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Hardware Removal L4-L5 L5 S1 Fusion and Cadaver Disc

smpdsniperssmpdsniper Posts: 22
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Chronic Pain
I am a 34 year old now retired police officer. In April 07 I was smoked while riding my motorcycle on duty. Because of my 30 foot trajectory and subsequent smack on the asphalt I have had three fusion and disc replacements in C5-6 and L4-L5 L5-S1. I had the neck surgery in June 07 and have had no problems and had my L4-S1 On Oct 22-25 07. I am completely fused but have never been pain free. The pain is so bad I cannot stand it. Meds do not really help much either. I am married to a great wife and have two awesome daughters 5 and 3.

I have had three injections over the last six months, with no relief. All my doctors say I should take out the hardware. I am 5-10 195 but usually and built out to 215. I can feel the hardware and any movements hurt. When I get out of bed in the morning I feel like I am 90 it hurts beyond belief. I try to hide it from the wife because I do not want to be anymore of a burden. If people knew how bad I hurt.

I am scared to go under the knife again as it hurt so much before and I hated the recovery process. I need to be there for my kids and don't want to be laid up.

Thanks for your input!!!


  • Hi, I can totally understand where you're coming from. I had my surgery 15 months ago. Never been pain free. I thought when I had the surgery in January, I'd be walking about by summer. No way. I'm 59. If I do not take pain medication I can't do anything. Even with the medication, which by the way only works for like 3 hours, I'm able to do just basics, light housekeeping etc. I saw my Ortho doc one month ago. According to him, I'm fine. Not as much bone growth at the sites but overall ok. No problems with screws etc. He did mention to me that" maybe " the hardware has to come out if I continue to have pain. My question to him was why? If he decompressed all the areas where the nerves were compressed and fused everything, then why do I still have so much pain. He answered " everyone's different" Don't rush things. Whatever! Because of being in so much pain post op and then recovery, I'd never go thru taking out any hardware on the smallest chance it "may help". It's not worth it. I really think better pain management is what is called for an I for one am tired of measly 3 hours of less pain and then taking more pills. I don't know what is next but I feel that taking out the hardware is not the solution. If I could get up in the morning and be able to do most ordinary things for the first 2 hours, it's a miracle. It's also depressing. I don't know about how you feel, but I feel depressed that I'm not able to do what I want to do and what I was told I would be able to do once the surgery was done and recovery time was over. Guess, I'm still recovering. Who knows. The only thing that I have found that is tried and true is ice packs. Just load your back with ice packs for awhile. Good luck,
  • SMPD.

    If I do not take at least 2000mg a day of tylenol, my pain goes throught the roof. do you have a tens unit or the stronger IF stimulator? I have both and they help while using them.

    Currently I am going to the Chiropractor for treatments with a Pro Adjuster that kind of vibrates the discs back into place. It has helped my neck and between my shoulder blades with only a few treatments. I am not expecting much relief in my fusion areas but who knows.
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  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    Hi guys,
    I had my hardware removed, thinking that it would solve my problems. It did not. I have a friend who had his out and it helped somewhat. Whatever you decide. Try not to have too high of expectations.
    martyjo, sounds like your surgeon and mine were the same.
    Try not to mourn who you were and rather TRY to accept who you now are. Letting it depress you only causes more pain.
    If you can feel the hardware, maybe it should come out, it may help, but its not a magic bullet. The hardware removal is a piece of cake compared to what you've already been through. I've had hardware removal done twice.
    Good luck, Jim

    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I am in the same boat. Surgery in 2006 was excruciating. Dr. left on vacation the next morning without telling me. I want it OUT but I am scared. I don't want to live this way but I don't want my husband to have to put up with this forever.
  • GET IT OUT DONT THINK TWICE. I had several fusions cervical and lumbar and young mother of 3. After my 2 lumbar fusion I finally had a solid fusion, but was still in pain like you the more I did the more I hurt. I dont have much fat on back and could feel my hardware also every one of them. I was SO SO relieved when I had the hardware removed the BEST SURGERY I have had. I am now 1 and half year out of surgery and NO PAIN in that area of back. I stayed 1 night in hospital and just a few days in bed, ONLY DAYS. By time my scar was healed I was healed inside. And really was only 2 weeks time but there was not much down time at all and I had 3 levels of hardware to take out. But all the anterior hardware stayed will never have that out too invasive.

    Hope this information helps you in your decision on taking it out or not.

    God Bless,
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  • after my first fusion, drs told me i had to wait 2 years to remove hardware. i waited and had it removed. i had tons and i mean tons of metal in my back and had most of it removed, dr kept it in a bag and gave it to me and i could not believe how much metal there was. point is, removing hardware gave me no relief at all. after my last fusion, pain is greater but i would still not remove my hardware. they have to go back into the back again and unscrew the screws. i was in hospital for 3-4 days again and on pain pump for 3 days. but you make up your mind.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I had the Hardware removed from my L5-S1 Fusion on the 2oth of Dec.2o11.(it was installed (6-06) And from the moment I woke up I could feel a difference. That golfball sized knot was gone from my back.Along with the stabbing sensation that went along with it.
    Don't get me wrong this still hurts like hell but it's a different kind of pain.I think it's probably just the surgery area itself because of its locality and the fact that it is getting better everyday.
    I actually sat behind my drums for a minute today and have pretty good leg strength back in both legs but I'm not going to push it for a while.I like the possibility that this may be the last of my severe back pain.
    This may be the best Christmas I've had in a long time.
    Anyway If this is a procedure you are considering I highly recommend it if your Doctor says it's cool to take it out.
    It really seems to have helped with my pain. I'll keep you updated.
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