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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

In June of 2005, I had a three-level spinal fusion at L4/L5/S1. A week after leaving the hospital, I was re-admitted through the emergency room for a massive strep infection at the caudal (bottom) end of the surgical incision. I almost died, and spent an additional two weeks in the hospital.

After twelve weeks of IV antibiotic therapy and home health wound care, my recovery proceeded fairly normally. Follow up x-rays showed the grafts knitting nicely and everything normal.

In October, I had progressed to the point where I only needed pain medication (tramadol/Ultram) every other day or so. (This was considerably down from my post-surgical regime of morphine, percocet, and oxycontin.) Unfortunately, my spouse left me at home alone for a week, and I fell while walking my dogs. I lay in the kitchen floor for a couple of hours (don't ask - I simply refuse to used my county's 911 service), until my neighbor got home and helped me up.

An x-ray showed no damage to the six pedicle screws and two rods. And I experienced no increased pain at the time.

However, in late December, my right leg started feeling numb and I started having sharp, burning pain in my right buttock, and in my lumbar region. In January, an x-ray showed a gap in the thread of one of the lower pedicle screws. A further MRI showed that not one, but TWO of the pedicle screws were sheared completely in two, and the left rod was severely bent.

It's been downhill since then. I'm back on the meds (percocet, robaxin, and quinine sulfate), having severe cramps all down my right leg and back, and must now walk with a cane. I stumble a lot, and the pain is almost constant. My pain management specialist (same practice as my spinal surgeon) says there's nothing more she can do, after having tried physical therapy and an injection into the S-I joint. She says she doesn't see at this point how I can avoid having revision surgery.

I've asked my surgeon what this would entail, and he said they would just go back in and place two additional screws below the broken ones, and replace the rods. That way the broken ones are bypassed, and no longer bearing any weight.

I'm supposed to learn the next step (which will probably be the surgery) at my appointment with the surgeon in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I am only 42, walk with a cane like an 80-year-old, and must go shopping in a wheel chair. I can't work, can't sit or stand for any appreciable amount of time, and my life is completely ruined. The pain has alienated me from my husband, and I'm probably looking at a divorce in the next year or so.

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