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Thread: Harr. Rod 20 years ago - now nerve blockage?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Harr. Rod 20 years ago - now nerve blockage?

    Hi there
    I had a harrington rod put in about 20 years ago. i've been having lower back pain and severe muscle weakness in my legs for a couple of months now. finally the neurosurgeon did a myelogram and CT scan. This found a blockage. they told me it could be a tumor or cyst. A doctor friend told me to get a second opinion, that it could be something else - related to my harrington rod. He said to try an orthopedic surgeon.

    Has anyone experienced this? Of course i'm scared it's a tumor, but the fact that I have the rod makes me wonder if it is not a tumor and somehow something related to my rod.

    Any help is GREATLY appreciated!!

  2. #2
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    Sep 2003
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    Hi Kel...

    You need to find a specialist who has a lot of experience in treating patients with prior scoliosis fusions. Where are you located?

    Regards,
    Linda

  3. #3
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    Hi Kel, I have had similiar symptons to you for the past 9 years and I have the Harrington rods same as you.

    It could be the rods, but then you have had the CT Scan and Myelogram and they have come up with a nerve blockage.

    To get a second opinion you need to see an expert as Linda has said. I am so sorry for you, as I know what the uncertainty and how scarey it can be, in fact we all do really. This site is excellent with the support and information it gives.

    All the best,

    The above is only my opinion,

    Macky
    Operation 1966, Fused from T4 to L3, had Harrington rods inserted. Originally had an 85 degree Thoracic curve with lumbar scoliosis as well but had a good correction.
    Perfectly normal life till 1997 but now in a lot of pain daily. Consider myself very fortunate though.

  4. #4
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    Aug 2006
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    Macky, what did yours end up being? Thanks for the input to both of you. I'm located in South Carolina, so I'll go ahead and look for specialts in the area.

    If anyone else has any input, please share.

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
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    Tasmania
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    Kel, all they have really said is that I should have had the rods out years ago. But the point was I was never led to believe that I could get them out. Also I never had to go back to the surgeon as I have been fine up until a while ago as explained.
    They cant do a revision surgery due to the fact the rods have been in there for 40 years, only take about 2 and a half centimetres off the top of the rod and that wont help at all.
    My discs have degenerated of course above and below the fusion as they have had to do all the lifting, turning and bending all these years. They have told me though the main reason is the rod being there for so long.
    If I had known I would have had the whole lot out but you live and learn.
    I have to go to a neurosurgeon every 3 months for tests to make sure my spinal cord is ok and in the mean time, it is just day by day.
    Look for a specialist Kel and get your second opinion and I wish you all the best from there. Your rod has only been in half the time mine has , and there are some excellent doctors in America , so all the very, very best.

    The above opinions are mine only.
    Macky
    Last edited by macky; 08-04-2006 at 02:59 AM.
    Operation 1966, Fused from T4 to L3, had Harrington rods inserted. Originally had an 85 degree Thoracic curve with lumbar scoliosis as well but had a good correction.
    Perfectly normal life till 1997 but now in a lot of pain daily. Consider myself very fortunate though.

  6. #6
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    Sep 2003
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    Northern California
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    6,802
    Hi...

    If the Harrington rods have been in place for many years, and the pain is recent, I doubt that it's really the Harrington rods that are causing the pain. You may want to check out this YahooGroups forum:


    where there are many people with similar issues.

    Regards,
    Linda

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    34
    Kel,

    Not sure if it is the same thing, but I have had nerve blockage on my left leg only. I have been seeing a neurosurgeon for the past couple of years but they only thing he was able to find through the tests is that there is definate nerve blockage and the left leg is getting delayed signals from the brain which causes me to sometimes trip and has caused a "foot drop". He is unable to explain the cause because MRIs don't come out right for me and I have not had the Myelogram, but I finally have an appt. with a doctor who is experienced with patients with prior fusions as Linda has suggested, so I am hoping all of my rabbit chases will end soon.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2006
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    Hi Kel,

    I'm experiencing similar problems. Tingling in lower back, legs getting numb.

    I visited Space Center Houston this past Saturday and had to find a seat every 15 minutes or so just to allow my legs to rest. I suspect there is some type of blockage in my case. Everything is ok while seated.

    My family is trying to get me to a Doctor, so I guess I'm going to have to give in and go. The uncertainty is almost too much to handle.

    I'm going to schedule an apt. with Dr. Hanson, an Orthopedic here in Houston.

    Welcome to this Forum,

    Steve

    "Harrington Rod - 1979"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Indiana
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    10

    New visitor, same problems ...

    Hi there,
    I'm MaryLou. I'm 45 and had my first scoliosis surgery in 1975 at age 14 for double curves, 56 and 52 degrees. I spent 9 months in a body cast and had my Harrington Rod until last year. The origional fusion was from T4-L4 and did well for 30 years. I was an active and hard working RN when the L4-L5 and L5-S1 segments were diagnosed as unstable (with a horribly ruptured disc at L4-5) the same month I turned 44. After 3 months of tests, doctors and psychosis --- "There's something WRONG with me!!!" --- they finally did the appropriate tests to see the instability and refer me to a scoliosis specialist at The University of Chicago.
    I found out that many of us have upper back pain above the fusion, and I was surprised to find out why. In circa 1975, the lower back surgery required straightening the lumbar spine which flattens/removes the lumbar curve. This lack of normal lumbar curvature causes our upper bodies to want to pitch forward, so we are always working against gravity to hold ourselves up. When I started pain management in 2002 for shoulder, neck and scapular pain, I still didn't know why it hurt so much just to hold my head up. Now I know.
    My second reconstruction in Feb 2005, 18 months ago, was a HUGE ordeal ... much more than I ever expected, even as a medical professional. The Harrington rod was removed, the unstable L4-5 segment was brought up into the existing fusion with new bone grafting and instead of a rod I have 12 screws and 2 plates from T12 - L5. During the surgery my doctor did 2 wedge "osteotomies", pie-like cuts ... then cranked the new hardware to restore a 30 degree lumbar curve. The good news is that I have an enormous reduction in the amount of neck, shoulder and scapular pain, the down side is that even now, 1 1/2 yr after the second surgery, I still feel like there's a knee in my back sometimes. Although most of the pain in my hips that drove me to the doctors in 2005 is now gone, the trade off here seems to be the weight of 3 pounds of hardware packed into such a small space in my low back. Sort of feels like a lead sinker.
    I am just now accepting the new limitations, restrictions and levels of discomfort that will be with me (probably) forever. I have wondered for quite some time how other people handle this, why there isn't a support group of some sort, or just how I could get in touch with other scoliosis patients. Then today I got a newsletter from The Spinal Connection that sent me to this website.
    I'd love to connect with other people who know what this is like. I'd like to know what other people have tried, what kind of successes you know of, etc. Nobody really understands. I'm glad there's just a place to write to.
    MaryLou

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Euharlee, Georgia
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    I had a fusion and Harrington Rod put in in 1975 from T12 to L5. My fusion continuted to grow and fused L5 - S1 on its own. 4 years ago, I was in so much pain. I couldn't stand, sit, walk, lay down, do anything to get rid of the pain. The extra fusion was pressing on my nerves. I had most of it removed and had instant relief. However there were complications with the surgery that cause me pain less than a year down the road. I have also developed problems above my fusion and am in the process of getting into a doctor that handles adult scoliosis patients.

  11. #11
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    Jan 2006
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    Tasmania
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    Hi guys, at the moment I really need some help as I am am nearly at screaming stage. Besides having the pain lower back as explained, the last couple of weeks I have had dreadful pain in my knees.
    So I get Xrays done and the bones there are fine, Therefore ,as I am not imagining the pain , I assume it must be something to do with my back.
    I sometimes wonder if the doctors over here are as up to date as where the other people in this forum are.
    I have been told by my doctor that he doesnt think I have flat back as the bottom of the back has the normal in sway bit ,then out to where my bottom starts, therefore it isnt flat there in the bottom part of my back. I am so confused as all the tests I have done they cant diagnose as they cant see anything.
    I am really grateful to these forums but just cant understand what is going on. I dunno must just be feeling a little sorry for myself today.
    Last edited by macky; 08-11-2006 at 04:19 AM.
    Operation 1966, Fused from T4 to L3, had Harrington rods inserted. Originally had an 85 degree Thoracic curve with lumbar scoliosis as well but had a good correction.
    Perfectly normal life till 1997 but now in a lot of pain daily. Consider myself very fortunate though.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    I'm sorry to hear that, and I don't know what it could be or exactly what your pain is, but I had a lot of pain in my knees before and some months after surgery. It was related to my feet, they are flat and not well aligned. I got orthotics done and behold, all the pain in my knees/hips/side of legs and even some in my heels and lower back were relieved. That's just my experience and the doctors before surgery had told me that all these pains were related to my scoliosis and it was not, b/c after surgery they were still there, until I got the idea from my hubby who had similar pains who also has orthotics done from a podiatrist.

    Hope you find relief and the cause of your pain.
    35 y/old female from Montreal, Canada
    Diagnosed with scoliosis(double major) at age 12, wore Boston brace 4 years at least 23 hours a day-curve progressed
    Surgery age 26 for 60 degree curve in Oct. 1997 by Dr.Max Aebi-fused T5 to L2
    Surgery age 28 for a hook removal in Feb. 1999 by Dr.Max Aebi-pain free for 5 years
    Surgery age 34 in Dec.2005 for broken rod replacement, bigger screws and crosslinks added and pseudarthrosis(non union) by Dr. Jean Ouellet

  13. #13
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    Jan 2006
    Location
    Tasmania
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    Thankyou so much sweetness for answering my post. I am going to make an appointment to see the place over here that does orthotics.

    You sound like such a nice person, thanks again you actually made me feel better ,as no one really understands ,unless it is people who have been through it themselves. Bless you.

    Macky
    Operation 1966, Fused from T4 to L3, had Harrington rods inserted. Originally had an 85 degree Thoracic curve with lumbar scoliosis as well but had a good correction.
    Perfectly normal life till 1997 but now in a lot of pain daily. Consider myself very fortunate though.

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