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Thread: Pretty sure I broke a rod

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    88

    Pretty sure I broke a rod

    Greetings! It has been a while since I was here. Some of you older members might remember me. I had my huge T1 - Pelvis with pelvic fixation surgery done in October of 2012 by Dr Hey in Raleigh NC. It took a couple years of gripping pain and a lot of determination to reach a really great point of recovery. The first three years were really rough. 4 years of recovery later and I've been steadily challenging myself to strenghten, eat right and stretch and doing wonderful.

    Two weeks ago, feeling really strong and good, I was moving a pile of books and tripped hard on a coffee table. I came down hard and landed on all fours. I didn't seem to notice any ill effect from that, other than my neck was sore. A couple days later, I was doing housework and carried a box that weighed about 30 pounds, downstairs. Then I carried a rocking chair upstairs. No problem. But then I cautiously bent over as I always do to pick up something and heard the sound of a popsicle stick breaking, along with a sharp burst of pain in my back. "WHAT was that?" I said outloud. sigh.

    Right away, there were a bunch of crunchy sounds when I straightened up. Then for the next four days, plenty of pops and creaking the entire length of my spine. But then 5 days later, all the creaking stopped. I was being sooooo careful! But the pain was getting worse so I made an appointment with Dr Hey and got x rays. No broken bones show up in the xrays, thank God. It's been two weeks now but the pain makes me cry and it's getting worse so I think I'll call back again on Monday. I am very discouraged.

    Have any of you broken a rod? What is the treatment? Is there a treatment? We can't afford another big surgery. I just found out we still owe my anesthesiologist from my first surgery! I had no idea. If I hold still for two months, will it heal itself?

    Thank you for being here. It took me a while to find this board. I appreciate you all and now I'm sorry I didn't hang out here more after I started to feel great. Scoliosis surgery ROCKS and Dr Hey is incredible. I feel bad there's an issue with my back now.

    Julia
    1973 Age 15 diagnosed with scoliosis but told too old for surgery.
    2001 age 43 told too old for surgery, did physical therapy & traction.
    2001 to 2008 Intermittent use of home traction machine and TENS unit.
    2009 traction no longer effective - physical therapy.
    2011 More physical therapy. 2012 Collapsing scoliosis - MRI before surgery
    At age 53, surgery on October 2nd, 2012 with Dr Hey
    Fusion with titanium rods and bolts from T1 to pelvis.
    Post op x-ray

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,690
    Julia,
    I do remember you as I used to check in daily with the forum. Now that I'm 6 years post op, I may go a few months. Unfortunately, there are others who felt they were in the clear after being 4-5 years post op with no problems and suddenly break a rod. From what I have heard on the forum, the surgery to replace the rod is not as difficult or as long of recovery as the original surgery. Hopefully, you'll hear from those on the forum who have more information for you. I am so sorry this has happened.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,793
    Quote Originally Posted by JuliaAnn View Post
    Greetings! It has been a while since I was here. Some of you older members might remember me. I had my huge T1 - Pelvis with pelvic fixation surgery done in October of 2012 by Dr Hey in Raleigh NC. It took a couple years of gripping pain and a lot of determination to reach a really great point of recovery. The first three years were really rough. 4 years of recovery later and I've been steadily challenging myself to strenghten, eat right and stretch and doing wonderful.

    Two weeks ago, feeling really strong and good, I was moving a pile of books and tripped hard on a coffee table. I came down hard and landed on all fours. I didn't seem to notice any ill effect from that, other than my neck was sore. A couple days later, I was doing housework and carried a box that weighed about 30 pounds, downstairs. Then I carried a rocking chair upstairs. No problem. But then I cautiously bent over as I always do to pick up something and heard the sound of a popsicle stick breaking, along with a sharp burst of pain in my back. "WHAT was that?" I said outloud. sigh.

    Right away, there were a bunch of crunchy sounds when I straightened up. Then for the next four days, plenty of pops and creaking the entire length of my spine. But then 5 days later, all the creaking stopped. I was being sooooo careful! But the pain was getting worse so I made an appointment with Dr Hey and got x rays. No broken bones show up in the xrays, thank God. It's been two weeks now but the pain makes me cry and it's getting worse so I think I'll call back again on Monday. I am very discouraged.

    Have any of you broken a rod? What is the treatment? Is there a treatment? We can't afford another big surgery. I just found out we still owe my anesthesiologist from my first surgery! I had no idea. If I hold still for two months, will it heal itself?

    Thank you for being here. It took me a while to find this board. I appreciate you all and now I'm sorry I didn't hang out here more after I started to feel great. Scoliosis surgery ROCKS and Dr Hey is incredible. I feel bad there's an issue with my back now.

    Julia
    Hi Julia...

    Usually, if one breaks a rod, it shows up on xray. It's possible that you do have a broken rod, but that it's just not showing up yet. Sometimes, especially if you've got a solid fusion, the rods don't become displaced, at least in the beginning. If you did break a rod, the only time it needs to be replaced is if there's an area that didn't fuse.

    The fact that you do have significant new pain is worrisome. I think it's probably a good idea to see Dr. Hey again. If your pain improves before you get back to see him, you can always cancel the appointment.

    If you do have to have more surgery, it's usually a lot smaller surgery than the first time. Nonetheless, it could still be relatively expensive.

    Good luck!

    --Linda
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Dilbert
    I'm sarcastic... what's your super power? --Unknown
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you've signed up and are having trouble posting, please check your spam folder. An email was sent to the email address which you subscribed. You have to follow the instructions in that email. Done that and still having trouble posting? Contact Joe O'Brien at jpobrien@scoliosis.org.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,524
    I broke 4 rods....my personal best! Sorry to make light of such a serious topic. My breakages were silent and only involved pain. They resulted from instrumentation infection. I subsequently had 3 surgeries to replace all of the hardware and rebuild so mm e of the vertebrae. The 3 surgeries were kind of a picce of cake compared to the first surgery, mainly because the first surgery involved decreasing the scoliosis and the body's reaction to massive pulling and tugging of muscles.
    Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,160
    Hi there,

    It sure sounds like a broken rod, especially with the severe pain. I have broken my rods twice (boo hiss), and both times the first rod broke and didn't show up on X-ray. Both times the other rod broke about 3 weeks later, and then the broken rods showed up. The second time though the fracture in the rods was so subtle because it was still lined up, it was missed by my surgeon, then it was actually me who spotted a tiny defect in how the rods aligned and showed the X-ray tech, who I was acquainted with, and he agreed to take additional angles to show the breaks clearly. The second round the breaks were very low, L4-5 I think, just below the screws, so very hard to see.

    The two broken rod surgeries were somewhat easier than the first, but still 6-8 hr surgeries.

    I recommend you rest as much as possible, try ice, and go see Dr Hey again. Best of luck with everything.
    Gayle, age 49
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation
    Feb 2012 lumbar revision for broken rods @ L2-3-4
    Sept 2015 major lumbar A/P revision for broken rods @ L5-S1


    mom of Leah, 15 y/o, Diagnosed '08 with 26* T JIS (age 6)
    5/10 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    5/16 6 yrs post-op, 24*T/ 22* L, mild increase in curves, watching

    also mom of Torrey, 12 y/o son, 16* T, stable

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    east coast
    Posts
    359
    If I were you, I'd ask Dr. Lenke about getting a CT scan.

    If you do end up getting one done and you get one done locally to you vs. at NYP-Columbia check that the facility knows correct scanning method to run to 'tone down' the metal. Metal can cause artifacts that obscures the view of the image around the hardware and a bad scan can make it impossible for the radiologist to get a meaningful read.
    30 something y.o.

    2003 - T45, L???
    2005 - T50, L31
    bunch of measurements between...

    2011 - T60, L32
    2013 - T68, L?

    Posterior Fusion Sept 2014 -- T3 - L3
    Post - op curve ~35



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    88
    My insurance wouldn't cover an MRI so I payed out of pocket for one, over $300. =\ Dr Hey looked at the xrays and MRI and didn't see anything. The recommended treatment was just ice and pain meds. sigh.

    I knew for a fact that something was fractured based on the pain and I could barely move. After my appointment at Dr Hey's office, it took me two hours just to be able to leave the parking deck, the pain was too bad for driving. The first week or two, I just sat all the time. I couldn't wear the brace for about 10 days because the pain at the point of fracture was excruciating when the brace pressed on it. Week three I was able to wear the brace. In order to move with more ease, I pulled the brace really tight. That seemed to keep things from shifting. Week six I noted much improvement! Yay and Finally! Now I'm on week seven and instead of a serious burning, needle-stabbing, pain, I just have a constant ache in the area, which seems to indicate that healing is taking place.

    After the incident, for three days there was loud clicking all the way up my spine, so loud that my husband heard it. 0_0 I was afraid that I broke the fusion or something. The clicking stopped after a couple days.

    I'm doing much better and my back is mending. It was super frustrating not having an exact diagnosis for what caused the pain, which was the size of a quarter in a very specific place on my pelvis. So I just guessed that there was a little fracture at the top of one of the bolts in my pelvis.

    If this ever happens again, I will have my husband build me a better brace and use a crutch so I don't put any weight on that leg for a couple weeks. That would have helped it heal faster I think.
    1973 Age 15 diagnosed with scoliosis but told too old for surgery.
    2001 age 43 told too old for surgery, did physical therapy & traction.
    2001 to 2008 Intermittent use of home traction machine and TENS unit.
    2009 traction no longer effective - physical therapy.
    2011 More physical therapy. 2012 Collapsing scoliosis - MRI before surgery
    At age 53, surgery on October 2nd, 2012 with Dr Hey
    Fusion with titanium rods and bolts from T1 to pelvis.
    Post op x-ray

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,531
    Julia, I remember you now, especially after looking at your OMG pre surgical MRI on your blog......Its been awhile!

    You are a noisy one.....snap, crackle, pop. We are just a noisy bunch.

    If Dr Hey didn't see anything, what did he say? I had a soft tissue injury 22 months post at L4 that burned like the dickens. Again, size of a quarter, and it eventually healed itself.

    I have permission to lift 100# and put the Superman cape on and fly around....Full release to go nuts. But with some of the members here BENDING OVER, and breaking stuff, I am not bending over anymore. In fact, I actually dry my ankles and feet with a hair dryer after showering, and use my long shoe horn. My long shoe horn just jumped out at me and hit me in the head. Its amazing how these things happen.

    We do have amazing spines.....I think we need to remind ourselves, and yes we can do what we need to do, but its better to take things easy.....

    I hope you heal soon.

    Do keep in touch....

    BTW, I see your blog is loaded with quilting. You would love the Shelburne museum up by Burlington, Vermont....Thousands and thousands of quilts going back hundreds of years on display.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelburne_Museum

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    88

    Injury update

    Checking back with an update.

    Soooo.... My insurance said "wait and see" and Dr Hey's office also said "Wait and see. These things usually work themselves out after a couple months. And we couldn't find anything on the scans." I had to pay full price for the MRI (so expensive!!!) and never heard from Dr Hey after he saw the scan. Someone in his office looked at the scans and called to tell me nothing was found and to just wait. I cried at that "diagnosis". So frustrating.

    I think I was right and they were also right. The pain and immobility was exactly like a small fracture in my pelvis. I couldn't get in and out of a vehicle without excruciating pain. Right after it happened, I could move but then things quickly turned bad within a couple weeks. The pain kept me quite immobile. Fortunately, I was able to stay home and literally held very rigid for two months.

    My guess was that if there was any kind of fracture, the stability of my spine would be compromised. That proved to be true when several days after the "break", any time I laid down there were numerous, very sharp and painful, clickings and crackings in my spine all the way to my neck. That was new. I was super discouraged since I thought I was so close to lightly jogging again. I had waited all this time after surgery to feel ready to jog. After I hurt my back, knowing that any movement would lengthen healing, I held as rigid as possible.

    Wearing the brace wasn't helpful at first. I couldn't tie it tight without feeling severe pain in my right pelvic area where the bolt was. That made sense. Still, I decided that I would be the one who determined how my bone healed so around the fourth week, I pulled the brace in tight anyway and toughed out the severe pain. I wanted my spine to be able to handle a brace so I figured the healing would have to conform to the configuration of a brace. Lots of advil and tylenol!!!

    I had severe pain each time I moved, especially when I sat down and got up again. I had a hard time sitting on a toilet and had to somewhat not quite sit. The bonus to the halfway-lowering over a toilet was I got thighs of steel now. I had severe pain for about two months and used the grabbers again. Most of the first two months, I just sat on a high pillow, very still or just stood, and let the bones knit together again. I remember weeping a lot from the pain.

    Things changed halfway through the third month. Yay!!! And now, my back no longer makes any clickings/crackings at all when I lay down or move. I can easily sit and stand. I can get in and out of any car. Healing just takes time. It was super frustrating not having any proof that something was fractured/torn etc. But 100 years ago, they survived things without good healthcare so I just did what I had to do on my own. I paid careful attention to every tiny sound and click and pain and worked with my own guesses. It paid off.

    I still get bad pain in a new place on the right side of my pelvis when the weather turns foul, but that's bearable and doesn't keep me from moving. I can now pick up things from the floor again and I walk very fast with no trouble. I'm almost back to the point of post-op recovery as I was before the "incident" as I call it. I'm hoping my spine and pelvis are even stronger for it.

    If you hurt your back after surgery, give yourself at least three months of grace. I'm in my fourth month of post-incident recovery and almost five years post-op. Hang in there, it does get better!

    Julia
    1973 Age 15 diagnosed with scoliosis but told too old for surgery.
    2001 age 43 told too old for surgery, did physical therapy & traction.
    2001 to 2008 Intermittent use of home traction machine and TENS unit.
    2009 traction no longer effective - physical therapy.
    2011 More physical therapy. 2012 Collapsing scoliosis - MRI before surgery
    At age 53, surgery on October 2nd, 2012 with Dr Hey
    Fusion with titanium rods and bolts from T1 to pelvis.
    Post op x-ray

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,531
    Julia

    I am glad that you healed. Sometimes we just need to lay low and cant be Superman or Superwoman everyday. Part time Superman is fine with me besides its getting harder to find phone booths.

    Its amazing what kinds of noises we make....the noises from my un-fused neck can sound like a 1/2"wooden stick snapping. If I had hardware in there, I would swear that I broke something.

    Wait and see seems to be part of scoliosis....I have done loads of wait and see through the years. Waiting for surgery, waiting for recovery.....Waiting for Kristy Brinkley to pull up next to me in her red Ferrari on the highway. LOL (remember Chevy Chase in Vacation?)

    I wonder what will happen next.....but I don't let it bother me anymore. Can we handle the pain with a joke and a smile?

    I like to think so.....

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

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