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Thread: Scoliosis Questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    35

    Scoliosis Questions

    Hi everyone! I'm brand new to these boards, and I could really use some advice. I hope that I am posting this on the correct board, since I am over 18.

    My name is Kathryn, and I'm 20 years old. I live in Canada. When I was 15, I was found to have lumbar scoliosis at a 29 degree curve. It was found because I was experiencing some pain in my low back, as well as shooting pains down my left leg, which were being exacerbated by tennis lessons I was taking. I had a CT scan, and found that I also had a protruding disc, caused by the curve, which was likely causing some of the pain. At that point, the doctors said not to operate, but to watch the progression.

    About 10 weeks ago, the pain in my back (which had been unchanging for almost 5 years) got quite suddenly much worse. I have now have constant radiating pain down both legs, numbness, and a lot of sharp pain as well as “achy-ness” in my low back. I had to drop a summer course I was taking at college, and the pain is basically preventing me from most of my activities (hockey, school, horseback riding, driving). I find sitting the most painful. I have been x-rayed, and I now have a 55 degree curve, and am scheduled for a CT scan next week. Do you think I will need surgery? This pain is not manageable, and I have tried physiotherapy, yoga, Advil, naproxen, swimming...I am out of ideas and getting desperate. I have not yet seen an orthopedic surgeon, but my General Practitioner says that she believes I will need a surgery to deal with the curve, as well as possibly something to deal with the disc, if that is still a problem. The only thing which has helped the pain is Tylenol 3 with codeine, which is only a very temporary solution, and the pain relief is by no means total. I am scared by the prospect of surgery, but I do not think that I could return to college in the fall if I were feeling like this – I couldn’t even handle a single summer course!

    I am 163 cm and 63 kg (approximately 5’4 and 140 pounds) and in relatively good shape, with no other health problems, in case that is important.

    I would appreciate advice or information from anyone who knows anything about my condition. I would like to be able to ask the surgeon some intelligent questions when I see him. The most important questions I have are:

    -Will the surgery help to relieve the pain? It does not need to be perfect, just manageable.
    -How long will I be unable to go to school for?
    -Most of the information I find isn’t for lumbar scoliosis. Is my lumbar curve different from upper back ones?
    -How much mobility will I lose? Right now I am flexible, but in too much pain to really do much.
    -Has anyone else experienced this kind of pain with scoliosis? It seems that many people are pain-free.

    Thank you for your time if you read my very long post, I really appreciate it.

    Kathryn

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Sacramento,Calif.
    Posts
    420
    Hi Kathryn, Welcome to the land of scoliosis info. I too had lumbar only scoliosis and we are but a few. I had my 49* curve corrected 2/22/06 and am now 8*. I am pain free, straight and SO very happy this surgery was available. Being so young is a major advantage, you will heal fast. And the fact you are in shape is another plus. You can read back my posts and see my progress and get a good idea about my situation.

    I had pain in my lower back that started to affect my life, no pain down legs though. post-op now at 4 1/2 mos. I am better then I was before surgery.

    I was driving around at 4 weeks and shopping a bit. As for school it depends on how long you would be up and around. I needed to lay down for a break after being up awhile. I would plan on doing surgery during the summer so you have plenty of time to recover.

    Most seem to have the S curve and my lumbar was a C. I think we are lucky, less to correct....

    I too was VERY flexable and that is why the Dr. got such good results with me. I am not able to twist or bend yet so I don't know how much flexability I have lost. I know no future back bends! I am fused T10 to L4.

    Before you go to the Dr. read as much on here as you can and it will help you to come up with questions. There is some negativity about this surgery but I personally have had a great outcome. There are a few who have more pain then others or complications. Take it all in, the good and the bad. I figured I would end up somewhere in the middle and was pleasantly surprised to have a better then normal go of it. Also, look at the ages of people and remember you are young and the young heal faster. I am 43. I have before and after photos I can e-mail you if you want. Send me a private message with your E-mail address if you want to see them. Best wishes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    32
    Welcome to the site! I also had a C curve. Judging from the decription of your current condition it looks like you definitely have a progressive curvature. (But the doctors will be able to make the positive determination of that.) Like I always say it is up to the individual as to weather surgery is right from them, simply because there isn't one factor to go by when making a decision such as this. It generally includes a multitude of factors and issues to be addressed. As Suzy has suggested look at the messages on this site and get info from those whom have been through it. Surgery at your age is preferred especially if your in good physical health and recovery tends to be quicker. I'm certain that doctors will be able to answer your questions. If your not comfortable with the opinion or options presented just remember you do have a right to get a second opinion. (Highly suggested anyway for such a major surgery since there are now various techniques out there.)
    I got a Herrington Rod (stainless steel rod) back in 1984 and still have it in.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Bucks County, Pa
    Posts
    274
    I too have a lumbar curve of 55 degrees. I am 38. I am in excutiating pain most of the time. I have pain going down my right leg which sometimes feels like someone has an icepick to it. I am getting surgery on 9/6 and 9/8, my surgeon does the surgery in two parts. It will be nice to be straight but the main reason I am doing it is for pain relief.
    This forum has been my saving grace. I have learned soooo much.
    Good luck with your decision.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    35
    Thank you all for your input! I really appreciate it a lot. I have spent several hours today pouring over past posts and gotten a lot of information (and a little scared...), it's all very helpful. I have been writing down questions as I come up with them. I think my biggest fear is that I will go to the doctor and he will say "there is nothing we can do" and I will have to live with the pain. I think that I will seek out a second opinion as you have suggested, no matter what he says.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Buffalo, NY
    Posts
    34
    Hi Wakatie,

    I experienced loads of pain before I had my surgery... so much so that I was counting the minutes before I went in to have it fixed! It's normal to be nervous about surgery, but avoiding it all together may cause you more trouble than anything. It's not fun to be in pain, and I hope the doctors are able to help you in the easiest way possible. Also, sometimes when my back would hurt really bad (pre-surgery), my mom would have me lie on a heating pad... it seemed to atleast detract from the muscle aches! GOOD LUCK!
    Jen
    24/NY
    Harrington rod placement & fusions
    11/2/94
    60T, 35L

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Gold Coast Australia
    Posts
    48
    Hi Wakatie
    The pain radiating down your leg sounds like disc pain. You will need an MRI to confirm a diagnosis and maybe further tests such as a discogram to isolate which disc/s are the problem.
    Your scoliosis is within the range for correction and your age is an advantage.
    I never had my 35 degree lumbar scoli corrected and it eventually caused DDD (degenerative disc disease) after many years.
    Last week I had an artificial disc replacement and a 1 level fusion done but still no correction of the curve.
    There are many options, goood luck.

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