I had a spine fusion done on my L5-S1 on July 11, 2004. I was part of a study group to have a disc replacement put in. When I got out of surgery, I had an incision on my abdomen and on my lower spine. I did not receive the disc replacement due to the fact I had severe arthritis in my spine and the decision was made to perform a spinal fusion. I remember immediately after waking up that I had severe pain everywhere but more on my lower right side. That pain has never gone away. When you look at my x-rays you can see that the right side screw is angled differently than the other side. I do believe that is why I am having so much pain. I had one of the best doctors perform my surgery from the University of Utah. I was part of the study group for 4 years and after my last visit in July of 2008 I was told they want me to continue my study for another 5 years. The doctor tells me everything looks great and that there are no bone spurs. My first year after the surgery was hell and I did not start feeling better until 2007. I only felt ok for about a year and since the end of 2007 my pain has increased so much that just touching my spine hurts, my hips are always sore, I can hear movement in my back and pain meds do not take any edge off at all. I am considering having the hardware removed but am not sure if that is the best thing to do or not and really need some advice. I had my surgery at the age of 37 and am now 41. I am a professional bowler and almost gave it up after the surgery, but somehow I was able to just live with the pain and do what I love to do and that is bowl. I can't stand for more than 10 minutes and I can't walk more than a 1/4 mile without my back getting so sore. From some of the stories I am reading, I am seeing about a 50/50 split on success and complications from removing hardware. Are there any doctors in the house or past patients who had their hardware removed and would like to share.