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Thread: Harrington Rod Problems after 25 years?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    upstate ny
    Posts
    4

    Question Harrington Rod Problems after 25 years?

    Any one else out there who had surgery with Harrington Rod about 25+ years ago experiencing problems below the end of rod?
    I've read alot of posts with problems in lumbar spine area.
    Anyone having "stiffness" or difficulties standing up once seated?
    The feeling of something "catching" and not being able to straighten up?
    I've had no problems until about a year ago, but find if I do alot of walking it isn't as bad.
    I'm now 43 and am wondering if anyone has experienced this and found any good solutions. What works for you?
    I used to swim alot, but live in an area with no pools and very few gyms.
    Anyone out there have a back exercise routine they can share?
    Any suggestions would be helpful. I haven't gone to have any x-rays yet, so I have no idea what the problem is.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Longwood,FL
    Posts
    6

    Cool One rod broke after 23 years

    AH it sounds like you need to see an ortho and have some X-rays taken. It very possible that a rod has broken or is in the process of breaking. Read my post on Please read Broken Harrington Rod drops. If it is broken you need to demand to have it taken out. DON'T WAIT! My rod dropped 11 inches and I went through 2 and half month of back pain hell. The tip of my rod went down into my rear. That was 9 days of hell. You need to take control now. Get X-Rays taken ASAP and get in your Doctors face and you tell him I'm not going to put up with this. Tell him you have proof of another person with rods that dropped 11 inches. Don't accept a "It's nothing to worry about" or scripts for muscle relaxants or anti inflammitants. If they dont return your calls, just keep nagging them and really get in there face. Doctors RN's and PA are good at putting some complaints off. Believe me I KNOW! I had surgery in july of 1981 in Orlando for Kyphoscoliosis. Craig831

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    upstate ny
    Posts
    4

    Yikes!

    Did you have Harrington Rod with a spinal fusion? Good Lord! It's first time I heard of rod dropping! Did they tell you how it happened?

    Unfortunately, my doc, Hugo Keim, is now retired and living in Florida. I'm not in terrible pain, but you are right about getting x-rays to see what's going on. Could be one of the screws at bottom has moved and is hitting a nerve.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    6
    Oh Nina, I am 36 with Harrington Rods too. When I was 14 I had the surgery.
    Since I turned 30 the pain has slowly increased and now they say Im curving again, I can't do it again. But this morning I woke in the most pain I've been in a good year. I went through Shriners in Philly and as you know after 18 your stuck. I havn't found a ortho that knows what he's talking about besides surgery....Thank God for this site!
    Stacy-Pa

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    8
    I had the milwaukee brace and two herrington rods surgery's about 20+ years ago and started to have some pain after I had my first child. I was recently diagnosed with flat back syndrome. The pain is the worst for me in the morning, but if I sit straight up for about 20-30 minutes the pain subsides and I'm fine for the day. The pain radiates in my lower back. I'm also leaning forward. I've tried physical therapy but the PT said the stretching we were doing could hurt me long term. I'm also looking for some alternative exercises to help manage the pain. Have you herad about the DVD yoga for scoliosis?
    Mindy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Dedham Massachusetts
    Posts
    1

    Broken Harrington Rod...

    This is my first post, so I hope I am doing this correctly. I had my Harrington rod put in at the age of 35 (1980), a few years after the removal of a ruptured L4-L5 disc. The laminectomy resulted in a lumbar curve progression from 33 to 66 degrees. The rod broke two years later due to a non-union of the graft at that level. Removal of the rod is very difficult if (like me) you have a tendency for the bone grafts to over-grow the rod and spine. Over the following 15 years I have had two other sets of rods and screws and wires inserted... double CD rods and Luque wires about 1985. These second rods had to be removed three years later when I developed a massive systemic staph infection (seeding of the rods and spine) after a root canal for which I had not been advised to pre-treat with antibiotics. My third set of rods (still in place) is an elaborate Isola system, with the addition of pedicle screws to anchor the L5-S1 fusion that needed to be done. These have been in place since the early 1990s and while at least one rod and screw is broken, the fusions are solid and the broken pieces are encased in bone and graft over-growth. I have had complications with every surgery.

    I am now 60. The degenerative joint changes from so much surgery (some of the procedures were both anterior and posterior) coupled with the effects of metal-on-bone and over-growth of bone grafts into disc spaces and impacts on nerve endings is quite painful at times, but I am still very active and work at least 10 hours a day. I have never regretted having any of the procedures done since I know I would have been a lot worse off if I had not had them done!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    6
    Thank you so much for the information, I'll be the first one on the phone tomorrow morning to the doctor to get x-rays TOMORROW!
    I see a wonderful PA so I'm going to print out the posts to prove my point.
    Thank you again, i don't know what I'd do without this.
    I'll let everyone know how it goes.
    You all are awesome and I wish you all luck also!
    Stacy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    upstate ny
    Posts
    4

    Walking and Stretching Does Seems to Help

    Hi everyone:

    Just to update ya'll on my lower back pain. I joined the local gym. I got on treadmill and walked 1.5 miles at good pace. I stretched out my legs and layed on floor on thick mat and allowed my lower back to relax into mat. Not easy at first - took a good 15 minutes.

    Results: I woke up the next morning PAIN FREE! Yes, for the first time in about 2 years I got up with NO BACK PAIN.

    Also, there is a new shoe on the market made by a company called Swiss Masi. These claim to help you regain your correct posture by correcting your gait. I'm tempted to buy a pair, but at $230. each, I'm not sure. If you go to their website, (www.swissmasai.com) you can get info on the shoes. Apparently, they take time to learn how to walk in, etc. If anyone else looks into these shoes, let me know.

    Now I will heed the words of my back doctor - keep exercising! However, I will get X-rays just to see what's going on there - could be disc problem.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    8

    Smile Dr. Keim

    Hi, Nina!

    I just read your post and wanted to respond. You and I have very similar cases! I also had my scoliosis surgery in 1980 at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital by Dr. Keim. I was 17 at the time. He told me to stay fit and have a good life! I listened to him - life was great and I always exercised and kept my weight way down. I NEVER had a problem with my back - until last June.

    Unfortunately, once I hit 40, I gained over 20 pounds and all of a sudden, last June, my back just went out. I couldn't walk right or stand up straight for about a month. I did an internet search on Harrington rods/scoliosis and I learned all about flatback syndrome and about the degeneration of the discs beneath the rod. I was shocked. This was the first time I had heard that my rod would cause me problems. In July, I went to see Dr. Dryer in NJ who is a scoliosis surgeon. He told me that he took over Dr. Keim's practice and he had all of his old files! Anyway, he told me to drop the extra weight I had gained, drink plenty of milk, stay fit and do 300 sit ups every other day.

    After throwing my back out a few more times, I finally decided to listen to Dr. Dryer. On January 31st, I started a six day a week exercise routine and I started to lose weight. I walk on the treadmill three times a week for 30 minutes and I do toning exercises (including my 300 sit ups) three times a week. My back once again feels really good. Since throwing it out last June, though, when I sit for long periods of time, I have trouble standing straight again. Usually I need to just lie flat on the floor for a few minutes and then it's as good as new. Dr. Dryer told me I will probably need surgery in about 10 years, but I am hoping that if I take care of my back, I can bypass that all together.

    So, Nina, I think the key for us is to just keep the weight down and exercise! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me!

    Suzanne
    in New Jersey :-)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    6
    Suzanne,
    Wow, I was wondering how you do the 300 sit ups? I was told when I had my surgery done not to do the sit ups and I could not continue with the gymnastics I used to do. I was at Shriners in Philly. I also noticed that since I gained 15 lbs my back seems more sensitive. How about a weight lifting limit? I was told no more than 25lbs, is this about right?
    This is just so nice to be able to ask these questions to people who have "been there, done that"
    Thanks for your help!
    Stacy

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    8

    300 sit ups

    Hi, Stacy!

    I am SO thankful for the internet because this is the first time that I have been able to connect with other "Harrington rod victims."

    I was not told after surgery not to exercise. I was told that I couldnt' ride on motorcycles, go skiing, you know, things that were risky. I was never told about a weight lifting limit, either. Actually, thinking that I had the steel rod in my back, I always felt that I was like the bionic woman and that I could just lift whatever I wanted!!! Fortunately, God gave me weak arm muscles, so that kind of stopped me from lifting heavy objects!

    As far as the sit ups, the doctor I saw last July told me that crunches are what I need to do. Just lie flat (I prefer to bend my knees and hook my feet under something) and slowly raise your upper body until your shoulder blades come up off the floor - THAT'S IT! Then go back down. If you do that kind of crunch, then your lower back is flat on the floor and is not being used or getting hurt. If you just use the upper back, you can feel your stomach muscles being used.

    He also said that any kind of exercise where you're hanging and your spine is extended is EXCELLENT! He told me to do chin ups (like my weak bicep muscles will allow me to do those) or even just hang from a chin up bar.

    I don't do 300 sit ups at once. I do 45, then I'll do some push ups, then do another 45, then do a leg exercise, etc. In other words, I break up my sit ups, but I do complete 300 sit ups with each workout.

    I'm glad you mentioned about the extra 15 pounds you put on. I really think that we need to keep our weight down. Do you exercise and if so, do you feel it helps you?

    Suzanne
    in New Jersey

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    NJ across from NYC
    Posts
    329

    Dr. Keim

    Suzanne - I had surgery by Dr. Keim in 1981 at the age of 27! I too had no pain until 1997, then it started... I went to Dr. Errico at NYU Medical Center as he had my records from Dr. Keim. Initially he thought my spine moved again but it didn't after reviewing my past records. From then on, I was on a wild goose chase trying to find what the heck was causing the pain. In 2000, I eventually found Dr. Harvinder Sandhu at Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC who said my rod was loose and should be removed. I had never heard that rods can be removed. He was quite surprised that I still had it in my back. So I had the surgery with the intent of having it completely removed; turns out he only removed about 2.5 inches on the top as it was so fused to my spine. If need be, he would have removed it all but it would have taken hours on end. It took three hours to remove the 2.5 inches. It did help with the upper pain but not the cure all. I then had, four months later, part of my right shoulder blade removed as it was so uneven it was hitting my rib cage. HSS referred me to Columbia Presy. with Dr. Louis Biglianni, a shoulder surgeon. That did help quite a bit. After all that, I still had the hip pain that was just awful. I since went to pain management, and I am on meds that I will be on forever, but it's a miracle as I feel like a new person. I also practice "The Alexander Technique" which is also what saved me. Anyone with back issues should absolutely look into that technique. It is my salvation. I also walk on a treadmill as walking is my only form of exercise that doesn't hurt me. When I had my surgery in 1981, the one thing that stuck in my mind was Dr. Keim saying, watch your weight. I had lost 20 plus pounds being that awful body cast through the hot summer for nine months (doesn't that bring back memories?) and have since kept it off - that is truly a key in helping with the pain. Also by growing three inches as result of the spine straightening, boy I thought who I was! It was a great feeling back then. Isn't it amazing how the surgery is now? You are out of the hospital certainly is less time than when we had it done and with no body cast. That is truly amazing. Take care, LYNN
    Last edited by Jacque's Mom; 04-13-2005 at 02:58 PM.
    1981 Surgery with Harrington Rod; fused from T2 to L3 - Dr.Keim (at 26 years old)
    2000 Partial Rod Removal
    2001 Right Scapular Resection
    12/07/2010 "Surgical stabilization L3 through sacrum with revision harrington rod instrumentation, interbody fusion and pre-sacral fusion L5-S1" - Dr. Boachie - and feeling GREAT! (at 56 years old)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    ny
    Posts
    554
    wow nina - hugo keim; that was my dr. as a teen. I never had surgery, but i was braced as a teen and i haven't heard his name in quite a while. My daughter is 15 and just had surgery and i was wondering who took over his practice, but on another thread is said Dr. Dryer did.
    well hope you are feeling better

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    8
    Hi, Lynn! I can't believe how many people here used Dr. Keim! JC3, Dr. Errico and Dr. Dryer are partners and they both are at NYU and have all of Dr. Keim's files.

    Lynn, why didn't you have Dr. Errico remove that part of the rod? Why did you go to someone else? I LOVE my treadmill. I think it has been my saving grace for these last few months. Since using it regularly, I have not had any pain. What is the Alexander Technique? I don't think Dr. Keim told me to keep the weight off, but I do remember him telling me to stay fit. I guess that's the same thing? My back is really not all that bad. As long as I can lose these last 10 - 15 pounds and continue working out, I am hoping I won't need surgery.

    Yes, I do remember that body cast!!! I wore it for most of my senior year in high school. This really nice guy sat next to me in fifth period english. I think he felt really bad for me. He's been my husband now for almost 19 years!!! A lot of times, a man would say that the first time he saw his wife, she was absolutely beautiful. The first time my husband saw me, I was wearing a body cast!!!!! lol I only lost ten pounds in that cast, but was able to keep it off for a very long time!!!!! I can't believe they don't use body casts anymore!!!!

    I see your daughter also has scoliosis. My 15 year old has been monitored for years. She only as a 14 degree curve (thank God).

    Suzanne
    in New Jersey

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    ny
    Posts
    554
    Thanks for the info on dr. keim. That is great to know that dr. errico & dr. dryer have my records there. When my daughter was diagnosed and then bracing didn't work, i always wondered who took over his practice and never found out until now. My daughter had surgery in November with Dr. Boachie - Hospital for special surgery in NY and is doing great so far.
    Jennifer

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