Hardware Removal Surgery

Hi all!
I'm not sure if this would be helpful to some (and I would love to hear from others further along or already recovered from this surgery!!), but about a week and a half ago I underwent surgery to remove hardware that I think has been causing me nerve pain for the past three years.

My original spinal fusion was for scoliosis ( T10-L4) and I was in great shape before the surgery and was confident going in. But three years later I still had significant nerve pain on the lower right side of my back and nothing I tried helped (included a ton of PT, injections, etc). PT was great, but I always reached a plateau where it felt like I couldn't do more without aggravating the nerve. It was localized and always felt like it was catching on something. 

So I also think a lot of secondary issues resulted from the nerve problem, too, like snapping hip and illiopsoas problems. Anyways long story, thanks for sticking with me.

My point was to document my recovery from my latest surgery. My surgeon went in and took out two screws, a hook and a crossbar and he also scraped the spine to promote growth in an area that looked a bit thin. This surgery has been much easier than the original, but it is still very invasive, so I'm on strong meds that I'm gradually weaning off of. I have a lot of (the same) pain in the nerve tissue area, but it also is where the hardwars was removed so I imagine tissues were irritated in the process. 

So that's it for now! Again, if anyone else wants to jump in with their story (or questions I can do my best to answer) I"d love to hear from them!


  • Hi I just had hardware removal a week ago today! I had a L5/S1 fusion about 8 years ago then about 3 moniths ago started having awlful pain. It started with spasms then went to the radiating pain down my leg and calf. It was awlful!!!!!  I ended up having a broken screw but when ever he went in it turns out the plate was laying on the nerve.  Hoping the numbness goes away ;) hope you have a great recovery! 
  • I have a question about the hardware.  My NS said that he would put screws in to hold the discs to help them fuse properly. (I am supposed to have a TLIF minimally invasive surgery, if I chose that path.)  But do they leave those screws in forever?  Or is it common practice to have them removed at some point?
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  • Hi everyone-thanks for writing!

    Stacie-broken screws seem to wreak havoc sometimes. I'm so glad you got it out and I hope you are on your way to recovery very soon as well!

    BBJ - as far as I know screws can stay in forever. The only reason to remove them would be if they broke or if they were a suspected pain culprit. So many don't need another surgery after their first fusion.

    Kimmy-I'm so sorry your pain is back. For me initially (after my fusion) it was a pretty localized spot near my spine that was very sensitive to the touch. The feeling was a burning sensation. Over time I also got a lot of nerve pain in my butt and hip. Not sure yet if it was related to the same area in my back or if it was a secondary issue. I have it right now, but again, all the hardware that was removed was from the area so it's sensitive.

    My hope is that after recovering I will be able to get back to stretching, exercise, etc, only this time around the original nervy pain will have been alleviated and it will allow me to work on the other secondary problems. I know that's a long answer, but it's probably the shortened version. :) I don't really know yet, but so far I'm glad I had it done because I was at the point where I tried everything else. Have you found a good PT person?
  • I literally had the pain in the butt and leg-like fire! Since surgery my pain has been gone. Just hoping feeling comes back in leg and foot!
  • Hi Stacie - I bet that numbness will gradually get better. Nerves can sometimes take so long to start firing again. The great part is that you are no longer having the pain!

    And Kimmy, I never did have a hardware block. I imagine they could be helpful to give more info, but I do know that sometimes the numbing agent kind of spreads around so you can't be totally sure what the area is. Although if it didn't work it all I guess that would be a good indicator it was something other than the hardware. My surgeon and I went on the fact that so many other things didn't work (when I did get injections below the fusion in the SI joint and facet joints, I could still feel the nerve pain above those areas and decided the nerve pain was probably referring down.) And because I'm really thin and my pedicles were so thin, the screws were hard to insert in the original surgery. The final deciding factor for me was seeing the screws on the CT scan--some were breaching the pedicle (aka going into the nervy space). If you got a lot of relief from the PENS (or TENS unit?) I would say maybe keep trying to see if there are other conservative methods that might help you! Surgery always comes with risks. but luckily hardware removal surgery is one of the easier ones. :)
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