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Thread: Harrington Rod Problems after 25 years?

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  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
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    1

    Unhappy Much Back Pain Hugo Keim Operated

    My cousin and I had the reputed rods and spinal fusion done by the "renouned Dr. Kiem" money making sob. My cousin, after 25 years was reoperated on due to amjor pain. ac tually had the bottom pat of the harrington rod snipped. I haven't spoke with her recently. I am fine if I sit most of the day if i ride a bicycle but if I stand or walk more than 5 minutes I get serious pain. Physical therapy is a joke; another mombo jumbo doctor's office capitalizing on my pain. My cousin "Feels better" I am told. Short of the wheel chair no one's touching my back again. The pain from total spinal fusion I felt back in 1984 scares me to death.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    1,291

    Question Trouble after Harrington Rods

    The surgery Dr. Kiem did at the time was the state of the art those years. I worked in anesthesia at CPMC at the time. As a matter of fact I envied the correction he got in his patients compared to my own.

    It was a big improvement over the old fashioned scoliosis surgery I had in 1956 where only a modest correction was obtained and I needed to stay in bed for a YEAR--not walking --in a series of 3 casts.The Harrington rods--imperfect though they were-- allowed a person to walk sooner with a much better correction. It was the best they had at the time.

    The design of the Harrington Rods was faulty in that they did not maintain the normal front to back spinal alignment but made the back too straight. This resulted in abnormal wear and tear on the other joints and vertebrae. Not everyone with shorter fusions had problems;with longer fusions some people needed revisions.
    Here is a link which might help you:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Flatback_Revised
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    NJ across from NYC
    Posts
    329

    Dr. Keim

    I also had the Harrington Rod surgery by Dr. Keim in 1981. I started with pain again the end of 1997. My thinking is, as Karen mentioned, that was as good as you could get back then and I am forever grateful to Dr. Keim for giving me my life back instead of suffering like I did for so many years. After my cast was removed, I got married, had my beautiful daughter and life was pain free until '97. What were my options......stay in pain and be depressed or take the chance and have the surgery? I opted for the surgery and am grateful to this day even with the pain I am experiencing now. LYNN
    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 (at 56 years old)
    06/11/14 - Posterior cervical fusion C3 - T3 (Mountaineer System) due to severely arthritic joints - Dr. Patrick O'Leary (at age 59)

  9. #9
    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!

  10. #10
    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

  11. #11
    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.

  12. #12
    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 :-)

  13. #13
    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

  14. #14
    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

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    1

    Wink Harrington rod problems

    My name is Mary Ann and I have been living with a Harrington Rod for over 40 years. I have had major back problems and I can't lay straight on the floor without feeling pain. My entire body is out of line. I don't walk straight and my scolosis is coming back. My left shoulder blade has always been larger than my right. I am afraid to go to chiropractors or regular doctors. I need to find a doctor in New York City, preferably on the Eastside of Manhattan that knows about Harrington Rods. I need to find some help. I can't do yoga. Also does anyone out there know about what kind of shoes to wear with this problem. Is is too late for me to straighten out my back? I am 54 years of age. You can email me at maryann456@earthlink.net.
    Last edited by maryann6484; 04-19-2005 at 12:33 PM. Reason: need some other information

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