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failed fusion?

LisaRachelLLisaRachel Posts: 286
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone,

It's been a while since I've posted anything. It's been 9 months since my fusion and I'm back to the pain if not more. I'm so frustrated and not sure how to handle this anymore. I have an MRI booked at the end of Sept. I will not have another surgery! I can't go though that pain again. I go to my pain doc next week to see what can be done so I can actually have a life. My spine doc says no injections till I'm a year post fusion. I'm wondering if anyone has gone on metadone for chronic pain?

I'm so depressed and feel no one understands :(

Hope all are doing better..

Love to all,



  • i knew you were going for surgey but i did not realise that it was 9 months ago .so sorry that its failed .i can't think of anything else to say {mind you its 3.30AM over here and i am in again too !
    take care Hun
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I'm so sorry that you think your fusion has failed. Haven't seen you on here in so long, thought and hoped that things were going well for you.

    Is this your first appointment with your pain doc, or have you been to them before? Hope that they are able to find ways to get your pain under control.

    I can sympathize in that I went to my neuro who did my discectomies/laminectomies and he said that the surgery itself was a success, but that my facet joints are a mess. Basically shook my hand, wished me well. Meanwhile, I am in the same, if not more pain than before.

    I have not been on methadone although I have seen members who are, so I'm sure they will pop in to give input.

    gentle >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Did they try a hardware block yet? Maybe you should get another opinion when you get the new MRI?

    Many people take methadone for pain. I have never taken it, but have read about others who take it.

    Feel Better,


  • so sorry to hear that you are still in pain. :S

    Did you ever get told that you had fused?

    You still have lots of friends here who will support you and can sympathise with you.

    Hope your pain doctor next week will be able to help you.

    >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • Very sorry you are still in so much pain. I tried methadone but man i hated the feeling i got from it. I could not take it. Oxycodine worked beter for me then the methadone without the weird feeling of the methadone. Hopefully you are still fusing and it will get beter once the muscles get stronger around the surgery area and the nerves will calm down with some pt and injections posibly.

    There is still hope so keep positive but yes get pain under control with the right medication that works for you. Good luck.Lisa,,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • thanks for all your warm and positive posts, I'm not sure if I have started to fuse or not at this point. Ive had f/u apt with my surgeon and he seems to think everything looks good. My last apt I told him the pain is back so, he ordered an MRI in a few weeks.

    As far as the pain meds go I have the apt next week with my pain doc. Alex, thanks for your comments about Metahadone I'm going to try to see if it works for me.

    Just reading all your posts have made me feel better!

    big gental hug,


  • Here is another post to, hopefully, encourage you and make you feel better.

    You are not alone. :H

    Gentle hugs
    >:D< >:D< >:D<

  • Well I can certainly relate. I had an anterior and posterior fusion from my shoulders, right beneath clear to my tailbone. Like you, my pain is pretty bad plus I am not
    Very flexible. I went from the hospital to the rehab hospital, I left home in the
    Winter and didn't get back home until spring.

    I had many medical complications. I have scoliosis, I am so straight and my
    Clothes fall beautifully, I still love to look at myself in a dressing room mirror!

    Anyway, I had a top well known surgeon, a 10 hr surgery, very complicated
    With the way my 2 curves were. I have been back several times for
    Checkups. Every time, I have a complete set of x rays in his state of the
    Art facility, every time I ask, have I fused? Every time he says, your hardware
    Is not going anywhere but we cannot tell from your x rays if you have fused!

    Well it seems as if every other Dr. Can tell from x rays if they see fusing!
    He is not nice at all. I hurt whether I take pain medication or not, so
    I keep it to a minimum. I walk faithfully, exercised in the pool all summer,
    Try every day to do better, do not smoke, I even watch my diet, everything
    I am supposed to do. I am miserable too.

    I go see my primary care Dr. In a week and am going to ask him to help me
    Choose another dr. To see if someone else can find out if I have fused.
    My primary care Dr. Is very supportive, I got my s.s. Disability the first
    Time that I applied, my back was a mess.

    I just cannot understand why my orthopedic/neurosurgeon can't say yes or
    No about signs of fusing on my x rays when so many of you have been
    Told yes or no if you have fused. I had a lot of nerve damage but my
    Back is straight and I don't think I will end up in a wheelchair, I am grateful
    For what I got, I just would like to know if I have signs of fusing, it has
    Been 2 and a half years!!!

    I feel your frustration.

  • I had my final follow up with my fusion surgeon at 18 months post surgery. He didn't say that I had fused when I asked either!
    He said that the hardware was in place and that if I hadn't fused, my screws would have worked loose by now, abd that he would be able to tell if that was the case. There was no sign of loose screws, so I must be fused.

    It would be so much more encouraging to be told, yes you are fused. I suppose that he couldn't see any fusion on the x-rays or he would had shown me.

    I think that to really see if you are fused, you would need a CT scan.

  • What is the cause of your failed fusion? It is still early yet to have complete bone growth. My doctor he sees patients that continue to have bone growth even up to two years out.

    Hope that the methadone helps with your pain. I've never tried it. I've just stuck to the same regimen since winter. Still have a great deal of pain though. I've come to the realization that a stable fusion and management of pain are mutually exclusive.

    Good luck,

  • Thank you for telling me that! It makes a lot of sense!

    I feel ....kinda calm now! Thank you!
  • I guess I'm just impatient at this point! so fed up! I have no control of my life it seems I hang on every word my surgeon says these days but when you have a feeling something just does'nt feel right they look at you like your crazy or drug seeking! My family think im "cured" because my surgeon says everthing looks good! I told them I don't have a disease and I'm not "fixed"! So frustrating!

    I have decided not to even look for work till I get a better handle of my pain and depression. That takes the pressure off me for now. I'm waiting for news about CPP I put my file in 4 months ago so hopefully I will qualify.

    Thanks again for all your comments and that you all "get it"

    Looking forward to seeing my Pain Doc my family doctor is useless! Grrrr

  • I'm 21 months postop fusion and still have severe pain due to the degenerative nature of my spine. Pain doesn't seem to enter the picture when it comes to determining a fusion is "successful". If the hardware looks good and they see bone growth, then they feel that their job is done. In the meantime, we are left with life altering side effects...pain of all kinds, muscle spasms, numbness...

    I've had 6 different doctors look at my films and my symptoms, and not offer me anything that would be helpful, just PT, meds and a SCS, which I am not ready for.

    Jelly...you and I have similar pathology in our spine. Are you having severe pain?

    Though advancing are being made, we may not have the technology that we are so needing, in our lifetime.

    Hope that time will be kind to you all... and lessen your pain. Everyone have a good weekend,

  • Hi; and sorry you are still in so much pain.

    I have to agree with Jellyhall, in the test that would show the best being a CTscan.

    Also good luck with your application for CCP, and hopefully if i remember correctly you are still young, and they dont hold that against you.

    Best of luck to ya, and try to relax.
  • I wouldn't call it severe pain. I am having all sorts of neurological pains and symptoms in my legs and feet and also around my chest/abdomen and in my neck, shoulders, arms and hands.

    The pains can be quite strong (like stings or sometimes electric shocks) and then I have other tingling type feeling. Lots of twitching, vibrating, spasms and cramps. I also have awful aching, particularly in my arms and especially at night, that is meaning that I don't sleep at all well, and only for about 2 hours at a time.

    Something is not right, but I don't know if my leg symptoms are coming from my lumbar, thoracic or cervical levels. I am hoping that my EMG and nerve tests might reveal what is going on. The neurologist said I definately have compression in my neck and thought that my leg symptoms were coming from my neck, but no definitive diagnosis yet. I am so fed up waiting! I started this journey to get a diagnosis at the beginning of August last year.

    I wish I could just forget all about it and get on with my life, but every day my symptoms remind me that something is wrong. I can so understand how people can get really depressed with back problems.

    I am trying to trust God to look after me while I wait for the medical services to reach a diagnosis and decision as to what treatment I need.

  • thanks Jim, I suggested a CT but he seems to want an MRI so again just do what the doctor tell me. I'm hoping for the CPP and I guess age can be a factor but at the end of the day I can't work!

  • CT scans are more expensive, and some doctors will not order them just because of that fact. I've never had a CT either, and think that it would be nice to see the results of one.

    Jelly...you have been so patient...don't know how you, Tony and others do it with your health system. I'm sure that we in the states are headed for the same issues in the future. Hope that you can get a definitive diagnosis soon!!!

    Jim...I'm so sorry about everything that has been going on with your spine and moving. I hope you are all settled in. When are they wanting to revise your non-union?

  • Sorry to hear about your pain and hope Methadone can help your pain. I take Oxycontin and think it's a strong med for pain control. I hope your PM Dr. will help manage this pain you're having and I hope your CPP goes through. Mine took 4 months or so to go through and hope you get yours. I had a Nurse from CPP call me and she wanted to get another update from my Dr. but I told her okay and I told her I was so depressed from the pain and she called back 2 minutes later and I was accepted as my family Dr. wrote I was also depressed so keep updating your Dr. how you're doing. I'm praying you get some answers soon. We're here for you. Charry >:D<
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Lisa,

    Glad to see you back with us, but sad that you are having such issues. Have you been told specifically that your fusion "didn't happen" or "failed?" I knew mine was a mess, but until I had diagnostic validation, part of me thought "maybe some of this is in my head??". Aren't we the weird ones that want validation?

    I would not give the medical field the "easy out"... If you don't feel that you are getting a real LOOK at what is going on, time to find a new specialist and/or doctor. I was blown "off" for almost 2 years, and instead of maybe a 2 or 3 level revision, now got tossed into the 5 level revision. Stick with your guns.

    So I guess the key is....
    - Did your fusion fail - where you told it failed?
    - Is there a chance of fusion (non union)?
    - What did they show/say to confirm to YOU that your fusion failed vs pain increases...
    - Pain bites, but that is not the only indicator of a failed fusion - additional levels might be an issue...sadly.

    Keep after them Lisa, until you are given the true stats of what is going on with you, and what is going on truly on with your fusion status... Support *HUGZ*

    Sorry you are in this state woman!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Lisa,
    I feel your pain! I had a C1/C2 fusion in April and have been having increased pain for a month now. My pain level is about what it was pre-surgery....ugh. when I went to my 4 month post-op appt and told my surgeon about the pain, he immediately ordered a CT scan (also had x-rays but they looked good). My CT scan showed that although the hardware is in place, fusion is not occurring. He is requesting a bone growth stimulator from insurance. I also wonder what caused my fusion to fail....I am 37, non-smoker, walk daily, and was religious with my PT. I have read up on bone growth stimulators, and from the posts it appears they are not helpful unless used in the beginning. My pain seems to be getting worse, and last night I woke up in the middle of the night and my arms were numb.
    My primary care physician wants to change my pain meds to put me on extended release pain killers....I currently take 4-5 norcos a day. Problem is that I am allergic to oxycodone, so oxycontin is out. I don't want to try methadone because my dad was prescribed it and it put him out for the count.
    Hang in there Lisa, praying our doctors can relieve our pain and ultimately 'fix' us.
    April 2011 C1-C2 Fusion (Brooks wiring)
    January 2012 C1-C2 Revision Fusion (Harms Technique)
    2010 - current: Trigger Point Injections, Epidural Injections, Bilateral C2-C3 Radiofrequency Ablations
  • You need to get that bone growth stimulator ASAP!!!
    There is still time that you can fuse. I did not begin wearing my bone growth stimulator till I was 6 months out. Wore it for 7 months, but did not see a solid fusion until I was 16 months postop.

    I unfortunately have pathology at 4-5 other levels that are causing me pain/numbness and immobility issues, but I don't regret wearing the BGS.

  • I don't think my doctor will go for the BGS but I will ask him on my next apt. I'm not 100% if I have sarted to fuse or not But as Brenda said it might be my other levels might be the problem.

    Thanks again for all of your comments I was starting to really feel alone in my pain and frustration I'm so glad you all are hear not that I want to all to be in pain but you know what I mean!

    love to all,

  • Sorry you are having a tough time with fusion. I had fusion surgery at L5S1 in Nov 09, and it's still not fused. I wound up going to a different doc who did various tests to check for fusion, as he said it was virtually impossible to see it on plain x-ray. I had a myelogram w/dye contrast MRI, two CT's and disc-o-gram. All those tests were able to tell the ortho that fusion didn't occur and that the next two discs were faulty. He wanted to to a 3 level, 360 fusion but then decided that the benefit I'd get wouldn't be worth the risk and pain. So, I'm just kinda on my own now, I guess!

    If they'll do enough testing, it looks like they could make a determination if you had or will ever fuse. I wish you the best with this.
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