View Full Version : Effects of spine surgery on aging for the 40+ group

05-15-2010, 09:38 AM
I've been wondering about something for quite awhile and decided to post this question to find what others have noticed (if anything) about the effects their spinal surgery has had upon their overall health and physical aging.

#1) Before my surgery I did not need glasses for reading. My optometrist refers to it as 'bonus time' for every year past the age of 40 that you don't need reading glasses. I was nearly 48 and still didn't need glasses for reading or other handwork. A day or two after I came home from the hospital I went to read something and the text was blurry - until I moved the card away. This went on for a week or two until I realized it wasn't just me being tired or the meds....it was my eyesight. So, I now need reading glasses.

#2) At 4 weeks my hair began falling out.......at first I didn't catch on - then I noticed I could run my fingers through my hair or brush it there was a lot on the brush ... I showed my husband who didn't see it as a big deal. But then, I collected it for an entire day and showed him how much I was talking about. Then he saw why I was alarmed. Fortunately, I have a lot of hair. Then, I noticed a little bald patch. Just no hair at all. That was weird. About dime sized. I kept watching it and it didn't get bigger (whew!) and I could cover it up mostly so another whew! Then, after while I realized hair was growing there, I could feel it, but it's white. And the majority of the other hair that was falling out has been growing back..it's also white (or gray, whatever). I'm ambivalent about coloring...at this point it seems like a badge of courage but I may change my mind when I'm ready for the maintenance of hair coloring. :cool:

#3) At the end of 4.5 monthsnI was off pain meds and went through a variety of what I believed to be withdrawal symptoms from that. Pain meds are/can be very constipating and I did suffer with that and eventually found the right combination of Miralax and stuff that worked for me - it was all good. Then the diarrhea started. I thought it was a withdrawal symptom - makes sense right? I have always had a 'sensitive' stomach and was diagnosed as having IBS-D w/ lactose intolerance years ago (those symptoms began when I was 14 but wasn't diagnosed until my late 20's) So I didn't 'have issues' until I got off the pain meds and then the diarrhea was so bad that many days I could not leave the house - not just the diarrhea but the intestinal cramping. The old IBS symptoms but soooo much worse. So finally hubby convinced me to go see my gastro doc who ordered blood work and an adult food allergy panel and a celiac panel. So, it turns out I have a gluten intolerance and probably have been suffering for all these years due to gluten. I elected not to do the endoscopy for visual verification because the solution is the same whether I have celiac sprue or not....go gluten free. So I have been gluten free since November 16th. I still have a bad day here or there but it's amazing what a difference it has made in my life. I was reading about food allergies and it apprears they can happen to people very suddenly 'out of the blue' after a traumatic event, one of the things listed was major surgery. Even though I had been suffering for years from intestinal problems it was nothing like this late summer/fall. My Dr. said her thought was that the surgery exacerbated my existing condition.

I know that was a rambling mess, but I would be interested in knowing if anyone else in the 40+ age group has noticed what they consider to be 'coincidental' signs of aging after surgery??

05-15-2010, 12:24 PM
Hi Julie -- i'm still pre-op so can't answer any of your questions, but did look at your pictures. Awesome correction!

(At 63, I do hope it doesn't make me age a whole lot faster!):eek:

05-15-2010, 04:11 PM
I'll be 60 when I have surgery, and like Glenda, I sure hope it doesn't age me any faster! Julie, I have thin hair now! Glenda, good luck with your surgery in a couple of days. Be sure to post and let us know how you're doing.

05-15-2010, 04:35 PM
DD had some of the issues you mentioned and I think it may be from the meds/surgery combo. She is in her teens and these things were noticed but not to a great degree. Hair loss and gastro, but neither lasted long for her. She was only on pain meds for 4 weeks.

05-15-2010, 05:32 PM

1. Eyes were not great before and I should have them rechecked since now my prescription doesn't seem strong enough.
2. Oh, yeah--the hair loss was pretty traumatic to me. I'd been getting by with just highlighting my basically blonde hair for several years but then all the hair that came out came back in white so now I have to do low lights too. I had to wait for it to grow in enough for the gal to grab onto to put in the foils! It does come back though--thank goodness. Janet

05-15-2010, 06:11 PM
I needed new glasses within weeks of coming home from hospital. At 14 months post-op, I need them strengthened again. I only wear glasses for computer/reading. But my long distance vision has dramatically deteriorated, so it looks like permanent bifocals coming up for me.

Yes, I had hair loss as well. I don't think it made my hair go greyer, I still have very little grey, but I remember seeing the "mat" in my hairbrush and realising that, particularly around my face, my hair had thinned dramatically. Still is.

So far, no food allergies that I know of.

05-15-2010, 07:56 PM
Thank you gals for replying! I knew I couldn't be the only one who was experiencing these things! It's nice to know I'm in such good company.

I know these things happen naturally as we age, I just wasn't prepared for it to happen so quickly...I do think it's tapered off for awhile though, which is good news!

I like that commercial for Oil of Olay where the woman says something like "Me, age gracefully? I intend to fight it every step of the way!" For awhile I was too tired to fight this aging stuff.... but, I think I feel more like fighting now! :p

05-15-2010, 09:01 PM
"but, I think I feel more like fighting now!" That's great Julie, I think that's a very healthy sign.

05-16-2010, 07:06 PM
I'm 44 years old and had my surgery six and a half weeks ago, and my eyes are still the same thank goodness, I don't use reading glasses and so far don't need any still. I also am not losing hair, I have long hair, and haven't noticed my hair graying anymore than it already was slightly before.

05-16-2010, 08:21 PM
Some interesting ideas there. I'm noticing some hair loss right now but have been told that's normal at 3-4 month stage. My hairdresser says the anesthesia can make it dry and just sort of lifeless but eventually it should come back to normal. Haven't noticed anything else really significant so far except the poor old knees are taking a beating from all the walking and occasionally bending down on 1 knee to reach something. Am hoping I will get some PT if I pass my "fusion" app't. I still feel like an 80 year old sometimes getting up and down, in and out of car, etc.!

05-17-2010, 07:30 AM
The only significant thing I've experienced is short-term memory problems, and I sometimes wonder if it's the result of being under anesthesia for a zillion hours (9-hour surgery, then sedated another 8-9 hours). If I don't write stuff down, it's out of my head completely -- even important things. Very disconcerting.

05-17-2010, 09:39 AM
I donít think I have had any effects on my physical health or aging due to my surgeries....

I donít have proof linking my vision issues to my surgeries, and my knees as a 48 year skier, I think I just wore them out. Someday, I will go to the Doctor and have them looked at. For now, I need a break, and so does my insurance company. LOL

I wouldnít want them to have heart attacks due to me. That would be a new statistic!

05-17-2010, 10:27 AM
I wonder if the bad eyesight is due to laying prone for all those hours and the blood pooling in your eyes. My DR said blindness can occur from the surgery due to that and he puts something on your head to help prevent that. Hopefully all will go well. I have good eyesight and hope to keep it that way.

05-17-2010, 08:32 PM
Hello there: Well, again, all you guys are making me feel a little better. I have noticed since being postop that my hair is thinning - kinda dramatically immediately postop, enough that I can tell around my face. Fortunately I hvae tons of hair, but not as much as I used to, which is kinda concerning to me here lately. I, also, take a thyroid pill everyday so didn't know if it was because that was off keel again or what. But, after reading all the posts here I suspect it is from all the anesthetic of 10-1/2 hr surgery requires, which is what I endured. Geesh - they didn't tell us about this piece, did they? Also, they forgot the piece about the constipation, which I am fortunately long past - but for some reason I didn't hear the warning on these two issues being told. Hahaha! Don't get me wrong - I'm so glad I had the surgery, but it's funny how it affects our systems differently and those of you with thinning hair - I am sorry you're going through it, but makes me feel better, because so am I.........
Thanks for answering my question(s) also.

PS: Still dealing with thigh pain but am told can take 6-9 mos for that to go away - nerve pain. Ugh! I am the most impatient patient.