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hardware in neck

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
hey guys
i have this ongoing fear that my rods, wire and screws have broken or are coming out. how can u tell if your hardware is loose, broken or shifted?
i went for xray twice since my posterior c1 c2 fusion becasue i heard snap pop crackle in my neck.
my family doc thinks i am nuts. she assured me they would not move. how can u tell if they moved?
i am seven weeks post op. u think that metal has settled?


  • Have you asked your surgeon about this? You said your family doc thinks you are nuts, but I think you should report it to your surgeon anyway. I do know that sometimes we hear a pop when a ligament is moving over the plate, etc. I hear a lot of crackles and pops in my neck, like a regular bowl of rice krispies right after you pour on the milk, lol. The loud pops that sort of hurt worry me, but all my hardware still right where the doctor put it!

    If your hardware has broken, they would be able to see it on plain x-rays. I'm not sure how they can tell whether it has shifted. I do know that my surgeon looked to see if there was any "migration" of the plate and screws at the first few visits I had with him.

    You're still fairly new, so try to remember to take it easy still and don't push your neck too much. I can't imagine having a fusion that close to my skull (C1-2). Did you lose much range of motion?

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • As Neck od Steel stated, those pops and crackles are "normal" but I'm of the opinion also that you should see your surgeon. Unfortunately it IS possible for the screws to migrate- the lower two screws in my 3 level fusion have come out of the bone almost completely. A simple X-ray can determine this.

    Anytime you feel that something is wrong don't feel embarassed to call your surgeon. You paid alot of money for his work and it's not over until you're healed! Trust me, your questions aren't the "silliest" they've ever heard LOL!

    Take care and let us know how you're doing,

  • hey guys
    i had an x ray last week and all the nuts and bolts are still in place. of course i called my NS to report all this. they called back and said---- just come to your appointment on oct 30 doc is not worried about it.

    i live in ontario canada so all is covered by OHIP. my tax dollars cover it . . .. lol . . ..and many other things.

    thanks for your replies

    ps still in the collar so i can't move much anyway.
  • neck of steel
    i can't imagine having all that hardware in my neck . . . lol . . .u must snap crackle pop often
  • My noise comes from the levels above the fusion site. I have a spot that I wish I could "pop" but with all the hardware in my neck, it won't ever move!
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • wow . . . my snap crackle pop is above my fusion site too. just above my c1 off to the left. i think it is ligaments and tendons. the muscles are very tight there too. the right has healed well.
    of course my fear is that the pop is a screw coming loose.
  • I'm curious about how easy it is for the hardware to move as well.. I triped over my great dane last week (2 weeks post surgery) and fell smack onto the hard floor.. I called the Dr. but he didn't seem to be too worried about the whole episode..Maybe it's harder than I think to move any of the hardware around? I'm hoping that if I damaged anything that I would feel it. I was sore the next day but other than that I felt ok...

    Any ideas?
  • i have heard that u need to fall off the second floor of a building to break or move them. lol. i would think that the cervical area has less load and therefor u would need to fall off the tenth floor to break anything in that area.
    anyone know of any symptoms u would have if hardware broke?
  • That was the same term my surgeon used on me. I was also you would know if the hardware was not in place.
  • anyone else experience loose or broken hardware?? what were your symptoms?
  • Roxy54321 said:
    wow . . . my snap crackle pop is above my fusion site too. just above my c1 off to the left. i think it is ligaments and tendons. the muscles are very tight there too. the right has healed well.
    of course my fear is that the pop is a screw coming loose.

    I get that pop and catch ALL THE TIME! And when I can get it to pop good, it's a wonderful release of tension. My NS said it is a ligament that catches. That's also on the side where he removed part of C1 and C2.

    I figure it's entertainment without an entry fee.

  • hey C

    i was actually going to ask u about your post op healing from c1 c2 fusion. did u wear a collar? rods screws wire? how long was it before u resumed normal activity? how is your neck rotation??

    i noticed that the snap and pop was going off like crazy around three weeks post op. then when i was given the ok to move and get my lazy self off the couch (after one month) these snaps occured even more!! i would be out walking and had to turn my ipod up loud enough to avoid hearing the pops.

    i am almost eight weeks post op now and i do get them still.

    i am seeing my NS tomorrow (scared) and i hope to God he lets me out of this collar--- ball and chain i call it.


    ps love your replies and posts . u r one of those peeps on here that have been through so much and it is so awesome to know that there is someone else like me out there.
  • Hi Roxy,

    No fusion. Had C2 ganglionectomy and C1 decompression (removed about 30% of C1 on the left side). Those two surgeries were in 2007 and the spinal cord stimulator was implanted in May this year. The hardware inside my neck is very very flexible since it's electrical wire.

    I was in a collar for couple weeks, but it put too much pressure on the bad side and I gave up on wearing it with the NS blessing. Healing from the two posterior surgeries in 8 days, was a bear!!! It took a LOT of intestinal fortitude to get through the first couple of months!

    My neck range of motion is pretty good except rotating to the right or bending to my left. That is caused by the cervical dystonia in the muscle on the right side of my neck that hypertrophied when the left side atrophied. This isn't really the greatest photo, but you can see the muscle locked in spasm clear up the back of my head. This is a photo from about 8 months ago image

    I hope your appointment goes well and you come back with a lighter heart and good news!

  • are not at risk so much as your levels above and below them.
    So when I fainted, fell, and hit my head my concern was C2-4 and C7-8. As I'm a metal neck at C5-6 I was concerned the shock would be absorbed by weaker areas of my neck.

    I do have wear and tear above and below my neck hardwear and have bone spurs which snaps crackes pops and 'catches.'

    Always good to check with your own docs..thats why they get paid da big bucks, they put your hardware in and know where its supposed to be. :)

    Hope everyone has a 'lesser pain' day. :)

  • hey C

    wow. . . amazing. the things those docs can do to us.

    mattsmom--- i am going to start a thread asking people how they maintain the upper and lower lowels after surgery. seems to be common to have the upper and lower levels operated on after approx ten yrs.

  • roxy54321 said:
    hey C

    wow. . . amazing. the things those docs can do to us.

    mattsmom--- i am going to start a thread asking people how they maintain the upper and lower lowels after surgery. seems to be common to have the upper and lower levels operated on after approx ten yrs.


    That would be a good one for the Maintenance Forum.

  • I'm glad to see more than one person has this type of fear. I get the thought of, so, we already know my bones aren't in that great condition, what if the bones arent strong enough to hold the screws in or they become loose? (I had artificial disc replacement in c5-c6) What if it cracks my spine more..or even when I crack my neck, if it snaps the screws vs bones. If I do wind up cracking my neck in front of co-workers, I get crazy looks and everyone telling me not to do that, I tell them not to worry, if anything the metal will stay and the bones will break, trying to make light, but what if that were really possible?! IDK what to think!
  • sweety g
    what type of surgery did u have and when?? i had fusion so if my hardware breaks after my bones fuse it would not bother me!! lol
  • I don't know if I'd be comfy with broken hardware floating around in the area that yours is. I understand what your saying, just ... well you know what I mean.

  • hey c

    just cracking a funny . . . ..u kidding . . .i plan to keep an eye on that stuff. what is the recommended frequency for xrays to check hardware after fusion??

    right now i am just focusing on those bones fusing. i have had so much anxiety over those screws coming out. i think i am finally over it now.

    i did see NS yesterday. all is good. he gave me the ok to go on vacation in december.i go for ct scan dec2 and see him dec04.

    i did ask him about the hardware coming out. he said if something did come loose i would most likely not have any symptoms. wierd. only tell by xray.

    he even told me that the hardware will stay in place and that i do not need it removed. all good!!!!
  • hi
    i'm a newbee to this site and i am amazed so many have gone through the same op as me. based in the uk i haven't found a site over here.
    i am 16months after my op and i still experience clunks and clicks from the hard ware, but i also still get a lot of pain, numbness and tingling in my arms. but i experience a major amount of tingling and numbness in my legs more so on the left side. Night times are a nightmare of spasms and cramps.
    Last seen my NS in march this year who stated it would resolve in time, xray showed hardware and bonegraft very stable. MRI showed bilateral facet oesteophytes at c6/7 level and posterior central disc herniation narrowing rt and lft lateral recesses.
    i was advised to wean off soft collar and continue with analgesia.
    Tramadol and imipramine.
    though i have returned to work it is limited to "light " duties.

    it's been a long haul but in a lot of ways im feeling more positive and dont worry so much about the rods snapping etc.despite knowing i wont be able to jive anymore (lol)

    fracture c2-4 at age 18mths
    fall from height of 4 foot onto head - 2005 - onset of neurological probs
    x-ray showed non-union of original fracture at c2 level(in 2 bits)2006
    3 monthly checks of xrays.ct and mri
    march 2007 - mri showed severe instability at c2 level
    july 2007 - posterior fusion and decompresion c1/3(c2 was too soft and crumbly to place screws!)
    soft collar for ten+ months

    returned to work sept 2008 as rgn

  • :))) Hi, everyone. I had ACDF surgery on 10/08/08 with donor bone and plate. My doc hasn't really said too much about the hardware coming loose at all. At the first 2-week follow-up, he just said, "It ain't going nowhere." I teach dance part-time so it has been a real concern to me. It's really hard to get much out of the doctors even when you go in with all your questions. You know what I mean? Although, I think my surgeon did an excellent job and my scar looks like a cat scratch.
  • I just had my 6-week post-op appointment and was surprised to learn that one of my screws has moved out a little. I had C4-C5 and C5-C6 done- fusion is starting =D>

    My Doctor said we will just follow it and to call him if I start to have difficulty swallowing. If it does move farther out, he said he will just go in and remove it... no replacement needed. Quick day surgery, so I will keep my fingers crossed.

    The best news, is no more Miami-J collar, except when riding as a passenger in a car. Hooray!

  • I hear those crackles in my neck a lot....I used to think about it but it's been so long it doesn't bother me anymore. Unfortunately I have 2 screws backing into my left vertebral artery (have a 3 level fusion C4-5-6) so the metal has to come out. The metal is almost 12 years old and my doc told me after 5 years the metal is considered old. I'm hoping the best option will happen-that everything is healed (fusion was from broken neck/ligament damage) and I won't need anything else-but I might need more metal or a bone fusion. Sigh. I will find out when I wake up...surgery is 1/14/09. :D

    I hope everyone continues to do as well as they can. Please send me a message if you'd like to talk.
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