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Thread: Original surgery worth post-surgery problems?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Metro-Detroit, Michigan
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    Original surgery worth post-surgery problems?

    Hi all - I am contemplating whether I want to go ahead and have scoliosis surgery. One of my biggest fears is that I will end up worse than I am now.

    While I still have pain, and am not as active as I would like, I still play tennis, and consider myself "normal". But, there are days when I feel great, and days when I can barely move. I am told my curve will continue to progress, and will most certainly cause more problems as I age, especially once I hit menopause. I was told surgery will prevent the problems as I age, and would be better to do while I am younger and in better shape. (as opposed to waiting until problems are unbearable, but I am not as strong a surgical candidate) I am just worried, after hearing about disc degeneration, and what not whether I will really be better off with a fusion and rods. Am I just trading one problem for another? (If I have scoliois related problems as I age, or fusion related problems as I age.)

    Are people glad they have the surgery, or do the need for revisions and what not make you second guess whether it would have been better to just leave the back untouched and treat conservatively?

    Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!
    Meg is Spinewhine
    31 years old with thoracic curve
    Wore Boston brace as teenager, but curve continued to progress.
    Surgery on 12/13/2005 with correction from over 55 degrees to under 25 degrees. (Ya baby!)

    The nitty gritty at:
    http://spinewhine.blogspot.com/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,795
    Hi Meg...

    I had surgery at the age of 42, and while recovery was long, I do feel like I did the right thing. I had become fairly sedate because of the pain before surgery, and I was able to do many of the things I missed once I had surgery. Now, I've had degeneration below my fusion, and the pain is back, and I'll almost certainly have to have more surgery. It's not something I'm very happy about, but I've come to understand that it's just a part of the bad luck of having scoliosis.

    I'm guessing that, like me, on good days you can't imagine having surgery, and on bad days you kick yourself for waiting so long. The decision to have surgery is a really tough one. The good news is that if you pick the right surgeon, take care of your back, and have a little luck, you have a good chance of never needing more surgery.

    Best of luck with your decision.

    Regards,
    Linda

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    Hi meg,

    I also do think what if I didn't have surgery, since I do have pain still and am going in for my third surgery in 8 years for a broken rod and screw loose, besides other things that they will evaluate when they open me up in a few months. The thing is, I was 26 when I got the surgery(am now 34), and I couldn't sit or stand for very long, it was no choice at that point. I also had a 60 degree curve(my top curve, since I have an S), and that is not good for health reasons as well. I am glad that I left the hospital and backed out the first time they wanted to operate on me when I was 18, since I at least had a almost pain free life at that time and did enjoy life to the fullest until the surgery at 26.

    I'm not flexible like I used to be, I am tired of getting surgery to fix things especially since I really take it easy and I don't like hearing about other problems that can happen later on, but I had no choice. My advice for anyone is to wait until the curve is at least in the 50s and the pain is REALLY affecting your life. After surgery I would suggest reavaluating activities and if a person doesn't need to work long hours and take it easy with exercising, that is really important(swimming and walking, PT exercises), then do so.

    Your health is what's more precious.
    Last edited by sweetness514; 09-23-2005 at 02:21 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Erie PA
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    49
    One thing to consider is this: if you have surgery, you might get another problem, but if all goes well you won't. If you don't have surgery, your pain will most likely continue and worsen until it's unbearable. Personally, I'd go for the surgery - that's where you have a chance of getting better.

    Good luck with this tough decision.
    I'm Karin. I had surgery for my scoliosis on October 13, 2005, and am doing well! I formerly wore a providence brace and did PT for treatment.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    97
    Hi Meg - Im sure if you asked every person on here the same question you would get a different answer.. I had surgery at age 16.. Prior to surgery I was in alot of pain even though I led a "normal" life, playing sports - etc.. We tried chiropractic for about a year before deciding on surgery - the chiropractor told us that they could not stop the progression and would end up hurting me long term - My personal philosophy on surgery is to not do it unless the risk is better than what you are living with now.. (that is unless your doctor tells you otherwise, then I would get a 2nd or even 3rd opinion).. should you go ahead with the surgery - try and get the best doctor available!

    And one more thing, I think alot of people are not informed about how important it is to maintain a healthy weight & always do the back exercises - knowing the potential problems that you may face can help you to prepare and maybe reduce or avoid them!! Good luck!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Illinois
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    151
    I had surgery 1 year ago for a 56 degree curve. I was having severe hip pain and numbness in my leg. The Dr. that did my surgery was very nice and run me through a lot of tests before hand. I ahd a screw work it's way loose and shifted one of my rods. That was causing lots of pain. My Dr. did surgery last week to remove my hardware. I don't know how I will do down the road, but for now I am just dealing with the pain from surgery. It is not to bad I guess for what I have been through. It is a tough choise to make to have surgery or not. I hope either way you choise you will feel better.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    2
    Hi Meg,
    I had two surgeries, one when I was fifteen and one when I was 25. My first one I wasn't having any pain and did not have a choice whether or not to have it because of my age and the doctors recommendations. However, I believe that had I not had it I would not have been able to live such a "normal" life. When I have some degenerative disc problems at 25, I was in a bad place dealing with the pain and my highly active career. If I had not had the surgery to relieve the pain my scoliosis was causing I probably would have went into a deep depression. Not to mention that any doctor who hasn't had experience with these kinds of patients just drug us up instead of trying to help find a fix. I think that since you are in a position to decide for yourself whether or not surgery is for you, you need to figure out how much your pain is affecting your life. How much is it stopping you from doing or enjoying and is it enough to want to take a risk to have those things back or to relieve your pain? It has been 3 years since my last surgery and I am 9 months pregnant and completely back pain free. For me the life that the surgery has given me back, has been well worth the recovery time. (And I was told at my last dr's appt that only 10-15% of all scoliosis patients actually have a risk of having to have repeat procedures done. Just a thought!)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Metro-Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    138
    Thanks everyone - I am really hoping there is a solution out there that will make my everyday life better, and prevent long term problems. You all helped put my thoughts and contemplations in perspective.
    Meg is Spinewhine
    31 years old with thoracic curve
    Wore Boston brace as teenager, but curve continued to progress.
    Surgery on 12/13/2005 with correction from over 55 degrees to under 25 degrees. (Ya baby!)

    The nitty gritty at:
    http://spinewhine.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    22

    scared

    I have never regreted my first surgery, my second however has been a nightmare. When I was 12 my options were, have surgery soon or end up in a wheel chair by 18. I did it and I haven't looked back. My revison didn't go as smooth and there isn't really enough room for the instrumentation so there is a possibility of removing those after the fusion takes. I know that age plays a big part in the recovery time, and so does the degree of curviture and the location of the fusion. But the pain I am in now is worse than the pain the scoliosis was causing in the first place.

    Georgian

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