Hello friends. I had two anterior fusion surgeries that fused C4-5, C5-6, & C6-7. Then I had C3-4 blow and had posterior approach which included replacing the previous cervical instrumentation. Then I had ALIF for bad disc at L5-S1. Now my cervicogenic headaches and lumbar pain have both returned. The headaches are becoming excrutiating. My surgeon believes that the headaches may be exacerbated by the instrumentation since a previous "instrumentation block" did help with the pain for a couple of months. Since my fusions are solid in the cervical area, he suggests removing the plate and rods to help with the headaches. He cannot find a cause for the return of my lumbar pain and intermittent numbness. My surgery is scheduled for the 26th of this month. Has anyone here had to have their instrumentation removed? If so, was it as painful as the fusion surgery? I am guessing that he will have to re-cut the muscle to get back in there so it will be as painful as before but that I may recover faster since I won't have to worry about a fusion developing. I live by myself and will have to fend by myself like I have in the past. Should I prepare the same way as I did for the fusions by pre-stocking up on essentials, using my grabber, putting things around the house at waist level to avoid bending, etc? Did you have to wear a C-collar? Also, I have difficulty finding reclining positions that help with both my neck/head and my low back pain at the same time. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
They used to routinely remove cervical instrumentation to make the fusions stronger but that is not longer needed as the plates and screws are so much smaller being from titanium.
But to be very honest, I'd consider getting a second opinion as to what is causing the headaches. What if you go through all that surgery and you still have the headaches? Time to perhaps see a neurologist and get their opinion and since they don't operate, there is no conflict of interest.
As for the lumbar, my doc warned me before my surgery that it was a 50/50 "crapshoot" in his words whether you get rid of any pain or numbness at all. So who knows where it is coming from.
The goal of any spine surgery is to prevent paralysis and not get rid of pain or numbness so I know from my doc, a continuation of pain and numbness is expected.
The Following User Says Thank You to jennybyc For This Useful Post: yakkwak (04-20-2012)
I have instrumentation in the cervical/thoracic region and lumbar region as well. Several years ago there was a discussion about removing the hardware. I don't recall off hand if they wanted to remove all the hardware or a specific region, but my neurosurgeon and I was seeing a pain management doctor at the time as well both recommended NOT removing the hardware. They said it was "extremely dangerous" to do and could be an extremely risky procedure. Needless to say I didn't have the hardware removed.
If I remember correctly they said the removal of the instrumentation could end in paralysis.
I would be careful about doing it if I were you. Good luck in whtever you decide to do.
I remember my surgeon telling me that the purpose of the surgery was to stop the disc degeneration from advancing further. There are no guarantees on decreasing the pain, numbness, etc. I would definitely get a second opinion before I would consider a second surgery. I have had posterior cervical surgery from C3-T2 just 6 months ago. It's been a long recovery process & I've been told I have another 12 months to go! Good luck with your decision. I hope whatever you decide brings the relief you are looking for!