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Spine fusion hardware removed

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a spine fusion done on my L5-S1 on July 11, 2004. I was part of a study group to have a disc replacement put in. When I got out of surgery, I had an incision on my abdomen and on my lower spine. I did not receive the disc replacement due to the fact I had severe arthritis in my spine and the decision was made to perform a spinal fusion. I remember immediately after waking up that I had severe pain everywhere but more on my lower right side. That pain has never gone away. When you look at my x-rays you can see that the right side screw is angled differently than the other side. I do believe that is why I am having so much pain. I had one of the best doctors perform my surgery from the University of Utah. I was part of the study group for 4 years and after my last visit in July of 2008 I was told they want me to continue my study for another 5 years. The doctor tells me everything looks great and that there are no bone spurs. My first year after the surgery was hell and I did not start feeling better until 2007. I only felt ok for about a year and since the end of 2007 my pain has increased so much that just touching my spine hurts, my hips are always sore, I can hear movement in my back and pain meds do not take any edge off at all. I am considering having the hardware removed but am not sure if that is the best thing to do or not and really need some advice. I had my surgery at the age of 37 and am now 41. I am a professional bowler and almost gave it up after the surgery, but somehow I was able to just live with the pain and do what I love to do and that is bowl. I can't stand for more than 10 minutes and I can't walk more than a 1/4 mile without my back getting so sore. From some of the stories I am reading, I am seeing about a 50/50 split on success and complications from removing hardware. Are there any doctors in the house or past patients who had their hardware removed and would like to share.


  • Welcome to the board.
    I cant help you myself here but I know there are a few who have had hardware removed for various reasons.

    You mentioned that you have arthritis in your spine. Could this be the reason for the pain? What do the study Drs say about that and about having the hardware removed.
    Also probably worth getting an outside opinion as the study Drs want good results for the study so can be a bit biased.

    Hopefully someone will be able to help you.
    Blessings Sara O:)

  • I have no idea. That sucks you're still feeling pain. I can't imagine being able to bowl, still, though. That's crazy, but awesome that you still can. I can't even imagine picking up a bowling ball. Lol. Or especially winding back and trying to throw it. Ahhhh. Making myself hurt Haha. I would make an appt and ask them what they think about it... If they think there is a possibility the hardware could be the issue. If you have a solid fusion, it's worth a try...
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  • I tried that about a year after my double fusion and knew immediately it was NOT the right thing. #o For one thing, I cannot bend my back and get down to release the ball. Maybe you can do this because of only 1 level fusion. I know I'll never try it again. :O

    On the news a couple of months back they did a mention about removing hardware. Very interesting. Worth bringing up I suppose. You are much younger than I and deserve to be pain free if possible.

  • Age doesn't matter. YOU deserve to be pain free, too!
  • Here is my follow up. I really cant handle the pain anymore, the pain is worse now than before I had the fusion done. I have no pain meds because the doctor does not want to prescribe anything. He hasn't given me a prescription since 2004. I tell him I'm just dealing with the pain everyday and he says "that's good, keep up the good work". I want this taken out but I am part of the Flexi-Core study. I was one of 9 people in Utah who had this procedure done. Does anyone know any good results from having their hardware taken out? If anyone is from Utah, my doctor was Dr. Brodke. Like I said before he did an excellent job except for my husband told me they lost me 3 times in the recovery room and had to bring me back to life, something to do with the anesthesia. Am I honestly just stuck with this stuff in my back or can I or should I have them removed. I can only see my Dr. once a year now since they pay me $75 to fill out study paperwork. I don't know if I should go see another Orthopedic surgeon/Neurologist since he is one of the best at the University of Utah. Thanks to the few people who have responded, this has been a great site to get a lot of information from.

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  • Terry,

    I am sorry that you are still in so much pain. As far as seeing an outside Dr, when you signed up for the study, did you promise not to seek the opinion of an independent Dr.? I can't imagine that you should not have the freedom to do so if you are suffering. If it makes you feel better, call up your contact and find out if you can get help through there, if not go and have a consultation with somebody else. Your well being is the most important thing, and not your loyalty to the study, even if they pay you.

    Good luck! I hope you'll find relief soon.

  • Terry, do you have a pain management doctor or even your PCP who can prescribe pain meds. There is no reason for you to suffer without any relief. Also, even though you are a study participant, all studies loose a certain number of participants who don't follow through and deter from the normal study program. So maybe you just need to see your surgeon and insist he do something else like remove the hardware, or else go to someone else. They may drop you from the study and you won't get your cash, but hey it isn't worth the continued suffering. I can't believe he told you just to keep putting up with the pain. A PM doc could also do injections of the hardware sites to help determine if that is what is causing the pain. That way you would have an idea if hardware removal might help your pain. We have several members who have had success with hardware removal. Good-luck, let us know how it goes.
    >:D< Cali-Sue
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