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Hardware Problems After Spinal Fusion for Scoliosis? (Page 1)

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I was wondering if anyone here has had spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis and had hardware-related problems afterwards (i.e. loose screws, broken rods, pseudoarthrosis, etc.) and if so could you describe what some of your symptoms were? I had my surgery about nine months ago, and though I realize I should still expect some pain as I'm not even a full year post-op yet, recently I have gotten drastically worse and sharp pain all of a sudden. A lot of it is localized to one specific area, which makes me wonder if maybe something is wrong with my hardware. Anyway, any feedback would be much appreciated. Thanks!!
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First Helper mark432
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replied December 28th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
The best thing you can do is contact your doctor and tell him/her what is going on.

Did you have BMP used with your fusion? If so, it is possible that there is bone overgrowth that can happen with the use of BMP and there is new bone growth in the wrong place and it is compressing nerves.

But, like I said, you need to call your doctor and possibly have a CT done to see about the progress of your fusion and if anything is amiss.

Fran
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replied January 4th, 2009
I'm not actually quite sure if I had BMP. What exactly is it?

I am actually going to see my surgeon on Friday for an xray and such, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything turns out to be alright. The sharpness of the pain has luckily died down a bit, though it is still there, and now I am feeling almost a grinding-type sensation in one particular spot. Guess I'll see in a few days. Thanks!
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replied May 25th, 2009
Spinal Fusion Hardware problems
BMP is only FDA approved last time I checked for Anterior (Approach through the front) spinal fusions. I broke my rod at age 22 after about 4 and a half years of having it implanted (pseudoarthrosis leading to rod breakage- aka hardware failure). My first fusion was done with an anterior approach from the mid thoracic to mid lumbar spine... a pretty big area to fuse to begin with- and 1 rod for this whole area through the right side of my rib cage (collapsing my lung, breaking out ribs and all that lovely stuff) using ribs for bone graft. My surgeon at the time, just like the one I have now was excellent but unfortunately I was young and dumb, which resulted in not following post op instructions leading to all these problems just a few years later. When my rod snapped, I felt a disgusting crack in my chest when i sneezed one day and it knocked the wind out of me- that's a pretty noticeable symptom. I figured I broken a rib, but after a month of severe side and back pain an x-ray showed a clear rod fracture resulting in a reinforcement surgery. The only reason the rod broke was because it failed to fuse the first time. The 2nd surgery to repair only the area where the rod snapped, was a big success thanks to a wonderful doctor and the desire to actually adhere to a post op plan. I'm getting another weak spot fixed this summer and I have full confidence in my surgeon. My main symptoms of problems involving my hardware was a crunchy sharp pain when I'd move most directions in the area of the weak spot and feeling achey pain as my ribs would spread in the said area (the 2nd being with the most recent weakness).

At < 1 year you probably will still have plenty of post op pain with activity or even lack of it. At a next appointment, looking into an xray or CT scan might not hurt if your physician feels it's necessary. I just hope you didn't make the same mistake I did and smoked cigarettes after your fusion. The continuation of my smoking was the prime reason for all the complications even now and failed fusion. If you have to go back in to surgery, make sure you're smoke free and a healthy fusion will be much easier to come by =)
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replied June 22nd, 2009
Sharp pains after spinal fusion
After I had a spinal fusion ,one of the spacers fell out and for several weeks I had a horrific sharp pain when I lay down or sometime sat down. They finally went in and removed it and the pain, at least the really sharp pain went away. I still have awful pain down both legs and FEET! I wish it would all go away and now it's been 2 years. But now I hear a clicking in my lower back and wonder what it is? hummmmmmmmmm
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replied June 22nd, 2009
Extremely eHealthy
Re: Sharp pains after spinal fusion
spinallegpain wrote:
After I had a spinal fusion ,one of the spacers fell out and for several weeks I had a horrific sharp pain when I lay down or sometime sat down. They finally went in and removed it and the pain, at least the really sharp pain went away. I still have awful pain down both legs and FEET! I wish it would all go away and now it's been 2 years. But now I hear a clicking in my lower back and wonder what it is? hummmmmmmmmm


If you are not seeing the same spine surgeon that did your fusion, you should get a second opinion from someone outside the practice that did your spine surgery.

It sounds like you are having nerve pain still, 2 years after your spine fusion.

I will ask you the same question. Do you know if they used BMP/ bone morphogenic protein with you fusion. If they did, then it may be that you are suffering from bone overgrowth from he BMP pressing on nerves.

Either way, you need to get all of your records, pre surgery tests, x-rays, MRI anything that you had done prior to the surgery. Then you need to get any and all post surgery x-rays and any other tests, also all the surgical notes and post op info as well.

Get that together and get a second opinion from another spine surgeon and do it as fast as you can.

Good luck

Fran
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replied September 12th, 2009
I still have pain in both of my legs and feet after a fusion 3 yrs ago. it's permenant nerve damage. i did have some sharp pain 6 months after surgery. It was due to a bone stimulator(battery) that had slipped down and was pressing on my spine.
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replied October 20th, 2009
one overgrowth after PLIF 2 levels with BMP and Formagraft
I had a PLIF Posterior Interbody Lumbar Fusion) with BMP and Formagraft of 2 levels L4-S1 approx 1 year ago. I still have pain although it had decreased somewhat after surgery and months of aquatic and regular PT. I recently had a CT Scan which showed a "lesion" and overgrowth of bone which has now obliterated the neural foramina t L4 and L5. I still have some numbness on outside of left calf and foot and still take long acting narcotics. I felt I was improving until I started to have a pain in my left mid buttock area which is very sharp. '

Has anyone else suffered from bone overgrowth.
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replied December 28th, 2011
BMP overgrowth after spine fusion.
I had a lumbar fusion LS1-L5 and they used the BMP. I began having numbness in my left calf and nerve pain in my left big toe. I finally made the Dr. realize something was wrong when I complained I didn't have these things before surgery. He ordered a CT and found that I had overgrowth from the BMP and he went in and cleaned it out stating he had never seen that happen before. Now a year later, the pain is worse and more and more of my foot is numb. I fear there is more overgrowth and am waiting for Dr to schedule another CT to see if the BMP stuff overgrew again.
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replied January 28th, 2010
SPINAL FUSION
Hi i had a spinal fusion 5 yrs ago with screws and rods in the lumbar area ,what can i say the pain is acute has been since the operation ive had spinal blocks that havent worked i have now been discharged from the surgeon with fbs they call it failed back surgery ,the pain im having is nerve damage its down both legs and feet constant and pain in my spine im in agony i dont know where to turn any help would be grateful
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replied January 28th, 2010
Extremely eHealthy
hi walkies
i know a little bit about it because i'm in the same situation. in my opinion here are your options.

you could obtain the opinion of another spinal surgeon.

if there seems to be no surgical option you can look into the spinal cord stimulator. one company that makes them is st. jude. google them and you will obtain a good description as to how it works.

lastly you can look into the narcotic pump. it is a pump implanted in your body that delivers narcotics to the area that will give you some pain relief. google medtronics pain pump for info.

i'm also looking into stem cell treatment and laser treatment to get rid of scar tissue but i dont know enough about these treatments yet. so you and i have to do the best we can by trying to find proper meds and doing the best we can to keep moving. lately ive been doing aqua therapy. i really like the aqua therapy as i can walk in 4 ft of warm water and also do stretching and strengthening exercises in the water.

let us know how you do and feel free to ask any questions....pete
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replied December 5th, 2011
Pete,
I was wondering if you have found any more info on the stem cell and laser treatment you wrote about. I had surgery 25 yrs ago,(with 2 rods and fusion.) and still continue to have severe pain in the lower back. I am currently taking morphine 3x a day. We tried to insert a spinal cord stimulator as you mentioned but was unable to insert the leads because of the scar tissue built up in the spinal column. Please let me know if you have found something that worked for you. So far nothing i have tried has done much good, so I am always looking for new ideas. Thanks for your help. If anyone else has any other ideas, please feel free to share with me. Thank you.
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replied February 4th, 2010
My daughter had scoliosis surgery in Boston on July 2008 had immediate pain down her right leg that caused her right leg to go numb for 4 months and lower back pain. in december 2009 we found out she fractured a screw in her lower back and now we are waiting to hear if she needs revision surgery for pseudoarthrosis. If your pain has increased there is a reason for it...it never hurts to get another opinion. We are going to North Carolina for one.
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replied March 4th, 2010
spinal fusion surgery post op
I had a lower lumbar spinal fusion April 2009 and i have found it very difficult to go back to a semi regular life. Just bending to spit in the sink after brushing my teeth seems to give me alot of pain. Recently i have been feeling my rods like as if they are popping when i slightly bend..and i get a sharp pain in my butt. Im wondering what it could be?
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replied May 6th, 2010
Your experiences
Hi. Would any of you be willing to talk to me about your experiences at all? I have scoliosis myself and have not had the surgery. It is a decision that has played on my mind a lot, whether I should have it or not. Consequently I am writing an article on scoliosis operation succress rates and complications in order to help other peole like me weighing up the options to decide whether or not to have the operation. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to chat with me about their negative spinal fusion experience and what it was that went wrong? It would be such a help to others trying to decide whether or not to have the procedure to hear from someone who has and suffered complications. You can tell me about it on here posting a reply or via email (if you post back I will leave my email address) but I would be so greatful if someone would be willing to share their details. Thank you.
Dora Reeves
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Users who thank dorareeves for this post: SteelSpine 

replied December 5th, 2011
reply to dora
Hi Dora,

I had T2-S1 spinal fusion on 3/31/11. Recovery for the first 3 weeks was brutal; if I had a gun I would have shot myself. All I wanted was one ounce of comfort. My scoliosis was discovered when I was in my 20's and I had and "S" curve of 15 degress upper 25 degress lower. My doctor at the time told me that I shouldn't worry and it wont progress and scheduled me for facet injections which did help with the pain. At the age of 42 I started getting upper abdominal hernias; a lot of them. I had 7 surgeries because of the hernias; never recurring ones always new ones. Well, with all the down time for that 3 year period I started having severe back pain mostly in the mid to lower back. I went to see a spinal surgeon and I had x-rays/mri done. My curves progressed to 40 degrees upper 50 degrees lower. I was shocked since I was told years ago it would not progress. Of course surgery was recommended. I declined and found a physical therapist that specialized in Myofacial Release. I did this for a year. It help with pain some of the time but the progression was still going. I decided to go ahead with the surgery. I'm 7 month post surgery and I still have stiffness and pain but different from before the surgery. I also have sciatica in my right leg. I still see my physical therapist that does the mayofacial release. The pain is secondary to the muscles and nerves trying to figure out what to due. They were use to being in one position for so long and now has to learn their new position and regroup so to speak. The mayofacial release has been helping the mucsle/nerve/facia do just that. Other than that I feel like I can feel my hardware. I have 2 titanium rods and screws. My spine is screwed into my pelvis. I haven't been back to work; hard to sit or stand for long periods of time and I can't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk secondary to the last hernia surgery which was done 2 months after my back surgery; they did a total abdominal reconsruction. So far so good with that.

What I would sugest to you since your curve is not so bad to seek out a good myofacial release physical therapist because they might be able to stablize or even reverse some of the curve. Hope this helps.
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replied January 21st, 2012
I am a medical mystery. I have what quite a few doctors call 'trauma induced scoliosis'. I was 9 months pregnant and a driver went left of center and hit us head on. The reason why they call it this is because i had chest xrays a few years prior to the accident and my spine was straight. My spine is no longer straight and the pain was so bad at times that i questioned how i could live the rest of my life with this kind of pain. No pain medicine ever touched the pain. I finally out desperation went to a ortho surgeon.....due your home work on picking a surgeon because not all surgeons should be operating. The surgeon couldn't believe how back my spine was and said they normal don't fuse the throactic/lumber spine. But i needed some quality of life.....i have 3 young children. The surgery is no walk in the park but I would do it again in a second. But I am at my 5 year mark and on November 9, 2011, just out of the blue i was in severe pain...no falls, no accidents,,,nothing. I finally went in due to the pain being so bad and found out that both lower screws are broken. I go for my spine scan this tuesday to see if i am leaking spinal fluid because I have some symptoms pointing that this is a possible issue, before I go back to the surgeon. i don't want to go through this again but theres not alot of options.....pain is very bad but the lightening bolts downs the legs keep me from sleeping etc...But for a while I got a taste of being mostly pain-free and need/want that feeling again. Even if the price up front is rough. Surgery is not for everyone....my surgeon was very straight forward about following post-op and I faithfully did it because I did not put myself or my family through all of this for nothing. The surgery is life altering in some ways and in other ways it increases your quality of life. Only you can decide how far your willing to go but have your eyes wide open. I use to be 5 feet 9 inches....i am currently 5 feet 6 inches. But the surgeon removed my vertebraes and made bone paste with them and replaced the vertebraes with bone from a bone bank. The bone bank thought is kind of whatever for me. But the red cross washed my own blood and put it back in me so that part was alright. The surgery was 8 hours and 5 hours later i was up walking with my walker. The first 72 hours are rough because of the pain but you'll live. Hopefully my soapbox talk helps. I am no longer a super hero anymore and hung my cape up. I will no longer pretend that I am a super hero because all this will get you is more pain in your life. I can't run 5 miles anymore but i can walk 5 miles. Like they say: Its not how you got there that matters but why.
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replied May 6th, 2010
Your experiences
Hi. Would any of you be willing to talk to me about your experiences at all? I have scoliosis myself and have not had the surgery. It is a decision that has played on my mind a lot, whether I should have it or not. Consequently I am writing an article on scoliosis operation succress rates and complications in order to help other peole like me weighing up the options to decide whether or not to have the operation. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to chat with me about their negative spinal fusion experience and what it was that went wrong? It would be such a help to others trying to decide whether or not to have the procedure to hear from someone who has and suffered complications. You can tell me about it on here posting a reply or via email (if you post back I will leave my email address) but I would be so greatful if someone would be willing to share their details. Thank you.
Dora Reeves
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replied October 1st, 2011
My experience with scoliosis surgery
Hi Dora,
I'm not sure if my experience will help you any because i don't remember many of the details. But here goes! I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 10. I had no prior back pain, but my mom (who is a nurse) noticed my hips and shoulders were off balance and mentioned it to the doctor. I went to a specialist in Iowa City IA and a to Mayo Cllinic in Rochester MN for a second opinion. I wore a full body brace for a year and did regular physical therapy exercises hoping the curves would stop growing. But the brace and exercises did very little. When I was 11 my parents and the doctor decided that surgery was my only option. I have not just one curve but two. So mine spine is an "S" where as most scoliosis patients have just one curve and forms a "C" shape.By the time I had my surgery both of the curves were somewhere over 50 degrees and didn't respond to any other treatment. I remember spending a week in the hospital and having a transfusion a few days before leaving the hospital. The doctors told me I could return to school in a couple of weeks. They were very wrong. I was unable to sit up at all for almost two months, then it was another month before i was able to sit long enough to return to school. Ever since the surgery I have had lower back pain on a daily basis. Some days are worse than others. Over the years I learned to live with it and treat the bad days with over the counter medications. Now I am in my 30's and the pain has gotten progressively worse as i get older. approx 5 years ago I asked my doctor to help manage the pain, so far we have had little success. 2 years ago I had a severe flare up and missed work for 2 weeks, and had to cut down my work schedule to part time. Now I am finally back to full time but it has very difficult to maintain full time hours. I am currently taking morphine 3x a day as well as cymbalta and ambien to help me sleep. Right now we are working on the right combination to relieve my pain so I can get my life back to "normal" but it has been a tough road and I believe we still have a long ways to go. I'm working with my regular dr and a pain specialist and the 2 of them are baffled, we have tried almost everything. I dont know if this has helped you or not, I certainly hope i didnt scare you. Please let if I can do anything else to help. Please keep your fingers crossed we find a solution and i get relief soon. Good Luck!!!
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replied May 7th, 2010
My scoliosis experience
Hi Dora,

I am currently 29, and I live in Houston, Texas. I had scoliosis surgery to correct a severe lower-back curvature when I was 14. Since that time I have had 3 more major back surgeries. The first operation was considered a mandatory operation because of the severity and location of the curve, and I had worn one of those gigantic back braces for a majority of the previous year and the curve only got worse. I am fused from T4-L4 with 2 rods, screws, and hooks. I did well until I turned 20. The discs in L4-L5 and L5-S1 began to become unstable under the strain of the fusion. Even though I am petite (5''2'''' and 105 lbs.), the nerves down my legs have been pinched for the last 9 years now (in spite of the major 3 operations that I have had after the hardware has been put in place.) I have been trying to avoid an anterior-posterior fusion to my pelvis (fusing the remainder of my lower spine to my pelvis with a front and back fusion). I am very scare for many reasons. I have been all over the country looking for help for my pain, and I have had some very rare complications from my 4 surgeries. I don''t know how I have managed to finish law school. I don''t take pain meds, but I don''t know how I do it. I do pilates. I go to work. But the chronic pain is so, so hard. However, because of these 4 surgeries, I have had nerve damage to my bladder and bowel. I am lucky that I found surgeons to correct my resulting prolapsed bowel, prolapsed bladder, and prolapsed uterus. For a few years after my surgery, I could sense my bladder being full, but I had to push so hard to empty my bowels and bladder that I prolapsed all of it. I had to self-cath for a few years until I found an excellent uro-gynecologist and colorectal surgeon. I have been very humbled. Many people who know me as this "cute lawyer" have no idea that for a few years I struggled with bowel incontinence or self-cathing after these surgeries. It is so odd how I "passed" as a "normal" person - yet I had some different experiences going on. Now that I have fixed these problems, I am hesitant to go under the knife again - to have an operation that may make me worse or bring back these awful symptoms. I am going to see a new doctor - I found him online (he''s in St. Louis).

But my case is very, very, very unusual. You should get some opinions and see what your options are, Dora. Every patient is different, and the more opinions you get, the better. And if the doctor is a jerk or is not understanding, there are always other doctors to see. There are caring souls practicing out there - you just need to get recs and do research and keep looking - and keep faith.


Let me know if I can help!! Smile
Sincerely,
Lauren
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replied May 11th, 2010
Hi Lauren
Thank you so much for your reply. It''s really very intersesting to hear your story.
Can I ask you how big your curvature was to start with? Mine was only 20 degrees when I was diagnosed at 13. I''m 21 now it it has gone up to 23 degrees. I have been told by my consultabt to have the operation in order to stop it continually progressing as I get older, but in research I have found that it says that not uless the curve is 40 degrees or more to they usually say surgery is mandatory. This coupled which a lot of the post surgery problems that people seem to be having has made me think I maight rather just take my chances and hope that it doesn''t get too much worse as I get older. I''m not in pain and it is only really apparent in my appearence being a bit of centre. I am scared that I will simply just be in more pain than before the operation if I go ahead with it. I just don''t know what to do. I am scared of having the operation, but I also scared what will happen to me if I don''t.
Do you regret going ahead with your operation straight away, or was it so severe you really couldnt have not?
Sorry for so many questions, but its just a hard decision to make. Whether to go for it and maybe end up having to have multiple operation and a lot of faulty hardware inside you, so not, and maybe ending up with a severe deformity. Have you ever heard so any other methods of treatment other than surgery actually working?
Thanks for talkig to me.
Dora
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replied May 11th, 2010
Hi Lauren
Thank you so much for your reply. It''s really very intersesting to hear your story.
Can I ask you how big your curvature was to start with? Mine was only 20 degrees when I was diagnosed at 13. I''m 21 now it it has gone up to 23 degrees. I have been told by my consultabt to have the operation in order to stop it continually progressing as I get older, but in research I have found that it says that not uless the curve is 40 degrees or more to they usually say surgery is mandatory. This coupled which a lot of the post surgery problems that people seem to be having has made me think I maight rather just take my chances and hope that it doesn''t get too much worse as I get older. I''m not in pain and it is only really apparent in my appearence being a bit of centre. I am scared that I will simply just be in more pain than before the operation if I go ahead with it. I just don''t know what to do. I am scared of having the operation, but I also scared what will happen to me if I don''t.
Do you regret going ahead with your operation straight away, or was it so severe you really couldnt have not?
Sorry for so many questions, but its just a hard decision to make. Whether to go for it and maybe end up having to have multiple operation and a lot of faulty hardware inside you, so not, and maybe ending up with a severe deformity. Have you ever heard so any other methods of treatment other than surgery actually working?
Thanks for talkig to me.
Dora
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replied May 14th, 2010
scoliosis and failed back surgery
i have had 7 spine surgeries to date. i was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 13: i was first put in a milwaukee style brace to prevent curve from worsening. unfortunately in the year i wore it my curve doubled. my 1st fusion was done at shriners hospital in erie, pa by Dr Frankovich. i had a double major curve, shape of a backwards S. measuring 85degrees on top and 63 degrees on lower curve. i have a pretty big "rib hump" that is very painfull to this day. i also had several problems with failed hardware, had part of hardware removed, nerve damage, etc. most things that can go wrong, have gone wrong for me. i sit here at 33 completely disabled, in severe pain every waking moment of my life. i have tried pain pump, spine stimulator, epidurals, meds, physical therapy, aqua therapy, tens unit, massage, accupuncture, yoga, nothing helps. im at my wits end and dont know how long i can handle this much pain anymore. thank god i have a wonderful supportive group of family and friends to lean on
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replied May 10th, 2012
I think you should go to the best surgeon in the field and see what he thinks. His name is Oheneba Boachie-Adjeii at Hospital for Special Surgery in NY. Good luck, I'm praying for you.
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replied May 15th, 2010
Hi everyone out there. I too, had spinal fusion and now I am set with various problems relating to that. I have had scoliosis since I was 5 years old. It came from extensive x-rays treatment for cancer when I was only 1 1/2 years old. I had a spinal fusion in 1990 due to crippling lower back pain. Unknown to me, the rod and back bone that was put into my spine, was diseased. The doctors never tested it and now I have Osteoporsis. I took a bone density test and it showed my spine is crumbling under the fusion and above it. My husband thinks all that I need is exercise. The test also showed Rheumatoid Arthritis in my neck and upper back. My new doctor told me that if I have another back surgery, I would be spending 24 hours on the operating table and I might not come out alive. I refuse to have any more surgeries. My spine was curved at a 75 degree right and a 60 degree left. My spine looked more like a snake than a back bone. You all should feel luckly that you have a support system. My husband doesn't understand the amount of pain and just doesn't care. My friends have abandoned me until they need help. I thought I was the only one out there whose still having pain from surgery.
Thanks for reading this long note.
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replied August 1st, 2010
I am 2 and a half months from my one level lumbar fusion. I just saw my neurosurgeon Aug. 16th and he's prescribed me 6 wks., 3 days a week of physical therapy because of my situation I didn't have very much help the day I got home from the hospital until 2 wks. ago. I had to do things I shouldn't have done so my progress is not up to par, I guess you could say.

I will keep you posted on how the pt goes. I do know, though, that I'm sure I'll come home pretty sore, but I'm sure hoping it also helps me lose the 30 lbs. I gained from this past year of not being able to do anything.

On another subject, I'm an independent contractor and I don't have any disability so I've been out of work, which has not helped either so my pain management dr has referred my to a pain psychologist. But my question is can anyone give me advice on getting disability, especially being that I'm not an employee, and also the fact that I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to the job I've done for 13 yrs., which has contributed to my back problems.
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