Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Exercise after fusion

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    2

    Exercise after fusion

    I'm a new member here and I have not have revision surgery, but I can't figure out where else to post this message and question. I had fusion surgery for scoliosis in about 1977 when I was a teenager (T-5 to L-4, if I am remembering correctly -- it may have been T-4 to L-5). About 24-36 months after surgery, my Harrington rod became loose at one end. A bone scan showed that most of the fusion was successful, so they took the rod out at that time.

    I've lived a fairly normal life, giving birth to four children and (in the process) gaining a significant amount of weight (I'm about 75 pounds overweight). When I was pregnant or when I'm at my heaviest, I would always have problems with sciatic pain. As I've gotten older, that has become more pronounced. I've also started to have a more "achy" and burning pain just under my shoulder-blades.

    I started working out and lifting weights about 14 weeks ago, attempting not only to loose weight, but to strengthen my abdominal and back muscles in the hope that the back pain and sciatic pain will improve. However, I'm having difficulty determining what kind of abdominal exercises I can do. I just do not curve like normal people if I try to do a "crunch" (I can bend at my hips, but not at my waist). If I attempt leg lifts (while lying on my back), it aggravates my back pain instead of helping it. It seems that when I do abdominal work, I end up with back pain -- but I must strengthen these muscles! How?

    Does anyone who has a similar fusion have any suggestions or exercises that have worked for them? I appreciate any advice.

    I have basically ignored my fusion and curve for all of these years (as it was not impacting my life), but when the sciatic pain began to get worse, I did go to a doctor and asked if it was possible that my curve was becoming worse. She basically poo-pooed the idea and told me it was NOT possible and that I did NOT have sciatic pain -- that it was just lower back pain from being overweight and out of shape. But I think I know the difference (that stabbing pain in your buttocks and radiating pain down the leg are pretty unique). For those of you who had fusion surgery when younger, how did you know that you needed a revision? I did not even know such a thing existed until I came to this site!

    Thanks!

    - Janade

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,794
    Hi Janade...

    First, you might want to get a new doctor. It is entirely possible that your curve has increased.

    Second, after working with a bunch of different physical therapists, I discovered that I had been doing ab strengthening exercises wrong for many years. Once I learned how to do them correctly, I was able to relieve much of my lower back pain. I think it would be a good idea to work with a good PT, but the basic principle is that you need to be very careful that your abs are tight during the exercise, so that you don't engage any of the muscles that attach to your spine. I do that by inhaling, and then tightening my tummy muscles as I blow air out through my mouth. I do about 5 minutes of ab strengthening every day. If my mind wonders during the exercise, I can almost immediately feel it in my back.

    Best of luck. I hope you can get yourself to a scoliosis specialist who is known for treating prior fusions.

    Regards,
    Linda

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    7
    Hi Janade,

    I had a fusion in 1974 at the age of 16. It goes from T4 to L4. I agree with Linda. A new doctor is a good idea. My advice is to find a physical therapist who has experience working with patients like ourselves. Which state are you living in? I'm in the Boston area and if you are near me I can make some suggestions. I have worked with 5 different physical therapists. The last one helped me work the abdominal muscles using an exercise ball. Definitely continue the exercise but find an expert who can support you correctly.
    M.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    2
    Thanks for the replies. I'm going to make an appointment with a different primary care doctor and hope I can convince them to give me a referral to an orthopedist, who may have more experience in this type of thing. As we are military, we have to jump through the hoops to try to be seen by specialists.

    - Janade

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Fernley, Nevada
    Posts
    352
    Janade
    Your statement about being military caught my eye. We are also, actually "retired". My husband is retired USAF and I don't know about the other branches of the service, but the Air Force does not treat scolosis. When you see your new PCP you MUST TELL him/her that you want to be seen by an ortho that treats adult scoli. The military must let you be seen by a civilian if they do not have either the facilities or the docs to treat you AND THEY HAVE TO PAY FOR IT.

    You have to stand your ground and don't let them (military docs) make you feel like you don't know what you are talking about. Remember that the Captain that you are seeing is only a "resident"....not even a full fledge doc yet! The doc that told you that "its not possible" and that it is your weight is full of >>>>
    I went through 5 years of being made to feel like a hypocondriac and that there was nothing wring with me. I even had one of the docs tell me to go home and take up gradening...I didn't have a enough to do!! Finally after all that time I took control and found out that I actually had Flatback Syndrome, because of the Harringtion Rod I had back in the early '80's. In 2002 I had Anterior/Posterior surgery done at UCSF. The military is full of good young doctors.....but most of them do not have enough education yet to be able to tell what is wrong. The doc you were seeing is also proabably making his rotation thru family practice and may not really be "into" that particular arm of medicine.

    Feel free to e mail me if you like
    SandyC
    sczapla@earthlink.net
    SandyC

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    255
    Just to say, thanks Linda for the tip for the abs exercises, I have been trying for years and always feeling it in my back--really appreciate the info. Laura

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •