in mind that it may take years and years of PT and rest before you see any real benefits, but those benefits will be equal to those of a succesful surgery without the 33% gamble.