Re: methylprednisone, epidural blocks & fusion?????
Don't fret too quickly. Still, this is something that you definitely should discuss with your doctor. I recommend that you not decide against having an injection he recommends until you do so.
What I can tell you is that I've had four fusions with the big one being 10 levels in Dec. Each time I've had fusions, I've had to have steroid injections due to other problems. I've fused completely and in a timely manner each time. I've queried the doc about the injections I've had to have and have been reassured that the amounts I've needed will not affect the fusing. They did not cause me any problems as I was totaly fused within 5 months for the first three. I'll soon be checked at 4 months but the last x-ray showed fusion beginning.
What scares me about steroids is long term use and getting more than 3 injections in 12 months. The reason is that I'm a prime example of the effects of steroids as a chronic asthma sufferer having to stay on extremely high daily doses for more than 2 years before they figured out what was causing the uncontrollable attacks. That did some damage to my bones.
The reason I get concerned when getting more than 3 injections per 12 month period is that I did receive more than injections for tennis elbow (before I became asthmatic) and took a little fall one day. Due to the fact that the steroids made the bones more brittle, (the doc I had at the time and who gave me the injections without any warning) my arm literally shattered. The upper arm was wired together and eventually healed, but the elbow crumbled and I was given a prosthesis which my body rejected. At rejection, the lower arm bones were fused and I lost 3 of the 8 bones in the wrist because without an elbow and stabalization the bones slipped and crushed the nerves as in carpal tunnel. Oh, I have 40 percent use of the arm now, which I didn't with the frozen artifical joint, but that's after going through 10 surgeries so that I could at least write in order to keep my job.
Back in the 70's, which really wasn't that long ago, I was young and didn't know I had the right to demand info from doctors. Mostly, we held physicians as higher beings and didn't ask more than they were willing to let us know. Thankfully that has changed and we now know that we can and should know more, being proactive in our own care.
As far as the hardware, my doc says he leaves it in if is it less than 3 levels being fused as it hasn't caused his patients any problems. With 3 levels or more though, his patients typically request it out at about a year. They are getting more active and the hardware bothers them. I managed to hold out for 17 months, but then it had to go. I do wish I could have held out and left it in, but I am an active person.
This time, he says the 2 rods, 18 screws will remain with the cages as I won't be able to bend so the hardward isn't as likely to bother me. I do hope that it doesn't bother me as this time it won't be a 45 minute out patient surgery to remove this much hardware.
Best wishes and I hope that info will help you a little bit.