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Hardware removal after fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello Everyone...I'm new to the message boards..
I had a fall from a deer stand about 11 months ago and fractured my spine.I had a spinal fusion from T10-L1. Wore a brace 16 weeks post op. It was a long haul. I was healing well and then about 4 weeks ago I was in a great deal of pain. I went to my surgeon and he seems to think my hardware ( 2 rods and 6 screws) need to come out. He thinks they are causing the pain. I am having a hard time finding info on what that surgery is like. Much easier than the a fusion, I am sure, but I don't know how long it takes to heal, etc. My Dr describes it like ripping a band-aid off. Has anyone out there had this done? What was it like? I look forward to chattin with you...Korie :?


  • :( dear Korie, I also had my hardware removed as it didnt fuse properly. The reason being is that I am a smoker.They warned me prior to the surgery and I did give it a try but like the fusion I failed.It wasnt fun however the pain was less as they did not take bone off my hip for this. I think if I could do it over I would never smoke as I have ended up with over 8 more surgerys and have broken my back 3 times now. I dont know what its like without pain, but I wish you the best of luck and will talk to the guy above for you . Keep us posted and welcome to this site. Its been a blessing for me to know I can talk to others that know what Im saying.sincere best wishes and God bless. Ck(tenplus0
  • I feel terrible for you! ws there a reason they wouldn't try to re-do you, my first one didn't fuse but I found a new surgeon and had another fusion, what did they do in all 8 surgeries, and how the heck do you break your back, how do you recover from that?

  • Korie,

    I am 2 1/2 weeks post-op from my hardware removal and a revision laminectomy. I had a 2 level PLIF from L4 to S1 last August. After the fusion surgery, I ended up with a lot of nagging leg pain that just wouldn't resolve itself. Also had drop foot in my right foot. I'm pleased to report that the drop foot is gone, and my legs are getting better every day. The nerves are starting to regenerate cause my legs itch something fiercely. I'm confident that the itching will pass and am just happy that my symptoms are different now.

    I went home the following day after the surgery, actually was in the hospital 23 hours. I walked a mile and half two days after the hardware removal, and bumped that to 5 miles on the third day. I mowed the lawn 6 days after the surgery, so as you can see recovery is much faster. Just got my stitches out yesterday, so that discomfort is also gone. Hardware removal is a cake walk once you've been through fusion surgery.

    Good luck with your procedure and I hope you have the same success that I have had.

  • Dave, I can't believe that you were up and moving so quickly.
    You must be pretty active? How much are you able to do now?
  • Korie,

    Its not that easy. It requires a lot of hard work on my part. I'm determined to live a normal life. I pretty much do whatever I want and once the muscles in my back are healed, which will take about another month, I plan on heading back out onto the golf course. I started self Water PT this evening. Legs are definitely tight again and require a lot of work before they are normal again. My SI Joints are acting up also which the Water PT should help to calm that down. If they don't calm down on their own, I'll probably make an appointment with my Physical Therapist for a couple of sessions to get them headed back in the right direction. The one thing I know is that the more active you are, the less chances that scar tissue will become an issue.

  • At the end of January I had fusion of L-2 thru S-1. I had 2 weeks of no pain, then it all started coming back and is now worse than ever. I have gone through 2 rounds of SI injections as the doctor said I started back to work way too soon and have put pressure on the pelvis and sacrum. My surgery was done anteriorly and the incision was huge. The pain doc said yesterday the next step is a hardware block. My fear is going through another major surgery and having the same result. I didn't go into this operation even thinking having the hardware removed was an option. I have multiple sclerosis and I was turned away by several surgeons for fear I would not heal correctly. I have literally had surgery every other year for the last 12 years, I am tired of so many problems. What I want to know is there a significant improvement for everyone who has had their hardware removed? I have 2 young kids and feel like they have been through so much with the health issues I have and hate for them to have to worry through another surgery. Any feedback is appreciated!!
  • That is good to know. My son is 7 and my daughter is 12, so they aren't "needy" like smaller kids, but very active. I had to give up coaching my daughters fast pitch softball team and I hated that. They are very helpful, but get scared. With my MS when I take my injections it upsets my daughter, but my son likes to help give them to me since they have this cool little gun thing that doesn't allow you to come into contact with the needle. How long has it been since you had your hardware removed. I have about 12 screws and a huge plate at the base of my spine so it seems like an aweful lot to take out!
  • I'm thinking it's way too soon to know if your hardware should come out. First your body is still in the process of fusing. It takes 1 yr minimum to fuse all the way. It's only been six months since your surgery. It sounds to me like you are doing to much. Believe me, it makes a huge difference. It usually takes 9 months for people to feel like they are finally over the hump and start to feel normal again. How long after your surgery did you go back to work. I couldn't go back until 7 months after, but my job description required that be able to lift 50 lbs. I work in the OR and spine surgery is my specialty. I am very knowledgeable on many things regarding this matter. I have had five surgeries on my lumbar spine and am having my hardware out next month. My last fusion was Feb/07.
  • Thanks for your response. I am shocked by all the putting it in then taking it out. The people I have known personally are having theirs out at around 7 to 8 months after first surgery. Honestly, work is what has done it too me. I started working 2 weeks after surgery, was supposed to wait 12 weeks. I am a realtor, noone will wait for you in that industry, they will just find someone who can help them now. It is all so overwhelming at this point. Not really sure what to think or do.
  • I am getting ready for hardware removal surgery - screws impinging on on the nerves and they think I may have developed an allergy to the stainless steel screws. My 3 cages are titanium. I am completely fused at L4-L5/L5-S1 after 9-1/2 months.
    Nerve pain is so bad I am only up for a few hours a day now. I am worried because they said my incision will be 9"-10" long. But looking forward to some relief and less medication! And hopefully no cane - they said I will walk out of the hospital.
    Let me know how long your recovery is! I was told 2 days in the hospital and only a couple weeks.
  • Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • I was reading about how some of the forum members were told they could run after healing, my doctor and PT said i could NEVER jog or rum again because of the hardware in my back!

    L4 and L5 fused after removing disk caused by Spondy and had Lumbar Lamminectomy because of Severe Spinal Stenosis!!

    Oh well, that's life!!
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
  • Hello everyone! I am new to this site. I am glad I found it though. I have been trying to get more real world info on what happens after hardware removal. I am scheduled to have all six screws and two rods removed on the 29th of december/08. To make a long story short I am 33 and am still in allot of pain after having a 360' bilateral fusion of l3-5 and then 15 months later a endoscopic discectomy of l2-3 since it herniated during recovery. After the initial fusion I felt great at around month 9 and then at the one year mark went back to scuba diving and golf. Bad move! The second surgery helped my leg pain and some back pain but when I tried to come off the oxy's and perc's I could not get out of bed. After the 2 hour tourture test of a milogram, discograms, facet blocks and finally hardware blocks they said that all the pain is from the hardware. So off to the OR again. I sure hope this does the trick. I have given up just about everything active in my life and I am stuck to driving to work and back and lying on the ice pack at night. I will update everyone with my progress after the surgery. I sure hope that I have as much success as you guys have had. It has been so encouraging reading your stories. If you have any advice on what may have helped with the postopp pain please let me know since I am all but immune to most all pain meds now since I have been dealing with this since 1992 after my initial car wreck, stinking drunk drivers...

  • my husband had his fusion almost ten yrs ago L3-L5,he's been having pain for about 5 yrs getting worse every year,he's been down with pain now in bed for about 9 weeks now,he cannot sit for any length of time so he's been camped out in the bedroom. we have just been going to the pain clinic for injections,no real break thoughs yet,but I'm wondering if the hardware could be the problem,had anyone had hard ware for 10 yrs and had it removed? has anyone had trigger point injections? He's on 75 of fentanly,percocet as needed,and valuim as needed,wears his turtle shell when we go out anywhere.
  • I just read your post and I feel compelled to say thank you. The verse from Psalm you quoted touched me more than words can say. Im 34 years old and have been in pain for over 13 yrs. I had lower lumbar fusion l4 l5 s1 on oct.22 2008. I feel worse than before. prior to that i had every non evasive outpatient procedure available. My doctor does not understand what is causing my pain. I drag my left leg and cant feel my left foot majority of time. My body gets these hot flashes on my chest and left arm all the time. you could fry an egg on me to say the least. im getting ready for yet another surgery after my facet inj.in my neck as they now have discover c5-6 & c6-7 are degenerative as well. I dont go out of my home. I have no life to speak of. my mother is my angel as she helps me with most things normal people take for granted. no more whoa as me. im trying to get my arms around this thing so to speak. Im sorry for your pain my friend. we are all in this together. God bless you.
  • Hi, I am 2 1/2 years status post TLIF L3-S1. Bone graft, 8 screws and I believe 4 rods.. OMG! the pain of that surgery was something that I will never forget. I still have back pain but get by day by day. Trying to deal with daily pain is really something that most people cannot understand. If I take my Vicodin 5/500 2-3 pills a day , I feel better but not for long. The pain comes back in my low back, butt and right leg which because I waited so long to have the surgery has permanent nerve injury and the right side and most of my foot is numb.

    My orthopedic doctor said the disc L2-L3 is now worse, partially due to the fixation, partly the spinal stenosis. He feels this may be the pain problem, or..... LET'S REMOVE THE HARDWARE! AND DO THE FIXATION AT L-2 L-3. I've read alot about hardware removal and whether it reduces your pain. It's a crap shoot. I in particular never want to remove it because I don't want that post op pain, recuperation time and the chance it won't do squat. I'll be in more pain than before and not even able to walk to the end of the block let alone a nice walk.

    So, before you go jumping into any type of hardware removal look for more posts to read and read them all so you'll have an idea. In your case if you can't get out of bed and are in that much pain then of course something has to be done or undone.

    Good luck.. wish you the best
  • RJRRJ Posts: 6
    edited 02/02/2015 - 8:10 AM
    Thanks for all your helpful entries. Motorcycle accident in may, '14- shattered femur and crushed spine- Femur required 2 surgeries due to non-union- 3 weeks post-op on that and it seems to be healing well. Back pain is relentless, stabbing and
    my Doc said he would remove the hardware since he can find no reason for the pain. (been to 4 pain clinics and have tried all the usual stuff: pain meds, several NSAIDS, injections, patches, T.E.N.S., acupuncture and all the rest . . . nothing helps. I have
    12 pedicle screws and 2 vertical rods with connectors. Since CT scans show the spine is fused, is there any reason I should not have it removed? And how long for recovery? It is killing me . . . thanks- RJ
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