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How do you know if it is the hardware causing the pain?

nelnnel Posts: 402
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi again,

I just wondered whether the pain I am having is hardware related or not so how do you know? What does it feel like? Where does it hurt?

My pain started around the scar but that could just have been the infection. My current pain is more pelvis/SI joint area. Sometimes it is an ache and others it feels like nerve type pain - you know that migraine type thing but not in your head. I get some leg, hip, foot pain too.

So if you have had pain caused by loose hardware or just caused by hardware could you let me know what it was like please?



  • NEL,

    If they wanted to check your hardware, they could do a hardware block to see if the pain gets better with the block. Essentially they put blocks all around the hardware and see if it reduces your pain, and if so they can say your hardware is causing issues. I have had hardware issues, but everyone is different in how the pain will effect you as it is a matter of what the hardware is doing.
  • Have them do a simple hardware block injection as tam says. It will give you an idea which part of the pain is coming from the hardware. Its a very painless injection around the hardware. I got some releif when i had the hardware block so i had the hardware removed while they were going in there anyways already to do lami above the fusion. Hardware was just causing more pressure type of pain to my legs.

    After it was removed i had slight releif but not enough to say it fixed all the pain left behind after surgery. Good luck
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Thanks for the replies guys. That is what I thought but neither surgeon has suggested this. My original surgeon said that if my pain doesn't improve he would just take the screws out. I think I might push for this block first though as I am worried that maybe it is not the hardware causing the pain.

    Thanks again.

  • Hi,

    I grew a bursa on my hardware, which is very painful. Its official name is Implant Protrubance. Its tender to the touch and of course in the area of my hardware.

    Good luck.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • I am set to have my hardware removed from a fusion at L 3/4 & L/45 next Wednesday. My surgeon took x-rays and found the screws to be loose, and I have been having allot of pain in the same area, even when he presses over where the screws are.
  • Thanks for the replies.

    My xrays have shown loose screws since October '10. I don't seem to have much pain in that area even when pressed anymore. I also had a great winter (November 2010 to March 2011) with no pain at all. Again this makes me wonder whether it is the hardware causing the pain now.
    When I see the surgeon I will press him a bit more I think. Trouble is he is quite dismissive of whatever I say.
  • I too had a hardware block and it gave me almost 2 days of relief! I have not yet made a decision on removing it. I do have quite a bit of other pain since the hardware block that they this is different. I go tomorrow to see what they can figure (or not) out. Good luck Nel
  • Thanks for the reply melias. 2 days of relief - bliss!

    I think that why I want it is to see if I also have other pain like you. Backs are so complicated it is hard to work out what is going on in there!

    Good luck to you too!
  • I haven't been around for awhile, but was hoping you were doing well and on the road of recovery, forgetting all about us here.....

    Hang in there!

    Praying for the best!

    Please let us know how it goes with your appointment!

  • Not sure if this will help you or not. I just got back from my Dr. Appt and he thinks 3 things are going on to cause the pain. First is obviously the hardware that we already know needs removed. Second is nerve issues. Says it doesnt take much to get them stirred up. third is an issue with my SI joint. I guess the nerve and SI joint can cause the butt /leg pain. Anyway, they did a nerve block on me for the nerve issue so we will see if that helps! Of course, right now I am totally numb so it feels great! Maybe suggest these things on your next appt since our symptoms are so much alike. Good luck and stay strong!
  • Thanks again Melias. I think that maybe my issues are complicated like yours which is why I wanted to make sure it is the hardware causing the pain rather than just taking it out to see! I will try and be more forceful when I see my surgeon on Thursday.
    I hope your nerve block helps you out. Good luck.
  • Hi Folks, I too have been battling with pain for quite a while now. I had a two level fusion (L4,5, S1) done back in 2006. Fusion looks great but have been dealing with all kinds of pain ever since. I'm 53 and have tried just about everything over the last few years to try and control this pain in my lower back and into my hips. I'm ok in the morning but after any kind of physical activity I'm usually on the couch for an hour or so. I've tried branch blocks and radio frequency lesioning with no luck. I just finished the trial for a spinal cord stimulator a couple of weeks ago. We could not get it to cover the affected areas.
    I have a follow up this Wednesday and plan to discuss the possibility of nerve block, I've been wondering for years now if the instrumentation has been the source of my pain. I'll keep everyone here in the loop with my results, thanks for your postings!
  • I have been reading some of the comments about having hardware removed and I had some questions for ya'll.

    I had a fusion in the L5/S1 aproximately 4 years ago. I immediately woke up from surgery with nerve damage in my left foot. I have some serious back pain that exists almost exactly between my scars, to maybe just slightly underneath them. I am not sure if I would say it is a pinching pain or stabbing pain. The base of it is that I can not lean back, lay flat on my back (including in my bed or on an exam table), lift anything (even a 24 pack of water), or sit on a hard floor or chair for longer than 15 minutes, or else I can not stand straight up again. I could stand, but I would need to do the granny style tilt to the side to get up. Once that pain starts, I am "done" for the day. I immediately have to take pain meds and lay down. I almost feel like my back is "stuck" and it is too painful to straighten my posture. Maybe this is a "pinching" pain? It doesn't feel the same as my sciatica where its a zapping/pinching nerve pain. I can only describe the back pain as it feels like someone is trying to bend me in half backwards or that my spine is being crushed downward. I have spoken to my surgeon and he said the fusion looks good and that the bone fused ideally between the discs and he has no idea why I get that pain. He suggested physical therapy.

    I have been reading about hardware removal and was starting to wonder if it is possible that the hardware is pinching something or if this pain I feel could be from the hardware. I also wondered if this pain is normal after a fusion in the L5/S1 area and if many of you also experience similar pain. I had the typical "fake disc" placed with two small rods and four screws in October of 2010.

    I am seriously thinking of having surgery to remove the hardware in case that is the problem. For those of you who have had the removal done, how was your surgical pain? I am wondering how painful the procedure itsself is. I remember having the fusion done and it was the worst pain of my life. I feared any sneeze because it would tense up my back muscles and I would be in agony as they spasmed. Since then I have had multiple rhizotomys, too numerous to count, with no sedation. ( I sometimes wonder if my PM doctor enjoys torturing me.) He has done L2-S3 approximately 2-3 times a year just to make sure he covers any possibility of my pain being from ther nerves. (Although on a separate note, the one he gave me 2 weeks ago for my S1 has actually INCREASED my sciatic nerve pain and now it is not only in my butt, but is also near my lower right tailbone where he did the procedure. I think he may have made things worse.)

    I am wondering if the pain from surgery to remove the hardware (screws and rods only) is too painful to risk or if it is worth it. My first surgery caused nerve damage in my left foot as well as horrible sciatica, so I am scared to try and have the hardware removed if it is a serious procedure.

    If anyone has any advice or can explain to me what the procedure entails as well as their experience, either positive or negative, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank You for your time!!! It is greatly appreciated!
  • stephaniemlinglesstephaniemlingle United statesPosts: 1
    I was wondering if you were able to figure out what was wrong . I have been experiencing the same issue s to a T .
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