1 year hardware removal update / 18 months fusion update.
This week is my hardware removal surgery 1 year anniversary and also marks 18 months since my laminectomy and fusion at L5-S1.Background
Intermittent lumbar back pain started about 9 years ago. Mild sciatic pain in right leg kicked in around the same time. Continuous lumbar back pain and moderate sciatic pain started 4 years ago. Last 6 months before surgery, broken nights due to pain and could not get out of bed in the morning unaided. Tried chiropractors and physiotherapy over the years, but no help. Finally had an MRI in November 2006. Diagnosis : severe DDD and severe foraminal stenosis at L5-S1. Laminectomy and instrumented fusion at L5-S1 less than a month later, in Dec 2006. One pedicle screw came loose so all hardware was subsequently removed 7 months later in July 2007.Outcome
It has been a long road to recovery but I have made it. I noticed a significant improvement immediately after the laminectomy and fusion but had ongoing isolated pain due to the screw problem, which was identified by plain x-ray. After the hardware removal I noticed immediate relief again but, nevertheless, recovery took many months of physical therapy, following a structured physical therapy rehab programme specifically for lumbar spines – I believe this was critical in my success. I am now substantially pain free and can go for days without feeling any pain whatsoever. I never get any pain to the degree where I feel that I need to take pain killers and when I do feel some pain is when I have overdone things, like lifting something too heavy (last week I lifted a 55lb compressor and suffered a muscle strain for a few days). Curiously, I do get some back ache when lying flat on my back for any length of time but it disappears as soon as I get up and move around. As I always have slept on my side, it’s not really a problem.
Overall, I am extremely happy with my surgical outcome, but I want to stress that recovery was certainly tougher and longer than I ever imagined it would be. However, there certainly is light at the end of the tunnel for the majority of us - it just takes time, patience and a positive attitude
...an old timer here and ex-moderator