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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    6

    Can severe scoliosis affect swallowing?

    Hi all - new here. Sorry for long post.

    I had noticed some shortness of breath upon walking, exercise (bringing laundry basket upstairs, etc) and then had a bad fall last February 2016 falling on my purse in the diaphragm area and also my face fracturing my top 4 front teeth. Since the fall I noticed worsening shortness of breath, heart palps and some trouble swallowing, esp. water and pills?? I did see the Ortho doc and my xray in June showed severe scoliosis now not only affecting my upper body but also pushing my diaphragm up into my lungs so that now my breathing is really bad. I also developed ventricular arrhythmia and fluid around the heart and the swallowing problem. I am not a candidate for surgery - osteoporosis and 78 years old. I believe the fall jarred my spine and caused everything to become worse.

    Regarding the swallowing - the hollow of my neck between the collarbone is no longer in the middle of my neck but has been pushed over to the right side so apparently my spine has pushed my esophagus over also. Could this be the reason for my swallowing difficulty?? I do have silent acid reflux but I now have some hoarseness and better and then worse tight feeling w/cough and irritation in the hollow of my neck area. That also seems to be the area of the swallowing difficulty and not sure if under the voice box is the esophagus or what but it is definitely tilted to the side.

    I am one ugly girl. Right now I can wear turtlenecks to hide it but what happens in the summer? So, back to the original question does it sound like the scoliosis is to blame for my swallowing problem and if so, how bad can it get because I was told scoliosis can not be stopped. I am going to go back to PT to try to slow the progression but am a bit scared and the ortho doc just kind of brushed me off in July as there is nothing he can do for me. The hollow of my neck has moved over since then and I did not have the swallowing problem when I saw him - just the SOB and heart. He had given me a script for PT but I had to stop in December because I got a horrible respiratory bug and with my limited lung space I had quite the time getting over it. It seems there is nothing he can do for me anyway. He said a brace at my age would only make my muscles lax and I have to try to build up my muscles to hold my spine better but nothing can undo what has been done already.

    Thanks for any advice/info you can give me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,557
    Suggi

    I wanted to welcome you to the forum!

    Its impossible to diagnose or even fruitless to self diagnose with most of the symptom’s we have as scoliosis patients. None of us are doctors. Many of us do have the shortness of breath, swallowing issues, and GI issues.

    One of the things that I noticed is that you do not mention pain in your post. I am really surprised about this, with what you have going on, its has to be painful.

    How long have you known about your scoliosis? Have you done anything at all living with your scoliosis through the years?

    Did you ignore your scoliosis up until now?

    Its also helpful if we know your geographical location just in case someone knows of anyone that can help

    Hang in there

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 59, the new 55...
    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    240
    Hi,

    Welcome!

    I just want to tell you that never allow your doctors to give you the impression that nothing can be done or that you are too old to be helped! The options that are available may come with disadvantages etc but you should be made aware of them and YOU should be involved in the decisions as to which ones to take up.

    So many doctors no nothing or very little about Scoliosis- ask to be referred to one that does!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    6
    Burdle,

    Thanks for your reply. I am going to try to get another opinion. Ed gave me a name also which is great because I hate picking docs out of a hat.

    Have to see what pans out. Maybe I should have some sort of brace that I wear at least part time. Have you ever heard of the Schroth method? I haven't really looked into it as I believe it is not covered by insurance and money is tight. I retired at 62 as I wanted to take care of my Mom so my SS is peanuts. She lived to 96 and I had some odd jobs after that but got to the point I could not work any more.

    Perhaps I should look into it anyway. Just wondered if you heard anything about it as some of these things are some sort of scams.

    Thank you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    240
    Quote Originally Posted by suggi View Post
    Burdle,

    Thanks for your reply. I am going to try to get another opinion. Ed gave me a name also which is great because I hate picking docs out of a hat.

    Have to see what pans out. Maybe I should have some sort of brace that I wear at least part time. Have you ever heard of the Schroth method? I haven't really looked into it as I believe it is not covered by insurance and money is tight. I retired at 62 as I wanted to take care of my Mom so my SS is peanuts. She lived to 96 and I had some odd jobs after that but got to the point I could not work any more.

    Perhaps I should look into it anyway. Just wondered if you heard anything about it as some of these things are some sort of scams.

    Thank you.
    Hi,

    Schroth is not a scam and I think it is a respected specific Scoliosis PT. However PT for scoliosis is somewhat discredited/under researched because it does not reduce an Idiopathic structural curve. It can help (I am told) with pain and posture. Some insurances cover it I believe. I am in UK so we are way behind you guys in what insurances will cover though and I have not tried it because I still work full-time and Schroth is a big commitment time-wise.

    talk to as many people as you can ( ignore inexperienced doctors though). It sounds as if that IF surgery etc is not an option then someone should be able to advise what IS an option and how best you can manage and that may include disability benefit, pain management etc.

    I get exasperated about how little joined-up advice there is for us slightly older patients. If surgery is not an option then everyone should be pleased ( because no-one wants unnecessary surgery) BUT it shouldn't end there- what should come next is 'ok- how are we going to look after this patient'? This bit seems to be missing in patient care!



    You are right to be wary of Scams though as there are loads from what I can tell. I am unfused and slightly younger than you and I try to manage the pain.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    8,903
    While Schroth is not a scam like chiro for scoliosis, there is no evidence it is better than other PT modalities. It was invented by a lay person. Based on testimonials here, it seems very expensive with no better results to show for it. It certainly has never been shown to avoid fusion surgeries.

    PT in general can help with pain. It doesn't have to be Schroth.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    6
    Burdle

    Thanks for the info. It sounds like you are in quite a bit of pain. Sorry about that. What part of your body is most affected by the scoliosis? I don't know anyone whose esophagus is out of alignment as I can see when I look in the mirror. UGH! So my food/drink goes down kind of sideways. I think that is why I have to be careful swallowing as sometimes I choke and so far have been able to cough so that it does not go into my squished lungs.

    I had aspiration pneumonia once a long time ago when my lungs were OK - was drinking tea and tried to yell out at the same time when I realized my grandkid was about to have an accident not looking where he was going.

    Now I have been warned to be careful not to get sick - lol - as with my limited lung capacity a simple cold could turn to pneumonia and with my drug allergies there is a good chance I would not survive pneumonia. I guess that goes for aspiration pneumonia also at this point.

    It seems like no matter where you live the older you are the less interested doctors are in really looking into ways to help you. I guess we are excess baggage.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    6

    can severe scoliosis affect swallowing?

    Quote Originally Posted by titaniumed View Post
    Suggi

    I wanted to welcome you to the forum!

    Its impossible to diagnose or even fruitless to self diagnose with most of the symptom’s we have as scoliosis patients. None of us are doctors. Many of us do have the shortness of breath, swallowing issues, and GI issues.

    One of the things that I noticed is that you do not mention pain in your post. I am really surprised about this, with what you have going on, its has to be painful.

    How long have you known about your scoliosis? Have you done anything at all living with your scoliosis through the years?

    Did you ignore your scoliosis up until now?

    Its also helpful if we know your geographical location just in case someone knows of anyone that can help

    Hang in there

    Ed
    Hi Ed – thanks for your reply. HOPE I AM REPLY CORRECTLY. I had a reply written but did something wrong and lost the whole thing so trying again. I first found out about it in 2008 from a chest xray. Primary care doc did not mention it at all. I found out by getting a copy from medical records dept. She never said see an ortho or PT or anything so I did not realize it gets worse, so no never did anything about it before. I live in MA and went to a supposedly top doc at MGH – Dr. Mansfield.

    Hoping to go back to PT. I just have so much else going on – the cardiac doc, the pulmonary doc – gotta see GI doc....just goes on and on.
    I was originally diagnosed with exercise induced asthma but since the fall last Feb I am gasping for air going up and down the stairs or walking any distance – can't walk and talk at the same time (which is sorta an asset to hubby HAHA). Have been warned not to get sick as a prime candidate for pneumonia with my limited lung capacity. Hard when everyone in the store is coughing or when you have a doc visit which I have many. Usually sick people go to the doctor. I just think of the commercial where the guy coughs and this blue cloud comes out of his mouth and takes over the whole area. Scary!! Hubby still works as he is a bit younger than I am and has 4 bottles of hand sanitizer with him at all times to try not to catch something and bring it home. I love him for trying to protect me but there is just so much you can do.
    I am not a candidate for surgery – have many health problems at this point even precancerous (hopefully)pancreatic cysts – check up for that next week with an MRI w/ Gad. Unfortunately I am allergic to all contrast dyes except the Gadolinium but the allergist said eventually I will become allergic to that also with use. However, the doc said he can not see whether there are any suspicious changes without the Gad so I am stuck. I have a 1 ˝ page of drug allergies. Only antibiotics left is the Ceclor family and the Levaquin family so docs have a difficult time having me as a patient.

    Re: pain – I only have pain where my left lowest rib hits my hip bone and if I am slouching sitting down my diaphragm area aches but I am sorta used to it and I have a high pain tolerance also. I am just upset over the swallowing problem....and the hoarseness, on and off cough, irritation. Saw ENT yesterday and he looked down into my voice box but can not get to the hollow in my neck but had me do different sounds and was able to see quite a bit. Said there was a cobblestone effect but nothing serious where he could see and could be post nasal drip and acid reflux and allergies. Please tell me anything you know regarding the effect the spine has on the esophagus and do my symptoms fit? I seem to swallow food OK normally but liquid and pills are a problem. Don't know if the pressure of the food pushes it down and the liquid is too light and the esophagus is squished in that spot or what. Hot liquid seems to go down better. I just do not want to start aspirating. That is all I would need.
    However, I feel an upper endoscopy coming on and that scares me. Since my hollow of the neck between the collarbone is off to the right the spine is obviously pushing it and since they make you sign a form that mentions possibility of perforation and if my esophagus is all twisted up, well you know what I mean. What are your thoughts on this??

    Looking forward to your reply and if you know of any other doc recommended for a consult please let me know.
    Thanks so much.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,557
    Suggi

    Burdle is right. If you have scoliosis, you should see a scoliosis surgeon. I’ve been saying that around here for a lot of years.......You might have to go to Boston, Dr Frank Rand is one. Scoliosis surgeons are orthopedics that have extensive training in spinal deformity. They have the best training in the spine. They are pretty much top of the food chain as far as doc’s go, so you might have to wait. They are usually extremely busy.

    Did you ever get to see your x-ray? I would sure want to see it. You can request it from the radiology dept that shot the x-rays. They can burn you a disc which you can load onto a computer. If you get a disc and have computer trouble, just fine somebody young. Scoliosis is also measured in Cobb angles, after a scoliosis surgeon named Dr Cobb. These angles are of some help in describing severity of scoliosis curves. In my signature below, I had a thoracic curve of 70 degrees and a lumbar curve of 70 degrees. Hence T70, L70 If you have any medical data or doctors reports, you could look for these angles in the reports.

    I had swallowing problems and my surgeon did not blame that on scoliosis in my case. I was having these choking events and even had another doctor look at my epiglottis to tell me it was normal. I eventually cut out the fatty foods in the evening. If I have heartburn now I am using baking soda. I don’t do this often but since food is acidic, this neutralizes quite well. 1/2 teaspoon in 10 oz of water.

    Swallowing problems can be a host of things.....and its impossible to say. They are probably going to have to go down and take a look.

    Sounds like you are really doing the doctor tour.....

    Hang in there

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 59, the new 55...
    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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    6
    Ed
    Dr Mansfield was one of the top spine/scoliosis surgeons at MGH in Boston supposedly - he is semi retired from surgery but still sees patients and he feels I would not survive the surgery plus with the severity of my osteoporosis the screws would not hold. I will look into the other doctor for a 2nd opinion. Thank you for the name. He may be at MGH also or at Brighams. No harm in seeing what another doctor says. First I have to get thru my MRI next week hopefully with no allergic reaction or complications as they have found Gadolinium is so toxic it can do you in even if your kidney function is OK. However, since there is no other contrast for an MRI it is still being used or shuld I say overused. I am just afraid that the fall I had not only jarred my spine and seems to be connected somehow with the ventricular arrythmia but also may have jarred the pancreas cysts into growing and/or changing from precancer to cancer.

    My Mother in law fell down stairs and she ended up having almost all her abdominal insides including her bladder taken out because of cancer and the doctors at MSK in NY said where it started it was probably a slow growing tumor that spread like wildfire from the impact of the fall and that was way back when. Even that operation as bad as it was - is not as bad as the Whipple surgery. I knew someone who had the Whipple and told they got it all out. Six months of pure post op hell she was told there was a spot on her liver from the one that got away, and she was stage 4 and is now gone. There's no way I would survive that one definitely. Since that is the only cure for the pancreas I am going to tell the doc this is the last check up with the contrast...only the MRIs after this even if the pics are not as informative.

    I do have my xrays but I believe they would be even worse now. I will see if can figure out how to get them on here. I have an S shaped scoliosis.

    Thank you for the tip abougt the baking soda -- and all other info.

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