Post Lumbar Fusion - removing one side hardware only -complications?

Posted by cdoq @cdoq, Jul 5, 2022

Can the removal of hardware on one side only from a successful lumbar fusion cause an unbalance and lead to new pain ?

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@cdoq Hello and welcome to Connect. I am a Mayo spine surgery patient. Have you asked your surgeon this question? They would be best qualified to give you an answer. The answer may be complex if you are trying to track down a reason for pain. The surgery itself causes scar tissue and fascial scar tissue, and if you have an incision placed to the side as an additional incision from the original surgery, it will also build scar tissue and some tightness and that can be worse on one side which can increase pain. I have had hardware removed from my ankle that was fixation for an ankle fracture and it did increase my pain for awhile. The surgeon cut through the original incision.

I am curious as to why a surgeon would only remove one side of the hardware during a surgery for that purpose? Did they explain that to you? If your bone has fused, often hardware is not needed anymore, but can be difficult to remove depending on if there is bone growth around it. Have you been offered any physical therapy?

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One side only – no explanation- Most of the problem was on the side that was removed. I am concerned if this may cause an unbalance. There is considerable new pain on the side with the hardware intact-may be unrelated to the hardware removal. Looking for causes. the original was many years ago.

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I had screws removed from both sides, one at a time. Surgeons preference was to see if it helped one side at a time and if successful, then he'd take the other side out. It was quick, relief from removal was successful. No other side effects or issues.

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I have had my fusion hardware removed from both sides, one at a time a month apart. There were absolutely no problems, no balance issues at all. My hardware was impinging and pressing on nerves, I was much improved with more range of motion and less pain.

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Nearly. 25 years ago I had a very successful fusion of L4, L5, S1.. the surgeon packed soft bone from hip around it.. & said we'll see after a year if the hardware comes out… It stayed.. no problems..

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@cdoq

One side only – no explanation- Most of the problem was on the side that was removed. I am concerned if this may cause an unbalance. There is considerable new pain on the side with the hardware intact-may be unrelated to the hardware removal. Looking for causes. the original was many years ago.

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@cdoq You may be interested in reading about Myofascial release which is done by a physical therapist. A PT is also a great resource to ask questions about any physical issue. I do MFR and it has helped me a lot overcoming tightness from surgical scars.

Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/myofascial-release-therapy-mfr-for-treating-compression-and-pain/

Are you currently working with a physical therapist?

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@kpickowitz

I had screws removed from both sides, one at a time. Surgeons preference was to see if it helped one side at a time and if successful, then he'd take the other side out. It was quick, relief from removal was successful. No other side effects or issues.

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good to know, I will discuss this with my surgeon.

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@kpickowitz

I have had my fusion hardware removed from both sides, one at a time a month apart. There were absolutely no problems, no balance issues at all. My hardware was impinging and pressing on nerves, I was much improved with more range of motion and less pain.

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How long after the fusion was the hardware removed?

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@ken82

Nearly. 25 years ago I had a very successful fusion of L4, L5, S1.. the surgeon packed soft bone from hip around it.. & said we'll see after a year if the hardware comes out… It stayed.. no problems..

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I had my fusion in 1990 and still have my stainless steel bilateral bars and screws. The thought of removing them at 70 years is insane. No thank you and I can live with my chronic symptoms

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