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Hardware Removal?

So, I am 23 years old and I am a year and a couple months status post L5-S1 posterior fusion for fractures causing chronic pain and disability. I have actually been doing really well, until about 4 months ago. For quite a while I have had some muscle spasms with laying down, particularly at night when trying to relax for bed. For a long time I tried to convince myself it was normal and just part of the process.

Well I went back to school in August and since that time I have had a steady increase in the spasms, extending to all day, not just at bed (though they are definitely worse at bed). I saw my surgeon at the end of Sept when I could no longer control them on my own and I needed his help and advice. I was beginning to experience an intermittent, very sharp, pinching, stabbing sensation right where my hardware lies. I brought this up to him and he thought it might be the hardware causing issues. He put me on muscle relaxers and tramadol and I would follow up in 3 months. The meds definitely have helped some, but it isn't great.

I saw him again this week and he is sending me for a hardware trigger point injection to see if that may be the cause. He pushed on the area and the pain is reproduceable, which makes him think it is the hardware causing issues with the soft tissues I'm that area. He doesn't routinely take the hardware out, but he is thinking we may need to eventually. I will have the injection in a week and then follow up again. I am hopeful, but it's bittersweet. I want my pain to be managed and figured out, but I don't necessarily want to go back to surgery. I think even if the injections prove that it is the hardware, I will try to push it off as long as possible. It will be 3 surgeries in 4 years.

I am on here looking for hardware removal experiences. I don't think he would put more hardware in, but I am not sure what would need to happen, part of the problem is I am not sure I am totally fused at this point. I know I should be, but I don't think my X-ray's have shown completion, just progress. So I am not sure what that would mean. I will be having a very open and honest conversation with him after I have the injection. If anyone has any advice or thoughts I would love to hear them!

Amanda Bailey


  • I had discussions with my surgeon as well regarding hardware removal. He was willing to do it, but Worker's Comp wanted him to sign a letter saying that he guaranteed that the removal would solve my continuing pain. Obviously, no surgeon in the world would make that kind of statement.

    If I had to guess, He will probably want to leave it in until there is x-ray proof that you are fusing. But, in the meantime try to keep your head up! My 21 yr old son is being evaluated for possible surgery as well at L5-S1. You all are MUCH too young to have to suffer through back pain.


    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
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