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Hives post-spinal fusion surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,002
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello. I had my L4-L5-S1 fused on 5/5/09. Everything seemed to be going fine at first. On Monday 5/11/09 my doctor switched me from Norco pain killers to Tylenol 4 because the Norco was making me feel sick. Then on Wednesday 5/13/09 I broke out in hives. The doctor switched me back to Lortab assuming it was a reaction to the Tylenol 4. He told me to take Benedryl until they cleared up.

By Saturday 5/16/09 the hives were so bad that I went to the local ER. They were unable to give me the steroid shot because of the fusion surgery but prescribed Benedryl and Zantac to combat the hives. I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon on Monday 5/18/09 and he quickly dismissed the possibility that I was allergic to the titanium because he said the reaction would be "different". He prescribed Atarax along with Zantac for the hives and switched me to Ultram for the pain. He said to call him today, 5/20/09, if they had not cleared up.

As of this morning I still have the hives so I called my doctor and he prescribed the methylprednisone steroid pack. I started this immediately after my pharmacist had it ready. I'm now wondering if it could be the titanium and my doctor is wrong. I had no allergies prior to the surgery but I just can't seem to kick these hives now.

Oddly, the area of my incision seems to be one of the few areas where I am not developing hives. The fusion actually seems to be progressing well. I am getting hives on my arms, hands, legs, feet, neck, and chest. They come and go with most only lasting about 5 minutes before they disappear and reappear elsewhere on my body.

What would the symptoms be if I were allergic to the titanium in my body? All I really want to know is that it probably isn't the titanium because the thought of another surgery to remove the titanium scares me.

Thanks for any info.


  • I got have pre-op when i started taking meds. Doctors told me it was not from the meds. I still don't know what they were from. Post-op they got worse. I didn't take anything for the hives. My mom told me to put athlets foot cream on my hives (anti-fungus cream) and than shower using head and shoulders shampoo. My hives started to clear up with in a few days. I know it sounds weird but it is worth a shot. It worked for me.
  • Thanks for the response. I'll try the shampoo's you mentioned. I've also been using hydrocortisone cream and Lanacane spray along with the medications to control the itching.

    I guess my biggest worry is that I'm allergic to the titanium and I absolutely dread having to go back for another surgery to have it removed. Of course, worrying only makes matters worse when it comes to hives. That's why I came here hoping someone could tell me what an actual allergic reaction to titanium from a spinal fusion surgery is like.

    My incision looks good and the hives move randomly over my body staying for a maximum of 5-15 minutes in any one spot before moving again. They seem to be staying away from the incision area, however. Thanks in advance for any advice.
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  • You should see about getting your liver enzymes tested because certain medicines like tyelenol can raise the GGT and when that gets too high EVERYTHING causes you to itch and breakout. So it may not be the titanium but just the amounts and types of painkillers you have used already. Ultracet after awhile gave me hives and blisters.
  • Did they use BMP or cadaver bone for your fusion? I wonder if you could be reacting to that.
  • I too started having hives approx 6-8 weeks post op. they were real bad in the beginning, every day. Now I get them a couple times a week but Clariton takes care of them quickly. I have Had bloodwork done but they cant seem to find the cause.
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  • I too started having hives at 2 weeks post-op. My doc took me off all pain meds and put me on tagement,predazone,benadyl..It's been 36 day now,I haven't taked the predazonefor 7 days.I am still taking the tagament , and benadryl .I still have hives, they come and go as in the first post.. No answers yet for me either
  • Had L-5 S-1 fused 11-2-09. Three weeks later I have had hives all over the place, I have stopped pain meds, slathered on hydrocortisone and been taking benadryl, to very little relief. Yesterday I tried my acyclovir (Valtrex) and the hives all but dissapeared, this stuff has given me the first nights sleep since the operation. I hope this helps some of you folks. Trading pain for nonstop itching is no trade at all.

  • I think hives like that would drive me right over the edge. I have no idea what is causing them for you folks, and Jello - I don't know precisely what the reaction of an allergy to titanium would be, but I can tell you that I am allergic to many different types of metals -- actually, it's nickel sensitivity in my case, as nickel is used to make lots of different metals. For me, it causes an itchy bubbly rash that looks like poison ivy. The skin gets oozy and gross. So, if I wear costume jewelry, I get a horrible oozy rash. I also had a pair of supposedly titanium glasses once (the frames) and they caused my face to break out in that rash at the temples, where the sides of the glasses touched my face.

    I hope those of you with older posts here can see this and come back and tell the folks with recent itches what helped you. Itching, burns, and back pain have to be some of the worst pains there are!


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Weird, I thought I posted to this topic before? I too get hives. I had another fusion in August, and about hummm... 3 weeks post op, gawd I got hives so bad, I looked like I was diseased!!! Okay, fast forward.... I am now just passing 3 months post op. Most of the hives have given me a break, but I come out of the shower and look nasty! Raw, rashy, hives!!! 5-15 minutes.. all gone?!?!?! It is weird. Claritin takes most of it out, but lordy, when the itching starts, look out!

    It isn't as bad now, but I will get a flare, itch like a person with poison ivy, and blam...good for a day or so. It is better.....

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I broke out in hives the day after my fusion surgery. I think mine was from the morphine they were giving me via the pump, though I can't be sure. I had to get Benadryl in my IV to tame them, but they didn't go away for quite a few days.
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