View Full Version : October25 surgery date and terrified

retired Mom
10-18-2012, 11:02 AM
I went to my pre-p appt. with the pain managemnet doctor and he said that no matter how bad I thought it was going to be it would be worse. The doctor said that since I was so thin there might be a problem with the hardware sticking out my back. Help!!

10-18-2012, 11:45 AM
That is a very disturbing thing to hear just before the surgery. But this comment is coming from your pain management doctor, who, by his own nature might be against the surgery. What does your surgeon say? I would listen to what your surgeon says and try to ignore opinions of pain management doctors, physical therapists etc.

loves to skate
10-18-2012, 12:11 PM
I went to my pre-p appt. with the pain managemnet doctor and he said that no matter how bad I thought it was going to be it would be worse. The doctor said that since I was so thin there might be a problem with the hardware sticking out my back. Help!!

What a horrible thing to say to anyone. I will till you that for me, it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Where are your curves? There have been a lot of thin people on this forum who have had spinal fusions. Hopefully they will be able to give you some feedback.


10-18-2012, 01:39 PM
I'm so sorry you've been terrorised by the pain management doctor. Not sure what he hoped to achieve by saying that. For me, the recovery was much less traumatic than being told I needed spinal fusion surgery. Best wishes for a great correction and easy recovery.

10-18-2012, 03:34 PM
I'm so sorry this guy put that thought into your mind. I am thin 5'10 about 135. And I do not have a problem with my hardware sticking out. My last level o fusion L1 kind of "dimples" my back because there is no fat there but that is the ONLY place where it looks like there is something in there. I'm still pretty numb (4 weeks post op) but when I touch my back where the rods are... I have to push really hard until I can feel the rods... Also once you have your surgery and you're feeling fabulous you will be able to work the muscles in your back and you won't have to worry about that!
Try to keep your chin up and a positive attitude ( I know hard, when the "professionals" put doubt into your head) BUT vision your beautiful straight spine and know that we're all praying for you!!!

10-18-2012, 07:05 PM
I went to my pre-p appt. with the pain managemnet doctor and he said that no matter how bad I thought it was going to be it would be worse. The doctor said that since I was so thin there might be a problem with the hardware sticking out my back. Help!!
Wow, I really cannot believe he said that. That's just cruel - and really unprofessional. How does he know what you're expecting anyway??? We all try to imagine what it will be like, but how can we really imagine something we've never experienced before... I'd say for most people, as long as you take the pain meds on time, the pain will be managed. Not a walk in the park by any means, but the drugs do their job.
As for hardware sticking out your back? hmmm - not exactly sure how to even picture that ... When I had surgery, I was only 90 pounds (only 4' 9, but still very thin) - I can only comment on my own experience, but my hardware isn't visible, and it doesn't stick out (now I weigh 95)!
The weeks leading up to surgery are so scary! I found that I was freaked out even by well intentioned friends expressing their fears (thanks!)! It takes incredible focus to concentrate on the outcome and what that will mean for your future, and try to not dwell on negative comments. I'm mad at that doctor!

10-18-2012, 07:32 PM
I don't know how any professional could say that to a patient. How does he know the pain involved unless he's actually had spinal surgery? I was terrified, but my pain was well managed in the hospital and during my recovery. I still felt lousy at times due to abdominal pain, but I was never in excruiating pain. The recovery isn't easy and it's a slow process, but for me, it was not horrible. It's the only time in my life that I could look forward to an afternoon nap and not feel guilty for not doing anything during a period of the day.

10-18-2012, 08:34 PM
i am not surprised...i have never met a pain management doctor
who was in favor of spinal fusion....and i have been to several
doctors of that specialty...most do not seem so vehement in
their language, but their message was the same...against the
surgery....i have one who told me outright only to do the surgery
if it is "to stop progression, don't do it for pain...it will not help the
pain and could make it worse"
i did have a surgeon tell me that because i am thin, i might need
screws removed after fusion was successful....
i had another surgeon who told me he likes to operate on thin
people...he said it was easier to get to the spine in people without
much fat on their bodies...

i would suggest that you discuss your worries about being thin
and the results of the surgery with your surgeon ...i think that
is the person best to speak to about your concerns...
and i am sorry the pain doctor upset you so much...


10-18-2012, 10:43 PM
I found out that I don't have a great pain tolerance, but even I have to say that statement is over- the-top. I was never in excruciating pain--not even in the hospital immediately after surgery. Granted I took a LLLOT of pain medicine, but it really worked. The duration of the pain in terms of months (7 now) has been longer than I expected, but the severity is not bad at all really. Maybe a 3 on a scale of 1-10 most of the time.

I am not super thin, but not heavy either. I cannot feel or see my hardware through my skin at all.


10-19-2012, 03:59 AM
What an aweful thing for him to say! Ask your surgeon about it and what changes he might make if you are thin. I am not thin...just average, have not had surgery, but when I feel my crooked vertebrae over my back, they are right under the skin...so little padding on everyone back there unless you are very obese and that has its own problems.

I hope that you are reassured by the many postings of thin women. It might be that he saw 1-2 women that were on the thin side and he drew his own conclusion...not a research based conclusion...that it was because they were thin. Check with your surgeon!


10-19-2012, 07:44 AM
I went to my pre-p appt. with the pain managemnet doctor and he said that no matter how bad I thought it was going to be it would be worse. The doctor said that since I was so thin there might be a problem with the hardware sticking out my back. Help!!
I am sorry that you have been put through this kind of stress at this late stage. I would suggest that you treat your pain management doctors messgae as purely cautionary and there is no way that he can predict an outcome like this with a high degree of certitude. Yes, recovery is a pretty hard and drawn out process (my experience for last 2 months) and there are a few very dark days, but it really helps to keep a postive attitude, patience and have faith that you will be ok.

Best of luck for your surgery,


10-19-2012, 07:53 AM
That is awful! I will be praying for you. Remember that pain is temporary and no mater what gets thrown at you, it will get better. This is what I keep telling myself and it gives me strength.
Good Luck,

Emma Plum
10-19-2012, 09:16 AM
Wow! I can't imagine where the pain management Dr. was coming from. Is it just a poor "bedside manner?" As some have suggested, maybe it was just cautionary, that this surgery is not something you jump into lightly.

It seems to me that the Dr's job is to minimize your pain, or at least minimize your recollection of it.

I'd pay more attention to the comments of posters who've undergone fusion; they seem to say that the pain is bad, but there are ways of managing it.

Aunt M.

10-19-2012, 08:39 PM
I agree the Pain Management doctor should be repremanded for what he said. It was unprofessional.

Yes, there will be pain after the surgery. But don't be afraid to communicate when you are in pain--and have your friends or family who are with you at the hospital be your advocate. Also, what I found is if you keep up the prescribed dose (not let it "wear off" and then start again), it is easier on you (and subsequently those around you).

Yes, each day gets better.

Will be saying prayers for you. God has everything undercontrol--that is what helped me get through the last few days before my surgery (which is now a little over a year ago).

10-19-2012, 09:31 PM
I am having fusion L2-sacrum on December 11 with Dr. Bridwell. Thank you to all who responded to this post as I am also thin and was worried about the hardware. I am also so upset with the attitude of the physiatrists who specialize in pain management. They see patients who have failed spinal surgeries but I am sure many, not all, of those patients could have had surgeons who did not specialize in scoliosis or even patients who were noncompliant and maybe did not allow themselves time to heal. Good luck to you on the 25th. I hope all of those here on the forum encouraged you....they certainly did me!!!!!

10-21-2012, 01:06 AM
I hope all turns out well. I am not concerned about the surgery as I am confident that after all the years of being crooked, having some rods show will be a minor inconvenience to all the pain we have suffered.


10-21-2012, 11:44 AM
gardenia, the point is whether the patient feels the rods, and screws. not whether they are visible...if rods or screws cause pain after
healing and fusion, they are sometimes removed, as the bones
are fused and the hardware is not needed to maintain that anymore...


10-22-2012, 01:42 AM
Jess, I am confused. Feeling the rods and the screws? I presume that the screws will be in the bones and we don't feel the bones. Now as to the rods, do you mean the rods protruding thus the skin would feel the bump?

I guess one have to go thru this to know.

10-22-2012, 08:55 AM
people have written about certain spots on spine where they seem
to feel things more than in other places....for example....

"I had my single iliac screw removed during my revision surgery for broken rods. I had trouble with persistent pain over the left buttock where my iliac screw was, which is why I wanted it out. Dr Hart told me that was no problem to remove after one year post-op..."

if you type in "feel screws" or other such phrases, you can find posts
that discuss this


10-22-2012, 10:11 AM
I'm also in the group where my expectations were worse than the actual pain. That pain management person has no right giving out that 'advice.'

Emma Plum
10-22-2012, 06:07 PM
I may be talking nonsense, but here is a thought. I think there is pain you remember, and pain for which you have no recollection whatsoever. For example, immediate post-surgery pain. The Pain Dr. may be reporting on patients whom he observed to be in terrible pain, but if he did his job properly, and gave the patient the meds they needed, the patient had no recollection of that stage of the pain.

Your memory isn't great right after anesthesia, and this can be a blessing.

I base this on working for a short time as a Recovery Room Tech; plus people who have said to me, after minor surgery, "Yes, I came in and saw you, and we talked for about half an hour," and I say, "What? When???"

Keep your spirits up, and be trustful that the pain --or the remembrance if it--will be under control.

Aunt M.