Chronic pain and spinal fusion

Posted by lynn12 @lynn12, Aug 16, 2018

Hi
I am wondering if there is anyone out there has experienced what I am dealing with? In 2006 I had a spinal fusion from T2 through L4. Actually the fusion failed and after one year had to be repeated, this time using a bone morphosizing protein that ensured fusion. Like most who have endured a surgery like this I am left with chronic pain. I have through the years also developed quite a dowagers hump. The surgeon explained that my problem went up so high that she actually bent the rod a bit forward during surgery otherwise noting that I may become off balance. As the years have gone by this hump is looking more and more pronounced. I absolutely hate it and feel so ugly, can anything safely be done or does it involve another dangerous surgical procedure? As you can imagine the thought of more surgery is frightening to me. What complicates matters is I am on Warfarin (blood thinner) due to aortic valve repelacement in 2001. Any surgery for me is always more complicated.

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@ethanmcconkey

Hi @fjkphx you may have noticed I moved your post to this existing discussion on spinal fusions so that you can connect with others who have similar experiences. Simply click VIEW & REPLY in your email notification to get to your post.

I also wanted to tag fellow Connect members @grandmar @beckyann and @salsa have either had lumbar fusions or have had other spinal fusions and may be able to offer you support.

@fjkphx will you be undergoing a lumbar fusion? Or are you exploring your options?

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I had l4 through S1 spinal fusion surgery 5 months ago and still in pain. Is there anyone else who experience pain that long after surgery? Is it normal ?

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Rule of thumb – one year recovery!! Go slowly! I can’t have a needed fusion due to my having lung disease, but I have always been told the recovery is one year. A dear friend had a fusion and that’s how long it took her as well. She actually went into a nursing home for six months because she didn’t want her husband tending to her bodily functions. Patience is key! One day at a time. Tramadol is a good medication to ease pain if that is available for you. Good luck.

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@irene5

Rule of thumb – one year recovery!! Go slowly! I can’t have a needed fusion due to my having lung disease, but I have always been told the recovery is one year. A dear friend had a fusion and that’s how long it took her as well. She actually went into a nursing home for six months because she didn’t want her husband tending to her bodily functions. Patience is key! One day at a time. Tramadol is a good medication to ease pain if that is available for you. Good luck.

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Thanks for your reply. It is difficult to keep positive when living with pain every day. But if you need a fusion, than I don’t have tell you about that. I was wondering how long others were in pain after a fusion. Did your friend have a positive result after the year? Take care and I wish you well.

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Thank you. Yes I’ve had pain since 1976. I should have had the fusion when it was an option. My friend is awesome today! She actually tripped over her dog coming out of the shower and fell a few years after the fusion. She never even told her husband. Everything has held together very well, and she is free from pain. Hers was done at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut .

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@irene5

Thank you. Yes I’ve had pain since 1976. I should have had the fusion when it was an option. My friend is awesome today! She actually tripped over her dog coming out of the shower and fell a few years after the fusion. She never even told her husband. Everything has held together very well, and she is free from pain. Hers was done at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut .

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Thank you, that is so good to hear, it gives me hope. I had my fusion done at Mayo Clinic in AZ. I see my doctor next month, so I am hoping that everything will look good and I just need more time. I am in my 70's, so it may take a longer to recover. Take care.

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Oh good! I’m 70 so I get that! Everything takes longer at our ages especially with other medical issues. It’s still better than the alternative! Wishing you the best.

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@ceceilia

I had l4 through S1 spinal fusion surgery 5 months ago and still in pain. Is there anyone else who experience pain that long after surgery? Is it normal ?

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Yes, I had a spinal fusion in 2019 after a cancerous tumor fractured my spine. T12 to c2. I still have chronic back pain. Take your time and try physical therapy when your doctor allows it. I started walking outside as soon as the doctor let me. I feel as if I can't keep my posture erect. It is a slow healing process and everyone will heal differently.
Good luck.

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Has anyone had fusion hardware removed? Hubby has a screw out of place and a rod unattached. We are not sure if this is causing his increasing pain and inability to stand for a few minutes or to walk (like from the house to the mailbox). His fusion was in 2007–L4-L5. He has had a failed spinal stimulator (broken leads and migrating generator) and has tried many things for pain–prolotherapy, laser, shock wave. Nothing helps. Is currently trying acupuncture. We are curious about removal of hardware with subsequernt improvement in pain.

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@gran61

Has anyone had fusion hardware removed? Hubby has a screw out of place and a rod unattached. We are not sure if this is causing his increasing pain and inability to stand for a few minutes or to walk (like from the house to the mailbox). His fusion was in 2007–L4-L5. He has had a failed spinal stimulator (broken leads and migrating generator) and has tried many things for pain–prolotherapy, laser, shock wave. Nothing helps. Is currently trying acupuncture. We are curious about removal of hardware with subsequernt improvement in pain.

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This is a previous discussion which may help, @gran61
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/hardware-removal/
Members like @cgmc and @irene5 may be able to offer some feedback as well.

What does your husband's surgeon feel is best?

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I have a dilemma which I hope I can get some feedback for. I had laminectomy and fusion on C3-C6 for cervical stenosis in 2016 which has started aching again with deterioration of dexterity in hands. In April of 2017 I had two stage laminectomy and fusion of T11 – L5 because of unstable scoliosis and stenosis. a year later I started having pain in my lumbar back and left leg sciatica. Tests showed that I had developed pseudarthrosis and a hemorrhagic cyst at L5. I had revision surgery in Feb. 2019 with larger screws placed in the lumbar area and rods extended into my pelvic bones. The pain was worse than ever before and tests showed "lucencies" at several levels of screws. In September of 2019 I started having severe pain in my thoracic spine which radiated around to my ribs and whatever was within them more on the right side of my torso. My neurosurgeon would not acknowledge that the sciatica hadn't resolved nor the new pain in my mid back. On Jan. 30, 2019 neurosurgeon gave me a choice of replacing the screws again with larger ones, having a spinal cord stimulation device implanted or wait and see. I chose to wait and see. I finally got an appointment with a physiatrist who after my being unable to do P.T. ordered an MRI of my thoracic spine. It showed a herniated disc at T11 with compression of the nerve root. At this point I have had epidural steroid shots in T11 and L5 which didn't help at all with the severe pain this is causing, I'm afraid that another surgery is the only thing that is going to alleviate the pain and I don't think I can get through another surgery considering the state of deconditioning my body is now in. I have been looking into thoracic spine herniation surgery and unless I can find a surgeon who can do minimally invasive "video assisted thoracic surgery, the alternative of anterior thoracic open chest surgery is something I won't make it through. Does anyone have any advice for this situation or can suggest a way of finding surgeons in my state who are doing "VATS" surgery? If I have to, I will travel to where ever I need to. Thank you for any help!

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