Post Thoracic Spinal Fusion Pain

Post Thoracic Spinal Fusion Pain

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Thoracic Pain

San Diego, CA

#1 Mar 31, 2010
Just wondering if anyone else has had Thoracic Spinal fusion and is still in alot of post-op pain?
rab

Parkville, MD

#2 May 14, 2010
Hi--this is my 1st experience w/ a chatroom, so I hope I'm doing this correctly. I had spinal stenosis w/fusion back in '06 (L3-S1), & this went very well. 2 yrs. later I had surgery (double rods, double screws/vertebra)to correct spondylolithesis (fusion T10-L3) in June '08. I told my dr. at my 2-mo follow-up I wasn't doing well, esp. trying to get comfortable sleeping, and "eliminating" (no one told me Dilaudid was so constipating--had to self-administer Fleets..) X-rays showed T10 shattered, screw came out and ribcage pitched forward. In Sept.'08, had 3rd surgery to correct broken back (T3-T9; so I'm fused T3-S1. So over a year later, I feel as if my back is completely encased in a brace, still 20% out of alignment, Frankenstein-walking as if I'm carrying a heavy door on my back and pain as if all the tissues in my back are being stretched. All I'm told is that the hardware "looks good." PT is a joke. And b/c I can't twist or bend, exercise is difficult; thus I've put on 15 or so lbs, and at 4'10" (lost a few along the way), this is not good. Massage hasn't helped, either. So yes, I'm in constant pain/discomfort over a year later. I'm also interested in feedback from others who have had thoracic fusion. I used to teach dance and aerobics--now I can't even walk or stand well. Pity party starts in 5 minutes ;/
Mike

Lake Oswego, OR

#3 Jun 18, 2010
Just had a fusion at T11/T12 two weeks ago. Of course I'm having trouble managing pain, but affter watching reading the two other posts in here I'm not as optimistic as I was 5 minutes ago.

Lotsa pain - high opiate consumption, many other meds. Pain is often 7/10 atm.

I can stand better than I could before (straighter) and I had LOTS of scar tissue removed from the area where I had surgery in January; 6 months ago to remove a cyst. Now I hurt like hell but am still in major recovery.

I can post in two weeks with my status if that's helpful.

-m
gerri

United States

#4 Jan 12, 2011
y had my thorasic spine fused from a very large infected epidural cyst in 2/10. because of infection i was very ill and recoup was very difficult. it was very difficult because the month before i had my left foot amputated due to infection that started in my spine. but let me tell you that it is possible to do. i am currently on no pain meds by my choice. according to docs i would need them forever. ym always in some pain but use other methods to control it. be persistent and positive. it works. dont give up. its all in your attitude. it does get easier but you have to want it, after taking pain meds for 20 years it feels amazing to be on nothing. please try it. you can do it!
Doing Well

Anchorage, AK

#5 Feb 4, 2011
I was fused T2-T12 9 months ago. I feel like a jerk replying, because it sounds like you are all having issues, but I also want to reply so that others reading this can hear something positive. Before I had my surgery, I only found terrifying stories online about how bad things were post-op, but honestly, it's been much better than expected. I still have to be careful and am not to lift more than 10lbs for the time being (since it hasn't been a year yet), but I don't have any pain. I was off of pain medication after 5 weeks, pregnant after 8 weeks, and taking tap dancing classes after 12 weeks. At this point I am 7 months pregnant, using an elliptical or treadmill 2-3 times per week, taking tap class 2 times per week, and taking a modern dance class 1 day a week. Again, I'm being careful and following the advice of my doctor, but things are much better now than they were prior to surgery. My pain is better. My posture is better. Life is better. A few changes had to happen and I'm not fully recovered yet as far as my activity level and flexibility, but I had (and am having) a very positive experience. I think getting off the meds, laying down when needed, and trying to be as active as possible have helped me recover so well.
Karin

Troy, NY

#6 Feb 17, 2011
Wow this is awesome to hear. My doctor is recommending surgery for me at T11-T12 and I'm very nervous about it. He wants to do a spinal fusion. I already have one child who is almost two and we want to try for another child soon but my back problems are causing that to be an issue so I was worried about how long after surgery I would feel ok to start "trying again", Any advice?
Doing Well wrote:
I was fused T2-T12 9 months ago. I feel like a jerk replying, because it sounds like you are all having issues, but I also want to reply so that others reading this can hear something positive. Before I had my surgery, I only found terrifying stories online about how bad things were post-op, but honestly, it's been much better than expected. I still have to be careful and am not to lift more than 10lbs for the time being (since it hasn't been a year yet), but I don't have any pain. I was off of pain medication after 5 weeks, pregnant after 8 weeks, and taking tap dancing classes after 12 weeks. At this point I am 7 months pregnant, using an elliptical or treadmill 2-3 times per week, taking tap class 2 times per week, and taking a modern dance class 1 day a week. Again, I'm being careful and following the advice of my doctor, but things are much better now than they were prior to surgery. My pain is better. My posture is better. Life is better. A few changes had to happen and I'm not fully recovered yet as far as my activity level and flexibility, but I had (and am having) a very positive experience. I think getting off the meds, laying down when needed, and trying to be as active as possible have helped me recover so well.
Valena

Lethbridge, Canada

#7 Apr 27, 2011
Thoracic Pain wrote:
Just wondering if anyone else has had Thoracic Spinal fusion and is still in alot of post-op pain?
Hey all,
I am in my mid-20's and had my T2-T5 fused April/10 after a surfing accident. I had severe restrictions that slowly petered out month by month. The first three were extremely strict. No bending, lifting, twisting, jumping etc and I had the energy level of a 85-yr-old smoker but I am pleased to say that each month it got better and each month another restriction fell away. 12 months later I am finally past the last restriction point and I almost 100%. I AM weaker than before my surgery, but that is largely my fault as I have not been as dedicated to my exercises as I should be. But I am blessed because I have not had to take pain medication since 8 weeks post-op and if my back is hurting it is never anything lying on the ground and resting for 2 minutes can't cure. I understand everyone may not be as lucky as me but I just wanted you to know that it is possible to have this surgery and recover and be 99% pain-free, I might not be able to slouch like I could before but I am able to go to work as a R.N. and come home 8 hrs later and be okay. My suggestions are; a) listen to your dr. and the restrictions they give you; you only have one back. Take the time to recover and take care of it. b) do your exercises. learn from my mistakes.
Good luck in your recovery.
Cynthia

Fairfax, VA

#8 Apr 30, 2011
I had a Open Thoracic Spinal Fusion T6-T10 at the end of January 2011. In July 2010 a different surgeon did a total laminectomy, foramotomy and discectomy on L1-L5. Stupid surgeon and wrong surgery. Lumbar surgery was incorrect and all the pain and neurological issues were from T6-T10. I checked with three different Neruosurgeons and they all agreed the problems were not from my Lumbar spine but from my Thoracic spine. I was told I would be a paralyzed from the waist down in the next two months if I did not have surgery and fusion. I ended up in ICU for 10 days because of complications with my lungs from the thoracotomy. The poor neurosurgeon had to operate for 10 hours straight just to get all the bone fragments and calcified disc fragments out of my thoracic spine. I have been going to pt for the last few months. I am walking pretty well and only use a cane for balance purposes when I am out. I am still in constant pain and have been told that the nerve pain may be permanent because my cord was compressed for so long. I am on neurontin and it makes life barable but I am still hurting and sometimes nothing helps. It's hard because I know everyone thinks I am better because my motor skills are back but both butt cheeks, legs and left foot are still in constant pain.The poressure I feel in my lower back as I walk feels like someone is pushing me from the top of my spine down and trying to propell me forward from my lower back as I walk. I dont' want to take the pain pills (narcotics) because they are addicting and Its been a long time to be on them. I dont' know what to do. I used to be active and tgo to the gym three times a week. now I can't even be out for 15-20 min without sebvere pain. I am told this may be the way it will be , and I have to wait two more years before I know. In pain and tired of being there!
Meghan

Cabot, AR

#9 Jul 1, 2011
I'm reading all of your posts, because my doctor is recommending that I should have the surgery to fuse T7 with the spinal cord above and below. I was in a bad car accident three years ago that resulted in a compression fracture. They recommended surgery at the time, but I refused since I did not have health insurance at the time. Now three years later, I'm having pain everyday with normal activities. I say normal, but I have a one year old that I'm currently taking care of alone. My husband is deployed at the moment. Some days are better than others, but the bad days are what is tempting me to have the surgery. I'm only 24, and I'm worried that if something goes wrong, I have a very long time to live with it. At the same time, my life is miserable with the pain. I'm really scared and I would love to talk to someone who has had the same surgery.
jack H

Murrieta, CA

#10 Jul 16, 2011
Meghan wrote:
I'm reading all of your posts, because my doctor is recommending that I should have the surgery to fuse T7 with the spinal cord above and below. I was in a bad car accident three years ago that resulted in a compression fracture. They recommended surgery at the time, but I refused since I did not have health insurance at the time. Now three years later, I'm having pain everyday with normal activities. I say normal, but I have a one year old that I'm currently taking care of alone. My husband is deployed at the moment. Some days are better than others, but the bad days are what is tempting me to have the surgery. I'm only 24, and I'm worried that if something goes wrong, I have a very long time to live with it. At the same time, my life is miserable with the pain. I'm really scared and I would love to talk to someone who has had the same surgery.
I had T2 to T7 fusion in Jan. 2011. I fractured T4, T5, and T9. T9 was left to heal on its own. I have two rods and 12 screws from T2 to T7. My spine could not support my body weight causing pain in my spine after standing more the 5 minutes. I had no nerve damage. Six months later my pain is gone from my spine but I still fill pain from the muscles rebuilding after the surgery. I exercise 2 to 3 times a day to work the muscles back; at the end of the day I am real stiff and sore. Doctor says I should go live life normal but avoid dropping down in a vertical direction. Jumping out of planes; jumping fences.
Kalena

Tahoe City, CA

#11 Aug 26, 2011
I am having a lot of pain, it is really difficult to try to explain that to your doctor who has no idea what it is like to go through this pain on a daily basis. Somedays are worse then others, today is horrible, but yesterday was tollerable. I wish that I could exercise, I had a T11- T12 compression that was less then a hair line away from paralyzing me, I also have 2 rods and 12 screws including a bridge like thing. I wish that Doctors could understand that the pain isnt going away. I was A certified Nursing assistant before my accident and the stupid nuro surg said that I could go back to doing my daily routies( I looked at him like he was crazzy) I cannot ever be a CNA again, it is too agonizing on my body and lifting people over 150LBS is out of the question. I just wish that the pain would go away, my surgery was February of 2011. when is it going to end, I am 23 years old and dont want to live my ife in pain.
Mick

Liverpool, UK

#12 Sep 24, 2011
I was fused t5/6 and like Cynthia, because of a mis-diagnosis, I had the surgery much later than I should have, so it looked very likely I would not regain all my motor functions.
Well that was in 2003 and I am happy to say that gradually over the years everything has returned to nearly normal.
It's been long and slow and life changing and the feeling is of things getting a little better every day rather than a little worse as used to be the case before surgery.

Mick
Trish

Terre Haute, IN

#13 Nov 23, 2011
Hi I am 37 year old female with advanced osteoporosis in my spine and hips. I was jarred on a trampoline May 11' and suffered a compression fracture of T12. My Nero surgeon put me in a brace and after 7 months I was still in pain and had to stop working. My new Dr did a kyphoplasy to fix the fracture that would not heal. Now he says I hv 3 bulging discs and unstable T11. I see a new surgeon in Dec. to discuss fusion surgery. The muscle spams r so severe at times I feel nauseous. Anyone have any advise? I am terrified of surgery!
Andrew

Australia

#14 Nov 23, 2011
Hi guys
I fell from a wall about 7 weeks ago and really hurt my back worst pain ever but I left it a few days. I eventually went to a chiro thinking they could sort me out and they sent me for x rays which showed three small wedge fractures in my t11 and t12 vertebrae. So I got a CT scan and an MRI and saw a spinal surgeon. He says I need to get spinal fusion from t11 to L1 I'm freaking out and reading alot of peoples comments on various sites I really don't want to get it done. Can anyone help? I work as an electrician and continued to work for about 5 weeks after the injury and just put up with the pain. They tell me recovery will be about 6 weeks and I should be able to start working after that.
Jackie

Livingston, LA

#15 Nov 29, 2011
I had a fusion from T5-T12 March of 2010 for a fracture at T7 plus lots of arthritis. I have a laminectomy from t7-t9 and lots of other ectomies and otomies. I think that area of my spine must look like swiss cheese. At first everything was fine. But I think I got the wrong physical therapy and my muscles in my back have never recovered. I am having lower back/leg pain and neck, shoulder, arm and finger pain. I have a referral to a new neurosurgeon soon. I have far more pain now than I did all the years (16) that I went undiagnosed. After reading the post from Cynthia, at least I didn't get the wrong surgery first. They just kept doing MRIs of my lumbar area and saying there's no way this could be causing your problems. I mostly suffered from loss of function they kept blaming on possible MS. I am not sure what the future holds, just hope it doesn't hold more surgery. Have a blessed day.
christina

Canada

#16 Dec 11, 2011
Hi, first time using a chatroom so bear with me. Sorry. I had my spine fused from T3 to. T12 when I was 15 ten years ago. I have two Miami (i think that's what they are called) rods with hooks and a bone graft. For the first 7 ish years I felt great. I would have aches and be sore from. time to time but it was a hell of a lot better than before surgery. The only thing that bothered me was I had one spot I felt had to be cracked but couldn't up until recently when it went on its own. Anyways things were good. I kept active and worked as a server but decided to nanny and take care of children for a year and then decided to pursue a career in hairstyling..I put on 20 pounds and within a 2 year span my back went out 4 times..the last of which was by far the worst. I was put on pain meds and was off work for 3 weeks and was useless for another month after. It has been four months since this last episode happened and have never been the same since. Im scared its only going to get worse as I get older. Trying to get back in shape but its difficult as I also get bad headaches and migraines from back pain. Am also having a hard time at work (hairstylist) my spinal fusion is thoracic but the last time my back went out it was my lower spine that was the problem....anyone else? Tired of this!
Jackie

Livingston, LA

#17 Dec 11, 2011
Christina, I'm glad you lasted as long as you did. I started noticing pain as soon as 7 weeks after surgery. I had a repeat MRI of lower spine 11 months after surgery and they said it was essentially unchanged from before surgery. So why all the pain? I have an appointment with a new surgeon next week. That will be my first question. Have you had your lower back imaged? I'm wondering if the fusion has put pressure on the rest of my spine. In fact, I'm having pain in my neck with arm pain, too. Do you mind saying why you had to have the fusion?
christina

Ottawa, Canada

#18 Dec 12, 2011
Thanks Jackie for your reply,
I had my fusion as a result of scoliosis that I found I had after I injured my back playing volleyball (it felt as though I 'popped' a rib on my right side out of place...really painful too! It was then that we noticed my rib displacement..I'm told I have idiopathic scoliosis but never saw it) I was 13 when I found out I had scoliosis and 15 at surgery. I have wondered the same about my lower spine taking all the brunt in bending, and I'm fairly certain that because I have hardly any range of motion where I'm fused that I overuse my lower spine. Does anyone else feel that way? How long ago was your first surgery? How are you doing Jackie? Up until recently as well I have never experienced neck pain along my cervical part of my spine as well...i did get xrays done when my most recent incident happened (the attending emerg doc,who was very nice, told me that my Xray looked normal! I almost laughed right in her face....how do xrays with rods and a curved spine look normal? Anyways got cat scans aswell and am now waiting to see a specialist....don't want this to get worse and want to know the best way to manage my back....I don't have much optimism that the specialist will do much of anything, but it would be great to hear why this is happening...I hope everyone on here feels some relief soon! I have never spoken with anyone who has been through what everyone here has been through, thank you. for sharing.
Jackie

Livingston, LA

#19 Dec 13, 2011
Christina, you're half my age. I was first injured in my late twenties. Half of my pain I would say is due to arthritis that has developed over time. That may be why I am having so much trouble. Would it have developed had I been treated sooner? That is one of the many unanswered questions I have. You're still awfully young to have arthritis, though. Well, I go the the doctor next Wednsday. I'll post and let you know how it went. Be well in the meantime.
Jackie

Denham Springs, LA

#20 Jan 13, 2012
Sorry it has taken so long to reply. There was a snafu with my discs full of mri's etc. Had to get them again and wait for a new appt. Had that on the 11th. He said as far as the pain in my midback he feels it is probably due to the hardware and says it is an option to remove it. This I will have to research. My gut reaction in the office was "na!". But as i go around hurting today, I am reconsidering. He wants me to have the epidural steroid injections my new pain doc has planned and to come back in 3 months. If I still have marginal results he will do a mylogram and CT. So that's where I am right now. My concern with the removal surgery is, what if that s not what's causing my pain? I think I will start a thread on hardware removal.

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