View Full Version : middle-aged surgery timing

03-04-2005, 07:16 PM
I'm a 48-year-old woman and I just found out that there's probably surgery in my future. My lumbar curve progressed from 47 to 56 in two years (I also have a pretty stable 46 degree thoracic curve). I don't really have a lot of pain and would not consider it if I wasn't being assured that I will eventually be in a lot more pain as the curve continues to progress. If I was younger, I would probably just wait until the pain motivated me to get treatment. Dr. Serena Hu (UCSF) said that one thing to consider is that it appears that there are more complications with the surgery in post-menopausal women and that that could be a reason to do the surgery sooner rather than later. It's just hard to face the whole ordeal when I'm feeling relatively good.

I've read with interest a few threads on this list from other middle aged and older women who've had the surgery with varying degrees of success but in general it appears that most people are glad they did it.

I'd be interested to hear peoples' view on the timing, especially in regards to pre/post-menopause and any other experiences you'd care to share.


03-04-2005, 10:10 PM
Hi Maxine...

If you haven't already done so, you might want to take my "Should You Have Surgery" quiz. It's a tool to help you identify the sorts of questions you should be considering when making the decision.



03-05-2005, 12:19 AM

I had my surgery at 48. The menopause thing didn't play into it at all for me. I wanted all this behind me while I was younger rather than waiting til later. The older you get the longer recovery is. Also by the time we retire I wanted to be all fixed.

03-05-2005, 01:03 PM
hi, maxine: it would be hard to decide in favor of surgery if you aren't in much pain. i was in real pain all the time and had tried many things over the years to get relief, so the decision to have surgery was pretty easy by the time i got to that point. i was 49 when i had the surgery last year and my surgeon never suggested that menopause was a consideration. i had a straight-forward surgery and i've had a rapid and pretty easy recovery; i feel really well at nearly six months post op....you are wise to get information about surgery before you feel you absolutely must have it!

Karen Ocker
03-05-2005, 03:45 PM
I had revision surgery 2 1/2 years ago at the age of 60. I really did not have terrible pain all the time but it was:getting worse, my curves were progressing and my breathing was getting increasingly impaired-more common in older patients with triple curves. My back got very fatigued trying to keep upright against the increasing curves.My surgeon advised me not to wait because he said it would get worse(I thought I was bad enough).
The recovery was long . Had I known I had the option and had the info I would have done it sooner-especially with the knowlege that my curves were progressing. Between the age of 52 to 59 my major curve went ftom 64 to 80 degrees.
I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am working and without the surgery I believe I would have become unable to do my job.

03-07-2005, 01:26 AM
I had first-time surgery three months ago, age 55. I certainly would have had it sooner if I had known it was possible - was informed at the same London hospital in 1993 that I was too old and that it would never be possible. The pain was not too bad then but it increased year on year. Like the last contributor, I'm really glad I had it done but the recovery is hard, and harder the older you get. Probably the results are better the younger you are as well, though I was lucky in that the surgical results were better than predicted.

Still: it really is something you have to be committed to, plus anyone close to you who will be directly affected by it.

Good luck,


03-08-2005, 11:40 PM
Deciding on surgery is very hard..Pretty much my pain decided for me. I was 46 when I had the surgery...Good Luck

03-17-2005, 12:36 PM
I am 63, and am 5 weeks out of surgery. I had a laminectomy at 42 on l4/l5.
At 42 you will bounce back quickly. If you wait till you are my age, 63, you will
have lots more pain, slower recovery, etc. If you have a supportive husband, your kids are older and not as needy, I say, have it now! By the way, the
other piece of advice I have for everyone is, go home as soon as possible.
I was miserable in the hospital, I couldn't slip at night. so when I was moved
to rehab I made the decision to go home. I could go from my house to rehab a t my own time shedule, and if I needed to walk the floor at night in my home, no one could say no. It is muych easier to bear pain and discomfort in your own home. It was one of the best decisions I made.

03-18-2005, 06:46 AM
Second thoughts about pre/post menopausal timing and surgery: when I was told 10 years ago that I was too old for surgery, the reason mentioned was that the bones become more brittle as you get older - this may be a reason for the pre/post menopausal thing. Also, I had to come off HRT just before surgery because it carried a slightly higher risk of blood clotting. That was the least of my worries! no symptoms from that and I had been wanting to come off anyway. Some of this may be relevant to you.

03-24-2005, 10:38 PM
I am considering scoliosis surgery at age 56+. The postmenopausal issue probably comes in because of osteoporosis concerns and the affect that may have on the actual fusion. I don't have osteoporosis yet, but I am on Actonel to help maintain bone density and I will have to stop taking it before surgery because it interferes with the fusion.