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Thread: Harrington Rod Problems after 25 years?

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    NJ across from NYC
    Posts
    329

    Dr. Keim

    Hi Suzanne, I laughed at your comment about your husband - I actually got engaged and then had my surgery three months later and was in that lovely body cast the entire engagement - wasn't that fun! The day we got engaged, that afternoon it was off to a doctor's appointment. Boy if we made it through that time of our lives, we can make it through anything. We'll be married 23 year on April 30th. And he's still as supportive as then with my back issues.

    The reason I didn't have Dr. Errico remove my rod is that he never even mentioned it. This was in 1998 and I never heard about rod removals until I saw Dr. Sandhu in 2000. With Dr. Errico, he sent me to Dr. Salassi, pain managment, who gave me quite a few facet shot injections and also had an cervical epidural (ouch), which really didn't make a difference; also sent me to a phsyatrist (sp?) who sent me to a physical therapy place.....no change. So the search continued.... It was such an awful time but now I feel like a new person. The Alexander Technique works with your posture. It truly has changed my quality of life. When I do get pain, I know it will be only temporary and I don't freak out. Go to http://www.alextechmetro.com. Elizabeth is the person I go to about every four to five weeks now. I've been with her for almost 2.5 years and for the first year I went once a week religiously. I would take the F train to the village as I work in the City. Now I go to Closter, NJ on Saturdays as it's not too far from my house. If you go to google.com and type in The Alexander Technique, there are numerous websites with information. It's something you have to stick with weekly for at least six months in order to really get it. When you do, you feel amazing. I have tried Yoga, physical therapy, massage therapy, accupunture, pilates, you name it, I tried it but the only thing that helps me is walking and the Alex. Tech.

    Did you have alot of pain prior to your surgery? I suffered from 12 to 27. I always had pain but they never put me in a brace, just told me to do exercise. I remember like it was yesterday, Dr. Dulligan said to me when I was first diagnosed that "the only reason you should have surgery is if you wanted to be a model". Now, how foolish is that! Back then, they really knew nothing compared to today. Needless-to-say, he wasn't a fan of mine but I had no choice but to continue with him as I was so young and there wasn't many doctors that knew what they were dealing with (not that he did either!). After my surgery in 1981, I was absolutely painfree and in 1986 had my daughter with no complications during pregnancy or after. In 1997 the pain started in the shoulder blades, then went to the neck and down to the hips, etc. What a nightmare. I do not have flatback syndrome and I did go to Dr. Boachie, who in my opinion, was one of the nicest, caring doctors I have ever met. If I ever had to have anything done, he would be the one I would go to without a doubt. Let's hope that never happens.

    My daughter is now a freshman in college and doing great. She was on a dance team in high shool and has contined in college. Her orthopedist is very happy with her back as her curve decreased very nicely. We know that exercise doesn't prevent scoliosis but it is certainly helping her keep herself in shape. I used to look at her back constantly, hoping she wouldn't have it and was quite upset when she was diagnosed. But, there are certainly so many things worse in this world and the techniques they use now are so different (as we both know!). Hopefully both our girls will just stay in the teens with their curves and enjoy a painfree life.

    Take care, feel good and keep walking on that treadmill!
    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)

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    1

    Smile Suffering aftermath of Harrington Rod

    I had scoliosis surgery in 1968 and they used a Harrington Rod. I then spent six months in a full body case in bed.

    I have been very fortunate with pretty good health as far as my back until this year. I started having shooting pains down my right leg all the way to to my foot as well as some pain in my left thigh. Basically pain medications and rest helped me get back on my feet. Physically therapy helped some but certain pieces of equipment put me flat on my back again.

    The doctor suggested that I might have to have the Rod removed because a hook on the rod was pressing on a nerve.

    Has anyone had this experience??

    Thanks.

    Mary in Maryland

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    8

    Smile

    Lynn - When I was a young teen, I noticed that one shoulder blade stuck out more than the other and that muscle inbetween the spine and right shoulder blade always felt "tired" or "strained." I often would just lie flat on the floor and that always seemed to help (still does, actually). I was diagnosed in 1978 by our family physician, but he said, "it's nothing to worry about." But the strained shoulder blade was the extent of my pain. I was much younger than you when I had surgery (17). I probably would have been in more pain had I waited to have surgery. Thanks for the info on the Alexander Technique. I will check into it. But for now, I find that the treadmill along with toning exercises really has been helping me.

    Mary - sorry, no. My rod isn't really causing me much pain. Well, for now anyway. I pray it stays that way!!!

    Suzanne
    in New Jersey
    45 Degree curve, Harrington rod place in 1980 by Dr. Keim at Columbia-Presbyterian, NYC.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    29

    I hope I can help you and maybe you can help me

    Hi Nina:

    I actually had my first scoliosis fusion with Harrington rods way back in 1973 At the Twin Cities Scoliosis Clinic in Minneapolis by Dr. Robert Winter... My curve was extremely severe approximately 133. The correction was to 79.
    But that was fine with me as I was very anxious to get on my life after laying in bed for a year with halo traction and halo body cast. It was a long fusion and in 1990 and 93 I had to lumbar fusions as I was having so much pain. My last surgery was in 2001 in Plano Texas which was supposed to have been a "reconstructive surgery" as I have heard they have made many advances over the past 25 or 30 years. Unfortunately there were some avoidable complications, and now today I am still searching for that one of very few reconstructive surgeons that might be able to help my case. My way of fully finding somebody for it is too late is through my my own personal web site www.FrankieBush.net which I hope my give a little inspiration to others also, as truly I have been blessed in many ways.

    I have been encouraged by reading other posts as I had no idea there were so many people in even a similar situation. I do find it very difficult to find that "right surgeon" who will stay with you at least give you a referral. I have never even been able to receive a referral. I am not bitter just hoping to find the right surgeon somewhere ...

    Best wishes to you and God bless, Frankie

  5. #20
    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 11:33 AM. Reason: need some other information

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,797
    Hi MaryAnn...

    Dr. Oheneba Boachie has performed surgery on a lot of patients with prior Harrington rod fusions. If you do a search on these forums for BOACHIE, you'll see quite a few reports from his patients. Here's his bio:

    http://www.hss.edu/Physicians/Profil...-Adjei-Oheneba

    Good luck.

    Regards,
    Linda

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    I don't know if there are shoes for back pain but I used to have severe leg and knee pain, so I had orthesis done. You go to a podiatrist and he checks you out to see if your alignment is good, then maybe prescribes them if needed. You put them in your shoes, and it has helped me a LOT.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    10
    sorry to hear about all the problems scoliosis has done...I was diagnosed with crippling scoliosis in 1993 and had the operation at 14, steel rod 4 compression screws and fused onto 3/4 of my spine, also they went in on my left side. They had to take out my left rib because it was overlapping my hipbone so it's fused on my rod also. My scar is from my left side to the middle of my back anybody else have that??? I am now almost 26 but feel like I'm a lot older, because of the pain and stiffness.
    I mostly only had pain when the weather changed and my normal spasms until I had my children; which are 3 yrs and 14 months. I was wondering how everyone deals with the pain while exercising and lying on the floor, it hurts to do any of that, my rod sticks out so I can't lie flat on my back at all. I do use the treadmill when I have time cause I work full time. I used to do crunches while lying on a bed but now that hurts also...I have 2 hernias from my pregnancy. If anyone can give me some other exercise that I can try I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thanks everyone and I hope the best for you all!
    Kristie

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    As far as exercising goes, swimming is the best(for the back), walking and bycycling is good for the legs as well, you want to keep those strong as they are your tool now more than ever I also can't lie on my back or do any sit ups, it is too hard on my back. I do lift light weights to strenghten my upper back and arms.

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    6

    finally I can do something

    Hi Suzanne,
    Thanks for the information. I don't work out. But I think I can do the pull ups like you said. And I did start walking, about 3 hours a day and lost 5 lbs in 3 weeks so I guess I'm starting. I also would like to try the sit ups you were saying, it can't be that bad. I'm so happy for your advice. Thanks again.
    Stacy

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    9

    Talking broken harrington rod

    Quote Originally Posted by nina
    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.
    hello nina

    how are you feeling since your last post? my name is sonia and i had a spinal fusion in 1979. my rod broke early after the surgery at the T-11 and T-12 sections. my doctor said it was due to the non-union of the fusion, they call it pseudoarthrosis. so in 1985 i had to rod removed and added more bone graft to the pseudoarthrosis. i felt fine for about 10 years. then i was experiencing terrible lower back pain. my doctor wanted to fuse again down to the sacrum, but i did not want to go there. so i went to see a physical therapist and it helped a lot. After i went on an excersis program recommended by the therapist which was simple. 30 min on treadmill, 15 min on recumbant bike, and building your leg muscles with lite weight training so to take the pressure off your lower back and 5 min of crunches. this is time consuming, however it worked for me. I was cured. I would recommend before you do any exercise that you get clearance from a doctor. take x-rays to evaluate your fusion to make sure that everything is all right. Excercise really changed my life. good luck!

  12. #27
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1

    Harrington Road-Back Pain

    While it is unfortunate that there are so many people in pain, I am happy to see this type of support group, otherwise I start to think I have gone insane for thinking there might be a connection between by surgery and my back pain.

    I had spinal fusion surgery in 1985 with a single Harrington Rod. I was fine and very active through college and had minimal problems. I continue to be active and have had two kids. Over the last ten years, my lower back pain has been getting progressively worse (I am currently 32, 12 years old at surgery). I am unable to walk for more than 45 minutes to an hour without feeling like someone is sticking with an icepick in my back. This makes it difficult to keep up with two young kids.

    I contacted my original surgeon, Dr. Alvin Crawford from Cincinnati Children's Hospital who is one of the top surgeon's in the field, for a reference. He said that they still see their old patients, I assume because they are researching these types of long-term affects.

    I saw the reference to flat-back syndrome which is something I am concerned about because I show several signs including hutching over a lot to help alleviate pain. I have also heard that spinal fusion patients may also suffer from early arthritis in the lower back though I have never heard of arthritis in your back.

    I am going to see Dr. Crawford in two weeks for a round of x-rays and follow up steps. Regardless, I am still glad I had the surgery, my curvature was severe and progressing.

    Wendy

  13. #28
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1

    Smile Hi Everyone

    I was looking for information about Harrington Rods ..and I found this site
    and I find it very intersting to find so many people with the same problems

    I had Harrington Rod surgery when I was 10 or 11 years old ..that was around
    1971....and I had to stay in a body cast for a year and a half....
    I am now 45 ..I had a large section of my back removed and have
    just the Harrington rods holding every thing together....
    I was wondering if anyone has had this done ??
    The rods have stopped me from breaking my neck when I was in a
    very bad motorcycle accident when I was 20 .
    I have some pain ..but were they removed the ribs bothers me the most
    and when I took karate the only thing I could not do was a front
    shoulder roll ..but I lift weights and still ride motorcycles ...
    I am just happy to be able to walk ...and I can't thank DR.Watts
    and Childrens Hospital enough.....
    If I can help anyone let me know.....

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,797
    FDM...

    I'm confused. Where is your spinal cord in the area where the bone was removed?

    --Linda

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    ny
    Posts
    554
    FDM
    i see you wrote that you have rods and ride motorcycles. I found that interesting because my daughter just had surgery and on her list of restrictions of never to do is ride a motorcycle.

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