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How did you know your bone fusion failed?

Only 8 weeks post op PLIF for an annular tear of l4-l5. Other then feeling better from "surgical" recovery...everything else seems to have remained the same...any input....tell me your stories. My mind is ready to go....the body doesn't want to follow...
This can't be happening


  • I completely understand how stressed you are. I'm so sorry. I think you already know what I'm going to say... It's just too early to know. When's your next appointment?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • It is unbelievable the pain I am having barely being able to turn over in the bed to the point I don't want to sleep. All the swelling and pain I had pre op is back. It hurts to sleep on my back the only side I can sleep on is the left side and I wake up all swollen and puffy around my eyes and again the pain in my back feels paralyzing like someone poured concrete over me while I was sleeping and I am having pain still in low back and hips and legs. I realize its only eight weeks but when are you supposed to start doing more. From the moment I'm up in the am I try to keep moving I go with friends to the market or target just to walk around. Lately I'm finding I need to leave because the pain from walking I just want to go home. I can't even get through helping with dinner prep with out struggling through. This is all normal?
    This can't be happening
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 556
    When was the last time you saw your doctor? Is he aware of how you're feeling?
    I agree that you are still early in your recovery, but maybe you can call your doctor & let him know how you are feeling? It might help to give you a piece of mind.
    I hope you start feeling better soon.
  • I am 6.4 weeks post op. I am struggling to sleep as well cause my back hurts so bad. My Neurosurgeon said that you just jg4G ad a really big surgery so it is normal to have really bad back pain. Also after surgery your nerves get inflamed and just need time to heal. My Neurosurgeon told me for my case that I will be looking at a good year for my nerves to recover. I will call your surgeon if you are concerned. You could always request an X-Ray to make sure everything is ok as well! I pray that you are doing great! Hang in there!!
    L5-S1 Emergency PLIF Revision May 26th 2015
    L5-S1 PLIF May 22nd 2015.
    L5-S1 Discectomy Feb 27th 2015.
    L5-S1 Discectomy Oct 30th 2014.
  • edited 07/12/2015 - 7:58 PM
    So far and concern... Clarinet girl you had a revision? Might I ask what that is and why ?
    I know my dr said a year as well. But what have you been able to do so far as the weeks have gone by .... People tell me I'm doing too much ? What is too much ? And I'm seeing the dr on Thursday ... I did call Friday because I went for an independent exam and I had to do all these things I haven't done in months and the next day Friday I couldn't move ... And swelling increased from his manipulating the area where I had the fusion asking does this hurt? Put me through the roof ... Like 3 of 4 times ...
    This can't be happening
  • How did I get here - said:
    Only 8 weeks post op PLIF for an annular tear of l4-l5. Other then feeling better from "surgical" recovery...everything else seems to have remained the same...any input....tell me your stories. My mind is ready to go....the body doesn't want to follow...

    What I learned after a 20 year journey in chronic spinal pain, is that fusions fail and the rate is fairly high. Diagnosing a fusion failure is not easy as one might think. It took me 3 surgeries before it was finally fixed. My first surgery was and L4-L5 fusion in November 2011. It was an over all horrific experience. The surgery was done by a very reputable neurosurgeon. The unfortunate thing is I needed a LOT of time in a rehab hospital and ended up contracting a massive staph infection that required IV antibiotics daily for over 4 months and a full 8 months of daily home health care and constant visits to a wound clinic to finally get the wound to heal. I had only a short term, minimal relief of my pain. By June of 2014, I had to undergo and laminectomy for severe nerve compression. While i had no recovery problems from this surgery, I never got really any relief from the pain. The same neurosurgeon performed the laminectomy that had done the fusion. By February of 2015, I ended up back in the hospital for uncontrollable pain. At that point the MRI showed clear evidence that my spine had deteriorated significantly in only 8 months. At that point my neurosurgeon was honest with me and told me that he felt he was no longer the best person to treat my problem. I had extensive scar tissue problems, and he felt I would be better served by and orthopedic spinal specialist who was highly trained in minimally invasive lumbar surgery. I did exhaustive research and settled on a surgeon. I went for my first appointment and they did some plain x-rays. They took a front view, a side view, and then had me bend over forward, and then a view where I had to lean backwards as far as I could. The surgeon came in and looked at the x-rays and found that my previous fusion was moving so badly, that it actually caused a fracture to the vertabrae above the fusion. The fracture never showed up on the MRI, nor could the neurosurgeon tell the fusion was moving even when he was doing the 2nd operation. I had the 3rd surgery on June 29, 2015, and have now had complete relief of all my pain to a point where I was released from the rehab hospital a full 8 days early!! While I am still recovering and taking things very slow, I am in no pain at all, and was off ALL pain medication by two weeks after the surgery. I had been in pain and on narcotics for 20 years. It will be several more weeks before I can begin my outpatient rehab, but I am walking pain free for the first time in YEARS and am able to do all my at home exercises easily. Had the orthopedic surgeon not done that one x-ray where I had to bend forward during the x-ray, I would have never found out that the first fusion failed due to the post op infection,nor that I was walking around with a fractured spine. I thank God every day I found this surgeon who got it right the first time and was able to repair it. I am so THRILLED to finally be pain free after everything I have been through. Look for an orthopedic spinal specialist that does the minimally invasive surgeries. This surgery was by far the fastest recovery I have had from ANY surgery I have ever had. Good luck to you.
  • my surgeon is a top ortho spine specialist in my state, along with his colleague who is the top neuro surgeon and head of neuro in my hospital where I had my second surgery. I had an xray at 3 1/2 weeks however that is not when the severe pain started if you see my picture to the left that was my back after my last surgery which was a microdisectomy, not fusion. For 11 months and 9 mris, 1 bone scan, full blood work up, neurologist, PM who said it was all in my head the pain was caused by meds, well I finally talked to a family friend, but he's a cardiologist, he said get a discogram. That sounds like nerve damage coming from somewhere when I also listed my symptoms and triggers. BOTH dr's very good, didn't "see" anything on every other test. The discogram revealed the posterior annular tear I'd had for 11 months so at that point the swelling now became a part of the actual diagnosis, originally they said muscle spasm. Well guess whats back even worse, back pain swelling , hurts to walk sit at 90 degrees. I have not increased meds since october 2014, even after the major bone fusion they did 10 weeks ago. So he suggests PT, I did PT after the last surgery it just set me back. I am very apprehensive to start PT because I am afraid there could be something wrong like a fracture. My left leg has gone numb in the past 5 days I told dr that he didn't know what to say. He says on paper I look good my x-ray was 3 weeks post op? then I mentioned the swelling again at the end of the visit he said its not an infection, and I can guarantee its not a "leak" , so I said remember my back looked like this 11 months before surgery? kind of just sighed and said lets try some PT I'm sure its muscle spasm. This muscle spasm has created the most debilitating pain I've ever had.
    This can't be happening
  • insgal62iinsgal62 Posts: 5
    edited 07/25/2015 - 6:18 AM
    Oh my dear. . . My heart aches for you with the frustration you feel. I lived it for 20 years. After the first 5 years of pain and conservative treatments, I saw quite a few surgeons who flat out told me my problem could not be surgically corrected and I was forced to continue with pain management. My life was all about injections, and PT and narcotics. By 2011. I had such severe neck and back pain that I was a vegetable. I had shooting pain down my arm and both hands were numb. I had severe lumbar pain with sciatica, and pain down the leg with numbness. I went to another surgeon in 2011 who told me I needed both neck and back surgery and why the hell did I wait so long?? I cried like a baby that day as I explained to him that for YEARS they had told me surgery was not an option. I had the cervical fusion in May 2011. That was pretty uneventful. I still have some neck pain today, but that nerve pain has never returned, and an occasional Botox injection, seems to manage it just fine. The nerve pain did take months to resolve though. My lumbar surgery was not so cut and dried. I had a severe post op infection the first time and I never had any good relief of pain from either the first or second surgery. I knew that narcotic use can sort of "train your brain" to feel pain, so one day I stopped all my narcotics for 2 full months, because I believed at that point that I couldn't tell anymore what pain was real, and what wasn't real. What I found out was that my pain was in fact real and it was horrific. At that point I started my process of finding a new surgeon. I believe in my heart that I lucked out really. This surgeon diagnosed my problem in 10 minutes with basically a 4 month old MRI and 4 x-rays that he took. I had been doctor hopping for over a year since my second lumbar surgery and no one could give me any answers. My new surgeon was not telling me he could cure all my pain issues. He was a lot more grim about it than I anticipated. Although he was as nice and compassionate as could be, he minced no words in telling me it would be very difficult to fix and a brutal recovery that could take up to a year to recover from. He told my hubby that he is not a fan a revision surgery because the failure rates are so high. But he told my husband that unfortunately, I had no other options. I HAD to have the surgery. My surgeon is really pleased to the moon and back with how well I bounced back and how quickly I recovered. And I was just floored by it, myself. I've have cancer twice, involving numerous surgeries, 4 spinal surgeries, a knee surgery, and many other surgeries. This was the fastest recovery I have ever had. I truly can't explain how or why that is. Even after this last surgery, I developed some severe spasms, and that nerve compression they fixed caused those nerves to start hyper firing. I felt like someone was sticking me in the buttock with a red hot poker and that my skin felt like it was BURNING. Both the surgeon and Physicians Assistant that did the surgery said this is normal and it could take up to one year for the swelling and inflammation to go down, and for that nerve to settle down. I was prepared for the worst. It stopped hurting one week after the surgery. Even the surgeon was surprised by that. I have no explanation why two surgeries went so badly, and yet the last one went so well. I just pray that you keep trying to get answers and if need be, see someone else. In the interim, I will pray for you that you get the answers and resolution to your pain that you need and deserve.
  • If this helps at all (I'm just a newbie here), I had a fusion fail at C5/6 in 2001. I had no idea the fusion failed. Was going about my life, feeling better, and x rays showed the bone graft had dissolved. Next thing I knew, I was in a collar and bone stimulator with a prognosis of "fair."
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