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Recovering From Hardware Removal

Hi all! I'm new to this site, nice to meet everyone! Just some background info on me: just before my 17th birthday I was diagnosed with Kyphosis. I was told a couple months physical therapy would straighten me right out as (being female) this had developed late and I was/am almost skeletally mature. Well, it got a lot worse over the next four months. Ended up with about a 80-85 degree curvature, caused by T10-T12 being trapezoidal in shape. I was told kyphosis typically develops before puberty, but due to an autoimmune disease, I was on extremely high doses of steroids for several years during my early-mid teens, which most likely caused the deterioration of the vertebrae, causing the trapezoidal shaping. I had a spinal fusion of T2-L2 on June 3rd, 2015, and besides some issues with the incision healing, the surgery went as planned as was seemingly successful. After six months of no bending, twisting, or lifting, I eased back into my normal workout routine, and was able to go on and have a fantastic senior track season this past spring. I worked one manual labor job from the time I was cleared in Dec 2015, and added a second manual labor job starting this past May and worked about 55-60 hrs a week until I left for college mid August. I was sore most days, as expected, but nothing intolerable. I had X-rays done right before I left for school, and everything looked good.
I moved 11 hours away from home to go to school and I was working out with the track team for about 2 weeks when I woke up one morning with horrible lower back pain on the left side. Shooting pain whenever I moved. Got so bad two days later I ended up in the ER and the doctor didn't take X-rays because he didn't "feel anything wrong" so he just gave me pain pills and muscle relaxers. Two days later I went to the on campus doctor because I was getting worse, and he ordered X-rays. This was first thing Thursday morning. I checked with the office that afternoon and several times Friday, and I was told the radiology reports were in, but the dr hadn't signed off on them yet, so they couldn't give me the reports. Unfortunately, this was labor day weekend, so I didn't hear from the dr until Tuesday, when he called me and told me that I was "Good to go" and I had "Nothing to worry about." I should get back to my normal routine as pain allowed. Well, I've never let pain get in my way, so that afternoon I was back working out full throttle with the track team and I was squatting with 240 pounds on my back. Luckily, I had copies of the X-rays and reports over nighted to my surgeon at home, just to keep a record. The next day, Wednesday, he calls me from his home on his day off to tell me that the top two screws on the left side had pulled almost all the way out and the rod had slid down two vertebral levels. Needless to say, I was in shock. After being told by multiple physicians up here that I was fine, I was not expecting this, and I was worried I had caused more damage by the intense workout I had the night before. The plan was to wait until Thanksgiving week to have surgery so I wouldn't have to miss school, but within the next week the pain became so much worse that we moved it up to Oct 4th. The plan was to make two small incisions, one at each the top and bottom of the spine and slide the rod back into place and tighten the top two screws. About a week before surgery, the right side started to feel just as bad as the left. Got X-rays done again, and was told it was just the muscles compensating.
Surgery day came, and all hell broke loose. Doctor opened up the top and the bottom of the left side, saw that everything in sight was incredibly loose, and proceeded to open up the whole left side and saw that every single screw on the left was in various stages of looseness and displacement. After removing everything from that side, he opened up the right and to his amazement most of the screws were also loose, and the rod was about an inch lower than it was originally. So he took everything on that side out, too. He could see that T10-T12 had fused, so he didn't think any hardware was necessary anymore.
So a two hour surgery turned into 5, but 3 hours after waking up I was walking around and demanded they remove my catheter since I was more than capable of walking to the restroom. I was discharged 28 hours after the start of surgery, about 2 days ahead of schedule. I was doing great, and then I got back up to school after a week and a half and things got bad. Typically standing at 5'10", I am now about 3-4 inches shorter than that because I am so hunched. My lumbar region has become incredibly exaggerated, making me look like I gained 40 pounds or am pregnant. The pain is awful. My entire thoracic and lumbar region aches, and my ribcage and abs feel bruised. I can't lay down flat on my back or stand up straight.
I have no idea if this is normal after hardware removal. I did tons of research before the first surgery to prepare myself and know what to expect, but I can hardly find anything on hardware removal. Anyone have any experience similar to this? Any advice or suggestions would by helpful. I have been going to some very light PT twice a week, but I can hardly do anything. Hoping someone on this forum has some advice for me!

Thanks All!



  • Monica
    First of all I am Humbled by your bravery in the pain!
    Many here have had hardware revisions
    While answers are coming, please click the Welcome Message below for more information on Spine-Health and resources inside.

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    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • NotMeNNotMe Denmark, EuropePosts: 73
    Hi Monica.
    What an awful story. I dont believeca hunch back is normal after having the hardware removed. If you have fused as the surgeon thinks, then your back should look like before hardware removal. I don't know whether you can harm anything by just continuing. But I am worried that it could be. Have you shown it to your surgeon? And have you had any imaging done afterwards?
    We probably can't help you as your surgeon, but I'll love to give you support, so please keep us informed.
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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,268
    hello monnie!

    welcome to spine-health
    please click on link for helpful information!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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