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Bone Growth Stimulator after Surgery

meljonah18mmeljonah18 Posts: 1
edited 10/30/2015 - 9:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Has anyone had any brusing or muscle spasms, etc after using a bone growth stimulator after surgery?

I am 35 days post-op from a L4-L5-S1 fusion. It was done minimally invasively and I went home the same day. Everything went great. At day 28 I had managed to walk up to 10,000 steps a day once and had decreased my pain meds a lot (as needed). Although the doctor gave me the note to not return to work until Nov. 11th, I started back in the office work for 2-3 hours at a time (I have a sit/stand workstation- very easy desk job and I made sure to alternate posture, etc) after week 3 because honestly I was sick of being at home and felt great. I had someone drive me, etc.

About a week-10 days ago I was given my bone growth stimulator, which I was very excited about (because I can't wait to be healthy/athletic again and fuse perfectly!). I'm supposed to wear it 2 hours a day. I read over every single word they gave me in pamphlets for negative contraindications and found none (not even anything about the battery, etc). I asked him if it would help MORE if I wore it longer and the rep who came to the house said cervical patients wear them for four hours, so I'm thinking "I'll wear it for sure 2 hours, but maybe up to four hours".

I've worn it religiously for the 2 hours and on some days put it on later in the day for another spell. (I'm really motivated for bone fusion- taking lots of suppliments, drinking Ensure, etc)

About 5-6 days after starting the bone growth stimulator, I was taking my usual walk around the block and all of a sudden I got this horrible pain by my incision site. Like something was biting me. ("Something" would have had to crawl under my brace). I stopped, tried to reach back and it stopped. Walked a few more steps, same pain. This continued back and forth every 10-15 steps. Took brace off to look when I got home and saw nothing, no redness, but that side (left side) incision area was numb-ish. (Like as if I had an icepack on it for a long time). The right side incision felt fine.

I HAD to go pick up my daughter from school; but by the time I got home; I had some pain down my left buttock and thigh (my pain prior to surgery was on the right side/leg). So I called the dr and after asking all the questions (did I fall, twist, lift something, etc- answer is no) he told me to take it easy for a few days. Well I laid flat for two whole days and the "biting" pain has mostly stopped but I'm getting muscle spasms in both legs more than I have before and there is a bruise forming around the left incision. It's still numbish.

I started thinking- maybe it is correlated to the bone growth stimulator. Has anyone had anything similar happen when they used a bone growth stimulator? Brusing, muscle spasms? I do feel some pain after I wear it for the whole two hours. Not any type of pain I can put my finger on, just hurts, achy.

I'm going to stop using it extra hours and I've been told I can cut the two hour segment I "need" to wear it into one hour segments so I'm going to do one hour in the morning and one hour at night to break them up.

But just wondering what other people's experiences were. I'm very excited about having it (especially since my insurance paid the whole thing!) but maybe I would feel better knowing my brusing and pain was from it because then I didn't hurt myself?


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  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 719
    Like you I've had a I've also had a L4-l5-S1 fusion and I asked my doctor about a bone growth stimulator. He flatly said they were a waste of time and money... and in fact he called them a gimmick. I'm not sure he is right... I'm sure there are other doctors who swear by them. If I were you I would stop using the stimulator for 4-5 days to see what happens. Regardless of the stimulator or not it sounds like you are healing really well... your progress at just 35 days is amazing. Even through you are feeling better... DON'T OVER DO IT... the actual lumbar bone fusion will take MUCH LONGER than 35 days... bones grow very slowly and most likely your pain and muscle spasms are due to over doing it rather than the stimulator. Just my two cents..
    Harry - 62 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • My Surgeon, like hills above stated that a bone growth stimulator should be absolutely unneeded for me (younger healthy, athletic). He state she would only use it if after 90 days I show no evidence of healing. Like any device, it is a prescription, so like any medicine the doc decides how long you should use it, NOT a rep, so it probably is a better idea to simply use it for the 2 hours.

    It could be possible as you are healing well you are doing more each day and you have reached a limit that puts you in some kind of pain.
    If the bone growth stimulator is placed in proximity to the l incision its possible it could have caused some bruising, but... it's really hard to tell. If the pain persists, you might consider an extra follow up visit with your MD. I know I would be nervous. After my first surgery every little thing that was unusual kind of terrified me.
    The other thing though is that our bodies are pretty resilient, and lots of times people don't do exactly what the doctor tells them, and oddly they also recover and have great results.

    It sounds as if you are doing great and I am so so so glad to see it as I am scheduled for a minimally invasive one level (L5-S1) fusion, anterior approach in about 4 days and I have been really afraid of the pain from the incisions...

    Best of luck and good wishes for your continued great progress!
  • I had posterior cervical fusion back in March 2015. I remember when I had to start wearing the bone growth stimulator. It didn't bother me unless I was up and walking around. I noticed the way the stimulator is made that the main weight of it was on my neck incision and like you I experienced pain in that area. What I found that worked for me until my incision had more time to heal was to wear my thick house coast under the stimulator and seat in recliner for duration time was up. Once my incision was able to heal more I started just wearing house coat while walking until I was able to use the stimulator without using the house coat but I think mainly if you can find something to help relieve the pressure of the stimulator off your incision area would be helpful. I hope things go well for you and good luck.
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 552
    I had to wear one after my ACDF 4-5. I had to wear it for 4 hours everyday.
    It gave me horrible headaches & several times it felt like I was being electrocuted? My doctor said he never heard of that happening before & told me to continue wearing it. So I did.
    I ended up still having to have a second surgery because my neck didn't fuse.
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