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Hives post-spinal fusion surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 51,465
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello. I had my L4-L5-S1 fused on 5/5/09. Everything seemed to be going fine at first. On Monday 5/11/09 my doctor switched me from Norco pain killers to Tylenol 4 because the Norco was making me feel sick. Then on Wednesday 5/13/09 I broke out in hives. The doctor switched me back to Lortab assuming it was a reaction to the Tylenol 4. He told me to take Benedryl until they cleared up.

By Saturday 5/16/09 the hives were so bad that I went to the local ER. They were unable to give me the steroid shot because of the fusion surgery but prescribed Benedryl and Zantac to combat the hives. I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon on Monday 5/18/09 and he quickly dismissed the possibility that I was allergic to the titanium because he said the reaction would be "different". He prescribed Atarax along with Zantac for the hives and switched me to Ultram for the pain. He said to call him today, 5/20/09, if they had not cleared up.

As of this morning I still have the hives so I called my doctor and he prescribed the methylprednisone steroid pack. I started this immediately after my pharmacist had it ready. I'm now wondering if it could be the titanium and my doctor is wrong. I had no allergies prior to the surgery but I just can't seem to kick these hives now.

Oddly, the area of my incision seems to be one of the few areas where I am not developing hives. The fusion actually seems to be progressing well. I am getting hives on my arms, hands, legs, feet, neck, and chest. They come and go with most only lasting about 5 minutes before they disappear and reappear elsewhere on my body.

What would the symptoms be if I were allergic to the titanium in my body? All I really want to know is that it probably isn't the titanium because the thought of another surgery to remove the titanium scares me.

Thanks for any info.
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Comments

  • I got have pre-op when i started taking meds. Doctors told me it was not from the meds. I still don't know what they were from. Post-op they got worse. I didn't take anything for the hives. My mom told me to put athlets foot cream on my hives (anti-fungus cream) and than shower using head and shoulders shampoo. My hives started to clear up with in a few days. I know it sounds weird but it is worth a shot. It worked for me.
  • Thanks for the response. I'll try the shampoo's you mentioned. I've also been using hydrocortisone cream and Lanacane spray along with the medications to control the itching.

    I guess my biggest worry is that I'm allergic to the titanium and I absolutely dread having to go back for another surgery to have it removed. Of course, worrying only makes matters worse when it comes to hives. That's why I came here hoping someone could tell me what an actual allergic reaction to titanium from a spinal fusion surgery is like.

    My incision looks good and the hives move randomly over my body staying for a maximum of 5-15 minutes in any one spot before moving again. They seem to be staying away from the incision area, however. Thanks in advance for any advice.
  • You should see about getting your liver enzymes tested because certain medicines like tyelenol can raise the GGT and when that gets too high EVERYTHING causes you to itch and breakout. So it may not be the titanium but just the amounts and types of painkillers you have used already. Ultracet after awhile gave me hives and blisters.
  • Did they use BMP or cadaver bone for your fusion? I wonder if you could be reacting to that.
  • I too started having hives approx 6-8 weeks post op. they were real bad in the beginning, every day. Now I get them a couple times a week but Clariton takes care of them quickly. I have Had bloodwork done but they cant seem to find the cause.
  • I too started having hives at 2 weeks post-op. My doc took me off all pain meds and put me on tagement,predazone,benadyl..It's been 36 day now,I haven't taked the predazonefor 7 days.I am still taking the tagament , and benadryl .I still have hives, they come and go as in the first post.. No answers yet for me either
  • Had L-5 S-1 fused 11-2-09. Three weeks later I have had hives all over the place, I have stopped pain meds, slathered on hydrocortisone and been taking benadryl, to very little relief. Yesterday I tried my acyclovir (Valtrex) and the hives all but dissapeared, this stuff has given me the first nights sleep since the operation. I hope this helps some of you folks. Trading pain for nonstop itching is no trade at all.

  • I think hives like that would drive me right over the edge. I have no idea what is causing them for you folks, and Jello - I don't know precisely what the reaction of an allergy to titanium would be, but I can tell you that I am allergic to many different types of metals -- actually, it's nickel sensitivity in my case, as nickel is used to make lots of different metals. For me, it causes an itchy bubbly rash that looks like poison ivy. The skin gets oozy and gross. So, if I wear costume jewelry, I get a horrible oozy rash. I also had a pair of supposedly titanium glasses once (the frames) and they caused my face to break out in that rash at the temples, where the sides of the glasses touched my face.

    I hope those of you with older posts here can see this and come back and tell the folks with recent itches what helped you. Itching, burns, and back pain have to be some of the worst pains there are!

    Linda

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Weird, I thought I posted to this topic before? I too get hives. I had another fusion in August, and about hummm... 3 weeks post op, gawd I got hives so bad, I looked like I was diseased!!! Okay, fast forward.... I am now just passing 3 months post op. Most of the hives have given me a break, but I come out of the shower and look nasty! Raw, rashy, hives!!! 5-15 minutes.. all gone?!?!?! It is weird. Claritin takes most of it out, but lordy, when the itching starts, look out!

    It isn't as bad now, but I will get a flare, itch like a person with poison ivy, and blam...good for a day or so. It is better.....

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I broke out in hives the day after my fusion surgery. I think mine was from the morphine they were giving me via the pump, though I can't be sure. I had to get Benadryl in my IV to tame them, but they didn't go away for quite a few days.
  • I broke out on my right wrist. Not all over. This happens in the past as an allergic reaction. Poison Ivy I have had. This looks similar but localized. That was 2 weeks after surgery. When I saw my surgeon Tuesday we talked about it. I told him I usually end up on Medrol dose packs for this kind of reaction. He was like oh no. No steroids unless we have no choice. Go get some Benadryl and take a full dose for a few days. If it doesn't clear up come back and we'll do Prednisone. But i really do not want to do that now.

    Not sure why. He was really against steroids right now.The Benadryl helped. I used the pills and topical. Never thought about being allergic to the hardware.
  • Z06 said:
    I broke out on my right wrist. Not all over. This happens in the past as an allergic reaction. Poison Ivy I have had. This looks similar but localized. That was 2 weeks after surgery. When I saw my surgeon Tuesday we talked about it. I told him I usually end up on Medrol dose packs for this kind of reaction. He was like oh no. No steroids unless we have no choice. Go get some Benadryl and take a full dose for a few days. If it doesn't clear up come back and we'll do Prednisone. But i really do not want to do that now.

    Not sure why. He was really against steroids right now.The Benadryl helped. I used the pills and topical. Never thought about being allergic to the hardware.
    Hey Graham!!!

    Steroids are a No-No for fusion as I was told? Don't know, but that is what I was told. Hives...gawd they are nasty!!! I am now passing 3 months post op. I STILL come out of the shower covered in hives! 5-15 minutes later, you would never know! I itch a tiny bit, and hives - I HATE it... Because of my Toprol, I can't take things like Benadryl. I can take Claratin (without the D). That helps a bit. I have different hardware this go around - might be a reaction to it...don't know. Itching bites!!! Hives bite!!! Hehehhee....

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Wow Axiatrix, if you are still having a reaction 3 months post op I would think you might really be allergic to the hardware. Also, why do you say steroids are bad for a fusion? My surgeon's assistant gave me a medrol pack a week or so after my fusion because I was in so much pain.
  • Ive been breaking out on my neck....my skin gets extremely itchy but instead of scratching I just rub lightly with my fingertips and it gets really red and starts to burn a lil. I have no idea what this is from. It started about a week or so ago and comes and goes. Soooo weird.


    Christina
  • noseovertail said:
    Wow Axiatrix, if you are still having a reaction 3 months post op I would think you might really be allergic to the hardware. Also, why do you say steroids are bad for a fusion? My surgeon's assistant gave me a medrol pack a week or so after my fusion because I was in so much pain.
    Howdy Nose!!!

    First off, I have seen your post surgery posts. I am sorry you went through all that! *HUG* I truly hope things are finally coming around for you!!

    My doctor (NS) told me that they inhibited the fusion process. He didn't give much detail beyond that! I know that steroids over all aren't good for our bodies. My doctor almost gave me steroids in the very beginning, but gave me NSAIDS instead - lucky me, now found I am allergic to them!

    I too have thought that *maybe* I am reacting to the new hardware. As you can see in my avatar, it is a different type of "plate" than the "regular" plate we are use to! My surgeon "doesn't think that is an issue - plus since the fusion (top) is still not taking, he is reluctant at this point to take the hardware out. The hives come and go, and they are annoying as all get out! If he has to go back in (fusion fix), I will ask him to use the "regular" plate. Thanks Nose, as I too am now beginning to feel the same! I have seen on here more and more that people have had reactions to their hardware - weird as it is premo metal!! Take care, and thanks!!

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • It's strange but oxycontin caused me a great deal of itching and some hives. Other medications with the same make up and similar ingredients don't. So I now know I have to avoid it. I also have heard of people having localized hives due to the sutures.
    Multiple ACDFs, Multiple Lumbar Fusions; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty
  • SpineAZ said:
    It's strange but oxycontin caused me a great deal of itching and some hives. Other medications with the same make up and similar ingredients don't. So I now know I have to avoid it. I also have heard of people having localized hives due to the sutures.
    Howdy!!!

    Actually foods and medication count for most allergic hives situations. Metals for some. I for instance have a different type of plate(?) wing thing is more like it! I am beginning to guess there might be something in the metal alloy that I am having problems with. Unfortunately, unless he goes back in to address the fusion issue, I would have to wait to see if they (hives) continue to realize for sure if it is coming from the new hardware. If it is, that bites - I would HATE to have to have them go in to "redo" this for bloody hives!!! Hehhee

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.

  • Hi All,

    Many transplant patients must use massive doses of steroids to fend off rejection of the donor organ or tissue. However, there is a risk of infection when high dose steroids are used since they suppress the immune system. They also affect blood flow, primarily affecting the femur (thigh bone) head. The blood vessels that feed the femur are small, long term steroid use causes a buildup of lipids, this creates slowdowns in blood flow and the osteocysts are deprived of the oxygen rich blood they need to grow to lay on new bone. The femur head ends up wearing down at an accelerated rate so a hip replacement ends up being needed.

    As spineys & neckties, the amounts of steroids that are used for trigger point injections, ESI's or medrol packs are small and are generally limited to short term use. IMO, some docs err on the side of caution and would try other means first to reduce problems with swelling, hives, etc.

    Hope this helps.
  • This is a tough one as some things you can't really change.

    1. Hardware - It's not like you can remove it for a month and see if you get better. You also can't really just blame the hardware. So many things changed because you had surgery.

    How about going to an allergy specialist and see if you can get tested for allergies specifically to metals. I have worked with many metals, steel, stainless steel, iron, bronze, copper, titanium. I never broke out in hives afterwards. But I've never had it inserted in my body and left there either.

    2. Drugs - Drugs like Hardware. They are chemicals and give off chemical reactions within your body. I see a lot of you are taking Lyrica or Neurontin. Did you know that a big reaction to Lyrica is swelling and hives? The 1st 2 weeks I took Lyrica my hands and feet swelled up. I got itchy and annoyed. Coming out of the shower I could see the hives. I've taken Darvocet and never had a problem. Percoset makes me violently ill, but no hives. If you have made recent drug changes do they coincide with your hives?

    3. Bodily Chnages - This whole pain, medication, tests, surgery thing is disruptive. Your body is going through changes. Maybe you have been really close to an allergic attack from something in the past. Just wasn't quite at the edge yet. These changes dropped your immune system just that little bit. Now you get hives from something you least expect???

    Again a basic allergy test to common household things, soaps, deodorants, shampoo, animal dander, pollens, etc...


    To give you an idea in my case. I never had allergies until we moved from ME to NC. As in pollen. This is place is horrible for it. I had sinus infections every year. Then had sinus surgery after it got horrible. I haven't had a sinus infection now in years. But certain pollens make me break out in hives. And I don't mean Poison Ivy. I mean tree pollen.

    Here is another you can try that is really easy. Next time you shower. Get the most bland soap you can find. No fragrance or deoderant. Like baby soap. Wash your hair and body with it. When you get out of the shower. Don't rub yourself dry with the towel. Lightly pat down and stop. Make sure that towel was washed in a real light soap and not put in the dryer with a dryer sheet. Do not put on deoderant or perfumes at all. Do your hives issues change at all?

    It turns out there are several soaps and many deoderants I can no longer tolerate at all. This happened after all this back problem stuff started up.

    Your body is always going through changes. Don't rule out some of the simple and obvious. Just because it didn't bother you yesterday. Doesn't mean that is true today.

    Graham
  • Z06 said:
    This is a tough one as some things you can't really change.

    1. Hardware - It's not like you can remove it for a month and see if you get better. You also can't really just blame the hardware. So many things changed because you had surgery.

    How about going to an allergy specialist and see if you can get tested for allergies specifically to metals. I have worked with many metals, steel, stainless steel, iron, bronze, copper, titanium. I never broke out in hives afterwards. But I've never had it inserted in my body and left there either.
    Been there, done that...nothing beyond what I already had. The dermatologist even told me that with hardware, allergies don't always show up! Bummer huh? There are too many different alloys in the metals to test.

    2. Drugs - Drugs like Hardware. They are chemicals and give off chemical reactions within your body. I see a lot of you are taking Lyrica or Neurontin. Did you know that a big reaction to Lyrica is swelling and hives? The 1st 2 weeks I took Lyrica my hands and feet swelled up. I got itchy and annoyed. Coming out of the shower I could see the hives. I've taken Darvocet and never had a problem. Percoset makes me violently ill, but no hives. If you have made recent drug changes do they coincide with your hives?
    I know for me. Shortly after my surgery I was given Naproxin, and my hands swelled horribly! I stopped it immediately. No hives with it. Then no drugs. I only started Lyrica a week and a half ago, so it's not that either. Otherwise no drug changes.

    3. Bodily Chnages - This whole pain, medication, tests, surgery thing is disruptive. Your body is going through changes. Maybe you have been really close to an allergic attack from something in the past. Just wasn't quite at the edge yet. These changes dropped your immune system just that little bit. Now you get hives from something you least expect???

    Again a basic allergy test to common household things, soaps, deodorants, shampoo, animal dander, pollens, etc...


    To give you an idea in my case. I never had allergies until we moved from ME to NC. As in pollen. This is place is horrible for it. I had sinus infections every year. Then had sinus surgery after it got horrible. I haven't had a sinus infection now in years. But certain pollens make me break out in hives. And I don't mean Poison Ivy. I mean tree pollen.

    Here is another you can try that is really easy. Next time you shower. Get the most bland soap you can find. No fragrance or deoderant. Like baby soap. Wash your hair and body with it. When you get out of the shower. Don't rub yourself dry with the towel. Lightly pat down and stop. Make sure that towel was washed in a real light soap and not put in the dryer with a dryer sheet. Do not put on deoderant or perfumes at all. Do your hives issues change at all?

    It turns out there are several soaps and many deoderants I can no longer tolerate at all. This happened after all this back problem stuff started up.
    I've been on allergy free Dove for years. Same with my laundry. After being diagnosed with Latex allergies, been very careful what I wash with, dry with and wash laundry with. Same for deodorants. I used the same one for years, then one day started breaking out badly. Went to a hypo allergenic one. Same with my shampoo! Good thought though.

    Your body is always going through changes. Don't rule out some of the simple and obvious. Just because it didn't bother you yesterday. Doesn't mean that is true today.

    Graham
    Yeah same here Graham. After I moved to Florida, I developed a LOT of allergies. At the beginning pollen, pine etc. Once I moved from north FL to south FL, all new ones! Hehehe...I hate when that happens!! :-)

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had surgery 3/12/10. I never had hives until this metal was placed in my spine, Its been 8 weeks. I am now starting to have hive all over my body. Its affecting my sleep and job. What would cause this reaction so late? My scar does not itch.
  • Hey there

    Two days after surgery (15th March 2010 for spinal fusion L4-5) I started to itch around my scar and was told that it was 'healing' and 'the dressing'. I didnt have any morphine after the recovery room and no other drugs other than calcium and vitamin D both for healing. Over 7 weeks on the itching is worse and spots (hives) have developed around but not on the scar, on my elbows, buttocks and thighs, knees and shins, shoulders and armpits and on the nape of my neck. When I suggested a reaction to the titanium and I was told that it isnt pure titanium that they put in but a titanium alloy. When I said that I can't wear cheap jewellery, I was told that it was Nickel and that my implants had an element of that in it.

    I am just in the process of getting the patch tests to see if it is a nickel allergy. The dermatologist, who has written a paper on nickel allergy, said that they call it "Red Spotty Itch" (technical eh?? LOL) I know deep down that it is the implant and this concerns me. What concerns me the most is:
    1. is it healing around the implant?
    2. what is it doing to my insides?
    3. How soon after surgery can the implnnts be taken out?

    I dont think I could put up with this for much longer. I am on antihystimines tablets and cream but dont want this long term.

    Has anyone else had this reaction (I know from the posts above that many have) but has anyone had their implants removed and how soon after surgery did they do it?

    I wish everyone else good luck with their diagnosis' and dont let the doctors tell you something that you know it is. Be strong and follow it up. Doctors dont want to admit that they might have got it wrong. I really do feel that ALL patients should go through a patch test prior to surgery so that all of this could be avoided.

    I look forward to hearing from anyone.
  • I had an L5/S1 fusion using BMP and Titanium rods and pedicle screws were also used. I had absolutely no post surgical hives or reactions. After this surgery I took Valium and Tylenol 3.

    10 months later I had my hardware removed and 5 days post-op I broke out into hives/welts all over my back and scalp. The itching and bumps first started around the incision site and then spread like a wild fire over my entire back and scalp within 2 days. As this procedure was far more painful for me than the fusion, I ended up taking 1 Percocet each day and 1 Valium. I was worried that it was the Percocet so I stopped taking that and just suffered in pain from both the surgery and the welts. It is a horrible feeling to have such severe welts, I felt like my body was on fire. I have never in my life had hives or welts like this and my Internist, nor the surgeons PA had any idea what was causing the reaction but I think it is safe say it was NOT from the hardware :) I've often wondered if the reaction was from the surgical glue but then again surgical glue was used in the first surgery as well. Who knows. Just thought I would throw this out there as I have read so many people wanting to know if their hives were from the BMP and/or hardware.
  • I was initally misdiagnosed with bursitis in my hips and had my hips injected with steroids.

    I was prescribed mobic and ultracet at the time. I developed what is called Stephen Johnson syndrome which is where your entire body is covered with gigantic big red blisters. So big and so red, your entire body is covered and you couldn't tell if I was male or female.

    A skin biopsy was done to detemine the cause. Hopefully no one else will ever have this hapen, but in the event, a biopsy can be done! And to think, it was all for not, I didn't have bursitis~ it was L4-5! urrr
  • I used to get hives after coming out of the shower and itching. Then I started using a soap recommended by my Dermatologist Spectroderm or Spectrojel. Although I used the soap and shampoo after pool therapy provided there and it was fine so maybe I'm not so allergic to some soaps as before. Sorry not related to surgery or hardware. 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 had my surgery Sept 17th didn't break out in hives until three weeks later now going on almost three weeks with the hives ended up in the er very sick to my stomach bathroom runs and every thing else I am now having the hardware removed on the 19 th of Nov I had a neck fusion back in 2008 the used titanium never had a problem now with l5 s1 they put in colbolt chrome with steel rods come to find out it has nickel in it and I can wear any fake jewelry because I break out i'm on prednisone right now but will have to stop 8 days before surgery creams and allergy pills don't work for me I'm left with a epi pen too carry hives the size of lemons all over except the surgery area they stay all day but go away only to come back in different spots not happy :(
    cathy palma
  • Pamela9PPamela9 WashingtonPosts: 42
    I am so glad you finally got an answer, though sorry the solution involves another surgery so soon. You must be miserable!
  • I'm so glad I got a answer the best thing is that they said they would go away as soon as the hardware is out they only thing I'm worried about is not being on the prednisone for a week I'm already down to 40 mg a day and hives are back so who knows how much with none in me :( we will see can't wait I was great up until then .........
    cathy palma
  • Hello everyone I'm new here on the site.
    My 1st surgery was 08/06/2009, L4,L5&S1, 2nd surgery was on 07/05/2012 hardware removal of L4,L5& S1. I had it removed because I didn't want it in there no more I didn't like the way it made me feel. 3rd surgery different area T11&T12 on 10/07/2014.
    I've been having these red hives since close to two weeks after my third back surgery. The doctors have no clue on to what's going on with me. My left side been really hurting for 7 months after this last back surgery as well. My back doctor said he never heard of people having red hives after surgery. My internal medicine doctor said I was allergic to Oxycodone she took me off in put me on Hydrocodone Norco. That puzzled me because I have been taking Oxycodone Percocet medicine for years so it couldn't be that, my back surgeon said. So I started to see an Allergist doctor he said the red hives was due to stress from the surgery. I don't really know what's what, all I know is that I didn't have this until after I had my third back surgery done. Could someone out here help me please. I have been dealing with this for 7 months. The allergy doctor had me on methylprednisolone for a week, now I'm currently taking 2 Claritin, 2 Zantac, and 1Zyrtec pill a day for 7 months now. Plus I get a Zolair shot and each arm once a month. That keeps the hives away at a minimum. But they will keep coming back if I miss a dose of taking Claritin etc. I also carry a EpiPen just incase. Do anybody know were and why does this happen after surgery and how to go about fixing the problem please help me.
    CrissyJan
  • Hi it's now been 9 months and still having hives had my first surgery Sept 17 second one Nov 19 to remove hardware and replace it with titanium had all kinds of allergy test nothing coming up hives and welts all over can't stand the pain just want to no if anyone has ever checked the cage they put in that's my next step it's a polyetheretherketone cage ????? don't know whats next :( :(
    cathy palma
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