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Non-union experience.

Hi, I am new to the board. I guess there is some question about whether people should take NSAIDS following lumbar fusion. I just want to share my story. I had a L5-S1 discectomy that eventually needed an L5-S1 a posterior fusion with rods using cadaver bone. This took very well. 15 years later, the levels above my fusion started to give me problems. I ended up desolving my facet joints at L4-L5 (1.7 mm cysts) and some spondolosis/retrolisthesis. That translates into a lot of pain in my back, legs and around my waste and groin region. I have some wear and tear above this level as well. I did the injections and wrestled with my surgeon. He did my previous fusion. This time I sort of had a bad feeling about him. He was falling asleep during my appointments and was very rude to me. Told me my pain was caused from constipation and gas. He also kept implying that I was using narcotics. I figured I wasn't hiring him for his bedside behavior. My pain was incredible and I was having a nervous break down. I was out of work and started to see a psychiatrist. My life was coming apart and I was feeling a lot of emotional stress as well as physical pain and immobility. I was taking ibuprofen regularlly and tylenol at minimum innervalls. I was not on narcotics. Eventually, I guess I convinced my neuro-surgeon to do surgery on me. He decided to carry my fusion above L5-S1 to L4-L5. He used a posterior approach, removed my old rods, removed some bone, inserted a small cage with morsalized bone and BMP and put new rods in place. When he discharged me he checked off a list of medication that I was taking and said I could resume taking them. Well, I wanted to stay away from the narcotics, so I used the ibuprofen instead which was on my list of meds that he re-ordered. I had fare results and sometimes I would use the hydrocodone/tylenol on top of it. I ended up having a nervous breakdown and was suicidal. I was hospitalized at local VA hospital for a couple weeks and discharged. I stayed on the ibuprofen for about 2 months. At about the 3 month interval I recall reading an artical from another surgeons office that said to not take ibuprofen because of bone healing issues. I informed my doctor that I had been taking the ibuprofen. He was alarmed and wanted to know who said it was ok to take ibuprofen. I said, "You did." Needless to say, it was an awkward moment. So, I continued to have problems and at 6 months he said I had a good fusion and discharged me. He also said, "I don't do pain management." So I kept having problems and started to go back to my GP. They did x-rays and I saw no bone and my doctor saw now bone. I decided to see doctors out of the area. What I found was that I had no bone growth at the level of my suposed fusion. They said I should not have taken ibuprofen before or in the period following my surgery. X-rays showed evidence of the cage moving around in my back. My surgeon got very crabby when I tried to talk to him about this. I scolded him on the phone for telling me I was fused when I wasn't, and I told him he should not have prescribed me ibuprofen following the surgery. His only comment was, "I guess it wasn't a good idea." After about a year, I was still having problems and no bone growth. I went to a completely different surgeon and had the fusion redone. At six months, I was completely fused. I am talking lots of bone density. I am a reasonably healthy individual . No smoking history, not over weight, no diabetes, I am in my early 50's. My pain is greatly decreased but I have considerable activity intolerance. I have neck problems that are bothering now as well. My depression has lifted but I still struggle when my pain get up there or I start thinking about what the future might be like. So, if you want my opinion on IBUPROFEN or any NSAID before or following innerbody fusion, I would say it is not a good idea. I have read a bit on it and I am convinced it interferes with bone healing and bone formation. Taking it for a very short while at low doses is probably safe, but not at regular intervals for a long period of time. Sorry for the long naration but that is the story. Best to anyone that can read this fare! Ringo


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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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
  • My surgeon said no NSAIDs for 6 months after my fusion and I had to stop taking them 7 days before the surgery. Glad you feel somewhat better - I'd be pretty angry if my surgeon noted upon discharge I could take ibuprofen or any NSAID.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I was told itt could prevent the fusion
  • garycdewittggarycdewitt Posts: 51
    edited 01/21/2014 - 10:48 PM
    My surgeon said no NSAID, of any type, until cleared after surgery. Also was told to use ice, not heat, until cleared as well.
  • Wow, what a terrible story. I'm so sorry for your suffering and lack of an empathetic and clear surgeon. He absolutely should have noticed your ibuprofen on your med list, and in no uncertain terms, he should have advised you of the danger. I'm glad you have now fused and hopefully you can be done with him; he even lied to you!! Here's hoping you have nothing but success from here on
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • I actually just came back from my spine doctor today to review my CT scan done. I'm 7 months post op with no bone growth seen on CT and a screw that he doesn't like that's close to my nerves with some loosenig. So, he told me today.. While I asked him about Advil...that at this point to do whatever I can do get by. I started taking Mobic again because I feel like that helps a smidge. He is an excellent surgeon and I trust me would never put me in harms way... So I will continue to take NSAIDS while hoping some bone starts growing.
    Sorry for all the things you have gone through. That does sound awful... Thank you for your insight!
    28 F. Chicago. Fusion from t-12 l-4 from scoli in June 2013. Torn bilateral hip labrums. Arthroscopy to fix labrums January 2013 and march 2013. SI pain from hip surgery Lupus, RA, antiphosphidlipid antibody- hypermobility syndrome ( Marfan syndrome)
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