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thoracic fusion- spine popping/cracking??

saamsonitessaamsonite Posts: 20
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Has anyone else had a thoracic fusion and it pops or cracks???

I had 9 vertebra fused about a year and a half ago and sometimes when I stretch or lay down on the floor, there is a big pop- or a few little ones. I don't ever force it, it just happens as I relax. It relieves a lot of pressure and I can usually breathe much better. I'm just freaked out that I'm messing something up since they are supposed to be all fused and solid...

Anyone in the same boat or can offer up a theory?

BTW...The popping is definitely in my thoracic spine- not in my lumbar.


  • Could it be your hardware (?) or below or above the fusion site? I know where I am fused there is no popping. It is solid. I would be worried about any noise coming from my lumbar that is fused.

    I am super curious about your huge Tspine fusion? Can you tell us how bad it was? Before the fusion were you walking or was it immediately after you accident? How has the recovery been? When was the last time you had an x-ray to check your rate of fusion?

    Your case is a rarity.


  • Hey there,

    How are you doing? It seems like forever since I've seen a post from you, but I often wonder how things are going with you since your doozy surgery. Are you still staying with family?

    I experience something similar to what you are describing, but the big "bubbles" I feel are underneath my front left rib area. Kind of in the middle of my ribs? The sensation I feel is like there is an air bubble in this area and until it "pops", I have a nagging sensation that it needs to "pop". I can't get it to pop by stretching, but it will eventually pop after I take a lot of deep breaths. Once it pops, it truly is a feeling of relief. It doesn't hurt, it's just a nagging feeling that it needs to pop. I know it isn't a gas bubble, as it's a totally different feeling.

    I don't have anywhere near the hardware you have, so I have never associated these bubbles with something going on with my fusion or hardware to T11, T12.

    I honestly don't know what these are and to be honest, I have never mentioned it to any of my doctors. It just feels like a tight air bubble that eventually will pop once I stand up and take some really deep breaths. Right before it pops, it does feel kind of sharp but the bubble itself isn't painful.

    I don't know if this will help you at all... lol. I just wanted to share that there is someone else out there who has a similar sensation to what you have described.

    Would love to hear how you are doing. Are you in PT?

    Take good care,

  • Thanks for the responses. Tammy; Hi! I've been busy trying to get back to life and find work and move out- yes, I'm still at my parents, but at least I've move into the bedroom and am not in the living room! What you describe is very similar to what I experience. I get it in my chest and ribs too- often times my sternum pops when I'm tying my hair back. It used to freak me out and now it makes me laugh- who's sternum pops??? Mine. Lol.

    To answer your & Julia's questions; I was racing giant slalom when it happened. Stupidly, I skied the off the mountain and went to my friends house for awhile- I had no clue about the severity of my condition. I walked into the hospital ER! I had the fusion 3 days later-I was in the ICU for 5 days was in the hospital for 9. Recovery has been looooooong and hard since my first one failed. First time I was in the brace for 3 months, second time 9 months. It took 14 months for it to finally fuse because I have osteoporosis in my spine (& I'm only 25 WTF?) I was in PT, but my insurance stopped covering it so I do it on my own now. But I miss the manual manipulation- that helped with my pain immensely. I'm still in more pain than before the second surgery, but biofeedback therapy has been an amazing tool to decrease pain naturally as well as mentally coping.
  • So good to hear back from you. :)

    Glad to hear that you have graduated from the living room into the bedroom! I still have our one couch jacked up on some bricks in the family room.

    The best news from you is that you are fused!!! That is awesome...particularly since you have osteoporosis. You are much too young to have that. Since you are fused, I will try to put that on the back-burner so we can move forward.

    What kind of exercises and stretches are you doing? Have you been in the pool? I spent almost 3 hours in the pool yesterday. It feels so liberating when I'm in water. I feel like I can do just about any kind of movement... dancing included. We had the stereo cranked all afternoon. I feel beyond stiff this morning, but I'll be back in the pool this afternoon for some more action. :))(

    How is your sleeping?

    I am so happy that you are fused. Such big, big surgeries you have had. But, you do have your age on your side and that's a good thing. Although I was still snow skiing myself and extremely active, up until my fall, my age does play a little part in this "mess" I am in... lol. Don't know how else to describe it right now. But, I'll always be in my 20's at heart... can't take that away from me, ever!

    Don't over-do and keep up the great work. Would love to hear what your days are like and what kind of job you are looking at. Something in the water would be great, if being the water feels good to you.

    Take good care and I really look forward to hearing from you some more!

    Tammy :)

  • Given the type of movements that cause the pop, I'd guess your facet joints are popping.
  • Hello Saamsonite!
    I too, am a 25-yr-old recovering from spinal fusion. I was in a surfing accident that left me with 7 fractured vertebrae and I ended up having my T2-T7 fused in April 2010 and having to rock a sweet back brace for three months. May I ask how you knew the first fusion failed? I feel good and my last restriction came off now that I hit the 1-yr-mark this month but my last dr's appointment was 5 mo. post-op and part of me is slightly paranoid since I haven't seen a doctor since.

    And to answer your initial question, yes my back pops and cracks sometimes when I lay down. At first it was quite unsettling because a shooting nerve twinge would accompany it but over time it settled down and now my back just pops occasionally with NO nerve twinges. My doctor was informed and he said this is quite normal and not to be worried about. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I was a religious back cracker before my accident. I would crack my back all the time. Perhaps I just loosened all the joints up and they just pop themselves.
  • I had T10-L2 fused in June 2009 after a horseback riding fall. I experienced pops consistently afterward during the first few minutes in bed in the evening. My doctor said it could be scar tissue. Scar tissue doing what I'm not exactly sure. If someone has a deeper understanding, I'd love to hear about it.

    The pops have not gone away in 2.5 years, and have gotten worse since I've started doing core exercises. Last night I startled my wife after a large pop caused me to howl while drifting off to sleep.

    Is this just part of life now?

    I'll have to research facet joints, slagondrayer, as I'm not familiar with them.

    Also, I never cracked my back prior to my surgery.

    Good luck to you Saamsonite in your recovery. Thanks for posting the topic.

  • Vbevins, I had read about ur accident a long time ago on another site I think, where were you surfing?
    I am going to ask about this in ESI friday, but I too had popping in thoracic, but from ESI injection my popping would stop then once start wearing off it pops again. It has to have something to do with inflammation of nerve, ligaments or tendons. Standard definition is a void in joint and gas build up escapes but ESI should not impact that scenerio.????? Gonna ask. Maybe the gas is due to inflammation?
    Herniated T6-7, multiple herniations in cervical, tears in T5-T8. Stenois at levels and smorls nodes from thoracic thru lumbar
  • saamsonite said:
    Has anyone else had a thoracic fusion and it pops or cracks???

    I had 9 vertebra fused about a year and a half ago and sometimes when I stretch or lay down on the floor, there is a big pop- or a few little ones. I don't ever force it, it just happens as I relax. It relieves a lot of pressure and I can usually breathe much better. I'm just freaked out that I'm messing something up since they are supposed to be all fused and solid...

    Anyone in the same boat or can offer up a theory?

    BTW...The popping is definitely in my thoracic spine- not in my lumbar.
    I also have thoracic fusion! Mine dose the same thing. When I lay fat on the floor it cracks and pops. Hurts for a moment but when I get up I feel an inch taller and I can breath more deeply. Do your ribs hurt? Does your shoulders ache? I think were in the same boat here.
    -Alicia C.
  • after reading the post & comments I find myself confuzzled. I am experiencing horrible mid thoracic pain from 3 unhealthy discs that are arthritic and inflamed. It has been my understanding that it is an inoperable section of the spine. I've had a lumbar fusion procedure done a few years ago and would not be thrilled with another surgery, but at this stage I'm looking at starting on a narcotic again. The pain can be unbearable at times. Injections have not worked, and Mobic + Tramadol is not the answer. Would just like any input ya'll might have.
  • SpineymamaSSpineymama Posts: 1
    edited 11/13/2014 - 6:53 PM
    I see this is an old thread but in my recovery days I spent a lot of time on these forums looking for answers to the unknow . I feel like I owe my fellow fusion friends any answer I can provide . I had t5-t11 fused in March 2013 after a car accident. Since about a year post op I have a loud pop that comes from the fusion area when I lay down at night. It doesn't hurt, it's more of a relief, although it is a bit shocking and I can feel a release of pressure. If I do alot during the day I'm almost guaranteeda good pop wwheniI lay down. If I havnt lifted or carried much I there's a 50/50 chance I'll pop. It scared me stiff the first few times, but now I accept it and just try and relax and let it do its thing
    5 level posterior fusion t7-11. 4rods 8 screws
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