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Thread: Sciatic Nerve issues

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Sciatic Nerve issues

    A brief history...I'm 31 years post-op. My curves were 57 and 37 prior to surgery; after 37 and 32 afterwards. Herrington Rod fused from L4 to C7. It's exactly 2 feet long.

    After reading everyone's posts in this forum, I feel very fortunate with my scoliosis. I have had very little issues with it. I see a chiropractor regularly plus I stay active, playing tennis and running.

    Lately, though I've been having problems with sciatic nerve pain shooting down my left leg and it goes numb too. I've been working with the chiropractor but things don't seem to be improving a lot. I was wondering if any one else had this problem and what they did to resolve it? What exercises were recommended?

    Thanks,
    Melissa

  2. #2
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    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC
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    Hi Melissa,
    Have you been back to see a scoliosis specialist? I went for water therapy when my sciatica was really bad but I can't really say that it helped. An MRI showed that I had stenosis in four places. After cortisone shots and PT that didn't help, I finally found my surgeon who said he could help me. I wouldn't wait too long to be evaluated by an SRS revision Doctor because if you have a pinched nerve root, it would need more than Chiropractic care to solve or even evaluate the problem.
    You didn't say how old you are and how old you were when you had your surgery 31 years ago. I wish you luck in finding a solution. Keep us posted.
    Sally
    Diagnosed with severe lumbar scoliosis at age 65.
    Posterior Fusion L2-S1 on 12/4/2007. age 67
    Anterior Fusion L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 on 12/19/2007
    Additional bone removed to decompress right side of L3-L4 & L4-L5 on 4/19/2010
    New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, MA
    Dr. Frank F. Rands735.photobucket.com/albums/ww360/butterflyfive/

    "In God We Trust" Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    12

    Sciatic Nerve issue

    I have never been to see a scoliosis specialist since I was released from the doctor about 6 years post op. I'm 42 now. I was 11 years old at the time of the surgery.

    I didn't know scoliosis specialist exist. I figured I would have to go to an orthopedic specialist. I had my surgery done at Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA by Dr. Skinner in 1982.

    I mentioned stenosis to my chiropractor and he said I was too young to have that.

    How did your doctor help you?

  4. #4
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    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC
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    Hi Melissa,
    There are several causes of sciatica. Because you have such a long fusion, there is always a possibility of stenosis above or below a fusion. I am not saying that is what you have, but you really should see a Doctor who is an expert on scoliosis to be properly evaluated. Google scoliosis research society, www.srs.com, and you will be able to find a qualified Doctor in your area. At the very least, go to your primary care physician and request an MRI. If the Chiropractor has not been able to help you by now, I would strongly suggest you see a Medical Doctor.
    My scoliosis was a result of degenerative disc disease. My Doctor fused me from L2 to S1. I lead a fairly normal life for a 73 years young person. Before my surgery, I could barely walk to my mailbox and back which was about 100 feet away from my front door. My Doctor basically gave me my life back.
    I hope you get to the bottom of your problem soon because sciatica can be terribly debilitating.
    Sally
    Diagnosed with severe lumbar scoliosis at age 65.
    Posterior Fusion L2-S1 on 12/4/2007. age 67
    Anterior Fusion L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 on 12/19/2007
    Additional bone removed to decompress right side of L3-L4 & L4-L5 on 4/19/2010
    New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, MA
    Dr. Frank F. Rands735.photobucket.com/albums/ww360/butterflyfive/

    "In God We Trust" Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,160
    Hi Melissa,

    I agree with the Sally above that you need to see a scoliosis surgeon. Your chiropractor's comments about stenosis are ridiculous and ignorant. At age 40 I had severe stenosis above a short fusion that I had as a teen (for spondylolisthesis, fused from L4-S1). Degeneration and stenosis are definitely possible below your Harrington rod.

    The link to the Scoliosis Research Society (www.srs.org) listed above will allow you to search for a scoliosis surgeon in your area. You can also search here for people who have seen any surgeon you may choose to see.

    Best of luck,
    Gayle, age 49
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation
    Feb 2012 lumbar revision for broken rods @ L2-3-4
    Sept 2015 major lumbar A/P revision for broken rods @ L5-S1


    mom of Leah, 15 y/o, Diagnosed '08 with 26* T JIS (age 6)
    5/10 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    5/16 6 yrs post-op, 24*T/ 22* L, mild increase in curves, watching

    also mom of Torrey, 12 y/o son, 16* T, stable

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    2,755
    Welcome to the forum!

    After that long of time being active on only two discs, I would say you stand a good chance of having some significant degenerative disc disease. I have it and I'm only two years older than you and I've never been fused. In fact, my lower spine is straight and "healthy". It's normal for the spine to start showing normal wear and tear in our 40's. Those of us with scoliosis and/or fusions have a sped up process because our spines aren't working to their full efficiency. It sounds to me like you've had a very good life to have had your fusion last this long with no problems, especially with how long your fusion is. I agree with everyone else, except for the fact that I would look for a specialist that does revisions, also. They are more experienced at handling cases where hardware is already in place. In the mean time you can have your general practitioner order x-rays and/or an MRI just to see what's going on in there. They may be able to offer you some epidural injections to help you through the pain. I hope all goes well. Keep us updated.
    Be happy!
    We don't know what tomorrow brings,
    but we are alive today!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    12

    Sciatic Nerve Issues

    UPDATE-
    I tried going to a different chiropractor but he didn't help. So I went back to this one and he ordered x-rays.

    The x-rays reveal that the disc below my fusion (between L4 and L5) is pretty much gone. I have spurs on L4 and L5 vertebra. Plus I have vacuum phenomenon in the area of the disc. It almost looks like L4 and L5 is naturally trying to fuse together, which is mostly likely pinching on the nerves.

    Next step, per the chiropractor is to seek out a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon. He recommended going back to where I had the original surgery 31 years ago. Hershey Medical Center.

    Thanks for all of your responses. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

    Also if anyone has experienced this please let me know how you made out with it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Indianapolis area
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    966
    I'm sorry you're having this problem. If you read the revision section, you will find it's relatively common for people to have problems below their fusions after several years, especially people with Harrington rods. I would suggest finding an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in scoliosis revisions. Are you still in PA? If so, perhaps Dr. Boachie in NYC. Check out this website for a list of Scoliosis Research Society doctors near you and then call their offices to see how many revisions they do. My lay-person guess, just from reading this forum over the years, is that they will extend your fusion further down. Possibly to the sacrum, but at least L5.

    Best wishes,
    Evelyn
    age 44
    80* thoracolumbar; 40* thoracic
    Reduced to ~16* thoracolumbar; ~0* thoracic
    Surgery 3/14/12 with Dr. Lenke, T4 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Not "confused" anymore, but don't know how to change my username.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,525
    Quote Originally Posted by Meyer View Post
    UPDATE-
    I tried going to a different chiropractor but he didn't help. So I went back to this one and he ordered x-rays.

    The x-rays reveal that the disc below my fusion (between L4 and L5) is pretty much gone. I have spurs on L4 and L5 vertebra. Plus I have vacuum phenomenon in the area of the disc. It almost looks like L4 and L5 is naturally trying to fuse together, which is mostly likely pinching on the nerves.

    Next step, per the chiropractor is to seek out a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon. He recommended going back to where I had the original surgery 31 years ago. Hershey Medical Center.

    Thanks for all of your responses. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

    Also if anyone has experienced this please let me know how you made out with it.
    Hi there Melissa, Having read your thread, I have some concerns and I hope that these comments/personal experiences help you. First of all, like one of the above comments, I am very concerned about the qualifications of your chiropractor in treating you. I believe that it is poor medical care to treat a patient without understanding the patho-physiological basis of the pain/complaint, in your case sciatic pain w/ radiating leg pain. I believe that xrays should have been done first before care [manipulations, etc. or whatever the chiropractor did.] Sometimes such manipulations could potentially cause great irreparable damage.

    I had your same problem, L4/L5 stenosis, spurs and disc degeneration. I had R sciatic pain that radiated down my leg. I did have some corticosteroid inj [x 3] which provided temporary relief, sometimes up to 3 months, but obviously the pain returned. When I sought the care of an SRS physician about surgical repair, she said that the surgery [disc repair and enlargement of the stenotic nerve exit with fusion]"might not relieve the pain". That was of course, very troubling for me as I did not want to go through the extensive surgery only to not have pain relief. The basis of her comment was that sometimes after there is long standing severe nerve damage with DDD and stenosis, the nerve dies [or is somehow damaged] and the surgery does not relieve the pain . My PT said that she also understood that nerve pathways are established w/ the sciatic radiating pain and if they are long standing, that surgery does not relieve the discomfort as the pathways continue to be active after surgery. I wish that I had known that information sooner and I probably would have had surgery sooner. At any rate, I lucked out and although the MRI/CT/xray showed "severe stenosis" and DDD at that level, she was surprised that everything "looked better that I thought that it would be" and although she needed to do an extensive repair at the L4/L5 levels, I do not have any pain now postop.

    The above was a long way of saying that I hope that you seek care from an SRS orthopedic physician and probably at least a second opinion from another SRS physician before you decide what to do. I would obviously from the above story, seek that care sooner than later. Find someone that you trust and then proceed as you think best. If you need to travel to get the care that you need, I encourage you to do it. I do not know the SRS resources in your area. Others that live near you on this blog would be able to help you there.

    Please keep us posted on what you do and decide. I wish you the best of luck on your journey to better spine health and healing. Please feel free to send me a PM [private message] and we can talk on the phone or email if you have any further questions.

    Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    12

    Sciatic Nerve Issues

    Sorry, Susan, I didn't mean to confuse you. I have been going to this chiropractor for many years. The x-rays he had were old ones so these are new ones we have now.
    Image1.jpg Image4.jpg
    Between L5 and S1 my disc looks perfectly healthy.

    So Susan can you explain what you had done to resolve your issues? I see something in your signature but I don't understand all of the acronyms.

    NYC is a bit far for me to travel for treatment. Plus I don't have much family to support me. I only have two teenage boys to help me.

    Does anyone have recommendations for a doctor closer to south central PA or even MD?
    Last edited by Meyer; 06-14-2013 at 09:27 PM.

  11. #11
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    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
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    Hi Melissa

    Just wanted to say Hi. You made it a long time.....

    Yes, you need a “scoliosis surgeon” who does adult revision surgeries.....Perhaps someone will chime in on this.

    I have done Chiro for 26 years now, and yes, this is beyond your Chiro.....(smiley face) Sometimes we have to move on.

    Did the sciatica also for 6 years......Glad that’s over with. Whew!

    I used hot water soaks for pain......it helped...

    Hang in there

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    3,745

    Melissa
    if you go to the National Scoliosis Foundation website...which this forum is a part of...and click on Resources, you will find SRS doctors listed...you can look them up BY GEOGRAPHIC AREA...i already did that for PA...there is an entire page of scoli specialists in Pennsylvania...
    so one of them should be close enough to you and i am sure you will
    find one you feel comfortable with....
    i do not think a trip to NYC will really be necessary for you...there are
    several top scoli specialists there, but you can find top ones in PA
    as well...
    i think people have been posting on this thread to try to urge you to
    find a scoliosis specialist and make an appointment for a consultation...
    to see if revision surgery would be appropriate to help with your spinal
    problems...
    NOTE..Maryland has one page of scoliosis specialists listed as well..

    best of luck in your search....
    jess...and Sparky
    Last edited by jrnyc; 06-15-2013 at 12:20 AM.

  13. #13
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    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meyer View Post
    Sorry, Susan, I didn't mean to confuse you. I have been going to this chiropractor for many years. The x-rays he had were old ones so these are new ones we have now.
    Image1.jpg Image4.jpg
    Between L5 and S1 my disc looks perfectly healthy.

    So Susan can you explain what you had done to resolve your issues? I see something in your signature but I don't understand all of the acronyms.

    NYC is a bit far for me to travel for treatment. Plus I don't have much family to support me. I only have two teenage boys to help me.

    Does anyone have recommendations for a doctor closer to south central PA or even MD?
    Sure, I will explain it: "Surgery: T3 to S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries," My problem was "Adult Degenerative Scoliosis". The scoliosis was caused by discs degenerating asymmetrically so it caused a scoliosis S curve. My surgery was done in 2 days because most people, especially older folks like me [I am 66], have more risk with surgeries longer than 10 hours. So, the first day, I had an ALIF and XLIF which are surgeries from the front and side [2 incisions] to repair the discs from the front and side, that took 5 hours. Then the second day I had a PSF or posterior surgery from the back, for repair of discs and stenosis and then fusion of the entire spine from T3 to sacrum with screws in the sacrum, which took 10 hours. All of the surgeries are detailed on the internet. The ALIF involves a vascular surgeon to move the major blood vessels.

    When I first came to this site, I did not understand any of the lingo. Look it up. The SRS resource area has lots of info and refers you to other great sites.

    Look up SRS MDs on this site and find some near you. I would suggest going to a university hospital. Get your kids involved.

    Good luck!.....and I suggest sooner rather than later,
    Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    12

    Sciatic Nerve Issues

    Thanks everyone such prompt responses. I really appreciate and need it right now. I'm so stressed about all of this and have so many questions. However, I know everyone has different results but you have been great!

    jrnyc: thanks for the info about how to locate a surgeon
    Ed: I looked at your images, and it looks like everything went well for you. I hope things continue in that direction for you.
    Susan: Thanks so much for explaining everything. I hope my surgery (if it comes to that) won't be so intense.

    I have several questions:

    How long did you remain in the hospital?
    How long were you off work for?
    Is anyone collecting permanent disability because of their issues?
    I'm not sure what to consider looking or reading under since my scoliosis began at 11 years old and am now 42 years. So technically, I don't have adult scoliosis.

    I spoke with my mother today about who the local orthopedic surgeon recommended for my initial surgery. I was actually impressed that she remembered (she'll be 86 years old in a month). I knew they provided my parents with a list of locations to choose from, to perform the surgery. She said they told her that Philadelphia had the best surgeons. So I'm looking at some of the surgeons in Philli.
    Last edited by Meyer; 06-15-2013 at 09:18 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    12

    Sciatic Nerve Issues (an update)

    I went to Hershey Medical Center to see a Physician's assistance there. (Glenn Miller) He looked at the x-rays> He said that trying shots into the nerves in the area may help ease the symptoms. I asked about that only being temporary and he replied that it could last a lifetime. He is ordering an MRI to see more on the nerves in the area.

    He asked me which is worse... the pain and numbness in my legs or the pain in my lower back. I didn't know how to answer that. I felt like I was left to sacrifice one for the other. I suppose I should have asked him if he can treat both. I was left with the impression he was only going to treat one of my symptoms. He also mentioned that it looks like L4 and L5 may naturally fuse together which may be a good thing. Has anyone ever had this happen or heard of this happen? If so, what was the end result?

    I'm planning to get a second opinion but I was hoping to get a copy of the MRI to take with me for my second opinion. Do you know if they will give me a copy of the MRI results, when I get them done? I don't want to have them done twice. (i.e. pay twice).

    Did anyone else have these shots done? If so, what was your results?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Meyer; 07-04-2013 at 03:38 PM.

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