Anyone on here gone through a thoracic fusion?



  • Hi Sharon,

    I'm so sorry to hear your story.  As I was reading of your continuing symptoms after your lumbar surgery, I was thinking that they needed to check your neck and thoracic levels!  Your symptoms did sound like cord compression and myelopathy to me.

    How long ago was your surgery on your thoracic spine? 

    I was told that thoracic spine surgery is a very long and difficult recovery.  I am really hoping that you will get further improvement with time and that your walking without assistance will return.  Thank goodness you did get yourself to ER and that they scanned your thoracic spine when they did!

    I have had a lumbar fusion, followed two years later by two levels of my neck being fused.  I am having pain and problems again.  Scans have shown that I have problems again in my lumbar and cervical spine at adjoining levels to the fused levels.  I also have thoracic problems.  We are going to try spinal injections and see how much they will help me.

    I have definately found talking to other spine warriors on forums like this helps me.  It is good to speak to people who understand what this is like but also it often makes me realise that there are others who are worse off than me.  I have a friend who had cervical surgery and woke up paralysed.  She has got some movement back but will always need to use a wheelchair now.

  • jbowerjbower wisconsin Posts: 149

    Hi Sharon,

    It really depends on what happened to the nerves and which ones or areas.  I had a pinched sciatic nerve in my right low back, hip and right leg.  After the first low back surgery I was fine, just minor nerve pain then till it happened again two years apart.

    First surgery was in 2013 herniated disc L5-S1.  Then in 2015, same area but my sciatic nerve was shot.  Same year I had the spinal cord stimulator implant.  That's  helped out a lot but then the stinking paddle area has never been same.

    Now when you said they did an MRI of your thoracic spine right away and found it was tight they did the laminectomy.  What was the deal with the tightness that made them want to do surgery?

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  • Just had minimally invasive surgery on T12-L1 on 11-23-18 have also had 5 other lumbar surgeries plus 1 cervical surgery, doctor told me before surgery that the higher you go in that area the more nerves you have to deal with, he was right had problems I didn't have before surgery, some are starting to calm down now, doctor was talking about fusion from T10-L2 connecting to my other fusion but as he said fusions cause their own set of problems, we decided to try laminectomy for time being, I am still pretty fresh out of surgery right now but I can see improvement since surgery, seems like a lot of doctors prefer to leave the thoracic region alone if at all possible but there are some very good ones out there if you look. Hope this helps a little bit and you feel better soon

  • I think that you're right challenger, surgeons aren't keen to do thoracic surgery.  Many won't even try and others often will only operate if there are serious problems.  I was told if I started falling or had bowel or bladder problems then I would need to have it.  A different surgeon who described thoracic surgery to me, said it has a very long and painful recovery and I would be in worse pain than I am at the moment.  I hope to never need it!

    My problems in the thoracic spine are at T1/2, T7/8, T8/9, T9/10 and T12/L1.

    I'm really pleased that you can see improvement from your surgery and wish you a great result from it.

  • Thanks and I hope you never need that surgery, I was scared to death about that many fusions I am so glad that I have a very good doctor that is willing to take the time to actually talk to me and between the two of us figure it out, he does not try to sugar coat anything & tells it to you straight, so far I am pleased with my surgery & just hope it continues to improve. Hope you feel better.

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  • I had surgery done a month ago on T7-8. I felt immediate change both mentally and physically in recovery.
    . My left side of my body that had constant twitching, pain, muscle cramps and electrical tingling etc before surgery is now gone. I have regained strenth of my left leg so I am much more mobile!
    The first three weeks post op weren’t as bad as I thought. It surprised me how limiting it was with my armbecause of all the muscles that were cut.
    This last week has been rough though. My nerves are re learning in my rib area. When I lay down or move they are over sensitive and start firing and spasming. It’s like being winded for hours because it is so hard to catch my breath. Hoping this is just a stage.
    Overall I feel blessed to have some more mobility back!
  • jbowerjbower wisconsin Posts: 149

    Hello nutcase007,

    My thread sort of got taken over by others. Haha My area of pain is T7-T10.  The reason why I started the thread was to see what happened to cause others to have to get thoracic fusions.  I have arthritis, ddd, bone spurs and herniated disc at t7.  All in that t7 through t10 area.

    My pain management plan is a joke.  After trying injections, microablation, radiofrequency, spinal cord stimulator and finally a pain pump none of those have helped.  The trial for the pump went well as I'd numbed my thoracic spine but the implant isn't doing the same thing.  I had to have the surgery twice because the first time they screwed up and put the catheter in my lower back.  So they had to go back in and move it to my thoracic.

    That was in May of this year.  Then I started seeing a chiropractor which helps sort term along with pt doing dry needling which that has helped.  Short term though.

    So now I have this expensive pump in me that I'm trying to figure out if I should get it removed or not.  My programmer to give myself an extra dose helps as it numbs the area but I still think it should be higher up.  They didn't place it where I wanted it at t6 because of all the hardware from my spinal cord stimulator for my damaged sciatic nerve.  So he put it at t8 which I think he should have just put it above all of that.  I don't know what to do.  I have to get this filled every month and it's over 400 each time.  

    On top of that I am still on oral pain meds which the reason for the pump was to get off oral meds. My pain doctor is saying its osteoarthritis that's causing my debilitating pain.  From what I've read though osteoarthritis wouldn't cause that high of a pain level. So that's where I am at now.  Still in pain and drowning in medical debt.

  • jackiek29jjackiek29 Columbus,OHPosts: 18

    I had a laminectomy, discectomy, and fusion t-6 to t-8 in Oct 2016.  I had a herniated disc that was pressing on my spinal cord causing numbness from the ribcage down to my toes.  I felt like I was wearing a corset that was constantly being tied tighter. Before my MRI, I was walking with a cane and could not lift my feet up when I walked upstairs without pulling my pants leg to raise my legs. Nor could I raise my feet up laying in bed.  I had immediate relief after surgery.  Recovery was about 6 weeks.  PT was a huge help!  I went through 2 rounds of PT and continue to get deep tissue massages every 3 weeks.    Now , I am dealing with a loose pedicle screw at t-8 and some muscle tightness next to my surgery site.  I had 2 trigger point injections today which I hope will relieve some of the muscle tightness.

  • jbower- I sincerely hope that your doctors can finally figure something out to get you some relief, as I have found out thoracic surgery is not a joke so I hope it doesn't come to that. Good luck

  • I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to find this forum.  My name is Beth, I'm a 51 yr old with a previous, successful C5-C6 ACDF in 2013 and a not so successful microdiscectomy at L3-L4 in 2014.  I had an awful strep A infection immediately (2 days) after the L3-L4 surgery and had 2 revisions,  a 5 day hospital stay and a 30 day round of IV antibiotics.  I have permanent nerve damage at that level now.  

    I have been seeing a pain mgmt dr since 2015 and have been through several ESIs and ablations. I finally had a Medtronic SCS installed 2016, after which I developed another infection at the battery placement.  It wasn't as bad as the 1st one, but bad enough for more antibiotics. The SCS worked wonderfully for a while, but then starting causing more pain than I had to begin with.  I dont even use it anymore.

    I started to experience some major muscle spasms, burning and visibly noticable  knots in my upper back this summer.  The pain mgmt dr thought at first that it was simply a lipoma because the knot was so big.   I feel ok in the mornings, but by mid-day,  it hurts to even hold my head up.  The burning between my shoulders is unbearable .  

    The pain finally got so bad that he sent me for a CT myleogram of the entire spine 2 weeks ago (I have the kind of SCS you cant have a MRI).  It showed a central disc protrusion toward the left at T7-T8 causing "moderately severe central spinal stenosis w/ moderate chronic cord deformity".  This is the level that the SCS leads were placed.  I've been experiencing pain and numbness in my legs, but up until now, I assumed it was from my lumbar nerve damage.  

    Anyways, now I am completely freaked out.  Not many doctors want to touch me because of my propensity for infection and, needles to say,  I am worried about it as well.  My questions are:  just how bad is this?  Is surgery done for this?  Are there alternatives?  And how in the heck can you find a good dr who specializes in the thoracic spine?  I was told recently that my infection was more than likely due to an unclean O.R., so don't want to go back to my surgeon who did the lumbar and SCS for obvious reasons.  I live in Austin, TX and so far I cant find anyone.  I want someone who does this type of thing all of the time.  It seems everyone around here only do cervicals and lumbers.  Also, to top all of this off, I also have new arm pai. and numbness.  The CT showed protrusions at C3-C4 and C4-C5 with moderate cord deformities there, too.  I just feel like I am falling apart!  If anyone has ANY advice, I would welcome & appreciate it!

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