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Post-Hardware Removal: Slow Recovery

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Old 07-27-2012, 09:15 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 75
yakkwak HB User
Post-Hardware Removal: Slow Recovery

Is this still normal? Am 3 months post removal of plates, rods, & screws from prior fusions at C3 - C7. My incision runs from just into hairline at base of neck about 4 inches long (from what I can tell in mirror). The incision looks great. To the left of it, the whole area is still swollen, and raised almost an inch. It hurts to touch and my hair and clothing hurts it. Sometimes moving neck even slightly hurts. There is not much redness and not running any fever. I've been officially discharged from the surgeon. Am icing it 20 minutes per hour. Can't take anti-inflammatories as I'm going for another surgery in unrelated area. Any suggestions? Is this still normal response?
Thank you in advance.

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Old 07-28-2012, 01:18 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 548
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Re: Post-Hardware Removal: Slow Recovery

Hi. I saw your post and really can't give any recommendations or suggestions. But I think what caught my eye was that you had the hardware removed.

First of all I have hardware in my lumbar area from L2 down to the hip area.Then on another surgery I had hardware put in from C3 to T3/4 levels.

At one point they (the doctors & I) discussed putting a spinal cord stimulator into the cervical region. But they couldn't put one into this area because between the rods being there and the device from the stimulator there was no room in the cervical area for the device to fit.

Note I had one put into my lumbar area and it fit since there was more space in that area but it didn't work so the stimulator was then removed.

As to my cervical region, again there wasn't room for the device.

Here is what surprised me about your post in that they took out the rods etc. My neurosurgeon and pain management doctor both said that in order for the stimulator to fit into tte cervical region was to REMOVE the rods etc.

But they refused to remove the rods etc. They said removing the rods etc is an extremely dangerous procedure and if I remember correctly they said removing the rods could lead to paralysis. So they didn't even want to conisder the procedure,

Did you docs tell you of any risks in removing the rods? Just curious as to what the right answer is on this procedure.

Old 07-30-2012, 12:03 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 75
yakkwak HB User
Re: Post-Hardware Removal: Slow Recovery

Pebble, hope this helps answer your question. I first had a cervical anterior fusion for a couple of levels. This was followed by another anterior fusion and required hardware. Unfortunately, I had to have a third fusion and I switched docs. He had to remove part of the existing hardware for this and insert new hardware as the area now covered C 3,4,5,6,&7. There is a complication of spinal fusions called adjacent disc disease where a fusion redistributes the stress to the area above and below the fusion. In my case it made bad discs start impinging on nerves - hence the third surgery. THEN my cervicogenic headaches started to no longer be managed by non-invasive techniques and an "instrumentation block" demonstrated that the hardware rubbing against my muscles was indeed adding to (not the only) the problem. My surgeon explained that hardware often causes problems in the cervical spine and he has had to remove a lot in cases where the fusion is solid and no longer needed. In fact, I remember him warning of the potential for this before my last fusion. I think that WHERE the hardware is is a major part of the risk assessment. My brother in law has also has hardware removed successfully. They found an infection had burrowed in around his, neccesitating the removal. Don't forget you should always get second opinions, and maybe even a third. Ask your other docs for the name of a surgeon they trust and take all the records & films you can get your hands on. Although I am in great pain from complications, I know I had to have it removed if there is even a chance I will get some relief. Chronic pain can be a very lonely place to be. Please keep me/us posted & I will add you in my prayers!

Old 07-30-2012, 12:21 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: New Jersey
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Re: Post-Hardware Removal: Slow Recovery

Thank you for the response regarding the removal of the hardware. I guess I should remember and keep in mind that all cases are different. In my case, my neurosurgeon and my pain management doctor both were against the removal of the hardware. I don't have an issue with their opinions in my case.

As I said in my case the hardware is being left in and it is really not the cause of my health issues. So the doctors felt its best to leave them in and where they are.

I do have continal spine issues in that new symptoms are always appearing due to a new problem.

I have been thru 7 spine surgeres.
- lumbar for herniated discs;
- cervical for foraminal stenosis;
- lumbar for flatback syndrome; harrington rods implanted;
- cervical for kyphosis; harrington rods implanted;
- spinal cord stimulator implanted for lumbar region;
- spinal cord stimulator removed; not helping.

current issues is that I have severe nerve damage in the neck; severe nerve damage in the lumbar region; severe arthritis in cervical and lumbar area; neuropathy in legs from spine and probably partially from my diabetes.

I have numbness in both legs, the left leg being by far the worse of the 2 legs. I have weakness in my arms due to myelomalacia in the cervical region.

My doctors are afraid to touch the neck surgically because in my case to get to the area that is the problem, my neurosurgeon felt it would be a nightmare of a surgery. I also have other risk factors when it comes to surgery, I have diabetes which is a consideration on recovery & I was born with 1 kidney which that alone would not be an issue, but with the 1 kidney that I do have I am in kidney failure. So there are additional risk factors.

Yes living with chronic pain can be a frustrating and a very lonely place to live in. I am taking hydrocodone and tizanidine/muscle relaxant to help me get thru the day. While taking the medication I am still a far cry from being what I can say is normal. I still struggle each and every day to make it thru the day. Am I frustrated? Yes. Am I lonely? Yes. I think you know all the emotions that you go thru living in chronic pain. You are not alone and there are many of us that go thru the same experiences daily as you do. You too will be in thoughts and prayers. I am here if you need to chat anytime. Be well in the interim.....Allan

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