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Irina
12-01-2013, 04:41 PM
I am very happy with the outcome of my surgery, but curious about one thing. My back gets tight in the middle sometimes, like someone is holding me with strong hands. It is not bad and if I have to live with this feeling for the rest of my life, that is totally fine. But I wanted to ask people who are several years out of the surgery – does this tight back feeling ever go away?

JenniferG
12-01-2013, 04:56 PM
Hi Irina, I never had that tight feeling or the spasms. I could be completely wrong, but I thought I'd mention this, just in case it is of some use to someone. When I walk, I walk as fast as I can which means I swing my arms a lot. As I walk, I can feel my muscles in my thoracic area moving and I wonder if this isn't giving them some sort of work out which is preventing the tightness/bear claw feeling?

I'm glad that it's not bothering you, and that you are very happy with your surgery!

I should add, I started kayaking, if I remember correctly, about 8-9 months out from surgery and still kayak occasionally, which is a real workout for the arm, back and shoulder muscles. But I see there are others who suffer the tightness who've tried exercise, with no luck. So it may have nothing to do with it. I've always wondered why I didn't get that tightness, as most patients seem to get it.

bluestone
12-01-2013, 05:15 PM
I am 3 years post op and suffer badly from the 'bear claw' feeling. I've prayed for it to go but it hasn't and I don't believe it will now I'm so far out of surgery. On an ordinary day I can cope with it but if I go out for more than 2 hours it becomes unbearable. Only today I spent the afternoon around a very crowded Xmas fair and I got to the point where I simply had to sit down. My surgeon has suggested hardware removal and I'm now seriously considering it.

I think yours still has time to ease more, it may just take time. I've tried excercise but all it does for me is aggravate the protruding screws I have in the middle of my back. I hope things improve for you.

debbei
12-01-2013, 06:07 PM
I had the tightness more in the early years. I'm 5 years out now, and knock on wood, I don't get much of it any more. Motrin helped me for that almost as much as muscle relaxants.

walkingmom
12-01-2013, 10:27 PM
Hi Irina,
At 2 1/2 yrs post-op, I am one of those who still experiences the ongoing tightness in the thoracic area. I do play tennis 3-4x/week and use the elliptical and lift weights a couple times/wk as well. When it gets really, really bad, I place hot towels on my upper back or take long hot showers. Sometimes just laying flat on my back is the only way to get relief. I am beginning to think that it must be a posture thing for me especially when I am standing for extended time or when I am unable to lean back when sitting.
Donna

Susie*Bee
12-03-2013, 05:11 PM
Irina-- at 6 1/2 years post-op I still get that tightness, but mostly when the weather has turned cold...

babyboomer16
12-14-2013, 10:23 AM
Hi,
I joust want to add my two cents about the tight back! I think some days it could drive me nuts. It feels like someone is pulling on my back and squeezing with both hands! I just walk as much as possible. I was thinking the cold weather makes it worse, but I think it started before it got cold. I have been taking hot showers. I don't know about massage yet since I'm only seven months out of my revision surgery. Anyway, all you tight backs, I am right there with you! It sounds like it is pretty common. And my muscles have been cut (posterior) top to bottom four times. Yikes! Rubber bands for sure~~~anyway! I love this site for sure! Know one else would have a clue what we are talking about. Keep posting and I will try to be better about updating. Irina, hope this gets better. I am going to call Dr. Lenke's nurse to see what is going on. Warm thoughts of all of you during the Blessed Holidays!!

susancook
12-14-2013, 04:02 PM
I know the tightness. To me, it feels like I "have a board stapled to my butt". I wanted to be more eloquent when I described the tightness that I feel to my pain management MD, but that was my best description. I figure that I am on the 2 year recovery plan, so I am trying to just go with it and be patient.
Susan......as seen in one of my favorite cartoons of a buzzard on a branch who says, "patience my ass, I want to go out and kill something"

debbei
12-14-2013, 09:58 PM
the cold weather definitely makes it worse for me. I bought the warmest winter coats I could find after my surgery which helps. I avoid shivering at all costs.

jackieg412
12-15-2013, 04:11 PM
Cold is a big problem. Last year my brother gave me a polar fleese vest. I wear it all of the time--I even sleep in it. It seems that being warm eases the tight feeling. The only other thing that helps is a lot of walking without carring anything. My lumbar surgery is now 5 years old--I quess my spine just wants to be tight.

Irina
12-15-2013, 10:13 PM
It's not too cold in California, so I am not sure if I can blame tightness on cold weather. I am back to work and sit a lot, doing much less walking and can only go to gym on weekends. That might be it... I probably need a job that doesn't require 10-11 hours days and 36 miles commute... This is too much... Hot showers help and relax me. Thank you everyone!

Marina63
01-08-2014, 01:25 PM
I am two and a half years post op and still have the tightness. I have tried exercise, massage, chiropractor, nothing seems to alleviate it other than sitting or lying down. It is particularly painful before a storm. I have tried everything short of medication ( I do not want to take anything for it and will deal with it if I have to) and nothing works. I am very active but the tightness and occasional pain (stabbing, piercing sensations) are completely random. Even my surgeon is stumped.

bluestone
01-08-2014, 02:13 PM
My surgeon doesn't have the answers to the tight back feeling either, he even said he's never had a patient talk about 'pressure' in their back like I have. He did say though that it could be the spine being in its new place causing the tightness or it could be the age I had it done (45). I do get tired of the feeling, for me its all around my middle back and with the pain I have from the protruding screws on top of that it can be rather debilitating. I find its tighter if I'm inactive but if I go for a walk it can't be for too long otherwise the pressure feeling gets so great I have to sit down.

WLB1
01-08-2014, 07:39 PM
I have the tight back feeling. When I am really tired, like now, it is painful. Mine is in conjunction with what seems to be some nerve pain that at times goes around my ribs like a pair of too high, too tight panty hose. The feeling is just under my shoulder blades. Since I am only six months out I am hoping it goes away with time, but if it doesn't, then I will ask my surgeon. I began working out today, using light free weights, bands, and the bench. I took it easy, but I can feel it in my ribs. I wonder if it might be scar tissue formation. Massage and heat help with that. As time goes on the scar tissue gets softer and smaller.
It could be posture, too. Gonna get working on that. Got the little stabby pain things going on as well. Those are getting better. I have finally crossed over to the pain med free zone, and am beginning to find joy in my journey back to health.

Marina63
01-10-2014, 01:10 PM
Hi Wendy!

I am from Asheville too! I went to Dr. David Capiello in Asheville back in the 70s when my mother first noticed my back didn't look quite right. I was sent to Duke for further evaluation and was told at the time that my curve was not significant enough to require surgery. It was around 30º. I did wear a brace for two years. Dr Capiello tried to convince me to consider surgery because "it will make you look better". I thought that was ridiculous at the time considering back then, one was put in a body cast for a minimum of 6 months. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't have it done.

I still have the stabby pain you mentioned. It comes and goes and again, I cannot tie it with any other activity. I do notice before a big storm, it hurts like crazy. The tightness in the thoracic area is always there but does change in intensity. I work out a lot as well with weights and do plenty of cardio. It definitely makes me feel better and I am much more mobile than I ever thought I would be.

WLB1
01-14-2014, 07:21 PM
Hi, Marina!

Asheville! Great! Who did your surgery? I had no luck finding a surgeon here. I wound up at Duke as an emergency. Did you have to go the pain management route?

Nice to know there's someone else from the the most beautiful place in the world!

Wendy

Marina63
01-15-2014, 01:35 PM
Wendy, I left Asheville in 1985. I live in Atlanta now. Dr. Timothy Yoon at Emory did my surgery.

Are you from Asheville?

No, I didn't need to deal with pain management. I was very lucky in that I got off all pain meds by week 7 post surgery. Not sure if it was because I was ready or that I had to go back to work for health insurance. Whatever the case, I was fine and now two and half years post op, feel almost back to normal. If it weren't for the tightness and off and on sharp shooting pains, I would be 100%. Usually not a big deal. I've tried everything but nothing works. I don't want to take any medication for it. The only thing that I've been told that would work is gabapentin. I want to get rid of it, not mask it.

Take care!

Confusedmom
01-27-2014, 01:11 AM
I am coming up on 2 years postop and I still feel like I am wearing a metal corset all the time. The weird thing is, it doesn't really bother me much now that I am used to it. And in some ways, I actually like it. (Like, I don't feel like I am hunched over and can't stand up straight anymore, and if this is what's keeping me upright, I'm okay with it.) That said, once in a while I get the muscle spasms that are somewhat painful. Then I know it's time to stretch and exercise. I have this nagging feeling that if I was in better shape--lifted weights, etc.--the tightness would be less. I wonder if it is related to muscle atrophy, because it sure feels like I am all skin, bones and metal back there. (Just to clarify, I'm not in terrible shape, but just do moderate exercise like walking and aqua aerobics.)

Evelyn

bluestone
01-27-2014, 05:49 AM
I am coming up on 2 years postop and I still feel like I am wearing a metal corset all the time. The weird thing is, it doesn't really bother me much now that I am used to it. And in some ways, I actually like it. (Like, I don't feel like I am hunched over and can't stand up straight anymore, and if this is what's keeping me upright, I'm okay with it.) That said, once in a while I get the muscle spasms that are somewhat painful. Then I know it's time to stretch and exercise. I have this nagging feeling that if I was in better shape--lifted weights, etc.--the tightness would be less. I wonder if it is related to muscle atrophy, because it sure feels like I am all skin, bones and metal back there. (Just to clarify, I'm not in terrible shape, but just do moderate exercise like walking and aqua aerobics.)

Evelyn

On a good day this is exactly how I feel and I'm just over 3 years post op.
I've been keeping a pain diary and I feel as though I'm still improving-very small improvements though but I am doing more than I was say 6mths ago. The corset feeling you describe is my main problem-do you feel as though you have pressure in your back? On a bad day though I have pain and I did put that down to some protruding screws but as time goes by I'm not so sure they are the culprit. They did impinge but that's getting less now. My surgeon has offered to remove my hardware and he's also suggested injections but I'm putting both off......for now. I'm still staying positive that I'm getting used to the pressure or things are still improving.

I only walk and find that if I don't I feel stiff and uncomfortable but if I walk for too long the pressure builds up too much. I like you wonder if being fitter would help but I couldnt imagine using weights, I feel as though I have no muscles in the centre of my back at all and my surgeon said I have zero fat there. I've asked him about muscle atrophy but he just shrugged it off, I wish it didn't feel as though all I had there is hardware.

walkingmom
01-27-2014, 01:06 PM
I am coming up on 2 years postop and I still feel like I am wearing a metal corset all the time. The weird thing is, it doesn't really bother me much now that I am used to it. And in some ways, I actually like it. (Like, I don't feel like I am hunched over and can't stand up straight anymore, and if this is what's keeping me upright, I'm okay with it.) That said, once in a while I get the muscle spasms that are somewhat painful. Then I know it's time to stretch and exercise. I have this nagging feeling that if I was in better shape--lifted weights, etc.--the tightness would be less. I wonder if it is related to muscle atrophy, because it sure feels like I am all skin, bones and metal back there. (Just to clarify, I'm not in terrible shape, but just do moderate exercise like walking and aqua aerobics.)

Evelyn

Hi Evelyn,
Based on my own experience, I am a huge believer in using light weights and doing activities/exercises that engage the back muscles. I am not talking about heavy weight lifting. I started off with simple arm raises with no weights in hand and then eventually started to use soup cans and 3lb hand weights. I now have added weight machines and when I started with those, I used really low settings like 10 or 15 lbs at first. Now I do the pulldown and rowing machines at 40 lbs with no intention of going higher because then it starts to create shoulder issues for me (probably because of my 30 degree curve yet). There is still some tightness there and my back muscles sometimes feel "ropey" to me, but it is still so much better as compared to when I don't do weights on a regular basis. I have that corset feeling too and I think that it will always remain as a constant reminder of my surgery.

Whatever you do, Just be sure to start slowly. It probably will help that you do aqua aerobics and are already engaging those muscles more than you realize.
Take care...
Donna

golfnut
01-27-2014, 08:42 PM
Evelyn,
I still look somewhat hollowed out between my shoulder blades, but I think I'm getting a little muscle back using light weights (5 lb. max.) and stretch bands and some of the machines at the Y to help that area. Janet (Dr. Lenke's PT) told me not to lift weights out to the sides while standing or overhead. I think it's to protect my neck. When I laid on my back at exercise classes, even at 2 years, it felt like I was laying on a 2 by 4 board. Now, it is much more comfortable at 3 years and probably because of the exercises.

bluestone
01-28-2014, 04:40 AM
Evelyn,
I still look somewhat hollowed out between my shoulder blades, but I think I'm getting a little muscle back using light weights (5 lb. max.) and stretch bands and some of the machines at the Y to help that area. Janet (Dr. Lenke's PT) told me not to lift weights out to the sides while standing or overhead. I think it's to protect my neck. When I laid on my back at exercise classes, even at 2 years, it felt like I was laying on a 2 by 4 board. Now, it is much more comfortable at 3 years and probably because of the exercises.


I also have a significant hollowed out area between my shoulderblades and this is where all my pressure pain is. I don't excercise because I'm scared of ending up in more pain but I'm wondering should I go give it a go anyway?

golfnut
01-28-2014, 08:27 PM
I am a big believer in exercising (and always was) , especially after this major surgery when my muscles so quickly atrophied. However, Dr. Lenke only allowed me to do specific exercises that his physical therapist approved. Periodically, I was able to add to my workouts with additional exercises that she gave me. Dr. Lenke stressed that most physical therapists "don't realize the magnitude of this surgery and can cause more harm than good." I worry about some who start physical therapy early in their recovery. I was only allowed to walk and do some exercises with light weights while lying on my back on the bed for the first several months. My point is that exercise is going to improve your muscle tone and strength, but that one needs to find out the do's and don'ts after having surgery so you don't do anything harmful when exercising.

titaniumed
01-29-2014, 04:30 PM
I am very happy with the outcome of my surgery, but curious about one thing. My back gets tight in the middle sometimes, like someone is holding me with strong hands. It is not bad and if I have to live with this feeling for the rest of my life, that is totally fine. But I wanted to ask people who are several years out of the surgery – does this tight back feeling ever go away?

Irina......Not today, that’s for sure...... Do you feel the front and storm moving in today?

This always happens when the winter storms approach.

Tomorrow, I will be ok......

This was an easy winter for west coast scolis. California will catch on fire here soon with the drought that’s happening. It’s the worst in 100 years.

Ed