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Thread: Lower back pain 16 years after Harrington rod?

  1. #1
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    Lower back pain 16 years after Harrington rod?

    I have been reading up on the forums on how people have had back pain years later with the Harrington Rod. I had one rod fused in 1990 and have only had chronic lower back pain in the past 14 months and am not sure where to go from here. Can anyone help?
    It always gets worse after standing or walking and the pain is mostly on my lower left hip. Sometimes it gets better and is more tolerable but it is always there. I live in England now and my General Practioner said that having scoliosis does cause pain because of its nature, which doesn't help. I had physio, saw an osteopath and had a new lift put in my shoe but in the long term nothing seems to work.
    How do you find out if it is degenerative discs? - am a bit confused how people get diagnosed if the rod interferes with the tests? Am I just better off seeing my old surgeon next time I am in the U.S.A.?...

  2. #2
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    I'm 24 years post-surgery with same type of pain. Regular X-rays showed that my spine curved below the rod and that I have non-functioning (degenerative) discs below the rod. Did you have a bone graft from your hip? I didn't dwell on my hip pain but MAN does it hurt at times. (Seat heat warmers help me in the winter). None of my general practicioners seemed to know what to do or how to interpret my pain...I had best of luck with my surgeon.

    Would love to hear more from you as it sounds as though we may be in similar boats.

    Always Smilin'

  3. #3
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    Hi Tina...

    You might get some good recommendations here:


    If the problem is degenerative (and it often is), it would almost certainly be above or below your fusion. Degeneration in discs can be seen on plain x-rays. Also, an MRI or CT-scan can clearly show degeneration.

    Hope you can find some help soon.

    Regards,
    Linda

  4. #4
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    Thanks very much for both of your replies, helps to know that there are others too! Sounds best to see my old surgeon as he would have my records.

    always smilin' - I did have a bone graft on my pelvic bone, I forgot about that, and also had bone grafts on my ribs. I don't know where exactly though. It started as deep pains in my back and hips when waking up in the morning and then somehow got better during the day. I thought it was my mattress but had the same one for about a year and it didn't give me problems before. By the time I had pysio after a 4 month wait on the waiting list, it was really painful to walk. The stretches they taught helped a little bit. Then I saw an Osteopath and had cranial osteopathy twice which was a godsend. It got better for a few months but is now present again. What kind of pain do you have?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tina2
    also had bone grafts on my ribs.
    Hi Tina... I think you probably had bone graft material made FROM your ribs. :-) As far as I know, ribs are never fused as part of any scoliosis surgery.

    --Linda

  6. #6
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    Hi Tina,
    I have been reading your post re lower back pain 16 years after Harrington rod. I am 25years post op this week! I had trouble with the Harrington rod soon after the fusion op, I had to have it replaced 4 months later as it started to bend at the top and screw moved out of place 3 months later i had to have the replacement rod removed as screw at bottom moved out of place. 3 months later I got disc trouble below fusion. 10 years later i started having more pain below fusion it was caused by a worn facet joint. Just recently i have had more pain similar to yours im waiting to see a specialist.
    regards
    MOB

  7. #7
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    Ohio
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    New to site

    I can't tell you all how happy I am to have found this site!! I was diagnosed with Scoliosis in 1974, wore the Milwaukee brace for 5 years, then at at 22, wham! My curve was back almost as bad as it was in '74. Had the fusion with Harrington Rod in the thoracic region. Surgery went fine, no problems post op either. They were successful in actually correcting the curve to better than average of 50% of the curve (I think it was 49 or so, corrected to 23 degrees).

    Now, 24 years later, it is becoming more painful to hold up my head, recent trip to PCP shows something at the C5-7 levels. Going to have an MRI tomorrow (I'm pretty hesitant to do this, so many times was told wasn't possible) hope it tells me something.

    Reading some of your postings I know I'm not nuts, pain in left hip, pain shooting down left leg, extreme lower back pain. My thought has always been if that's all you know, then it's normal for you!

    Although I don't want there to be anything wrong which cannot be treated with either physical therapy or medicine, my heart tells me that something is not right and I may be in for some rocky days ahead.

    If any of you have experienced any of the above symptoms or know of anyone, I'd appreciate some guidance.

    Thanks! and I'm so happy to be able to share my feelings with others who truly understand.

  8. #8
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    Marlin-
    Sounds so familiar. I have your philosophy - this is the way my life is so best to learn to live with it...until the past few months. Then, like you, I had this sinking feeling that all wasn't well - even after a letter correspondence with my surgeon...but I did go in and all isn't well.

    I did have an MRI - but I really think it helped to bring the reading to my scoli surgeon - they just seem more in tuned with what to look for. Also, I would suggest that you get a full body X-Ray...that actually told me more than what I may have been looking (wishing) for. I hadn't had a full body X-ray since 1984 (I believe). Doctors didn't feel it was needed. But my curve is bad below and above the fusion.

    Best of luck..and like you...I find this site to be a godsend. I truly thought I was in this alone. (I have NEVER met anyone with scoliosis who wore a brace OR had surgery unless I was at my scoli doctor hundreds of miles away from home).

    Best of luck to you-
    Always Smilin'

  9. #9
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    always smilin'--
    I have never seen a full body x-ray & wish I had one. Then maybe I'd see why I'm supposed to have a T2 to sacrum fusion... I'm planning on asking my surgeon at pre-op , in a few weeks, to draw my full spine because I can't piece the 2 x-rays together. I have bad kyphosis so maybe that's the reason they must go way up too? I'm so nervous about this big fusion...........Ly

  10. #10
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    So strange!

    I am so glad I looked here today. I was diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was young (an S curve) and wore the Milwalke brace for 5 years. My curves progressed and I had the surgery in 1989. Harrington rods were used. Now, 17 years later I am experiencing pain and stiffness. Lower back pain and shooting pains in my right hip which cause my right leg and foot to go numb. My surgeon has since retired. I went to the surgeon that "replaced" him and I had a C-Scan and Myleogram. This didn't show anything. They suggested shots to help ease the pain but I haven't done anything at this point. They don't seem to know. I know I went to one of the "best" surgeons here. I don't know what to do.

  11. #11
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    Sounds like we're all in similar situations Mocity - again, I only found out what was going on once they took a full body x-ray. Also - I should emphasize -
    they were able to compare my X-Rays today with the ones taken right after surgery - that was TREMENDOUSLY helpful. The first dr. I talked to did a nice job but really didn't have my full background. I would suggest everyone do that. It's hard to look at X-rays when you don't know what you're looking for or what you used to have.

    Hope that helps
    Always Smilin'

    P.S. I'd love to know how many more of us Harrington Rod people are out there!

    (Harrington rod in 1982)

  12. #12
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    Ohio
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    Not sure a comparison will be possible, my doc retired years ago, he was in his late 50's early 60's when he did my surgery.

    Did have the MRI today, went okay, I panicked at first but was able "suck it up" long enough to get through it completely. Will wait for the results.

    If any of you are from the Ohio area and have knowledge of a physician who deals with adults with Scoliosis, would appreciate the recommendation.

    Thanks again and glad to have finally found all of you!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by always smilin'
    P.S. I'd love to know how many more of us Harrington Rod people are out there!
    Hi Smilin'

    A few years ago, I asked that question of Dr. Marc Asher, who put together the Harrington Archives at KUMC. He responded that there was really no way of knowing. Harrington rods are still being used today, mostly outside of the US.

    You'll find a nice group of patients who had Harrington rod surgery on this forum:

    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Flatback_Revised/

    Regards,
    Linda

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Hi guys, Marlin, always Smilling,Mocity and Tina,

    Like all of you I came across this site at one of my down moments,( the one where you can't believe this is the way it is suppose to be and wonder if anyone else is like this, moment).
    I am sure we all have had them at one point. and I also have Harrignton rods, and I had surgery in 85 at 17 for a very bad curve it was a s curve don't realy remember the degrees, and have pretty much been in pain since. So bad after surgery that I thought for sure as well as my familly that there was something wrong that they would need to fixe. But I was told it was too early and that everything would get better with in the next yr. Well it didn't and since they had told me everything was okay, I then thought it was all in my head. I managed to graduate from high school, and college and work in my chosen field, but unfortunatly had to give it up, and go on long term disability due not being able to be in one position for a long period of time. It afect everything. Your sleep. I have to wake up a number of times at night in order not to be in severe pain in the mornings. I do experience like you severe pain in the hip,leggs and it drives me nuts at times. But I have been dealing with the whole situation now for 21 yrs, and 8 of thoses have been with worsening leg pain. My pain tolerance is very high, but I do experience lack of concentration and I am very forgetfull. It just get too much. It get complicated at times, somethings you do to help one things, agravates another.
    I have been seeing doctors here in canada since my surgery and have been followed closely since I have been on disability. The one I am with now is my number 8th.
    I have an appointement tomorow to discuss surgery that is to come, as well as all the new pain that have started this yr, my kneck being one of the scary one. It was the worse that it as ever been about a month ago, and just isn't the same since. As well as losse of feeling in hands and leggs ,feet. And checking up on my broken rod, make sure it is still not moving.

    I have read on this forum about others experiencing the same as me.
    You are not alone guys, and isn't it great to be able to say this.!
    Just wanted to fill you in on a very small piece of my storie. The good part is I still managed to have two great children, that was big for me.

    Well enough blah blah, Welcome to the gang, the people are realy great !! Especialy LindaRacine, she is very comforting and very informed. Take care guys!!

  15. #15
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    Wow, a fan ;-) Thanks!

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