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Herniated disc after hardware removal

I have not posted alot since my last surgery about 3 months ago. So here goes, I had a spinal fusion in August 2012 of the L3-L4 with screws. It was not a big surgery, it was minumally invasive. I was in pain for those 2 years, as I went through everything with my doctors. We tried everything. At the very end in January of this year, my doctor decided to give me lidocane injections where my hardware was to see if it was the hardware causing my pain. (Just a note, when I had my hardware in, my left side thigh from my waist to the middle of the outside of my leg was completely numb. I lived with this that long, and when I would get injections, I could not feel it, which was a plus.) He told me that if my pain went away for a little bit, it was the hardware, if not, it was not the hardware. Well my pain went away, and it felt great, because I had been living with it for awhile. It turns out I am allergic to nickel. That was causing all my pain. I am completely fused, So he scheduled surgery to remove my hardware. It was taken out, I was in the hospital for 2 days, and it was not that bad compared to when I had my spinal fusion. I have 2 small 2in incisions in the middle of my back.
So, now it has been 3 months. I have been going to a chiropractor for physical therapy, and massage, and ice and heat, because that left side is so painful. My chiropractor believes it is the piriformis muscle. He said that he thinks that there is scar tissue around it, because this pain is so intense, its like stabbing pain. I can be sitting, and when I get up, it is bad, and I do not want to get up after sitting. I exercise, I aggravate it, after I try to stretch it out with the exercises that the chiropractor gave me. Then I am in pain for about a couple of hours. This pain is with me all the time now. So the chiropractor said lets wait about 6 weeks and see how I am. I never got better. It is still there.
Now just a couple of weeks ago, I got this pain in the middle lower back where my scars are from my newest surgery, and it was bad! Plus the pain on the left side. I was in bed for 2-3 days, and I could not move. Ibuprofen would not work, and I was taking 800mg. It took the edge off a bit. I had to wait till Monday to get in to see my chiro. My whole back was inflamed and he gave me stem and ice. We did not do any exercises at all that day and I stayed home from work. I felt better the next day. To sum this up, my pain in my middle back is getting more and more aggressive. So I finally went and got the MRI.
Not good, I read the report and it said something like a 7mm mass up against my spine where my surgery was, and my disc had ruptured and leaked and is pressing on my spine on the inside like pushing my spine towards my front side. My chiro told me to make appt with my spine dr again, so I am going on thursday. The report said something like a sequestered disc defragmentation. I am scared of what this is, and I cannot handle anymore surgeries. My chiro told me that I should get a second opinion from another dr. By him telling me that, I got to thinking maybe it was something that my spine dr. did while I was in surgery. I asked him he would tell me if they left metal in my back and he said yes, but it does not show it, but he just wants the spine dr. to see my MRI. Plus my chiro told me he did see a mass on my left side, like he thinks it is scar tissue.
I hope it is nothing bad, and I am getting a second opinion. Has anyone ever had this or something close to it? Any ideas or any treatments that are possible with this?

L3-L4 minimally invasive spinal fusion L3 - L4 with cage and rods. Aug 24th, 2012
Hardware Removal Feb 24, 2014
DDD, Thyroid Disease
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
SI Joint dysfunction


  • metalallergyFYImmetalallergyFYI Posts: 4
    edited 05/26/2014 - 3:46 PM
    I was sent your post about nickel allergy from a friend and joined this site to give you some clarification. For some reason I could not respond to the post about allergy.

    Can I ask what type of test you had for this allergy. The MELISA blood test is most accurate, but some use skin patch tests etc.

    Nickel allergy affects between 15% -25% of the general population. It s absolutely not correct that ALL spinal implants are 100% titanium. Many are binded with other metals. Many who are sensitive to nickel are also sensitive to cobalt. Be careful not to have any MRI's with dye called gadolinium. This contains metals including nickel. This can cause horrific side effects for some allergic to nickel. I would also avoid silver dental fillings. I would also look into any implant, dental or spinal BEFORE it is implanted in you, to determine they do not have any nickel or cobalt. Do not take a doctors word for it, contact the manufacturer and ask for exact break down.

    They only way to determine if there was nickel in your implants is to first request a copy of your surgery implant log, and implant stickers. Some doctors use spacers/cages from one manufacturer, and screws from several manufactures in one surgery you may have 3 or 4 different manufacturers in your spine. You or your surgeon can contact these manufacturers and give them the product codes and lot numbers for each screw, rod, cage etc and ask for a breakdown of what was in every implant. This is the only way to check for the amount of nickel in an implant.

    There is a recent study in which they examined implants that were removed from patients that were stated to be 100% titanium, and 50% were found to contain different metals in the implant. They found that this was caused by the molds used to make the implant in. Implants did retain some of the molds metals, and although titanium was poured in the mold, what came out was not 100% titanium. I would remember this when considering another fusion with hardware. I have studied metal allergy and I am at a doctor who specializes in this subject. I am relaying information that was told to me by a specialist. I hope it helps you. I have found many spine surgeons are not aware of this

    I had hardware removal two months ago. I am also allergic to nickel. I only had a partial removal due to my cages/spacers are permanent and my fusion was anterior/posterior., so only the back screws and rods could be safely removed. The hardware that was removed was stated by the manufacturer as 100% titanium. Before the surgery, I had a lot of pain, headaches, nausea and felt ill and weak. Post surgery I still have pain but not the other symptoms, which makes me wonder if there was any nickel in the implants.

    I also had pain on my left side next to my spine. One of the screws was especially painful in that location and my surgeon had to remove a lot of scar tissue.

    My incision is 6 or 7 inches. My neurosurgeon took out 8 screws, 2 rods and a lot of scar tissue and the need for such an incision.

    I recommend getting a second opinion from a good neurosurgeon. It sounds like something is going on with you.

    You should ALWAYS go to the emergency room post spinal surgery, if you have such pain as you wrote about. I recommend going to a large hospital with an MRI machine. I call in advance to check this.

    Did you request to keep the screws and rods that were removed? If not, the hospital may still have them. I suggest requesting them. They will have the product number and lot number of the manufacturer on them.

    Do you know if cages or any other things stayed in you? Usually cages/spacers are permanent after a fusion. Sometimes they are peek, and do not show up on scans, but have metal markers to show where they are.I ask this because my cages with metal markers have small amounts of nickel in the metal marker.

    I was told not to have any adjustments EVER from a chiropractor after a lumbar fusion, from every spine surgeon I have seen. I would be careful with that. (don't know if they are adjusting your lower spine or not.

    Scar tissue may be causing pain issues. I suggest getting another surgeon to look at your MRI.

    If you do need another fusion with metal, your surgeon can request a test kit for free from the manufacturer of the hardware he wants to implant in you. It is a small disc you place on your skin to check for sensitivity. There is a non metal implant which is made from a crushed diamond material.

    Good luck to you.
  • Loreeann32LLoreeann32 Posts: 76
    edited 06/20/2014 - 8:19 PM
    Thank you very much MetalAlleryFYI for that. I hope other people will read this and agree. The test that my spine doctor did to find out if I had a nickel allergy was pretty simple. He just injected Lidocane in and around the pain site and told me if I get relief for about 4-6 hours then it is not the metal allergy. He said if you do not get pain relief, then it is the metal allergy. And of course I did not get no pain relief.
    So I got this MRI and went back to my spine dr. He could not find anything on it, which amazed me, that my chiropractor did. My Chiro never adjusted me either, just gave me heat and stem and massages. They seemed to help for awhile, but had to keep going back. So anyway, my spine dr referred me to a pain management dr. I have seen them before, way before my surgery, so I kinda knew what I was in for. So I was upset that my dr could not find anything on the MRI, and I am going to get a second opinion soon her in about 3 weeks. So I was sitting in the room waiting for the PM dr, and he came in and said wow, just by looking at you, you are in alot of pain. I said yes. I told him about my nerve pain down my leg, and the horrendous pain that I have in my back. So he checked me out and we talked, and he put me on Fentanyl patches. Never been on them, did my research and for me I think it will work. He gave me 50 MCG patch and some Norco 7.5 for BT pain. The patch does not work, but the Norco did, but I had to take more than prescribed. So I have to go have a psychological evaluation for long term narcotic use which is on Thursday to prove I am not a addict. Then I go the 30th back to the dr and I will tell him that the patch is not strong enough. He also gave me a antidepressent Cymbalta for the nerve pain in my leg which works wonders. I am not looking to have anymore surgeries, so I think this will work for me. I will update again. And again thanks for posting about the metal allergies, some people here need to read your post. I think it will be very helpful to them.

    L3-L4 minimally invasive spinal fusion L3 - L4 with cage and rods. Aug 24th, 2012
    Hardware Removal Feb 24, 2014
    DDD, Thyroid Disease
    Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
    SI Joint dysfunction
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