View Full Version : surgery at 55?

helen stone
07-05-2004, 12:12 AM
I am 55 with a s curve- 55 at the top and 70 at the bottom. It has increased during menapause. I was told that I should have surgery but am not sure who I want to do the surgery. Has anyone of my age had this surgery?

07-05-2004, 02:09 AM
Hi Helen

I'm 52 years old and my curves are similar to yours. I'm going to be having surgery next spring and I'm going to go to Dr. Hammerberg in Chicago. I was told I have to go to a specialist for the surgery, and he came highly recommended. So I'm going to travel from Hawaii to Chicago to have the surgery with him. I'm not sure what doctors are available in Michigan and Florida, but I'm sure others can give you names or places to check. I'd be curious to know what kinds of symptoms you're having - I have a very difficult time standing and I'm starting to have a hard time walking more than a couple blocks. Sometimes the pain can get pretty bad. I take ultracet for pain and it helps some. Do you find yourself having similar problems?

Best of luck to you!

07-05-2004, 06:46 AM
hi, helen:

i am 49 and--after years of accupuncture, accupressure, chiropractic, pilates, pain relievers, etc.--mu lumbar curve continues to progress and my back and leg pain have finally become unmanageable. it's pretty bad when you can't keep up with your 12-year old dog on a walk around the block! i plan to have surgery in a couple of months; it never occured to me there would be a connection between menopause and curve progression...interesting! i will be having surgery at baylor hospital here in dallas; i don't know where in michigan you are located, but maybe you are near the cleveland clinic in ohio? i wore a milwaukee brace from ages 8 until 16 and my physicians were at the cleveland clinic. i visited two surgeons here in dallas before deciding to have surgery. each dr. had excellent credentials and experience, so my decision was based on personality. the doctor who will do my surgery treated me with respect and compassion; he was reassuring and good humored, as was his staff. i already knew in my heart surgery was the right thing to do; this doctor made me feel that it will all turn out fine. i hope you find a dr. with a similar demeanor...good luck with your search!


07-05-2004, 09:20 AM
Helen, I had surgery almost 1 year ago at age 43, upper curve had progressed from 45 to 60 and lower from 42 to 55 in about 1 and 1/2 years. I too wore a brace during my teens and my curve stayed stable till I was 42 then just progressed dramatically, which is why I had the surgery and didn't want to wait another year or two. I live in New Mexico and was referred to Dr. Thomas Lowe in Denver. I think he did an excellent job, the only thing I would have done differently is to have a scoliosis doctor follow me at home also. I recommend that all of you who are going in for surgery start a strict walking program, and make sure to eat healthy, get your teeth cleaned, etc. all of those things will help you feel prepared. I also got my bedroom and house organized and set up, (simplified) for coming home. I think all things thing made me physically and mentally stronger and ready for the surgery. I'm still recovering but doing well, the doctors office said it typically takes between 1 and 2 years for most adults to be close to 100%. I would say I'm at about 65% now, I can do alot, but only for about 4 or 5 hours then I need to either lay down or sit in a recliner for an hour or so, then I can do more. I'm only working three, 4 to 5 hour days a week still, but am doing all the housework, grocery shopping, etc. Anyone can email me or write back in this forum if you have any questions about more specifics.

Karen Ocker
07-05-2004, 09:59 AM
I had a revision 22 months ago at age 60. Wished I had done it sooner but didn't know I could be helped. I got my life back.

Read my other posts on this site over the last few months. My curve was 80 degrees before surgery and I was having difficulty breathing. My surgeon said it was only going to get worse.

Over my life time I tried chiropractic and Pilates but my back was marching to it's own drummer. I do not have osteoporosis either.

Feel free to e-mail me it you like.


07-05-2004, 12:30 PM
PJO, I'm 48 I had surgery in April of this year for a T curve of 79 and L curve of 44. I had anterior and posterior surgery done with 6 discs being removed. I also had a plate put in on the sacrum so the fusion with take better down there. I'm fused from T1 to Sacrum. My surgery took 22 hours on two days. What I was wondering is, where are you the sorest at when you finally have to stretch out? It seems I get real sore in the upper shoulder blade area and up around the back of the neck. Also in the lumbar area. Can you walk completely upright now? I know it's only been almost 3 months from surgery for me but I still end up hunched over as the day goes on. I'm also using a cane. I can walk a mile on the treadmill going 2.5 miles an hour, but I'm real sore later on after that. I'm hoping to go back to work the end of August. Theresa

07-05-2004, 03:17 PM
Theresa, I wake up w/o being sore much at all, but after working for 4 to 6 hours I get sore, mostly in upper to mid back. However, my fusion is only to L-3 or 4, I guess I need to find out for sure. I can walk upright, but do notice as I get tired I slouch a tad, and can then kinda feel some of the hardware in my back. There is still alot of numb areas in my back on the surface, although there is the achyness/pain deeper when I do too much. I started back to work in January (5 months) but only part time. And am still part time, I'm an assistant director for a preschool, and a preschool teacher, but I'm only doing office type work now, not yet working with the kids, that much bending over is very uncomfortable. I'm sure I could work more hours if I really needed to but it would be very hard, and I would have to take pain pills in order to do it, and I don't want to do that. The end of August sounds real soon to me, unless you can sit alot and start with a few 1/2 days. Take it slow, and don't get discouraged. I think I was really surprised at how long its taken me, I was expecting 6 months, not 1 to 2 years, and from what my Doc says, 1 to 2 years is more average for adults.

07-05-2004, 07:44 PM
Well I too was pretty stable until my late 30's early 40's and i had early menopause at 34 due to having my ovaries removed - never put that into the scenerio before either, I also had a minor car accident at 33 - hmmmmm maybe I shouldn't have signed off on that either. I don't know about everyone else but I am fed up to my eye teeth with the 24/7 pain and in Canada things move soooooo slow in trying to find a surgeon and also finding one interested in actually doing anything so far I have seen two - one who couldn't be bothered and one who wasn't capable. So now I am 50 and still waiting to find the right guy but I am seeing one in Nov. I had previously asked for input about getting as much info under my belt as I could- i have x-rays and a bone scan and CAT scan any other ideas? My curves are now up to almost 60 thoracic and 40 lumbar as of last year. Good luck to everyone else out there who has already had surgery or are thomking about like me.

07-06-2004, 09:45 PM

i'm interested in knowing what, specifically, you did before surgery to get your house "organized and set up" so that it would be easier to come home to. i find i'm a little overwhelmed thinking about it; i still have plenty of time, but i'm afraid august will roll around and i'll still be going, "hm. i need to do something about this" and nothing will have been accomplished! i found out today that my fusion will be from t3 all the way to the s1, so i imagine i'm going to have more than a few mobility issues when i get home...i will appreciate your advice.


07-07-2004, 11:44 AM

That's what exactly my doctor is recommending for me. Fuse me from T3 to sacrum. Keep in touch and let us know how it goes for you. Be praying for you, friend.


07-07-2004, 11:44 AM

That's what exactly my doctor is recommending for me. Fuse me from T3 to sacrum. Keep in touch and let us know how it goes for you. Be praying for you, friend.


07-07-2004, 05:20 PM
Momoflacrosse - mmmm, interesting, I had overies removed at age 30, and spine stayed stable at 45 upper and lower, til 41, I've had a bone scan and there is no bone loss, but maybe there is still a tie in to curves changes like that. Is there a chance you can come to the US to get your surgery, if the wait is so long or you can't find a local Dr.? Just a thought of something to look into. I'm not sure what you mean about getting together other info, the x-rays should pretty much tell the story about progression, if you could get some older x-rays, and current ones to take to a new doc, then they can see the progression. Other than that, after surgery was set up there were other test, bloodwork, chest x-rays, lung function tests, and so on.

Suejeryl - As far as getting my house in order before surgery, I organized things so they would be easy for my husband and/or family to find. For example, since I have always done the bills, I put them into a binder with a list of dates due and amounts. I organized other paperwork, like insurance info, doc's names, numbers, addresses, phone numbers for people to be called after surgery, wrote a large desk calendar with appointments, upcoming events which I usually took care of like birthdays, so my husband could keep up with it all if I wasn't able. I know that you may already have this stuff organized, but make sure the people helping you out will know how to find it, and what to do.

I also, deep cleaned, my husband is a good surface cleaner, but I don't think he's ever cleaned the bathroom for example. So I deep cleaned, then but in some of those bleach dispensers in the toilet to keep it clean longer and purchased things to make it easier for him, like window cleaning cloths, and dust cloths, and one of those swifter floor mops instead of what I ususally use.

As far as setting up home for myself, I moved a sturdy wooden chair with wide arms into my bedroom, with a T.V. and a clean table top with a lamp next to the bed. When I first came home and people would visit it was much easier to stay in my own room rather than walk to the front room. My husband also made a wooden tray that fit over the arms of the chair so I could look at a magazine, or book for a few minutes. ( I was surprised at how weak my arms were and even holding up a book while laying down in bed was hard at first.) I also prepared some of his and my favorite foods and froze them and made sure there was plenty of staples like T.P., paper towels, dish soap etc.

That's all I can think of at this time, I hope it helps. Oh, books on tape are great while you are recovering, as I said earlier it is hard to hold a book up at first, plus it helps to take your mind off how you are feeling a tad.

07-07-2004, 05:29 PM

great info; thanks! excellent point about the bills...i pay all of them online...the other night it occurred to me i should probably share the password with my husband so he can do the honors for awhile!

07-07-2004, 06:38 PM
Helen, I am 54 years old and 3 months post-op. Today I went to see the surgeon and everything is progressing and I don't have to wear the brace. You will have to measure progress week-by-week. I only take tylenol for pain/discomfort. Most of my back is numb and will remain so for a year. Basically I feel like my shoulder blades are being stretched to the max. As you can see from the other posts, you have to get in shape before surgery. Try to get strength in your arms by lifting weights (3-5 lb. weights). It is just a slow recovery process but I look much better and can breathe!

07-07-2004, 10:43 PM
Cheryllee, I am 3 months post-op also and I know what you mean about the shoulders! I wish that it would hurry up and go away! I still take a couple of pain pills and muscle relaxers a day. I was taking 4 a day, so slowly coming off of them. Have you heard anything about how long this shoulder things goes on? My story is on "Just had surgery". Theresa

07-08-2004, 07:58 AM
Hello pjo

Thanks for all your advice on preparing your home. To make it easier for my family, I am going to hire a cleaner / ironing lady for a couple of week so they can concentrate on looking after my two little children !

Thanks again!

51 degrees
T7 - L4
Surgery on October 14 2004 and counting!

07-08-2004, 11:31 AM
Theresa, the doctor said it could last for months! Mine is more on the right side, then the left, but then that is true for my entire back. All those nerves have to grow back together. It is truly a week-by week progress. I've learned not to expect improvement from one day to the next, better to keep your eye on the entire picture.