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3 Month Post-Op Exam disappointing

lilac100llilac100 Posts: 180
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Today I had my 3 month exam and X-rays. I got the distinct impression the doc doesn't think my bones are going to fuse. He looked at my X-rays and said I can see a little growth between your vertebrea but the sides look the same on the X-rays. I'm now scared stupid. Work didn't go well before Christmas like I hoped it would. I've gone from thinking I was doing great and felt better than I had in years to worrying about everything.

My Ortho wants me to come back in 3 months for more X-rays to check and see if I'm growing any bone. He also wants to keep an eye on the hardware in case I don't fuse. He said we would cross that bridge when and if we get to it, but a revision is the only thing to do for broken hardware.

How when I've felt so great can crude like this happen? If anyone has any experience with slow growth and no growth I'd appreciate hearing something positive about it.

On another note I'm done with PT and I can continue working as long as I don't have pain down my leg again.


  • Are you using a bone growth stimulator?
  • No bone growth stimulator. Not even sure what that is. I guess this is more than just FBS I feel like a failure too. I'm failing to heal. Sounds crazy even to me but that's how I feel.
  • I hope Gwennie doesn't mind if I jump in here. A bone growth stimulator is an external device that you wear over the fusion site. It will send a current deep inside that is supposed to promote bone growth. When a surgeon feels that there is risk of a person failing to fuse, this is often prescribed to be worn x number of hours per day. They are pricey, about $5K, but well worth it if it prevents a 2nd surgery to fix the non-union. I would suggest that you call your surgeon and ask about using one.

    Also, it is quite common for the doctor not to see much bone growth at only 3 months out, so try not to worry too much. Some people fuse slower than others. The best way to determine how much bone growth you have is with a CT scan, so if your next set of xrays don't show much, your doctor may order a 3 dimensional CT scan to see just what is going on.

    There are a few things you can do to help with bone growth. Use a good multi-vitamin daily, extra calcium, fish oil supplements, and plenty of walking to keep the blood flow moving around the fusion site. Limit your caffeine as it inhibits bone growth, as well as stay away from tobacco. Also, most surgeons will tell you not to take NSAIDs, but this is a bit controversial.

    There are plenty of vitamins and minerals on the market, but you may want to check with your doctor to make sure that they aren't bad for you while you heal. Sometimes too many supplements can cause the opposite effect.

    I'm sorry you are going through the stress of all this. Talk to your doctor (or his nurse) about things you can do to promote bone growth. They should have a list, and if they don't, now would be a great time to put one together for you!

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I agree with Cindy.
    3 months is not much time. I wouldn't panic. I would also agree about the many things you can do to help the fusing process. At 3 months in my doctor was also not impressed with the amount of bone growth he was seing. Even when I returned to work, I made sure I was eating plenty of protein, stuck to my daily multi vitamin, walked every single day and swam at least 3 times a week. (And just to be safe I stayed away from the NSAID's) Most of all I stayed positive. I just kept mentally reinforcing the belief that my back was fusing and refused to believe otherwise. My back did fuse completely.

    I hope you can find the the strength to push through this rough patch and move forward with good things happening for you. Keep your stress level low. Call your doctor and discuss the things that are stressing you out. (Yeah, I know easier said than done. They don't always have time for you.)

    Others here will post about bone growth stimulators, braces, etc. and I am not discouting ANY of them. They are useful, necessary in many cases, and all wonderful helpful tips. All I ask is that you stay positive and keep your chin up for your back and the other things stressing you out right now in your life. You still have plenty of time to fuse. You will make it there!
  • is WAY to early for your surgeon to make that call, it can take up to a year for a fusion....

    keep that in mind
  • Thank you all for the replies. I feel a little better, just the thought of going through this again isn't my idea of a good time. I'll try to stay positive. The bone will grow. I know the bone will grow.
  • Hey there,
    I've not had a fusion but because I am facing possibility if my next surgery doesn't work, I've spent a lot of time here and speaking to countless doctors.

    What others have said agrees with what my doctors all told me. Keep positive attitude and take it easy as you have been doing.
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