View Full Version : When to accept in inevitable?

12-08-2003, 04:50 PM
I have had scoliosis since I was in elementary school. I am now 28. I wore a brace from age 9 - 17 and have been out of the brace since. My curves have progressed (I believe both are somewhere in the 60 degree range).

I had always shunned the idea of surgury. Afterall I didn't go through the torture of the brace for nothing. In the last year I have noticed more pain, especially in the hip area. The doctor tell me that I have adapted really well to the curve and would only tell me to have surgury when and if I was in a lot of pain and it was restricting my activities.

At what point is too much pain? I feel like I have had mild pain for a while?

For those of you who have had surgury what is life like afterwards? I am an active sailor and hiker....will having metal rods in my back prevent me from doing the things I love?

12-08-2003, 05:45 PM
Hi Susan...

I'm able to sail and hike. A lot will depend on the length and location of your fusion. Shorter fusions, especially in the thoracic area, have very little effect on one's long-term flexibility. Long fusions (10 vertebrae or more, for example) will definitely limit your flexibility a bit. (My fusion is 12 vertebrae long.) You should expect to have a significant impact on your active lifestyle for at least the first 6-12 mos. post-op.

Most curves over 50 degrees progress at 1 to 2 degrees per year. If your curves are typical, that means you could have 100 degree curves by the time you're in your 50's or even sooner. Some people with very large curves have chosen not to have surgery, and lead relatively pain free, but sedate lives.

Assuming that your curves are progressive, and that you'll eventually have surgery, these are the things I think you should question:

1) When will it be most convenient to have surgery? (You need to think about insurance, the ability to take 3-6 mos. or more off of work, the availability of someone to care for you for a month, your desire to have children, and at what age your children can be self-reliant.)

2) When will it be easiest for you to withstand the surgery? (There's no question that the younger you are, the easier it will be to recovery quickly.)

3) If I will absolutely have to have surgery, will it be better to have it now and avoid greater pain as the curves worsen, or wait until the pain is greater?

4) Will there be medical innvoations that might make the surgery easier or the technique better?

5) If I have surgery now, will my active lifestyle require that I have the fusion extended in 5-10 years?

I hope these questions will help you figure out what to do.


12-09-2003, 12:55 AM

I am in the same situation you are in. I was braced as a teenager also and my curvature was 32 degrees when I got out of my brace when I was 18. I am now 35 yrs old and my curvature is 56 degrees. In 1995 they mentioned that I would need to have surgery and it was the farthest thing from my mind at that time.

For months now I have had alot of back pain. It isn't unbearable, but it definitely very bothersome on a daily basis. I have a very hectic life working and taking care of 4 kids. I can't really let it slow me down, although it has affected the way I feel. For me, it has come to a point, where I know that the pain isn't going away and most likely get worse....so I really have to come to terms with some type of solution. I have tried many different therapies and have been to pain management drs but they all say they don't know how to help.

I just found out that my curvature had progressed 6 degrees this year, and I think I have finally come to terms with the fact that at some point I will have to have surgery. I am still so young, and whether it progresses 1 degree or 6 degrees per year, there will be a point when I have no choice. The drs have mentioned that I could always wait, but the younger I am the easier the recovery will be.

Not sure I have any answers for you...but just wanted to let you know I'm going through these same things right now. Good luck!


02-24-2004, 10:22 PM

I am 38 years old with a 70 degree curve and seem to be in your same situation. I need to have the surgery, but I have two kids 9 and 6 and am nervous about the prospect of recovery. Thankfully I am not in a ton of pain or at least I don't think I am. Maybe I have just lived with it for so long. I got really scared when my OB doctor told me to find "the best doctor" because the surgery compares to organ transplant. I find that hard to believe but it did make me think. Have you done any research on doctor's?


03-06-2004, 01:11 PM

Good luck with whatever decisions you make. I just had my surgery on Feb 17th. I was in the hospital for 7 days. I am now home an doing well according to the drs. My curvature was corrected to about 15 degrees and my drs were surprised the surgery went so well.

I am sill not doing anything besides just trying to heal and get better. The one thing that surpised me is that I can not sit up for more than 20-30 minutes before my back really starts to hurt alot. I still get weak when standing up, but I am doing more each day. Since I can't sit up for very long I spend most of my time in bed.

I did do some research on drs more word of mouth from other drs. I did travel 4 1/2 hrs to where I had my surgery. My drs here recommended my surgeon as well as the dr in Chicago that I had seen for many years.

Feel free to email me if you want....apiechota@bresnan.net

Take care!


03-09-2004, 05:46 PM
Hi Angel! Read that you had your surgery and that it went very well! Just wanted to wish you a Speedy Recovery!!!

I will probably be having surgery this summer and it was encouraging to see your post that everything went well.

Hope the kiddies are treating Mom tenderly! :-)


03-09-2004, 09:37 PM
I am 26 years old and I have been putting off getting surgery since high school. I had a bad experience while i was in the brace. My doctor told me that If i didn't get the surgery I was going to die. Imagine a 13 year old hearing this. I was devistated. Anyways I grew up hiding my self in big shirts and tried to dress as stylish as i could make it. I made it through high school with no one knowing that i had scoliosis. As an adult I had been going to a chiroprator to try to seek help. But it was so expensive i couldn't keep up with the 3 to 4 times a week appointments. They did ease my discomfort though. My primary doctor told me not to get surgery unless i was really becoming bothered by the pain. Towards the end of last year is when the pain started to annoy me. I sit all day as an accountant, but long periods of time standing hurts my hips so bad that i have to lay down for hours. That has never happend to me before normally i could sit for about 30 minutes and I would be fine but not hours! Taking over the counter medications don't make it go away either. So I decided it was time to face the music and go get a check up by a surgeon. I was terrified. But after the doctor explained how many of these he does a year I felt more at ease. I did my homework to find the best in my state on the internet. And i find out on monday if I have to have the second surgery which is theroplasty (or something like that I think). I can't imagine staying couped up in my apartment for this long! My curve is 60-65 degrees. My question for today is do you get your natural curves back? I haven't worn a dress since I was a little girl. I have worn skirts nearly all of my life to mask the uneveness. thanks for listening, and answering my question.


03-10-2004, 01:36 AM
Hi joybell...

Not everyone gets their girlish figures back, but many do. I'm not sure what determines whether or not that will happen.

Prior to my surgery, I also had to spend some time in bed several times a day. I knew pretty early on after my surgery that I no longer had that muscle fatigue, and once I recovered from the surgery itself, I was able to stand for long periods of time... just like a normal person.

By the way, I believe that the second procedure you mentioned is a thoracoplasty, which is reduction of the rib hump. Most people describe it as a painful procedure, but are so happy with the cosmetic results that they feel it was very worthwhile.


03-14-2004, 10:06 AM
I have been reading some of the posts out there about women who have been excercising before surgery like yoga, and pilates and stuff. They say that it helped the surgery go a lot more smoothly. I am wondering will I be able to get a better correction if i do some of these stretch based excersizes. as anyone's doctor told them to start working out before the surgery? I'm not fat but i am pretty stiff all i do is sit in a cubical all day. And do some minor walking around at work. If they did tell you to work out what is better yoga or pilates?

p.s. thanks linda for answering my previous question:D


04-18-2004, 06:26 PM
When I asked my doctor if there was anything I can do to help my recovery go smoothly .. all he said was increase your cardio....

This probably is to help with the anethesia and your lungs...

04-18-2004, 08:52 PM
Hi Joy...

Obviously, no one really knows if exercise helps them get through surgery, since they didn't do it both ways. I will tell you that of the people I know who are over 40 who seem to have had the easiest time of scoliosis surgery, are those who are very fit. But, I've known people who are very fit who have had a hard recovery, and people who are very out of shape who had an easy recovery. So, there just aren't any guarantees.