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Thread: Results for 50-plus population?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Indianapolis, IN

    Results for 50-plus population?

    Hi. I'm new in this forum. I was diagnosed when I was 12 and the doctor tracked the progress during my high school years and then told me that my back was stable at 29 degrees and would not require any treatment. At 22, I saw a doctor who told me that it would not progress and to forget about.

    In the last 5 years or so, I have had more and more trouble with maintaining good posture. I can't sit or stand for long periods. I seem to be getting twisted and shorter. Although I have a desk job, I work out 5-7 days a week. Last year I decided to go to a specialist again to see if I could get a brace or better exercises. He told me my largest curve is now over 60 degrees and I would need surgery! Not only that I had better have the surgery soon because my curves will only continue to worsen and in my 60's I may be too old. I've gotten a second opinion from a doc with a great reputation and he confirmed the first one. So, I am going to have surgery at the end of June.

    I am 56 and would like to hear from others around my age about how much correction they were able to achieve after surgery. Also, I am doing lots of exercises-- especially stretching. Does it help to do that before the operation? Is there anything else I should do before the operation? Did anyone use a brace pre-op to help with stretching/straightening?
    Last edited by 52skeedoo; 03-11-2009 at 11:51 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    near Philadelphia
    Hi Skieedoo,

    My background is very similar to yours....I was also told at age 25 that my mild curve would not progress. By the time I had surgery at age 52, my main curve was 70 degrees.

    My back turned out to be very flexible and I got a fantastic correction with an anterior/posterior approach (one 9-hour procedure). It wasn't easy but now I'm doing quite well. Stretching and exercising now can only help you in the post-op period. Feel free to PM me if you want any gory details..

    Who is doing your surgery?
    A/P fusion on June 19, 2007 at age 52; T10-L5
    Pre-op thoracolumbar curve: 70 degrees
    Post-op curve: 12 degrees
    Dr. Boachie-adjei, HSS, New York

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Hi skeedoo! Good to have you on the forum!!! I was 56 when I had my surgery. My major curve measured 52º and I had a side shift and some other problems, like severe lumbar stenosis. I too have had scoli since my teen years but never saw/consulted a doctor about it until I was 54. I know it just got worse and worse as I aged.

    My surgeon also got very good correction-- so I now have a meager 15º curve. If you click on the links in my signature, there are two different ones that show x-rays-- some I took with my camera and some that are digital. They are different ones, so they show different things. My surgeon was going to do both anterior and posterior surgeries and then decided he could do what he wanted with just the posterior.

    Recovery when you're older takes longer although there are a few who seemed to do theirs quickly. Otherwise plan on 1-3 years for recovery, and you'll find there may be some limitations as well, depending on the extent of your fusion. Those of us with really long fusions can't bend (except at the hip) and aren't supposed to twist, etc. You figure out other ways to do some things.

    I am soooo glad I had my surgery, but it definitely isn't a piece of cake. Feel free to ask me questions too. Susie
    67 and plugging along...
    2007 52° w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shift)
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15°
    CMT (type 2) DX in 2014, progressing
    NEW 10/2018 x-rays show spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 - Dr. DeWald is monitoring

    Click to view my pics: pics of scoli x-rays digital x-rays, and pics of me

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern California
    Hi Skeedoo...

    I don't think anyone knows for sure whether stretching or strengthening has any advantage pre-op, but it probably isn't hurting. I can't imagine how a brace would help pre-op, with the exception of helping with pain, but you should check with your surgeon.

    The exercise that I found most useful pre-op was leg strengthening. You'll be doing a lot more squats post-op than you do pre-op.

    Good luck.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Salina, Ks
    Amen on the squats!!! Somedays I get so tired of "having" to pick things up the right way instead of bending over. I refuse to use the grabber anymore. Now, if I could only figure out why it seems like I am always dropping something- pens, laundry, papers, you name it! Maybe I was clutsy before and just did'nt notice!!!!!
    Nancy Joy

    Surgery- Posterior- Oct. 8th, 2008
    Anterior- Nov. 10th, 2008
    Age 54
    T10 to Sacrum
    Curve 65 degrees
    Very straight now!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Central NJ
    Quote Originally Posted by Nancy Joy View Post
    Amen on the squats!!! Somedays I get so tired of "having" to pick things up the right way instead of bending over. I refuse to use the grabber anymore. Now, if I could only figure out why it seems like I am always dropping something- pens, laundry, papers, you name it! Maybe I was clutsy before and just did'nt notice!!!!!
    I seem to be a butter-fingers since surgery too, always dropping things. I don't think I was this bad before surgery...?????

    I love my grabbers though. Couldn't do laundry without it! I keep one by the washer/dryer and another in the kitchen.
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Hi 52

    Welcome to the forum.

    Correction will be up to the surgeon after they get in there. Usually at our age, the correction runs about 50%. My surgeon stated that he might fuse me "as is" so you shouldn't get upset if they do not get you straight as an arrow. Over straightening can be dangerous and is not the main goal here. Successful fusion is the goal.

    Eating healthy and exercising (cardio) to boost your immune system is beneficial leading up to any major surgery.

    Squats are an exercise that you will master after surgery. It wouldn't be a bad idea to work on those right now to make it easier post surgery. I do not use a sock installer or grabber any more. Its gets to the point where you do not have these items close by and its just easier to deal with it without the tools. This usually happens when you visit someone else's house and you forget these items.

    Stretching pre-op to try to loosen things up for a better correction is of little or no benefit.Your surgeon will tell you that.

    Walking outside in fresh air with deep breathing is what you want to do. Elevate your heart rate for 20 minutes per day. Actually, you want to do this even without having any surgery!

    Keep reading and posting so you know what to expect.

    49 yr old male, now 59, the new 55...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion

    My x-rays

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Boston area

    Hi 52

    I am 59 yrs. and still considering surgery. I too am concerned what will happen as I get older. I have a lumbar curve over 60 degrees. My doctor would perform a shorter fusion because of my age. This is a slightly lesser surgery,and will not make me quite as straight. For those of you out there, who have had this rather new "hybrid" surgery. Please let me hear from you about your surgical result.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Chicago north suburb
    I saw my surgeon the other day and as I looked at my x-rays that were just taken, I was actually quite surprised at the amount of correction I did get. After all, I had a very BIG curve. But cosmesis was not the motivator for me to have surgery. At 59 I knew the direction I was headed, and I did not want to end up disabled if I could do something to prevent that from happening.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Indianapolis, IN
    Thank you all for your comments and recommendations. I must admit the whole thing is scary. It's a very hard decision to make. I really don't want surgery but I also don't want to be disabled. Already I have lost about 2 inches in height. My breatching capacity is slightly diminished based on a fitness test that I went through 2 1/2 years ago and then again last month. I have had a slight heart murmer (nothing serious) since childhood but last year I started having more and more arythmia and palpitations. I have read that the compression of space within your abdomen can cause some heart problems. And, even though I have a normal body weight, I am having increasing problems with acid reflux. The thought of allowing all this to progress and then not being able to have surgery because of age or lack of insurance scares me more than the surgey. So, I'm going forward with the surgery.

    My doctor will be Terry Trammell in Indianapolis. I work with people in the health care industry here in Indy and he has a great reputation, at least locally.

    He told me to stretch as much as possible prior to surgery because the more supple I am the better correction he can get. He suggested hanging sideways over a bumper and/or, if my hands and shoulders allow, hanging from a chin-up bar. Following that recommendation I have been stretching much more. I even borrowed my sister's inversion table so I could hang upside down a few minutes a day. What I have found is that I feel more unstable. That is, my back gets tired more even quickly and it takes more work to maintain any kind of decent posture.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Hi 52skeedo
    just wanted to say welcome to the forum
    yes, it is a hard decision and probably like many of us here, you've hit the nail on the head by saying "I really don't want surgery but I also don't want to be disabled". This is how I felt too. The decision was made somehow harder cos I wasn't in an incredible amount of daily pain - but had a progressing curve nevertheless!
    I walked and swam as much as I could before surgery which I am sure has helped my recovery.
    I wish you all the best in your decisions.
    Ps I still use my grabber - but not as much as I used to, you do get used to picking things up off the floor 'the proper way' ie bend ze knees...!
    Diagnosed aged 17 thoracic curve of 40°/48? given brace worn for short time but was then told that I had stopped growing and it wasn’t likely to get worse. Follow ups ‘got lost in the system’ and I chose to ignore until age approx 33, after two children. Now nearly 42yrs curve was progressing (last xrays 67 degrees) and increasing 'backache' so surgery (posterior T3 - L1) went ahead beginning of September 2008 in UK - thoracic curve now approx 20° and I look a lot straighter!

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