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Sneezing & hardware

TatiyanaTTatiyana Posts: 194
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Okay, i am 6 weeks out of ALIF. Because I am allergic to EVERYTHING, I sneeze alot (& cough) I usually try to brace myself for it but about 1/2 an hour ago I was standing & didn't have a chance to "brace" I am a 3 sneezer & actually yelled after each one :''( ..and I still have pain from it.
Not bad enough to call in...but still.

Any ideas why sneezing hurts so bad? I assume it is the hardware, but is it moving or something :/

Have you guys experienced this too? Or anything else cause you sudden intense "hardware type" pain?

This is just one of those things I will be adding to my list to ask the NS when I go back in, but am curious about it now.. ;)


  • Hi Tatiyana,
    Your not the only one who has this problem. I too do the same thing when I feel a sneeze coming on I try to "prepare" myself. I don't know if it's the hardware, but I'm thinking it's more the muscles, but the pain does always hit on the side of my hardware, which I only have on the left side. I had my original surgery of PLIF with donor bone & hardware on Sept. 15. I had to undergo another surgery on Jan. 6 because an infection had developed and the dr. had to go in and clean it out, so unfortunately I have had the muscles and such cut twice. :( My motto is "take one day at a time". I wish you well in your recovery.
  • I think it's probably more muscle related. I had cervical surgery and would rather do anything than sneeze. Even coughing doesn't cause the kind of discomfort that sneezing does. I guess because like you said sometimes it's unexpected and you don't have time to prepare. It's worth asking your doctor about it at your next visit though.
  • Nope,its not muscle pain, I can tell it is in the bone.
    I have suffered both bone issues & muscle (spasms & Fibro) and this is definately bone...just don't know if it is for sure the hardware :?
    When I got out of the hospital, my tailbone hurt terribly. For 3 weeks it felt like a broken bone..this is very close to that pain.
    Oh, it also pops sometimes, not painful tho..the popping could be muscle, but I really am not that tight and havent been having the spasms some experience. I haven't had to take the muscle relaxers either.

    Just interested in everyone's thoughts :)
  • Hi Tatiyana,

    Can your doc prescribe anything to help suppress the sneezing? not sure if this is an option. Even if it's just temporary so you can recover without breaking anything.

    When I was recovering from a fusion, I would try to press my back against the back of the chair or, if lying down, raise my knees so that my back was pressed against the couch.
    That's the best I could do so that my lower spine didn't move too much from the sneeze.

    Hope your recovery is going well.

  • I already take both Zyrtec & Clariton & on a bad day I also take Benedryl. Unfortunately nothing stops the sneezing. I probably sneeze at least 40-50 times a day ~X(

    Thanks for the tips, If I am sitting I can get through it okay but when walking/standing it really tears me up.

    My biggest fear is that hardware will shift or I won't get a good fuse because of the involuntary movement :S

    Aside from this, my recovery is going pretty well..just wish I could get more walking in, too much ice & snow here in Iowa.
  • It contracts your muscles and that causes pressure on your joints. I you are a hard sneezer like me it hurts. After my fusion I was careful to brace myself but now I have no issues with it. I think you will heal out of it but ask the doctor anyway, he knows best.
  • I think it's just the muscle contractions pulling on the "joint space" which is basically the disc space. Sneezing and coughing can jar the whole body. As you heal it should improve. I would definitely talk to your PCP about the sneezing though! You may need some sort of nasal antihistamine to spray directly into your nose and reduce the sneezing just for pain sake. When I was recovering and couldn't brace before a sneeze, I would bend my knees and and rock back a little straightening my spine as I sneezed. Hard to describe..but it seemed to take the impact of the sneeze better (for me). Best of luck!
  • just fyi-if you get that sneeze feeling but not sure if it's going to happen, looking at a bright light will often make you sneeze. so, the reverse maybe true to help? If you feel a sneeze coming on, try not to look at a bright light and it might prevent a sneeze. I realize this is not a real solution but might at times help you stay a little more comfortable.

    Back pain with sneezing is usually a classic sign of disc herniation,but do you have any discs in that area to be herniated?
  • The first 6-8 weeks after my fusion, I would have bone pain when I sneezed--like the hardware was going to explode. Slowly, it has subsided. Which is encouraging! Perhaps a sign of healing, who knows. Now, at 3 months, sneezing is not a big problem--just slight pain. I found that sneezing as loudly and as obnoxiously as I could (which is fun for me) actually diminished the pain. I had to brace every muscle in my body and hold on for dear life when I felt a sneeze coming. I would be concerned if I were you (I'm sure your doctor will tell you not to worry about it if he is anything like my doc) and get the sneezing under control. Like others have written, there are ways of bracing your body to lessen the impact--I would bend my knees (I think) and hold on to something and yell. I have a friend who herniated 3 discs by sneezing. Just trying to be honest. I'm sure with your hardware, it is much different then someone sneezing without the hardware--but it has to be causing strain on that area. Kind of similar to the constipation thing. Ugghhh....this is so hard, isn't it? Hang in there.

  • I don't feel like any other discs are herniated, just that my hardware is, well, like Chuck said, going to explode.
    When I sneeze & don't brace well enough, it causes pain & alot of pressure in a very concentrated area just above my tailbone.

    Thanks for all the responses, I see my surgeon next week & I will be anxious to see the xray & be sure everything is still in place after all this sneezing! :)
  • Hi..my name is Amy. I had degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spondolothesis at L4-5 & L5-S1. I was 24 at the time I got hurt from moving into an apartment. I tried the minimal invasive surgery at both levels. I felt better for a month and got back in my routine. My pain came back and I was back on a walker. I went back to the doctor and he told me my back was fine. I had to go see another doctor as he would not listen to me.

    I was referred to a neurosurgeon. He said he had done training again and was taught to look for other spine problems other than nerves being pinched. He said if he had not done training he would of told me my back was fine. I had to have an EMG test because I also have nerve pain in both legs and feet but my MRI did not show that. It showed I had lumbar radiculopathy. A lot of the doctors I saw were not nice to me. The neurosurgeon told me that the minimal invasive surgery caused the L5-S1 to be bone rubbing on bone. That surgery made it worse.

    He thought the L4-5 was a small problem and he did not think that level was causing me pain. He recommended anterior lumbar interbody fusion at L5-S1. I had it done in May 2004. I got over it pretty quickly but had a hard time with my scar closing. I got back into my routine. I started hurting again and my nerve pain change directions. I started having pain on top of my foot. It was like if something was on my foot. I had sharp shooting pains in my ankles, in my thighs. By July, I went back to the surgeon and I told him I was in a lot of pain and still walking like a old woman.

    He claimed he did not what was cauing my pain and released to rehab. I went to rehab for 6 months and showed no improvement. They stretched me and tried everything you can think of. My nerve pain contiuned to get worse. The rehab doctor was also a neuroglist so he did another EMG test but never told me the results. In the meantime, I did see a surgeon at spine intergated place. He could see the Degenerative Disc Disease on my x-ray. All the other doctors said I was either making this up, I could not have nerve pain due to they could not see it on my MRI, they said my problem was small, etc.

    This surgeon had told me that I needed a two-level fusion. He wanted me to have another discogram and they are so bad/painful because I had one back in 2003. I asked him if they could request those films to avoid another procedure. They said it would take 4 weeks to get them. I got the idea they were giving me the run around. My grandmother's friends all kept telling me to go to Texas Back Institue in Plano, TX. Since I was not getting better in rehab, I called Texas Back Inst and told them I am coming to Plano to see a doctor.

    I had see a lot of doctors in Phoenix. I had the insurance company send me a list of all the orthopedic surgeons on the list. I called each office to see which ones who treat the spine and I went to all of them who did. I ended up changing insurance through open enrollment and got on a PPO plan. I could tell a difference in doctors and diagnoses. On the HMO plan I was not getting anywhere and I was missing a lot of work due to the severe pain. I got to the point where I told my mom to go buy me a wheel chair.

    Early on before surgeries, I had went to the chiropractor and they were not able to adjust my lower back due to my skin was painful across the lower back. They finally said you need to see a medical doctor. When I contacted the TBI in Plano, they told me they had an office in Phoenix. I said I will never see a doctor in Arizona. She had told me this is not an ordinary doctor. This was on October 31, 2004. They got me on Nov. 2nd. I went to see this surgeon.

    I had an attitude as I was tired of doctors treated me poorly becasue I was young or whatever their problem was towards me. As he was looking over my reports and films..he said they should have finished the job as I did need both levels fused. However, since I had the two surgeries already he wanted to be 100% sure that L4-5 was the only source of pain. He thought the L3-4 could be causing me pain as well. He said my MRI did not tell him anything and cannot understand why the neurosurgeon did not do a discogram. He did order another MRI and a discogram.

    I had the discogram and it showed worse than the MRI. He sent me to another doctor to do the discogram and that doctor was really nice to me. I told him about my first discogram experience and it was so painful..I could hardly walk. He told me he would give me meds and will not make it bad for me. He was right..I walked out of the place when they let me go..the nurse was shocked. I told her I had been through one and this one was nothing like my other one. Based on the discogram the surgeon said he would fused the L4-5.

    I had it on 1-10-05 and he did a PLIFF/Redo fusion to my sacrum. I have 4 screws, two rods, and a bone. I also have pedical screws. I had lost my job right before my surgery. I started doing things and was feeling better. I had an issue with the tail end of my scar. It got infected but was not the bad stuff. However, I did have to take medication for it. My scar was really painful starting down towards the end of the scar. I had my mom would rub two fingers on or around it to try and work out the painful/tenderness to touch.

    Then 6 months into the fusion, I started having severe pain at going down to the bottom of the scar, across the lower back, where the pedical screws are placed, my sides, hips, back of my legs or numb, side of knees, in both feet, and the bottom of my feet. Also, since I got hurt, when i wake up in the mornings my hands are numb and cannot pick up anything until the numbness goes away. When I press on my elbows I have shooting pains up and down my arms. Also, if I turn a door knob I have to be careful as I get a sharp electrical pain when I turn the doorknob.

    In 2004, I went to see a chiropractor and thought I had sacrolitts. He suggested for me to walk in the pool and not swim. I was going to my surgeon every 3-6 months for the follow up of L4-5 fusion and the new pain I was having. He agreed it was a different kind of pain. He said I had a left SI joint Dysfunction and sent me to thepary. My pain got worse and he did several steirod injections but did not really help. Then he suggested Prolotherapy injections.

    I found a doctor where I lived as I had to move back to New Mexico where my mom lives. She is taking care of me as I am still having pain but it is not the same pain I had before the surgeries. The prolotherapy specialist said I had SI Joint Dysfunction in both joints, in the SI Liagments, etc. I had two but had to stop because I could not afford them. They were very painful and made cry during the injections. My surgeon also diagnosed me with a Lumbar Strain. I am still suffering from the pain I developed after the last surgery. You would think a strain would not last this long.

    My cobara insurance ran out and I could no longer see my surgeon. I had to search for doctors near where I live and I live in a small town. There are no spine doctors in my town so I have to travel 45 miles one way. I am now seeing a pain doctor and she has been telling me I have Post Lumbar Lamientcomy Sydrome. She thinks I could have Sacroliits but my MRI, Bone Scan, X-rays, and a Mylogram all show normal. If the doctors gives me a physical exam, I test positive to Sacroliits, SI liagment problems, Myofacial, Muscle that runs from my pelvic to my back is inflamed.

    I may have pain in my facet joints but there is no test to stay this is what I have. Also, I can bend but I have severe pinching in my skin near my scar and the sides of my hips. If my foot gets pulled back..I can feel a pulling. Such as, if I trip over a rug. On my films all the doctors say my hardware looks really good. I decied to go the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ as I exhausted pain management. I have had two Neurolysis, SI blocks, manual theapry, spinal chord stimulator trial, morphine pain pump trial.

    On the pain pump trial it was a horrible experience as I was hurting more than usual, could not go to the bathroom, and in the morning I started having spinal headaches that were severe. After I got home, the next day I threw up from 6-12 noon. The afternoons they would get better. The following day, I had to call 911 and the ambulance had to take me to the hospital as they got really bad. As time went on, I had visual problems and running into things. At times, I could not see and almost hit a car. It took me a long time to get over it.

    I had to drink cokes around the clock. Based on my diagnoses, I had to see a rheumoglist at the Mayo Clinic. He ruled out Sacroliits because the films showed I had normal joints. I had an EMG test that old injuries, I had x-rays of my hands, feets, knees, back, and chest. They did several views of each areas I was hurting. I also have severe pain in both knees that comes and goes. In the winter they are more painful. On my knee x-rays it showed the top of my petella are slighly off centered. I saw a Physical med doctor and examind back carefully. He said I had chronic low back pain, SI liagments and Joints are painful, Chronic Myofacial pain. He also said I need to break the pain cycle. He suggested going to a pain center where there are several pain doctors working with me to help me cope with the pain and treatments. Also, he ordered a tension unit. He has L5-problems and uses a tension unit.

    Then I saw a neurosurgeon and he told me I had failed back surgery. I told him my pain is not the same. I showed him where I hurt and how tender I was. I cry during a physical exam because it so painful and unbearable. Then the neurosurgeon said since my films look good it is not the structure of my back..it is in my soft tissues. He then went onto say it could be Myaliga. It is in the same category as Fibromyaliga but it was more localized. I also hurt in the back of my ribs.

    It feels like a cracked rib. I have severe muscle spasms. If I stand too long I feel like I am going to fall down. I saw my pain doctor and I do not think she even looked at my medical records from the Mayo Clinic. I told her what the Mayo said and she said they are all symoptoms and not diagnoses. My pain doctor made a comment before I left to go the Mayo that they are not recognizing Fibromyaliga. Huh the Neurosurgeon said they are. People who has had surgeries developed chronic pain but does not have a test to say this is what you have.

    He explained to me back in the war days they did not have antibotics. Now we do..hopefully in a couple of years they will have a blood test to screen patients like me who have chronic pain and you cannot make pain up like this. I told him I had like an ant bed at down there at the bottom of the scar. I asked a occupational thep. about it and she asked if I had notice red patches on my skin..I said no. She looked at my hands and they were beat red. She thought I have it not only in my back but in other places.
  • I had facet joint pain that sounds like that and had facet joint injections that helped. You've sure been through alot. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Have you ever heard of a nettie(y) pot? It's used a few times a day to clear out the allergens in the back sinuses. You use warm water and salt to make a saline mixture. Anyways thought I mention that but clear it with your Dr. first. I'm sorry you're experiencing such pain and sneezing so often. I hope something helps you. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I used a netti pot once when I had a sinus infection, I may give it another try, I gagged like crazy the first time, lol
    The sneezing is getting better, I added benedryl to mix :)
  • oh Tatiyanna I am sorry you are having sneezing, what a "pain". I was very lucky and did not sneeze a single time during the first 4 weeks post-op. I couldn't believe it myself. When I finally did I found that if I relaxed and just let the sneeze come it was not quite as bad as tensing up. I also just let the sneezes rip allowing the air to freely escape through my mouth.(not sanitary but ya gotta do what ya gotta do...) When the sneezes passed then I took care of the nose. Isn't is crazy the "little things" we spineys have to worry about?

    I hope your sneezing settles down.

  • Thanks for responding. I had facet blocks on Tuesday at my pain doctor's office. My lower back pain got really bad. Yesterday, I went to my gym in got in their endless pool to walk around in. I got relief for a few minutes but the pain came back. I tried heat and ice. I finally had to go the E.R. last night. I could hardly move or walk. The E.R. doctor has wisdom and told me it was my L4-5 & L5-S1. The muscles are tensing and will not release. He highly recommended I go to a pain center where there are a variety of doctors working with me to help me cope with the pain. I suggested I have stronger pain medications that would be fast acting release for E.R. type of pain. Then my medications would work. I am going to try and get into Texas Tech Pain Clinic in Lubbock, TX. A primary care doctor has to refer me but he did not know if they would take my case or not because of all the surgeries I had. I am going to the doctor on Monday. He thought it was time for me to change pain doctors because they were guessing on what is wrong with me. The facet blocks caused my lower back pain worse and no relief. Thanks for welcoming into this support group.
  • I've been sneezing some (3 weeks post-op ALIF L5-S1) and I find my body "buckles". I have this ridiculous fear that my carbon fiber cage will come flying out the back into my spinal canal and cause all kinds of problems. Silly, isn't it? But that is what it feels like when I sneeze.

    Keep us updated on what your surgeon had to say, very curious.
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