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Feeling lumbar hardware through skin?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Can anyone feel their fusion hardware when rubbing/pressing on the skin of your back? If so, has your doctor confirmed and explained this?

My surgeon and his PA said that it shouldn't be possible for me to feel my hardware from the outside, because there's too much skin, fascia, fat, and muscle over the hardware. They said you'd only be able to feel the hardware if it were coming out (which, according to images, mine is not) or if you were extremely skinny (which I am definitely not).

However, when I saw my doctor recently--for the first time since surgery without my big, bulky, hard LSO brace on, he was able to palpate the area and said it was actually my hardware we were feeling. But he was surprised and didn't know why.

My muscles did atrophy a lot during the almost 4 months I was in the LSO/hip spica brace, but they still didn't expect to feel the hardware.


  • might be "feeling" some of my hardware in my back but never actually have - again I ain't sknnny ! LOL That must be a weird feeling. But now having thought about it I really don't like looking at my scars (2 red & ugly ones!) let alone touching them!! yuck !
  • Yes, I can feel quite a bit, and I am quite thin anyway. Doctor says this is normal. You can't really see it, but I can touch and feel it a lot of it. I also have quite a bit of nuts, bolts, rods--so there is a lot to explore.
  • I don't actually feel the hardware through the skin (not skinny either!!) But it does hurt to rub the scar area where the hardware is. If I press down firmly I feel pain which I gather is scar tissue rubbing against the hardware. I had a l-5 s-1 fusion. Before my fusion I had a laminotomy and discectomy (spelling?) which then developed a post-op infection for which the surgeon went in and cleaned out the infection and left the wound to heal "open". this created a whole bunch of scarring and mess that the surgeon who did the spinal fusion had to clear away during the procedure. I don't know if all the scar tissue previously developed because of the wound not being closed or if my body just develops excessive scar tissue. I've had a gall-bladder surgery and not had any problems from it. I just feel pain at the surgery site when I press on it, so I take the oldest advice on the planet: "if it hurts, don't press on it"!! It's strange to think of all the equipment that is in there though!
  • I don't want to steal the thread, but it seems to me the doctors could take just few minutes more care when snipping and trimming some of this stuff!

    I had a longitudinal pin in the length of my collarbone for like six weeks. They left the end stick out rather far and it hurt under the skin of my shoulder! Now, late in the healing the OD said, "Do you want that out"? I say, "H#!! Yes I want that out"! So he does another surgery to remove it. I got the pin and where they cut it off instead of using a saw or something to cut the end off smoothly, they had sniped it with some sort of wire snips! Leaving a very ragged, jagged pointy edge!

    I've always wondered why they would do that? On occasion Orthopedic hardware HAS TO BE LEFT IN. My uncle had a heart attack after having his leg pinned and they would not risk another surgery to remove his pins. Poor guy lived with those pins trying to escape through his skin for 7 years.

    I'll shut up now, next time, I hope there is never a next time, for anyone! Next time I will say, "SMOOTH THE EDGES OFF"!
  • Heidi, it's over a year now for me & I can both feel & see my hardware...just hate anything touching that whole area..so it's "not in your head"--it's in your BACK! :)

    Seriously, when I pull my scar to the side, it's quite obvious, less so when I'm standing, but very apparent when I leaning fwd, etc. Hurts to lie directly on it, also. I am fusing fine, but yes, the hardware is always "there" not only felt internally, but can be seen externally.

    BTW: I'm 5'10" & weigh 114....that could be part of the issue..but not always the case. My pedicle screws are 5.5 mm (about 2.5 ") and the rods are about 2.5 inches, so there's quite a lot of metal in there & not much to "cover" it.

    And your correct: muscle wasting can also make it more apparent, according to my NS, who always "looks" @ it when I report to him for x-rays.

    Look at it this way: at least you know it's in there, doing its' job!

    Does yours ache during bad weather too? We're having rain/wind/dampness/fog...UGH!

    Take care--you've been thru a LOT!

  • I can't feel my hardware through the skin but I do feel as if the screws are working their way out. Sometimes it feels as if they are pinching the muscle or fascia around them. I sitll have numbness at incision site and it has been almost 5years since lumbar. But now my cervical fusion is a different scenario all together! I know I can't palpate my anterior plate and screws due to the trachea and esophagus is in front of it but I swear it feels as if it shifts and pushes against my trachea!! Heck at times I choke on my own saliva which is not fun at all as it makes me have to hold my back when coughing!!!

    I wish you luck and God Bless,
    TinaMarie ;)
  • I was the one who was surprised when my dr. said that it's possible to feel the hardware.

    The dr. just made it seem matter of fact. He pushed on the spot that I told him I have trouble with - my right leg melted like butter (it does hurt there) - and he said it was my hardware and that I need to consider taking it out now.

    I can't remember who made the comment, (home or here), that "ain't it fun to know that the screw heads are making hamburger of your back muscles?" :SS Now I can't shake the image and despite some earlier denial, I think I am ready to have the stuff taken out ;) -well, when I can get time off work again anyway.
  • Im 5 9 and weigh about 150 and you bet you can see and feel my harware. My doc told me its pretty normal to be able to feel your hardare if you thin. I might opt to have the screw and rods removed in the future removed in the future.
  • I had a three level fusion and am 1 year post-op. The only time I can feel my hardware is when I'm rolling over in bed while sleeping, and sometimes when I bend over to pick something up, or when I'm down on the floor on all fours doing my leg excersises. I definately know it's there, but it's so deep. But it doesn't hurt.
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