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T8-L1 fusion; then L5-S1 fusion

Not sure if I am posting/asking in the right place; please re-direct me if necessary. After never even having a back pain in my life; 2 years ago (at 52) I had back pain that was pretty bad. Figured I had a pulled a muscle or something. Went to the Dr. and if I remember right tried some kind of patches and anti-inflamatories and a pain killer. No relief. Went back again and he scheduled an MRI for a Monday. That Friday went with some girlfriends to Reno, NV on a girls trip. Was hurting so bad by the time we got there (4.5 hour drive) just went to bed. The next morning (Saturday) could not walk the pain was so bad. They took me to the ER there and after 12 hours there they figured it must be a kidney infection and told me to see my Dr at home and have the MRI that was already scheduled for on Monday. Left Reno Sunday (back to Oregon) and called my Dr and he told me to go to ER there. Went there; after 8 hours they sent me home and told me to come back the next day (Monday) for the MRI that was already scheduled. Left the hospital and within 15 minutes my Dr called called and told me to go immediately to the orthopedic clinic where they were expecting me. Once there, the spine Dr told me there was a tumor in my spine, it was fractured (at T-10), and admitted me to the hospital. They said it was cancer, but it doesn't start in your spine, starts somewhere else, etc. and did tons of test/MRI's/CAT scans whatever to see where else it was. Came up with nothing, Did spinal biopsys that also came up negative, but told me they must have just got into good bone. Long story short (I'm trying!), it was NOT cancer, but an infection of some sort that ate through the bone until it broke my back. All biopsys came up negative; they even sent to OHSU and Mayo Clinic. Still to this day they do not know what it was. Fused T8-L1. Antibiotics via Picc line for 2 months after being released from hospital (after 2 weeks) then oral antibiotics for another 6 weeks.
Fast forward 2 years. Lower back pain, sciatic pain, until I could not stand for more than 10 minutes. Old fracture (no idea how/when, etc) that needed decompression and fusion. 5 weeks ago had surgery to decompress that & fuse L5-S1. Worked like a charm!!!! Only 5 weeks out I am totally pain free there; NO ISSUES whatsoever. TOTAL success and I am beyond pleased with the pain relief. However my upper back is still giving me problems and freaking HURTS. Is this normal? Spine Dr says rods/screws are in place/look good/ etc but they could try taking them out so see if that offers relief. Any ideas? I go back for a re-check next week (my 6 week mark) on my recent surgery and like I said I so pleased and relieved with the fix. But wondering why the heck 2 years later my upper back still hurts like it does and am wondering if anyone else has had a similar surgery on their upper back and that this is normal to be in pain like this still? Thank you for any help anyone has to offer.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 12/17/2013 - 7:26 PM
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Why not?
    If the spine is fused well and looks good why not have the hardware removed? I keep reading about people who have problems because of their hardware (screws loose, breakages, infections etc.) so if it doesn't need to be there and you are in pain why not give it a go?
    Talk to your doctors and see what they think.

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • I guess I need to look into rod/screw removal; off to search these boards.
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