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  1. #1
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    80 year old diagnosed with scoliosis

    I have recently been diagnosed with scoliosis. I am 80 years old, but not your typical 80 as I've been a dancer all my life and danced (strenuous Russian dancing) until age 75 with a farewell performance. I'm not bent over or anything and know no reason why this should develop. It seems to have started a year ago following a surgery on my cervical spine (a cyst between
    5th and 6th vertebreas) that was removed. I would never have known about scoliosis until an xray showed two lateral curves. It's a mystery as I've danced my way through life since age 14 (professional ballet as well as Russian folk) so it can't be congenital. This orthopedica surgeon must have started a chain reaction of some kind as other physical problems have started up. I know, you're thinking it's just advancing age. This is of course is true, but I don't think it's entirely that considering my usually excellent spinal health.
    I'm still posture perfect, but it's the muscles surrounding the spine that give me pain. Are they affected by the scoliosis?
    I guess there's is no cure for it. As you know, orthopedic surgeons won't even take patients after age 35. So, is the only path open to me to be possibly shots of cortisone?
    Last edited by Richka; 07-05-2009 at 08:05 PM. Reason: adding phrase

  2. #2
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    Hi Richka,

    We don't see very many Russian dancers here, your most likely the first! Welcome.

    There are ways to deal with pain, I've tried quite a few methods through the years, and of course water immersion is the easiest. A warm water therapy pool would be of benefit.

    I've added a link about older surgeries, up to 100 now, you know... things have changed.
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showthread.php?t=8151

    Is your scoliosis in your neck, or the whole spine? What does your Doctor say?

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    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
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  3. #3
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    From Richka

    Thanx for the welcome Ed.
    I'm new here and this was my first posting and my first reply so hope I'm doing it right. Please let me know.
    Well, to answer your question regarding my neck, ever since the cervical spine surgery just over a year ago, the neck is not quite right. It is not painful but there remains a sort of large indentation where the surgeon took out the cyst. It's very visible. And when I move the head or twist as in exercises, I can feel the vertebrea cracking against each other. No pain but sort of scary. The rest of the spine hurts in certain bed positions so I have to sleep straight on my back. All of this stems from that surgery and I believe even the scoliosis as there was never a hint of it before.
    I told my primary doctor about it and he traced with his finger the curves in my spine as I bent forward. They are visible. BUT he didn't say anything except giving a referral to another orthopedic. Apparently I have to have a release from the first orthopedic who did the surgery, as I am still "under his care" so they say, though I never sensed I was!
    Thanx for your advice about water therapy. I can join a pool aerobics class at my health club and I've been thinking of starting that. I have already started some yoga again, which I have done on and off really all my life. My Russian dancing ended five years ago, when I was STILL doing squat kicks, you know,
    squatting down and throwing the legs out alternately. .. that sort of thing.
    That was in a farewell performance with the all Russian orchestra I belong to
    and formed a dance group to go along with it.
    At 80 years of age I felt it was time to stop. I'm a bit sorry I did but all things I suppose must come to an end.
    Reading some posting from others here, I'm getting a bit worried as some say the curvatures progress worse and worse, and I'm way past due!
    So I'm conscious all the time to keep the good posture as best I can, to avoid a bent stance developing, that I see in so many others my age. Thanx again for your reply.
    Richka

  4. #4
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    Richka

    Your posts are just fine.

    Scoliosis can progress quickly. It happens in seniors often. Linda posted on this very subject a few months ago, and I mentioned that there should be a new category called "senior scoliosis"

    Where do you live? I ask this because I've had great success with ocean therapy. Swimming in the ocean can work wonders. There is something about de-weighting and exercising in the salts and minerals that can work wonders. I wouldn't suggest jumping into the North sea, that's way too cold.

    Doctors will hand off patients that they feel are not perfect matches. Some are experts in certain areas and some aren't. Its just part of the process. Sometimes patients can be frustrated with this.

    It seems that with all that dancing through the years with all those squat kicks, your knees should be the problem, not your back! LOL.

    Stay mobile and keep moving.
    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    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
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  5. #5
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    Hello Richka and welcome to this wonderful forum.

    I'm sorry you're having this problem at this stage of your life. In my search for information about surgery for scoliosis in older people I came across cases of people of great age having this surgery. Of course, it would depend on many criteria, not least of all your current health and state of your bones. Have you had a bone density scan?

    Being so fit, you are probably not a candidate for osteoporosis, but there are no guarantees. It might be a good start, having a scan which could also rule out a fracture.

    The hard part is finding a scoli specialist who you feel comfortable with, and finding out your status as far as surgery or other treatment goes.

    Good luck!
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  6. #6
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    80 year old with scoliosis

    Quote Originally Posted by JenniferG View Post
    Hello Richka and welcome to this wonderful forum.

    I'm sorry you're having this problem at this stage of your life. In my search for information about surgery for scoliosis in older people I came across cases of people of great age having this surgery. Of course, it would depend on many criteria, not least of all your current health and state of your bones. Have you had a bone density scan?

    Being so fit, you are probably not a candidate for osteoporosis, but there are no guarantees. It might be a good start, having a scan which could also rule out a fracture.

    The hard part is finding a scoli specialist who you feel comfortable with, and finding out your status as far as surgery or other treatment goes.

    Good luck!
    Jennifer .. Thanks for your welcome. I have no idea about my bone density but since I've had a lifetime of strenuous male dancing I believe my bones to be not exactly fragile. But who knows? As soon as I reached 80 various things started to go wrong and the cervical spine surgery last year seems to have started a chain reaction. I truly believe that's what started the scoliosis.
    Yes, I was wondering about osteoporosis, but I've heard that it doesn't happen so much with men. I'm not bent over or anything like that.
    I live in Tucson, Arizona, which is supposed to be the pinacle of medical research and so on, with the University of Arizona here and its breakthroughs in heart research as well as outer space, etc, but it seems most of the doctors I'm saddled with just want to give all sorts of useless, and expensive, tests. The Orthopedic Institute where I had my spinal surgery is next to impossible to get an appointment. However, several years ago when I tore a meniscus in my knee while demonstrating a dance step, the first surgeon wanted to operate so I went to a sports surgeon for a 2nd opinion and he said surgery would do no good. Gave me a cortisone shot and that was the end of it. My knee has been like new ever since!
    Sorry, I'm getting off the track. Thanx so much for your help and this site promises to be just the thing I need at this point.
    Richka
    Last edited by Richka; 07-06-2009 at 01:58 PM. Reason: corrections

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richka View Post
    I have recently been diagnosed with scoliosis. I am 80 years old, but not your typical 80 as I've been a dancer all my life and danced (strenuous Russian dancing) until age 75 with a farewell performance. I'm not bent over or anything and know no reason why this should develop. It seems to have started a year ago following a surgery on my cervical spine (a cyst between
    5th and 6th vertebreas) that was removed. I would never have known about scoliosis until an xray showed two lateral curves. It's a mystery as I've danced my way through life since age 14 (professional ballet as well as Russian folk) so it can't be congenital. This orthopedica surgeon must have started a chain reaction of some kind as other physical problems have started up. I know, you're thinking it's just advancing age. This is of course is true, but I don't think it's entirely that considering my usually excellent spinal health.
    I'm still posture perfect, but it's the muscles surrounding the spine that give me pain. Are they affected by the scoliosis?
    I guess there's is no cure for it. As you know, orthopedic surgeons won't even take patients after age 35. So, is the only path open to me to be possibly shots of cortisone?
    Hi Richka...

    Since the problem started after your cervical surgery, and you feel that something is not quite right, I wonder if you've got a functional scoliosis. Functional scoliosis can develop when someone holds their trunk in an unusual way, to avoid the pain that would be present if they held their trunk in the normal way. It's something to look at.

    If the curves are structural, they would either have been around for a long time, or they're caused by other issues (like fractures from poor bone quality).

    I'm not sure where you heard the "35" cutoff, but that's pretty far from true. The surgeons at UCSF are routinely doing spine surgery on patients over 70 and 80. This patient population has a greatly increased risk of surgical complications, but the ones that I've seen are still getting very good outcomes.

    Regards,
    Linda

  8. #8
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    Richka diagnosed with scoliosis

    Hi Linda,
    Thanx for your welcome to this forum. I'm new at it and not quite sure yet how to navigate it but it seems that it will be very helpful in the long run.
    You know already a bit of my history from my original posting and some to Ed.
    Linda, I'm not sure what 'functional' scoliosis is, but, being a dancer all my life I believe I have always had perfect posture or as close as it could be. Even now I continue close to military posture. However, since I've started with computers about 10 years ago I may have developed a bit of a slouch, at least while I'm sitting here. I recently bought another computer chair but even that's not exactly a straight back. it's an area I must look into more carefully.
    To answer your other question. The Osteo surgeons not accepting over age 35 comes from the The Orthopedic Institute here. I live in Tucson, Arizona and that's their policy. Do you mean it's different elsewhere?
    Thanks for your response.
    Richka

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richka View Post
    The Osteo surgeons not accepting over age 35 comes from the The Orthopedic Institute here. I live in Tucson, Arizona and that's their policy. Do you mean it's different elsewhere?
    Thanks for your response.
    Richka
    Linda, can you put this to bed? There is clearly some misunderstanding here.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  10. #10
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    Richka



    Hi Guys,
    My recent visit to the Tucson Orthopedic Institute seemed a total waste of time. I think the specialist must be comparitively new, an attractive lady of about 30 I would say. She was recommended by the surgeon I had last year, who removed a cyst on my cervical spine, which I still feel started this scoliosis thing. I explained that I was a former professional dancer and she looked at my gait, tested strength in my feet, legs, arms, etc. On the whole, a pleasant person, but after the xray I asked what stage did she think my scoli was in. She didn't know. What degree was the curve? She didn't know.
    At home I saw on the Insitute website that I could leave a comment about my visit. Of course they only like praise but mine was, apologetically, negative. I didn't expect anyone to read these comments anyway, but, lo and behold, (to use a biblical phrase), she phoned me, and on a Sunday too.
    She explained in detail her diagnosis. She included the xray, which I already had from the radiologist and you never get these unless you ask (I always ask), with a diagram showing degree of curve. Can anyone explain how these calculations are done? Mine has two crossing lines and at intersection shows 28 degrees. I never know if an xray view is from the front or from the back so I can't say which side the curve is on. It would be so helpful if someone could explain this.
    I emailed back that this was exacly what I wanted; a FULL diagnosis and thanked her for being so responsive and for taking time out on Sunday to communicate. That's rare isn't it.
    Anyway, we finished in a friendly mood (I'm very polite, I think) and I feel she is now is not only an ally but she pointed out with this experience she now has a better sense of her patient's needs.
    Many people I know leave an exam bewildered and don't know how, or think they shouldn't, ask questions. I'm not like that and she told me how impressed she was and to even ask more questions. Her treatment is, as was to be expected, physical therapy. I was questioning this at first but decided I will follow through. McKenzie and/or Williams exercises; whichever method reduces radicular symptoms. Does anyone know what these are or have done them? Results?
    So, my point is, always ask questions and demand answers. My unfortunate visit to the Urologist the day before is another story.
    If you are still with me, Thanx for reading.
    Richka

  11. #11
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    dear richka
    i dont know the specifics about the measurements (am sure people on here do, like linda & others) but i do know you should see a SCOLIOSIS specialist, not just an orthopedic surgeon or orthopedist....i guess some specialize in other stuff..for example, i have an orthopedist who just does cancer who sees me for a benign tumor in left femur...all he does is cancer, so he refers patients to other orthopedic guys for scoli!!
    i am so sorry you are having trouble finding the right doctor, cause once you do find the right one they understand cause that's all or most of what their patients have....
    maybe you need to try a different place...did you do a search on the internet for SCOLI specialists in your area...will your insurance cover if you travel out of state?
    i am worried that you will end up with a doctor who could do more harm than good, so please dont try any anything til you connect with the right people!

    take care
    jess

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richka View Post

    Hi Guys,
    My recent visit to the Tucson Orthopedic Institute seemed a total waste of time. I think the specialist must be comparitively new, an attractive lady of about 30 I would say. She was recommended by the surgeon I had last year, who removed a cyst on my cervical spine, which I still feel started this scoliosis thing. I explained that I was a former professional dancer and she looked at my gait, tested strength in my feet, legs, arms, etc. On the whole, a pleasant person, but after the xray I asked what stage did she think my scoli was in. She didn't know. What degree was the curve? She didn't know.
    At home I saw on the Insitute website that I could leave a comment about my visit. Of course they only like praise but mine was, apologetically, negative. I didn't expect anyone to read these comments anyway, but, lo and behold, (to use a biblical phrase), she phoned me, and on a Sunday too.
    She explained in detail her diagnosis. She included the xray, which I already had from the radiologist and you never get these unless you ask (I always ask), with a diagram showing degree of curve. Can anyone explain how these calculations are done? Mine has two crossing lines and at intersection shows 28 degrees. I never know if an xray view is from the front or from the back so I can't say which side the curve is on. It would be so helpful if someone could explain this.
    I emailed back that this was exacly what I wanted; a FULL diagnosis and thanked her for being so responsive and for taking time out on Sunday to communicate. That's rare isn't it.
    Anyway, we finished in a friendly mood (I'm very polite, I think) and I feel she is now is not only an ally but she pointed out with this experience she now has a better sense of her patient's needs.
    Many people I know leave an exam bewildered and don't know how, or think they shouldn't, ask questions. I'm not like that and she told me how impressed she was and to even ask more questions. Her treatment is, as was to be expected, physical therapy. I was questioning this at first but decided I will follow through. McKenzie and/or Williams exercises; whichever method reduces radicular symptoms. Does anyone know what these are or have done them? Results?
    So, my point is, always ask questions and demand answers. My unfortunate visit to the Urologist the day before is another story.
    If you are still with me, Thanx for reading.
    Richka
    Hi Richka...

    Here is a link comparing the two exercise programs:

    http://www.backtrainer.com/Williams-...Back-Pain.html

    I'd be interested in Betty's take on whether these exercises are good for someone with scoliosis.

    If your curve measurement is correct, than I suspect that the scoliosis itself is not the cause of your back pain. It would be good to figure out what the actual problem is.

    In terms of measurement, it's rather difficult to describe how the Cobb angle is measured in a few short sentences, but I'll try. You need to find the least tilted vertebrae above and below the curve. The way I was taught to find it was to take a pencil and line it up with the top of the apex vertebrae. Now, move the pencil up toward the top of the xray, lining up the pencil with the top of each vertebrae along the way. If you have a typical right thoracic curve, the right side of the pencil will be lower than the left side of the pencil. When the right side of the pencil has to be raised, you've reached the vertebrae above the vertabrae to be used in the measurement. A line is drawn on the top of the last vertebrae before the tilt angle decreased. The bottom vertebrae is found in the same manner.

    Here's an article that describes what I've just said, and gives you the details on calculating the Cobb angle:

    http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020501/1817.html

    Regards,
    Linda

  13. #13
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    dear richka
    hi again..stenosis is narrowing...i have a narrowing of my spinal canal, which my doctors tell me causes MUCH pain...also have arthritis of spine caused partly by severe lyme disease...also herniated & degenerative discs...you get the picture...so i think linda is right (most often is) & you need to find out WHAT is the primary cause of your pain, tho i doubt scoliosis helps anything!! also, pain doctors are great, but they treat the symptoms of pain, regardless of where pain is & what is causing it...so it can be great relief, usually temporary...i'm not knocking it! temporary is sometimes all we need just to get out from under the pain long enuf to think straight! in my case, i'm using it to try to think straight about surgery, amongst other things!

    best of luck
    jess

  14. #14
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    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for the link to the article, I found it informative and interesting. I was especially interested in the authors comments about brace treatment falling out of favor over the last 20 years due to lack of proof that it is effective, and also the section about likelihood of adult progression based on curve measurement at skeletal maturity.

    Richka, sorry to post on your thread--I really hope you can find some help and relief with PT.

    Best regards,
    Gayle, age 49
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation
    Feb 2012 lumbar revision for broken rods @ L2-3-4
    Sept 2015 major lumbar A/P revision for broken rods @ L5-S1


    mom of Leah, 15 y/o, Diagnosed '08 with 26* T JIS (age 6)
    5/10 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    5/16 6 yrs post-op, 24*T/ 22* L, mild increase in curves, watching

    also mom of Torrey, 12 y/o son, 16* T, stable

  15. #15
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    Exclamation Find out the cause

    Richka,

    The best results are obtained when the true cause of pain is found. This way the source can be addressed. Since you are so physically fit I'm not sure just trying assorted exercise regimens is wise.
    Visiting a scoliosis specialist, who treats adults, would sort out these issues.

    If, perhaps, you developed an old compression fracture somewhere in your spine, from dancing, then that would have to be addressed. An exercise program might aggravate that, making your pain worse.
    Last edited by Karen Ocker; 07-30-2009 at 04:46 PM.
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

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