View Full Version : New to the Forum--looking for information!

01-24-2011, 06:24 PM
I am new to the forum and am looking for some insight into how to manage my spine. I was diagnosed at age 16 with a 27 degree left thorocolumbar curve. (The biggest part of my curve is in the lumbar area to the left with a small compensation curve in the lower thoracic spine.) Additionally, I have a transitional (extra) vertebrae-it is not associated with ribs, so my neurosurgeon called it a lumbar vertebrae. I lived from age 16 to 41 with very few problems (thankfully) only the occasional right shoulder muscle spasms or thoracic muscle spasms. In the fall of 2009, I herniated L4-L5 and L5-S1. A year later I had spinal decompression surgery with the resection of the ligament flavum and a microdiskectomy with an annuloplasty, and bilateral laminotomy. Since surgery, I am better but not 100%-not surprising since surgery isn't a perfect solution. I manage my discomfort with yoga, NSAIDS, and the occasionally muscle relaxant.

Since surgery, I have consulted with a scoliosis specialist regarding long-term management. He took a new set of X-rays and told me I would eventually be fused. I was devastated. My curve is relatively stable-he measured it at 28 degrees. He said I had an "atypical" curve and it will progress as I age and basically there was nothing I could do to stop this progression. He said eventually my pain will get to the point where it would stop me from doing the things I want to or need to do. I am over 6 feet tall, have a normal BMI, and am physically active. I swim, walk, and practice Hatha yoga 3-4 times per week. Additionally, I am an avid snow skier, whenever the opportunity arises. The surgeon is a nationally known scoliosis surgeon with years of clinical experience. I am sure he is very competent and knowledgeable, however, he has only met me once and he spent about 5-10 minutes with me.

Here is where I am looking for some information....(1) why is my curve considered "atypical" and how does this affect its tendency to progress? (2) Were the disk herniations and hypertrophied ligament related to the curve? (3) What role does the transitional vertebrae play in the scoliosis/back pain? Does anybody else have a transitional vertebrae and scoliosis-is this common? (4) Has anyone else had any luck with Yoga as a means to prevent surgical intervention? Yoga has been helpful in gentle stretching, strengthening my core and helping me to manage my discomfort.

I know I should have asked the surgeon these questions, however, I was so blown away by what he said, I went to my car and cried. Any information you might be able to provide would be appreciated.

01-24-2011, 07:12 PM
I'm somewhat puzzled by the prognosis. If you've been stable for 25 years, what does the surgeon think will cause you to start progressing? Is it related to the surgery you had last year? Or is he saying that the vertebrae in your lumbar spine will start to degenerate, and that will cause progression and pain?

For yoga, you might look at Elisa Miller's work in Yoga for Scoliosis - http://www.yogaforscoliosis.com/.

01-24-2011, 09:19 PM
Thanks for your reply!

I have Elise's video and utilize it when I don't go to the studio-thanks for the suggestion. Her program is awesome!

As far as my prognosis, I am not sure why he is so certain that my curve will progress...he just said it was "atypical." My surgical procedure was a laminotomy, not a laminectomy. They did not want to take too much bone because it could destabilize my spine. (Chipping away at the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not a good idea! :) ). As I see it, I have been stable for many, many years and my curve is only 28 degrees...why the need for fusion! I figured with all his experience, he must know something I didn't ask and was hoping someone on the forum could shed some light on it. He said he'd see me in a year...sooner if my pain got worse. I may just make a follow up so I can get my questions answered. This time I will write them down so I'm not thrown off course during the visit. In the meantime, my right shoulder muscles are bothering me more.

01-25-2011, 01:39 AM
So sorry to hear of you leaving the office in tears. Know that you are not alone. I've had a few of those experiences as have many others here.

IMHO, as an RN and Not a Spinal Specialist by any means, my first thought was that your specialist may be thinking that due to your extra vertebrae you may need additional surgery down the line. I would certainly ask him. You can, of course, make an appointment to discuss you list of questions or can call and request to speak to him on the phone when he can call you back. Very reasonable and happens all the time.

Best Wishes