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

What Post-Op inst. after Hardware Removal?

saltzworksssaltzworks Posts: 1,031
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've not been able to really discuss much of my hardware removal with my dr. - so I'll do the next best thing - talking to you all(well, actually you all are MUCH better at telling it like it is).

I was wondering what Post Op instructions you were sent home with after your hardware removal? What restrictions were you given?

Oh, and how long was the surgery? How long was your hospital stay? (I'm praying for no complications this time!!!)

When I ask the office nurse she is just, oh yeah, that sounds ok. I had asked her if I could plan on going back to work in a week.

What about BLT - are you told to restrict BLT after your hardware is out for those first few months post-op?

I would think you need to be a little bit careful, after all, you've got holes in the bone where the screws used to be.

I know that after my ankle hardware came out the ortho told me to be careful for 6 mo. or so, that it could easily break if I wasn't careful. But that was on the small fibula leg bone - eight screws were taken out and the bone was basically swiss cheese afterwards.

I'll ask the nurses during my pre-op apt., my last one was VERY informative and accurate. I just hope I get someone who is just as knowledgeable this time.

Any information will be MUCH appreciated -and thanks in advance!


  • Talk about stressing!

    The hospital just called me and if I had not asked some questions they would not have gotten me in for any pre-op tests! There were only 2 apts. left between now and my surgery day! Egads.

    Maybe I shouldn't have asked... I keep hoping that my surgery gets delayed. I blew it.

    Oh - and they have me down for same day/outpatient surgery even though the NS's office told me that I should count on being there overnight.

    We'll see. I do so horribly after anesthesia that I'll feel pretty dang lucky if I get discharged within their 23 1/2 hours that they allow.

  • Amy, I missed your previous posts (I don't log in much lately) so I just gather than you are having your hardware removed. Sorry, but I can't give you any advise on that as I did not have that problem, but maybe somebody with experiences in that area will reply.

    I just wanted to let you know that I am keeping you in my thoughts and hope everything will go well with your procedure.


  • Thanks my friend :)

    I really wish I could keep my hardware - I'm going to miss it I think. Too bad it keeps messing me up.

    Maybe if I didn't work out - not that I can do that really. Whenever I take a week off from my workouts my charley-horse cramps crank themselves up a few notches into almost continual spasms.
  • Thank you Robin!

    I've been starting to remember that after my original surgery I was in the hospital for 9 days. An incision feels a LOT different after a week.

    I do so horribly on the pain meds that I hope the hospital really evaluates me and makes the best decision on whether to cut me loose or keep me. I'll probably be my own best advocate though. I'll just have make sure I listen to my body :)
  • When I had my hardware out I felt good, but was kept overnight. There were not alot of restrictions. Only the no BLT because of the incision. They do the same incision as the first time. I felt good the next day. I didnt go back to work, cause I still am having alot of pain. They just did MRI and CT last week to see what is still wrong. I had another disc with tears and so I am guessing that is the culprit. I am hoping you have a good outcome as most people do.
    If you dont have any complications, and I am almost sure you shouldnt, you should feel really good the next day after the surgery, just incision pain. I felt pretty good for a couple days, then bango. Thats why I think its the other disc. '
    If you have any questions, just ask. I know that they test the fusion, to make sure it is good and solid, but advise to take it easy until your surgery heals and I never got beyond that. Hope this helps. Good Luck and let me know how you do. Love, Robin
  • The Dr will probably keep you overnight if you want to, and I am sure you will feel better in the morning. You will feel amazingly well the next day. It is much easier than the first one. I was surprised, just dissappointed it didnt last. Again, Good Luck!
  • Thanks again Robin. As much as I want this surgery to be uneventful and easy I am worried that I'll rush things a bit too much.

    Of course, if I'm wrapped around an emesis basin holding onto it for dear life I think at that point I'll know that I need to take things just a tad bit slower ;)
  • Hi Amy,

    I just had my hardware (facet bolts) removed on Wednesday, 12/23. Yes, I had my surgery right before Xmas.

    I came home on Friday, 12/25 in the early evening. I may have been able to come home on Thursday, but my surgeon accidentally nicked the spinal dura while removing some inflammation, causing a spinal fluid leak. He repaired the hole, but I was restricted to laying flat for 2 days.

    I saw my surgeon the day after the procedure and he allowed me to slowly increase my incline, starting at 20%. He said if we went too quickly and the hole opened up again, I would have to be flat for 5 days! On Friday, I think I walked 3-4 times in the hallway before heading home.

    The initial restrictions are meant to protect the incision. My initial restrictions are the same ones as immediately after the fusion surgery. The only difference is not having to use the back brace (well, that's not entirely true). I think at my 6 week follow up appointment, they will allow me to do the same things I did at the 3 month mark following the fusion.

    I am currently using my soft back brace because I woke up on January 1 with a large damp spot on the back of my sweat pants. It seems that a small pouch of fluid formed at the bottom of my incision and broke open (not unusual). I went to the ER and the on-call doctor from my surgeon's office said to apply a pressure bandage and use the back brace for additional pressure. The good news is that this is not serious and the drainage appears to have stopped.

    Besides that, my recovery seems to be going very well. I don't have nearly the same amount of pain as I did after the initial fusion. I am also walking with a much longer stride than I did at the same point after the first surgery. However, sitting is difficult, just like the first time.

    Good luck with your hardware removal. Everything I've heard is that this recovery is a cake-walk compared to the initial fusion.

  • Mark - THANK YOU for the post!

    I remember reading aobut you going in for Christmas.

    I have to say that I looked up the dural tear stuff yesterday as it sounds like a common complication. If anything, I have learned that I can be a magnet for complications lately.

    I'm really hoping to go back to work in a week. I have the extra time if I need it but if at all possible I want to not use my vacation time for ANOTHER surgery. My work is a combination of walking, standing and sitting - a librarian, so I can stand as much as needed an sit as little as possible - we have tall reference desks.

    Does it seem like you will get rid of the constant backache? You said you feel better than after the fusion and it seems you will heal faster this time too. I don't know if I want to get my hopes up that high - you know, hoping to get rid of the backache.

    If I can just get rid of the zingers when I hit the screws - that would be nice.
  • Hi Amy,

    I think it's too soon to tell if the constant backache will be gone for good.

    Ever since the hardware removal, I don't have the usual backache (just regular post-op pain) and no longer have tingling down my legs.

    However, I experienced the same reaction after the initial fusion surgery, too. That time the relief lasted until approximately week 7 or 8, when all the swelling went down. At that point the constant backache returned with a vengeance.

    After this hardware removal procedure, my surgeon felt that the inflammation he removed (attributed to the facet bolts) was probably the cause of the constant backache. I guess time will tell.
  • I hope that I'll be able to stop needing the Voltaren Gel - it's a topical gel the NS has me using to reduce the back inflammation from the screws. Glad I've had it and the BioFreeze to get me through it.
  • This is still pre-op, but my pre-admit nurse did answer some questions;

    I will be in the hospital overnight at the least. I will go home with the same post op instructions as I had for my fusion (not lifting anything heavier an a gallon on milk) but that I would not hurt near as bad. And yes, she said I could probably go back to work in a week.

    My restrictions will be adjusted at my post-op apt. with the NS.
  • My PLIF was just over a year ago. Since then, my entire life has changed for the worse. Constant meds, constant pain, 3 esi's and a nuerotomy which did provide me with maybe 30% relief. When do docs reach a point of considering hardware removal? My pain doc and my ortho says that the hardware is almost never "the culprit." I don't know who to believe anymore. I live near Atlanta and am trying to find a good neurosurgeon for another opinion. It just seems incomprehensible to think that this is the "rest of my life." Don't mean to hijack the thread but it seems that everyone here has some experience with the subject so I though I'd ask.
  • Hi Kathy - the best thing you can do is ask questions - so don't worry about the asking...

    What kind of pain are you experiencing? Is it still 'down the leg sciatica' or constant backache or ??

    In my case I could rub my hand over my back and feel my screws - if I ever pushed or accidentally hit those spots it would zing right down my leg - in my opinion there was always a direct link to the hardware.

    In my NS's opinion (I might be wrong here, I'm just guessing) I think he felt that when I walked those back muscles were constantly being rubbed over the screws (to begin with - later the bone covered them all up) I have lost a lot of weight and the screws seemed to be very close to the surface of the skin. That constant rubbing could have been causing my backache.

    I'm still to early out to know if removing the hardware has helped, so who knows.

    p.s. My nurse suggested that there was a lot of scar tissue that my dr. had to go in and clean up - hence my extreme recovery issues this time (excessive bleeding and higher level of pain)- lots of scar tissue from lots of irritation - maybe?

    Here they are, my Post op instructions from my hardware removal.

    Walk as much as I like but don't over exert, Gradually increase distance daily.

    DO NOT lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk from table height.

    DO NOT bend from the waist. Bend from the knees keeping back in proper alignment.

    LOGROLL out of bed.

    Be up and moving daily (bloodclot prevention)

    NO waterbeds, firm mattress only.

    May sit 20 min. each hour the first 2 weeks. Good support chairs ONLY. Can increase to 40 min. sitting per hour at 3-4 week mark.

    Keep incision site dry for 5 days. In the case of staples, keep dry until removed. ( I don't have staples or exterior stitches)

    Things to Expect:

    PAIN -

    MUSCLE TIGHTNESS AND STIFFNESS - use ice packs, no heat.

    ANTICIPATE GOOD DAYS AND BAD DAYS. Try to keep positive attitude. Allow self adequate time to recover.

    EXPECT OCCASIONAL NERVE FLARE UP. Swelling in increased on post op days 3, 4 & 5. Do not become alarmed. It is normal and expected. It is part of the healing process. Notify dr. if signs or symptoms do no subside within 2 weeks.

    Narcotic analgesics are used for the first 2 weeks after surgery. By the end of this perid you will have obtained the maximum benefit from your pain medications. You will then need to use muscle relaxants, Extra-Strength Tylenol and anti-inflammatories for pain management.

    Contact dr if there is increased swelling or uncontrollable pain. Go to ER if there are signs of infection. A small amount of bloody drainage is normal.

    Should have a bowel movement at least every 4 days.

    What requires a trip to the ER:

    -Chest pain
    -Shortness of breath
    -Hard time breathing
    -Too much bleeding (or excessive clear fluid from incision - or incision is red and hot to touch.)
    -You cannot wake patient.
  • That was the first thing my doc told me after surgery. I had a HUGE synovial cyst that caused complications. I'm sure there is a good bit of scar tissue but most docs don't want to attempt to deal with that. Pain----sacral. Some down legs but mostly like a branding iron in my sacral region radiating to my groin. The neurotomy has helped. Don't get me wrong. But damn, I'd like to have somebody tell me what the cause of all this is????? Don't we all, I suppose. Kathy
  • Kathyy - have you been able to get a second opinion yet? I know it was very difficult for me to get more opinions, my insurance told me it looked like I was drug shopping and it was very frowned upon. As if!! I'm still mad that I felt that I was forced to go with fewer opinions just because it might look bad. I never asked for any drugs, it was the opposite, I wanted non-drug and non-surgical opinions back then.

    I am not familiar with a neurotomy - but usually blocks and tests like that can help the dr. make a diagnosis - best of luck.
Sign In or Register to comment.