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Residual pain from fusion vs. instrumental pain

SquirrelypoxSSquirrelypox Posts: 33
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi guys. =) I have been having a lot of stiffness and pain in my back where the fusion was performed. While it is not unmanageable, and I very very rarely feel the need to take medicine for it, it upsets me b/c I feel like I always have to take it easy and can't run as far as I'd like, or do certain exercises, or can't sit on the floor to watch a movie, etc. And I go to bed at night all stiff and sore.

Is this normal for everyone that has a fusion? I thought at some point all these aches would go away, but while they did recede for a few months, they seem to be back daily. Is this what instrumental pain is? There is no nerve pain involved; it is all local to the fusion site.

Those that have had pain from their instrumentation, would you mind explaining what it felt like? Or those a year or two out of surgery, do you still have slight back pain?


  • hi Squirrely! Yes, what you describe is also what I feel...a stiff, tight & achy -ness @ the fusion site. I am fused, so I guess the stiffness is part of that, but I asked my NS about the tightness/achy-ness & sometimes throbbing in the fusion site (& next to it as well) & he said it probably was my hardware. He offered to remove it but....!
    It feels like a banana-clip in there, around the spine & sometimes like a brick...& sometimes a banana clip around a brick! Bad weather makes it worse, as does increased activity, etc.
    I can feel a screw-head on the left, & if I push in on the construct, I feel a "zap" down my leg. I do have sciatica/nerve issues in my r leg & foot, but that has been there since b4 & is caused from permanent damage to the L4/5 nerve rootfrom my priors, etc. That won't go away, but yes, my hardware causes me a lot of chronic pain.

    My lower back always aches & is sore, too. That could be from muscle damage, NS said, as the paravertebral muscles are compromised after fusions. That comes/goes in severity as well.
    Yup, going to bed all "stiff & sore"--every PM. And wake up the same most days. After I move around during the day, it does mostly improve, but deteriorates towards evening, etc.

    NS said about 15-20% of people find their hardware an irritant & sometimes removing it helps (50/50 chance) I don't want a 4th procedure, but some days I want to take it out myself!

    What do you do for relief? Ice helps, as does gentle massage. What helps you most? Have you considered removing it?

    Hope you feel better today! I totally hear you!


  • I am scheduled for a fusion on Aug 25th providing that the insurance approves it. My NS said that once I was fused, she would go back in and remove the hardware. I guess everyone is different......did your ns said whether or not it would help to have the hardware removed????

    I wish less stiffness today with lots and lots of sunshine

  • ...he said. Problem is, he couldn't "guarantee" it would/will. Said I might be the same, better or worse. Chancy. Unknown. Scary!

    NS said he suspects pain IS from the hardware (I had a hardware block & it helped for about 2 hrs) so he will do it if I ever want it done.

    Right now, I can usually manage the pain. I cringe to think I would be worse-off...!
    I guess it serves no real purpose once you're fused, so having it out wound't compromise the fusion, and that would be my primary concern.

    Any other opinions? Iowarobin's post seems to address the same hardware pain issue...seems like a lot of us are dealing w/ this!

  • Oh it makes me soooooooooo mad that the VA treats our service men and women that way!!! GRRRRRR.... Thank you for your service to this country.

    I am 19 months post cervical fusion, sometimes forget it was even done. I'm 1 yr post lumber fusion and have the same issues with stiffness, pain at the fusion site, etc. I think as this area is our weightbearing part of the spine that it puts more stress on the hardware.

    For this pain and my rheumatoid arthritis pain I am now on MS Contin twice a day with Vicodin for breakthrough (rarely use this). The pain med has helped me a lot. I try to pace myself, use good body mechanics, ice it as needed and for long walks, I use my cane. I was told by my NS that I will ALWAYS have some degree of back pain.

    Best wishes to you,

  • I am right in the middle of this issue!!

    I too am looking at hardware removal - I can push on a screwhead and it zings right down my leg. I have a constant backache - just a low-grade but very constant ache.

    At my last appointment my NS gave me Voltaren Gel to rub on my scar site - to see if it took away the back pain. It's an anti-inflammatory.

    From what I understand, if the gel works, then the hardware must be creating inflammation that can possibly be solved by removing it. Guess what - it's been working. I go back in for an evaluation in another week.
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