Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Hardware removal...

saltzworksssaltzworks Posts: 1,031
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,

I told you all I'd post after I found out about my Hardware issues...

My fusion is looking really good, but.... since the dr. would need to open me up, remove the 2 rods and then manually push and pull on the screws to TEST the fusion - AND... if the fusion is NOT solid at this point he has to put the rods back in and close me up.

If I am not in agonizing pain I need to wait. As long as possible.

He did say that they find that in young thin women this is a common problem that occurs with the hardware - the muscles tend to rub over the screw heads and it causes a lot of pain.

My almost 40 lb weight loss the last 6 months has not helped things - although I would be facing worse issues with my back if I hadn't lost the weight.

We are tentatively scheduling a hardware removal in a year, when we can be certain the fusion is solid. If I get to a point where the pain is more than I can handle, then we'll schedule it earlier. I just need to hold out as long as I can.

In the meantime I have some patches and topical pain gels to get me through,


  • Hey -- I knew there was a good reason I wasn't losing those 40 pounds!

    Well, this may not be what you were hoping to hear, but it sounds like you received some accurate information, and now know what you face, and how long you'll have to wait.

    Hope the patches, etc. help.
  • I tell ya, I left that apt. feeling great!

    I knew I was stressed over trying to find vacation and sick time to cover another surgery, just didn't realize how stressed until it was lifted from me.

    I can handle pain if I know that there is an end in sight, or if I have a game plan - ya know?
  • Saltzworks,
    Did your doc have any reason to believe that you are not fully fused at this point? I understand wanting to wait until you are fully fused (especially two level fusions) but you are already over a year post-op and I wonder just how much more a year will do for you. Just curious what your docs take is on this. While I only have a single level fusion I am DESPERATELY hoping that a 9 month CT scan will demonstrate enough fusion to risk taking out the hardware. I am showing good fusion so far but I am in horrible pain and I don't think I can make it an entire year, the pain is worse by the month. It is a tough call, I really don't want to be opened up only to find that my fusion is not as solid as needed but then again I am so limited right now. I certainly undertand feeling good about having a game plan, this too put my mind at ease once I established what is the next step. I hope your wait is an easy one :)
  • 1994SanFran -

    He did say my fusion looked good on the x-rays. He showed me the bone growing around the outside of the spine - this view taken as a backview instead of sideview.

    But, the reason to wait - 12-14 months post-op is an 'almost solid, but possibly not really solid. It looks solid, but could still be somewhat soft' stage.

    I'm 13 months, right in the middle of that.

    Sometimes my dr. says he tells people that they just have to suck it up and live with it.

    But he sounded willing to take mine out - impressed that I had been losing weight and that a lot of my pain comes from using a recumbant bike and bench machines - he said I need to keep doing what's working (the exercise) and he was willing to help me do it with less pain.

    He also left it up to me on whether I felt my pain was so bad right now that I needed to have the hardware out right now or if I could wait.

    As I mentioned, I am in no hurry to waste my carefully accumulated vacation and sick time on ANOTHER surgery just 4 months after my last surgery (ankle).

    The Voltaren gel seems to work fairly well right now for pain. It's a like topical ibuprofen-ish gel. I have issues with stronger medications, but this is giving me just enough 'time off' from the backache that I'm handling it.

    Questions for you:

    Can you feel your muscles rubbing over the screwheads as you walk?

    Can you feel them under your skin if you rub along the side of your spine? If I do this I get a major 'zing' of pain!

    Have you had your doctor try some lidocaine injections? If it removes the pain (it is just temporary) then you might have more of an idea on whether it's your hardware giving you grief.

  • I feel like I saw your doc also! thanks for the update & interesting info on your hardware removal options. Imagine them TESTING the fusion...ugh! Just the thought of THAT....ewwww!
    But waiting can't hurt, I guess & that's where I'm at also, at 1.5+ years out w/ a good fusion in place, but man oh man, how the hardware pains me...!
    Yes, as you also say, I can feel the screwheads when I walk or lie on my back & also feel them under then skin if I rub or press on that area...major ZING is perfect description. All the way down both legs & into the throacic area now also.
    Interesing that thin people have it worse...that would make sense, as we don't have any subcutaneous "padding". (I'm 5' 10" & weigh 114#.)
    After all my surgeries, my subcutaneous stitches worked to the surface & my hubby had to cut them off w/ his trout fishing scissors....almost (almost! ) funny....they had no tissue to dissolve into, so they would poke thru & drive me nuts!
    Anyway, thank you for your post! I also have chosen to wait a year or more as I teaching again this year & don;'t want to take more time off, etc.
    Oh---about the topical pain relief--I also use my Lidocaine patches directly over the hardware area + I "invented" a really cheap rub: cut an Advil gel-cap in 1/2 & use the liquid mixed w/ a little lotion & rub that on the hardware area. No RX needed & it really does work! I should market that, huh!

    Thanks again! And now that you know your options, I think it does perhaps make things more bearable for awhile. I just wish it could be easier to do instead of going in there again.

    It will be interesing to hear from Iowarobin after she has hers out this week. I hope all goes well for her & she is finally pain-free or as close to that as possible!

  • I just read IowaRobin's latest - the bone tumor thing - yikes.

    Yeah it does make some sense that being thin brings complications to hardware. I just LOVE that my doc called me young! He called me thin too!

    I'm not really young (43) and I am only recently thin. I think I'll be getting a lot of miles out of those compliments!

    Lakeside - I am CERTAINLY going to try that advil rub - holy moly, GREAT idea!

    Oh, and yes, I do love that he explained things so well AND that he is willing to let me decide when enough is enough.

  • ...yup, that is the cheapest thing! Use the migraine gel caps too...they seem stronger. You can use 2 at a time, as it is subcutaneous so less is absorbed than if you would take it orally, altho you could take 2 orally if you needed to.

    Good luck determining how much "enough" is enough..some days, "enough" is MORE than enough--other days...well, other days we just "live with it" right?

    Yes, IowaRobin...oh how my heart goes out to her...We all need to remember her in our constant thoughts & prayers. She is such a special member of this Spiney family.

    Let us know how you fare, also. And keep your doc--he sounds like a peach!

    Have a tolerable day/night, etc!

Sign In or Register to comment.