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View Full Version : Broken rods/ failed fusion?



Geish
06-14-2008, 09:00 PM
Does anyone know the symptoms of either broken rods or failed fusion? I am 6 months post op and have not had any problems until this past week. My lower back is puffy from my waist to my lower hip area the full width of my back. I have no idea why this has happened as I haven't done anything differently. It feels like the area is very full and heavy and there is noticeable swelling. My lower back hurts for the first time since surgery and I am back on pain meds for the first time in months. I do have a call in to my Dr (actually I have called twice now and will be calling again Monday morning. He is 2 1/2 hrs away or I would just take a drive over there.) but have not heard anything yet. Ice packs don't seem to help and I was instructed to not take anti-inflammatories so i have no idea if they work. Any suggestion? It seems like the swelling moves a little farther up my back each day. Thanks in advance.
Alicia

Susie*Bee
06-15-2008, 06:47 AM
Alicia-- I am SO sorry to hear this. :( I don't know what it may mean so I won't speculate. Keep hounding the doctor until he gets you in. Please let us know when you find out more. In the meantime, you'll be in my thoughts and in my prayers. Hugs, Susie

JoAnn5
06-15-2008, 07:09 AM
If it gets worse before you hear from your surgeon, i'd suggest a trip to the ER. They can get in contact with him if need be. It could be an infection, since it's increasing, and that's nothing to fool with. It's better to be safe than sorry. Do you have a fever?

txmarinemom
06-15-2008, 08:52 AM
... It could be an infection, since it's increasing, and that's nothing to fool with. It's better to be safe than sorry. Do you have a fever?

JoAnn, she had surgery in mid-December '07. Surely infection would have manifested by now ...

skoshi314
06-15-2008, 10:34 AM
Hey Alicia,
Obviously I'm no help with this since I'm so new to the post-op club, but I think I may have an idea how you're feeling right now. Please don't worry yourself crazy. But just as Joann said don't hesitate to go to the ER at any point. Thats what they are there for. I will definately be thinking about you.

ca-native
06-15-2008, 10:53 AM
Does the doctor have an "after hours" service so he or his nurse can be paged so you can talk to someone today? If not and the swelling has increased since yesterday, I vote for going to an ER facility near your home today.

Good luck and best wishes. Let us know how you are doing.

Geish
06-15-2008, 10:54 AM
Thanks everyone. I don't think it's an infection...there's no redness or heat and I am not running a fever. The area just feels very heavy and "full". It kind of looks like swollen ankles from water retention but in my low back. I am now in pants that were big pre op and they are snug. The weight hasn't really gone up and I still weigh less than I did pre op. Laying on my back makes it ache and the underlaying muscles feel very tired, with pain radiating out to my sides. The only position I feel comfortable in is laying on my stomach.

By the way I live in a little remote ski resort town an hour away from the next closest town up a winding mountain road and 2 1/2 hours away from my surgeon if there is no traffic. A real hospital is over an hour away. I hesitate to go to the local ER as they will have no clue and probably wonder why I have a 22 inch scar and will say "hey whats that stuff on your back Xray?"! The swelling feels a little less today. I will probably ice again and continue to take it easy today. I will be calling the surgeon first thing tomorrow morning.

Thanks again everyone.
Alicia

suzyjay
06-15-2008, 06:30 PM
I had a pressure and a heavy feeling in my lower back that started around 5 months after surgery it lasted for about 2 - months. But, don't rule out an infection, if you don't have a test to check for infection you can't know for sure. I found out that I had an infection 4 months after surgery and it was discovered from a blood test. I didn't have any fever or redness or open sore or skin infection, my surgeon didn't know why I was still in quite a bit of pain after 4 months. He said he didn't think it was an infection but said to take a blood test for infection to be sure. Well I had a staph infection inside me on the hardware and only sign was pain. Good Luck

Sue

JoAnn5
06-15-2008, 07:25 PM
Thanks, Suzy... I thought i remembered that you discovered it several months later. But my memory is so fuzzy anymore... You know i think they remove brain cells with every general anesthesia, and being OLD doesn't help either....lol

myachingback
06-15-2008, 07:32 PM
I'm real sure you don't get fever with all infections. Also I was reading on a website about my wrists and they said after a wrist joint replacement you are susceptible sp? to infections for years on the implants. Don't want to alarm you but the sooner you get antibiotics for an infection the better chances you have to beat it. I would be hightailing it to a competent ER if I were you.
I know about the kind of treatment you have close to you. Our hospital was named Hillcrest, less affectionatly nicknamed Killcrest! I told my wife if I was unconsious just drive on by there!
Best Wishes,
Chris

txmarinemom
06-15-2008, 08:12 PM
I found out that I had an infection 4 months after surgery and it was discovered from a blood test. I didn't have any fever or redness or open sore or skin infection, my surgeon didn't know why I was still in quite a bit of pain after 4 months. He said he didn't think it was an infection but said to take a blood test for infection to be sure. Well I had a staph infection inside me on the hardware and only sign was pain.

Geish, you haven't *had* pain (or anything abnormal until now), though, right?

Geish
06-15-2008, 08:55 PM
Everything was great until Monday of this past week. No pain, no swelling, no fever, no heaviness, nothing. I have been off all meds for close to 4 months until this past week. I have been leading an active, relatively normal life until last Monday. I really have no idea why the swelling started and there is more discomfort than pain. It feels achy like a muscle strain and yet I can't think how I might have strained anything. The skin is not even warm to the touch. It is just very puffy and feels very full and heavy. It is uncomfortable to lie on my back and on either side. If I do lie on my side it feels like the weight of the puffy tissue causes more discomfort.

ca-native
06-15-2008, 09:18 PM
By the way I live in a little remote ski resort town an hour away from the next closest town up a winding mountain road and 2 1/2 hours away from my surgeon if there is no traffic. A real hospital is over an hour away. I hesitate to go to the local ER as they will have no clue and probably wonder why I have a 22 inch scar and will say "hey whats that stuff on your back Xray?"! The swelling feels a little less today. I will probably ice again and continue to take it easy today. I will be calling the surgeon first thing tomorrow morning.

Thanks again everyone.
Alicia

Hi Alicia,

I was hoping Big Bear would have some sort of hospital closer than an hour away due to ski injuries they probably have during the winter. I bet that hospital is good with broken legs, but like you said not so much with spinal fusions. ;)

Normally I don't look forward to Monday, but in this case it's good so you can connect with doctor's office. Please let us know what's going on.

Take care,

Geish
06-15-2008, 10:27 PM
Hi Alicia,

I was hoping Big Bear would have some sort of hospital closer than an hour away due to ski injuries they probably have during the winter. I bet that hospital is good with broken legs, but like you said not so much with spinal fusions. ;)

Normally I don't look forward to Monday, but in this case it's good so you can connect with doctor's office. Please let us know what's going on.

Take care,

We do have a hospital, however they are not quite equipped to handle a spinal fusion problem. At least I don't think they are. And yes, they do a great job with most ski injuries but if there is anything too serious they either send them off in an ambulance or on an airvac. Loma Linda is an hour away but they don't take Kaiser Insurance so the nearest Kaiser Hopsital is over an hour away and even then most of those Drs have never seen a spinal fusion either. The closest Kaiser with spinal surgery is almost 2 hours away I believe, out in Baldwin Park area. When I searched for a scoliosis surgeon that's where the nearest one was with Kaiser.

Chihuahua Mama
06-16-2008, 06:02 AM
Geish, did you bump into anything? Sit down too hard, or otherwise press against the area (I'm thinking of stadium seats, etc.). Any sudden puffiness and swelling would indicate somethings off.

I'm with the others to call your Kaiser Doc in the Valley.

Geish
06-16-2008, 11:39 AM
Just got a call from the Dr. I go in To LA on Wed afternoon to have it checked. I'll let everyone know what is going on when I actually have some sort of answer. Thanks so much for all the good thoughts, well wishes and ideas.

ca-native
06-16-2008, 11:58 AM
Well, if he's not seeing you until Wednesday he must not feel it is super serious that you see him immediately. :)

Thanks for keeping us posted.

Geish
06-16-2008, 12:18 PM
Actually he isn't in the office until then. I could get in to see the assistant tomorrow at 3:45 but would rather wait a little longer and see him.

Jenlw
06-17-2008, 10:30 AM
When I broke my rod it was probably some of the worse pain I ever felt, but I don't remember any swelling. It broke while starting a lawn mower...I don't mow the lawn much any more ;) Good luck at the doctor!

JamieR
06-17-2008, 01:21 PM
Good luck at your doctor's appointment. I hope it is not anything serious. Let us know how everything goes, we'll be thinking of you !

debbei
06-17-2008, 01:53 PM
Good luck tomorrow. I'm sorry this happened. Are you feeling any better or different today?

Geish
06-17-2008, 02:17 PM
The swelling is down a little but there is a slight increase in temperature on my spine on my sacrum. It's about the size of a playing card in height and width and is directly on the incision line. Still no redness. I just keep resting, A LOT! I never thought I would be so fed up with being in bed. On the up side I am getting a lot of reading done. Looks like it will be Thursday not Wednesday for the appointment. It doesn't look like they were able to squeeze me into the clinic on Wed. Thank you all again for your well wishes and concern. I will keep everyone posted as I know more.
Alicia

Susie*Bee
06-17-2008, 02:30 PM
Gosh, Geish, don't they know there are so many of us concerned about you??? You'd think they'd help us all out a little! ;) But really, we hate for you to have to wait till Thursday! I'm glad you're getting some reading in with your resting up. Do you have a fever??? Or is it just a localized "hotness" where the problem is? Do you want us to leave you alone and stop having all these questions??? You know we love you! :D Rest up and let us know if there's any change. Does that sound ok? Hugs, Susie

Pooka1
06-17-2008, 02:31 PM
Good luck on Thursday, Alicia.

This sounds very perplexing.

I hope you get some answers.

Best regards,
sharon

ETA: Maybe a screw pulled out? That might explain the sudden-ness and localized-ness?

loves to skate
06-17-2008, 02:43 PM
Hi Alicia, I'll be thinking of you Thursday. Lets hope it is not an infection.
Sally

iluvmath!
06-17-2008, 09:48 PM
Geish, I'm so sorry to hear about the problems you're having!!! I can't imagine how scary that must be!!! When my rod broke, I didn't have any swelling...I just started to have a lot of pain and also noticed that my back made a lot of popping or cracking noices which it hadn't been doing before.

My surgeon told me that it usually takes about a year to a year and a half for a rod to break. He described it like a paper clip. If you try to break it in half it won't but if you keep moving it back and forth over time it will eventually break...same for the metal rods except they're much thicker so it takes much longer.

I hope that my surgeon is right and it's too early for that to happen to you. I'll be thinking of you over the next few days. I hope that they'll find nothing seriously wrong with your back and that you'll be back on your feet and feeling better soon.

Geish
06-19-2008, 07:37 PM
Everything seems to be okay. I was told I probably shouldn't try to mow the lawn any more and I need to slow down. I was also told that sitting can cause a big strain in the low back after fusion, so reclining is a much better position. If the swelling doesn't go down in a month with rest, taking it easy and anti- inflammatories then I have to go back, otherwise I am clear for another 6 months-ish. So I was cleared to take motrin/aleve/etc to try and reduce the swelling. Anyway good news all in all. Thanks everyone for your concern and support!
Alicia

debbei
06-20-2008, 04:37 AM
Geish,

Fantastic news! I am so happy that the Dr. thinks all is well. Is it feeling any better? Yes, I think you should stay away from the lawn mower!!

Take it easy,

Pooka1
06-20-2008, 07:00 AM
That's good news but it's still perplexing why you have those symptoms.

loves to skate
06-20-2008, 02:14 PM
Hi Alicia,
So glad to hear that the Dr. thinks your problem is just inflamation. I just helped my husband mow the lawn yesterday for the first time. I guess there will only be a first time this year, oops. :eek: I guess we both better take it easy. Sally