I’ve had all my hardware removed after T2-T10 fusion. Ask me anything.

Posted by lylaaaa @lylaaaa, Nov 14 12:14pm

I was in a car accident and fractured several vertebrae in my thoracic spine, including a T6 burst. Fused T2-T10 in 2012.
Pain was unbearable for years and never improved.
In 2017, I got all the hardware removed. Every single piece of it. Not replaced, not revised, completely removed. It IS possible.
Realistically, your pain will not disappear. You will still have bad days and worse days.
For me, though, on a good day my pain is about 50-80% less than it was. Even my bad days and awful days (which are fewer and farther between) are nowhere near the pain I experienced before getting the hardware removed.
I searched for a couple of years for info on hardware removal but the internet is not always your best option. This was my process:
I found a new primary care doctor within a large medical system (Houston Methodist) with several hospitals and clinics in my region, so that all my medical info would be portable and easily accessed by all my doctors.
I went to see her and said simply and clearly, “I want to talk to a surgeon about hardware removal.” She did some digging and referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. I told him the same thing, answered all his questions regarding my pain, and he agreed it was a viable option.
The insurance company insisted on a procedure to make sure it would work. I was referred to a pain management doctor who gave me numbing injections at every level of my fusion. I had to rate my pain levels for a week before and a week after.
They required a 30% reduction in overall pain levels to cover the surgery.
A few weeks later, I had the surgery! I was warned in advance that they might get in there and see that some or all of the hardware was still necessary, or would be unable to be removed. Luckily, that didn’t happen. All the hardware was removed. Surgery took about an hour!

It was absolutely the single best decision I have ever made. Am I still in pain? Absolutely. Is it anywhere near the kind of pain I experienced daily before the removal? Not even close.
Hardware can removed about a year after fusion, but there is a point at which it can no longer be removed. I recommend seeing a surgeon sooner rather than later. If your doctor says no, go see another!

Photo of my removed hardware is attached (yes, I got to keep it lol).

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Spine Health Support Group.

@lylaaa Welcome to Connect! I want to thank you for posting your discussion about spine hardware removal with adding more revision hardware. That is good information to know. I'm a spine surgery patient and I didn't know that surgeons would be willing to remove the constructs of spine hardware. Sometimes, they probably cannot if there is a cage embedded inside fused bone, but it makes sense that the rods and screws could be removed.

My spine fusion was C5/C6 and I asked for that without hardware, and my surgeon at Mayo did that for me. I stayed in a neck brace until it fused and then rehabbed some weakened neck muscles. When I broke my ankle a few years ago, I had titanium plates put on my bones to put it back together. I had that removed after a year and a half. It was causing pain and chronic hives. Since removal, I do not have ankle pain except for when I stress the ligaments too much when it fatigues because the the break also caused a bad sprain and dislocation along with it. I also find that stretching out the surgical scar tissue helps a lot because it gets tight and pulls. I have been going to a physical therapist who taught me about myofascial release, so I've done some of this and that helps a lot too.

Here is our discussion about Myofascial Release (MFR):

Neuropathy – "Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain"
I'm so glad you found this option and that it helped reduce your pain.



Amazing story. Especially your determination and persistence. Thanks for telling us. I'm wondering abou the stability of your spine. Have parts of the bone grown together? I suspect you know the details. The picture of the hardware you "got to keep" is the story's crown.


Your story is inspiring! I had a tri level ACDF C4-C7 7 years ago and my orthopedic surgeon told me I would not be able to have anything removed. I'm wondering if you also had disc replacement as I did. I am much better after the surgery though it took me 5 months of physical therapy and much pain to get where I am. I still have headaches and some pain especially if I turn my head wrong in my sleep. I have tried many orthopedic pillows, but I find a soft pillow is the best for me. I also was informed 2 years after surgery that I have osteoporosis in my spine and hips and osteopenia in my neck now. Kind of scary with a bar and 4 screws holding my neck together. I'm only 60 but my mother passed at 78 from osteoporosis complications. I guess we each have to deal with the hand we are given. I'm so happy for you though!


Thank you for sharing this amazing story. I never thought in terms of removal of hardware once installed and this has broadened my perspective substantially. I have spinal stenosis but nothing like what you have experienced.


Amazing story. Especially your determination and persistence. Thanks for telling us. I'm wondering abou the stability of your spine. Have parts of the bone grown together? I suspect you know the details. The picture of the hardware you "got to keep" is the story's crown.

Jump to this post

Yes, I am also curious about the stability of your spine without hardware – can you advise?


Not exactly on point but wife had laminectomy, discetomy and removal of 3 coflex spinal implants L3 to L5 for spinal stenosis
Now spine has shifted -Did removal of hardware cause misalignment of spine? Also can you do a laminectomy
without removing spacers first? Now in very greater pain than before. Any comments about removing spinal spacers and its aftereffects would be appreciated,

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