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Thread: Knee Arthritis from Scoliosis Surgery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    San Francicsco Bay Area
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    127

    Knee Arthritis from Scoliosis Surgery

    Hi Everyone:

    I'm fused from T2 - L3.

    I've read a few postings here about people who are fused to the sacrum having toe and heel problems because they stand differently after surgery, but I haven't seen anything about arthritis of the knees resulting from Harrington Rod surgery. I am 48, and three years ago I came down with painful arthritis in both knees. Injections helped for a year, but now they don't help anymore, and the pain is awful. I can't walk more than two blocks without my left knee flaring up for weeks on end. I have Degenerative Disc Disease below my fusion, and I cannot express to all of you how difficult it is to have knees that don't support your broken spine. Walking was the ONE exercise I could always do, even with a fused spine. Now, I can't even do that. Even going up the six steps to my house flares my knee up! I've read that Scoliosis flatback can cause knee problems, but have found no further info on this. Plus, I've been told I only have mild flatback, if at all. I've asked the spinal surgeons and they all won't comment, I guess they don't know, they say to see a knee surgeon. Trying to get knee replacement surgery at age 48 is difficult as the surgeons don't want to do it on younger people because later on you will need a revision. Plus, whenever I see a non-spinal doctor, they have NO understanding of what Scoliosis surgery really is. Please, if anyone has any info on younger people coming down with knee problems because of Scoliosis surgery, let me know. I've got to find a way to convince some knee surgeon to operate on me, I can't go on not being able to walk! Walking is painful enough with my spine. I have to think of some way to impress on the knee doctor that the two things - knees and spine - are too much, that because of my scoli surgeries I need to be put in a different category than just a younger person with bad knees. Any ideas or research on this, please let me know. Thank you!
    Last edited by Tableone; 08-25-2014 at 12:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    3,745

    may i ask how many knee surgeons you have met with so far...?

    i have knee problems with scoliosis...have not had scoli surgery...but both my knees are now bad...no idea how it happened...a cyst on one, medeal miniscus (splg?) tear on other, arthritis in both knees, etc...
    it can be hell to try to walk...and going downhill or down stairs is worst...

    surgeons have told me they don't like to do knee surgery on people in their 60's...so i do not know WHO it is they DO like to do knee surgery for...
    is there anyway they can repair your knees without full
    replacement...?

    how many knee surgeons have you met with so far...????

    jess...and Sparky
    Last edited by jrnyc; 08-25-2014 at 07:09 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    San Francicsco Bay Area
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    127
    Jess, I have not had knee surgery yet, although I've seen two knee surgeons with my managed health plan. I have left that plan now and gone into independent MediCare and Medi-Cal, so I will be trying to see other surgeons. I just had an MRI done of my knees in addition to X ray, so hopefully that will help show what's wrong. I do stand often with my left knee sort of "locked."

    Has anybody else with Scoliosis surgery or severe Scoliosis like Jess had knee arthritis at a younger age?

    Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Southern CA
    Posts
    2,224
    My knee surgeon at UCI operates on people when they need it, not a particular age

    Melissa
    Melissa

    Fused from C2 - sacrum 7/2011

    December 8, 2014 - Another Broken Rod Surgery

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    535

    Arthritis Set In Seversl Months After Surgery

    I, too, have experienced the onset of arthritis postop. Docs thought it was RA but instead it's osteoarthritis and trochanteric bursitis which is sometimes caused by DDD in the lumbar. The pain got so bad I wasn't able to continue with my daily walking routine. After going on med after med, I decided I didn't want to be on meds any more. Several months ago, I was able to put together a supplement routine that has greatly finished the pain so much so that I'm walking again.

    Warmly,
    Doreen
    44 years old at time of surgery, Atlanta GA

    Pre-Surgery Thorasic: 70 degrees, Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 68 degrees, lost 4 inches of height in 2011
    Post-Surgery curves ~10 degrees, regained 4 inches of height

    Posterior T3-sacrum & TLIF surgeries on Nov 28, 2011 with Dr. Lenke, St. Louis
    2 rods, 33 screws, 2 cages, 2 connectors, living a new life I never dreamed of!

    http://thebionicachronicles.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    San Francicsco Bay Area
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    127

    Update on knees

    So I have now seen two knee surgeons who say I have Chondromalacia Patella, which is a breakdown in the cartilage under the knee caps, or in other words, pre-arthritis. No one will do surgery yet, so I will try the Hyaluronic Acid injections to see if that helps. Have already done the Kenalog injections, and they no longer help.

    I also saw an adult deformity revisionist surgeon today who said that my knee arthritis had nothing to do with my Scoliosis, and that even her flatback patients don't have knee problems. However, all the literature on flatback state that knee problems can result from it.

    Anyway, at this point I don't even care anymore about my painful knees. The visit with the deformity surgeon was depressing, the surgeon was depressing, too, and it is now obvious to me that even though I wasn't given a flatback surgery, that I am indeed screwed.

    Thanks for listening.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    San Francicsco Bay Area
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    127

    knee tracking problems

    I saw the knee doctor again. He is the third one I've seen. The other two kept telling me that I had arthritis in both knees but that according to the MRI it wasn't that bad and there was nothing to be done aside from Kenalog injections, which I've tried, and Hydroalic injections, which I'm doing. However this third doctor says that there may indeed be a "tracking" problem and that I might need a lateral release surgery. This would make sense to me, that my knees were not tracking properly because of my Scoliosis.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    3,745
    hey guys...
    just wanted to write that i have that stuff and i have NOT had
    fusion surgery....
    have tronchoteric bursitis thing (splg?) in left hip...verified w/MRI...
    was told it is caused by "uneven loading of spine" otherwise
    known as scoliosis...
    i have DDD, mostly in lumbar....have herniated disc in lumbar and
    in neck...
    have flatback....(hypokyphosis is it called?)
    have bad knees...both of them...(verified w/MRI also) and no cause given to me...

    soooo...do not know cause vs. result...chicken vs. egg...
    have all these physical things and have not had fusion surgery....
    (despite recommendation by all surgeons i have consulted with)...

    so...lots of stuff with no known reason why...some guesses...
    by doctors with years and years of med school and experience...

    what i do know...?
    there is no justice...

    jess...and Sparky

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    San Francicsco Bay Area
    Posts
    127

    Knee update/I had knee arthroscope surgery

    Finally, after suffering four years with painful knees that would give out on me (so that I would fall over) shooting, stabbing pains, knees going out of joint and feeling unstable, and stiffness so bad that getting up from the toilet or bed was a nightmare, I FINALLY found a surgeon to do surgery. He actually listened to me talk about my Scoliosis flatback and showed interest. I showed him how I stand with my flatback, with knees locked straight and hips thrust forward to compensate, and he agreed that there must be a connection. He said I actually need full knee replacements in both knees (I am not fifty yet) and that if it wasn't for my upcoming fusion to the sacrum surgery, he would do the replacements. However, since there is likely a connection between my Scoliosis surgery and the arthritis in both knees, we agreed to try some minor knee surgery first to see if that helps. If it does help, then I will go ahead and have the sacrum surgery after both knees have had the arthroscopic surgery. If there is a connection, it is possible that then proceeding with getting my flatback fixed will prevent further knee degeneration.

    I had my knee chrondoplasty and miniscus surgery one week ago and am recovering nicely. After the surgical pain goes away, I will let everyone know if it has helped with the extreme stiffness. Thank you,
    1st surgery: Fused T1-L3 in 1987 with contoured Harrington Rods. Rods broke at top.
    2nd surgery: Re-done two weeks later; fused C7-L3. Left in chronic pain.
    3rd surgery: Hardware removal 1997, but still pain for 30 years.
    4th Surgery: Fused to the sacrum in 2016. Came out of surgery with left foot paralysis. (Drop Foot) Can't walk on my own.
    I'm blessed to have found my peace and reason to live not from a husband or kids (I have none) but from God and within myself.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    San Francicsco Bay Area
    Posts
    127

    Three monhts since knee chrondoplasty

    Well I had the knee chrondoplasty three months ago. I spent three months forcing my knee to bend backwards and forcing myself to cross my knee over my other leg so that I wouldn't lose range of motion, which I knew would be disasterous once I was fused to the sacrum. This is so painful to do that I often gasp from the pain. However, I think overall my knee is better than before the surgery, as it doesn't give out anymore. The stiffness is still bad, and I can only get down on one knee, the one that was not operated on. Getting up from being down on one knee is awful. Do not know how I will manage after I am fused to the sacrum. Arthritis in both knees and plantar fascitis in both feet; not a good combination with a spine fused from C7 to S1. Hope other people are doing better than me!
    1st surgery: Fused T1-L3 in 1987 with contoured Harrington Rods. Rods broke at top.
    2nd surgery: Re-done two weeks later; fused C7-L3. Left in chronic pain.
    3rd surgery: Hardware removal 1997, but still pain for 30 years.
    4th Surgery: Fused to the sacrum in 2016. Came out of surgery with left foot paralysis. (Drop Foot) Can't walk on my own.
    I'm blessed to have found my peace and reason to live not from a husband or kids (I have none) but from God and within myself.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Geneseo, NY
    Posts
    133

    Partial knee replacement

    I have followed your thread with interest because I have also had knee problems, but different than yours. Also, my fusion is one of the oldest on this forum, so as time passes more problems might be expected to emerge. Or maybe this is just due to genetics or other unknown factors.

    I am currently under consideration for a partial right knee replacement. My MRI states that I have a complex tear of the medial meniscus, lateral miniscus tear, and patellofemoral degenerative changes with full thickness chondral loss and geodes formation. I meet with the surgeon next week to discuss this. I was diagnosed with a miniscus tear more than a year ago after just walking one day, no twisting or anything that usually would cause a tear.
    1966 fusion in Buffalo of 11 thoracic vertebrae, with Harrington rod

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Houston, Texas now live in Colorado Springs, CO
    Posts
    543
    If you have osteoarthritis in your spine, you can also have osteoarthritis anywhere else. When I had my surgery in 2004, they said my spine was covered in osteoarthritis. I was already having some problems with my knees at that time but my back was more important so I wasn't to concerned about them. About 2006, I started having the knee injections done in both knees with the left one being worse. At that time I was 50 and of course the knee doctor told me I was to young for knee surgery. I then had my second revision surgery in 2007. Continued having the knee injections. After a couple of years, the injections weren't working anymore. About that time we started talking about moving to Colorado to be near the kids since they had both moved from Houston. As soon as we got settled in Colorado Springs I went to a knee doctor and found I had two miniscus tears in the left knee. He did a scope on the knee, went home that afternoon and started physical theraphy. I continued to still have a lot of pain so he sent me to the knee replacement doctor. According to my xrays it looked like I still had cartilage in between my bones, but since I was having such a problem he did the surgery and replace the whole left knee. The osteoarthritis had eaten away the back of the knee cap and what looked like space between the two leg bones was just a piece of tissue. The two leg bones had to be cut down and smoothed out because they had rubbed against each other for so long. It took a full two years for the main pain to finally go away. I still have problems with going up stairs. Now we are looking to see if my SI Joints are causing all my lower back pain that I still have. The doctor told me the other day that your SI joints can also have osteoarthritis in them.
    Theresa

    April 8 & 12, 2004 - Anterior/Posterior surgery 15 hours & 7 hours
    Thorasic - 79 degree down to 22
    Lumbar - 44 degree down to 18
    Fused T2 to sacrum
    June 2, 2005 - Pedicle subtraction osteotomy @L3 7 hours
    MAY 21, 2007 - Pedicle subtraction osteotomy @ L2, extended the fusion to S2 and added pelvic instrumentation 9 hours

    FUSED T2 - SACRUM 2

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