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Thread: At what degree would you consider surgery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    151

    At what degree would you consider surgery

    I am 38 years old and was just diagnosed with scoliosis last month. I have had back pain for a while now, but has gotten real bad the last five years. I have gone to doctors but they just kept giving me over the counter drugs and sent me on my way. I finally changed doctors and the new doctor had xrays done, where they uncovered a 48 degree curve between L1 and L5. I work in law enforcement, so I just contributed the back pain to my gun belt and sitting in car for ten hour shifts. Pain finally became unbearable, to where i changed doctors. I have tried everything in the past, chiropractors, physical therapy and shots. I've slept on a heating pad for the last five years, thinking it was just my muscles. When would you consider surgery. I don't want to go for a long time with this pain and would rather get some relief while I am young..thanks..

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    3,745
    Hi Rich

    welcome to this forum...you can find alot of help here!

    i would suggest you find a scoli specialist...a referral from your G.P would probably do it...the surgeons i go to tell me 40 degrees is when they consider surgery, depending on how much pain patient is in,... the rate of progression of curve(s)..etc...

    what kind of "shots" have you had?

    i hope you find your solution...i have 2 excellent surgeons i see in nyc, & if/when i have the surgery, one of them will perform it!

    best of luck
    jess

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,929
    Hi Rich

    Welcome to the forum.

    Making the decision to have scoliosis surgery will be the toughest decision you will ever make. It should be your own decision and only your decision based on very careful thought. Its not an emergency, so that will give you some time to ponder your decision. There are threads and posts all over NSF regarding the "decision making" process.

    If surgery is in the cards, it would be beneficial for you to do a little reading. Linda Racine, our moderator has a website.

    http://scoliosislinks.com/

    A little quiz.

    http://scoliosislinks.com/ShouldYouHaveSurgery.htm

    We know the pain your in. Sitting in a car all day must be brutal! You might want to switch to a Doc Holliday style holster. LOL Just kidding.

    There are lists of qualified scoliosis trained orthopedic surgeons on Linda's site, where are you located?

    Regards
    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 60, 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
    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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    249
    Hey Rich, my lumbar degree is 45, and I am getting surgery soon. 45 degrees is about as much as i can take. However, other people seem to be able to cope quite well with much larger curves.

    I also tried chiro, pt with minor pain relief. That was also a major decision to get the surgery.

    If your curve is progressing though, the decision is much easier.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    151

    thanks

    quick question, after doing research on surgery, I am still a bit confused. I have a dumb question. Do they recommend different surgeries depending on the location of the curve? I have a lumbar curve and am wondering if they will recommend a fusion or rods. I have had 3 xrays done, MRI done, Nerve Test done in the last two weeks. I finally see the specialist this Thursday who will sit down with all the results. But I got to read the report on the MRI and it said that I have a 48 degree curve between L1 and L5. Any information would be appreciated.. I hate this pain and finally found out the cause, which is refreshing and scary at the same time. I really feel that this curve has progressed dramtically in the last year. Ive lost 2 inches in height, but just thought it was because of my age (38years old).....thanks everybody..

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
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    1,956
    Quote Originally Posted by rich1752 View Post
    quick question, after doing research on surgery, I am still a bit confused. I have a dumb question. Do they recommend different surgeries depending on the location of the curve? I have a lumbar curve and am wondering if they will recommend a fusion or rods. I have had 3 xrays done, MRI done, Nerve Test done in the last two weeks. I finally see the specialist this Thursday who will sit down with all the results. But I got to read the report on the MRI and it said that I have a 48 degree curve between L1 and L5. Any information would be appreciated.. I hate this pain and finally found out the cause, which is refreshing and scary at the same time. I really feel that this curve has progressed dramtically in the last year. Ive lost 2 inches in height, but just thought it was because of my age (38years old).....thanks everybody..
    Hi Rich,

    Welcome. I'm sorry you've been in so much pain. It must have been a shock to you hearing that your have a curve like that out of the blue. Yes, different surgeries are recommended based on the location of your curve, the size of your curve, and if there is disk damage, etc. going on in that area as well. I'd recommend that your get at least 2 or possibly 3 different opinions from scoliosis specialists. You don't just want to trust the fist guy you see.

    2 inches loss of height is quite a bit, especially for just 38 years old. Where are you located? Here is a link to find scoliosis specialists in your area. http://www.srs.org/find/

    Let us know if you have any other questions.
    __________________________________________
    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
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    1,956
    Rich,

    I forgot to add that 'fusion' for scoliosis, at least now-a-days, always includes rods. If your curve doesn't encompass that many vertibrae, then possibly your rods wouldn't be that long. For myself, I had a double curve, so 13 of my vertibrae are fused using 2 rods and a bunch of screws. Don't let the sound of that scare you too much. When I found out that's what I needed I thought I'd be a freak, but now, not yet one year after surgery, I look and feel perfectly normal. The hardware is put in there to hold up your spine while the fusion process is taking place (which can take a year or longer).

    Good luck,
    __________________________________________
    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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    151

    more questions

    After doing more research, I learned of "flat back" with lumbar surgery. Anybody experience this problem. I am leaning towards surgery, cause the pain if unbearable...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    87
    Flat back is mostly linked to the Harrington rods that were used in the 70s. They attached in only 2 places, the top and bottom of the rod, and sometimes took out the natural curve we have in the small of our backs. In the mid 80s, new system was developed, which attach the rods at every pedicle and force the spine to maintain the contour of the rod (which is bent to mimic that natural curve), hence, no more flat backs.
    Sandy

    Thoracic curve was 55 degrees, now 30
    Lumbar curve was 68 degrees, now 26
    Rib rotation was 17 degrees, now 0
    Degenerated discs and sacral arthritic spurs, plus significant spondylosis
    Fused 8/13/09 at age 43 from T-9 to pelvis with iliac screws anchoring hardware to the pelvis, plus osteomies by Drs. Anthony Moreno and Geoff Cronen, Tampa, FL

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,936
    Quote Originally Posted by rich1752 View Post
    quick question, after doing research on surgery, I am still a bit confused. I have a dumb question. Do they recommend different surgeries depending on the location of the curve? I have a lumbar curve and am wondering if they will recommend a fusion or rods. I have had 3 xrays done, MRI done, Nerve Test done in the last two weeks. I finally see the specialist this Thursday who will sit down with all the results. But I got to read the report on the MRI and it said that I have a 48 degree curve between L1 and L5. Any information would be appreciated.. I hate this pain and finally found out the cause, which is refreshing and scary at the same time. I really feel that this curve has progressed dramtically in the last year. Ive lost 2 inches in height, but just thought it was because of my age (38years old).....thanks everybody..
    Hi Rich....

    Lumbar curves are far more likely to cause pain. While we often hear about a 50 degree cutoff for surgery, it's really more about the symptoms. Only you know whether you have enough pain to offset the cost of a large surgery (in terms of pain, complications, etc.)

    If it's the MRI that showed a 48 degree curve, your curve is actually probably higher than that, as curves flatten out significantly when we lay down.

    Good luck with the specialist. Who are you seeing?

    Regards,
    Linda

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Sacramento,Calif.
    Posts
    420

    Lumbar only

    Hi Rich,
    I had a Lumbar only curve that was 49* when I decided to have surgery. (It was probably 51* by my surgery date as it was mooving fast.) I am fused T10 to L4 and doing great at over 3 1/2 years out.
    No question is a dumb question here, it is a learning process. You can E-mail me and I will fill you in on anything you want to know. We are but a few with Lumbar only curves. This DOES make a difference I have found.
    Hope to talk to you soon, Suzy
    suzy907@hotmail.com


    2/22/06 @ age 42, fused T10-L4 now 8*

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