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Thread: Scoliosis surgery in your 30's?!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Cheltenham, UK

    Exclamation Scoliosis surgery in your 30's?!


    I've joined this forum to see if there is anyone in the same situation as myself.

    My scoliosis was found when I was 21 after qualifying as a radiographer (sense the irony!!) as I was getting a lot of back pain. I had Xrays which showed a Tspine scoliosis and due to my age I was only referred to the pain clinic. No one seemed to be concerned nor was any other support/guidance given.

    10 years on I've developed daily pain in my Tspine and Lspine along with having chest pains on bad days. My GP sent me for another set of standing Xrays which has now shown a 55 degree curve in my Tspine and more surprisingly a 48 degree curve in my Lspine. An orthopaedic consultant sent me for an MRI to check I have no nerve problems (which I haven't) and advised me that given my job and age I should consider surgery.

    On Wednesday I had what was meant to be a surgical consult with a spinal specialist which was the biggest waste for time. I ended up seeing the Registrar who must have been from the dark ages as his opinion was very different to that of my orthopaedic consultant. He said at 31 they'd never operate, did not discuss my Xrays or MRI, nor did he even examine me! He wants to send me back to the pain clinic to have tramadol daily (a GREAT idea for a radiographer dealing with equipment and patients all day!!) and was very dismissive of my scoliosis. I have been told that because my curves are over 40 degrees that they are likely to increase up to 1 degree a year now.

    I have been in touch with my original consultant to try to make a new appointment to see the actual spinal consultant as planned so I haven't given up yet.

    Is there anyone out there in their 30's (or who surgery in their 30's) going through this process, or any similar cases where surgery has been brushed off due to their age?!

    I'm hoping to attach some of my Xrays so hopefully they'll be on here too!!

    Many thanks for reading,


    In the UK
    Tspine = 55 degrees
    Lspine = 48 degrees

    Last edited by sarahrowe99; 07-06-2012 at 03:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Yacolt, WA
    What's a "Registrar"?
    Adult Onset Degen Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Sev disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal SCI T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Rev Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone
    2018: Removal L4,5 screw
    2021: Removal T1 screw & rod

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Cheltenham, UK
    A medical doctor in the United Kingdom receiving advanced training in a specialist field, they usually work under a consultant as part of the specialist team.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Don't give up Sarah. I believe due to your curve size and your pain, you'd qualify for surgery, especially as it's demonstrated to progress and even expected to progress. Why put up with the pain and a worsening curve when you can have it fixed now. The younger you are, the easier the recovery and likely, the better result. Deal only with a scoliosis specialist, not just an orthopedic surgeon, and ask lots of questions here. Best of 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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    A 34 yr old woman having the surgery on August 1st. Yeah!!

    Hi there I am 34 and have my surgery date set for August 1st! I am so excited and it took a long time to get here. I have been slipping discs since my early 20's but would always heal. In sept of 2011 I did it again and it would not heal this time. Now 3 discs in my back have slipped and won't heal because of the pressure of my curves. My curves are 38 and 48. My Nuerosurgen wll also decompress my discs during the surgery. My ribs and hips constantly rub, my back hump is huge and I feel like my body is crushing in on it's self. I've also shrunk two inches since my teens. The pain I've been in is excruciating. I'm am so excited for my surgery. I have a 14 yr old son and a wonderful husband, and friends for support, thankfully. Scoliosis runs in my family, as does a genetic condition called Fragile X. Scoliosis can be a symptom of this condition, and being a carrier of FX. I also had a hard time finding women in their 30's going through the same thing. I feel old and im too young for this. I cant wait to have my life back! Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Cheltenham, UK

    Smile Thank you :)

    Thank you all for reading my message and for the support! I hope that come next week my consultant will be back from holiday and will push things forward again to get me on the right pathway!


    I it so difficult to find any blogs/information of women in their 30's going through this process. I know say 10 years ago it was very much only teenagers considered for surgery but times really have changed. I'm so pleased to hear the ball is rolling for you now and you have a date booked! I wish you the best of luck and hope after your recovery time you finally get to live pain free, or at least be more comfortable on a day to day basic xx

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern California
    I wouldn't get hung up on what age people are when they have surgery. It just isn't an important factor.
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Twain
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Surgery scheduled

    I'm 37 and scheduled for surgery in October. I think this is one reason why I am so against socialized medicine. Can you get a second opinion? There are several people on this forum in their 30's who have had and/or are going to have surgery. There is a scoliosis facebook page called "How to look good twisted". Several of those ladies are from the UK and maybe able to help you or offer you advice.
    Scheduled for surgery with Dr. Lenke Oct. 2012
    53*T 71*L
    Surgery 10/05/2012 T4-pelvis
    Correction: looks perfect! Will find out how perfect at future appointments

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    there are teens on forum who have had the surgery....
    it isnt the is the size of the curves, rate of progression of curves, the pain,
    the debilitation, etc...
    i think the only age issue is that some surgeons are more concerned with
    preserving lumbar area and trying not to go to sacrum in younger people, if it
    can at all be avoided....that is the only age concern i have ever read about...
    also.....younger people tend to heal faster....

    good luck in your search for the right surgeon...


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    surgery in your 30s

    i usually don't post but i remember when i was making the decision for surgery and was desperately looking for someone around my age to speak to. though it might be true that age shouldn't matter as much when it comes to outcomes (?), i found it comforting to speak to someone who was in my life stage - who can relate to all the issues about having this surgery as a young adult - job, family, etc.

    i had my surgery almost 6 months ago. i think i'm doing well. i haven't taken any type of medication since 2 months other than an occasional tylenol. i might have taken a muscle relaxant or two but i think that was more to go to sleep after a rough day rather than spasms, hehe. i exercise everyday half hour on the elliptical and do very light weights then go for walks. i've worked full-time since two months (well i gradually worked my way up to 'full-time' after 3 weeks). i still get pretty tired - body is still recuperating. and i'll get very sore and tight if i overdo it (which i tend to do!). i still have restrictions (no bending, twisting, or heavy lifting). i'm very impatient since i was so active before but you always need to remind yourself that you went through a huge surgery.

    having this surgery in your 30s you are sort of lumped with some of the older adults though honestly you really do straddle the middle of the spectrum - you'll heal more like a teenager if you are in your early 30s but it will take longer for an overall recovery (as opposed to a teenager), in my experience. i remember when i was going through pre-op they asked me all the pre-op questions of a standard adult (do you have heart problems, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.) and when my answers were consistently no, they laughed and said they should have just treated me like a teenager (not to say they don't ask these questions of teenagers too...).

    i can very much relate to the OP about being brushed aside about progression/having surgery because of your age. in my mid-twenties a general orthopedist brushed me aside about my scoliosis because of my age and said i couldn't have progressed cause i was already done growing (totally wrong, and he didn't even check any previous x-rays) and i wouldn't progress further. all i have to say is go to a scoliosis specialist (basically someone who knows what they are doing). i still get angry over what happened (would it have saved me all this grief since then?), but you can't regret.

    if you are progressing, you should seriously consider the surgery. the most lumbar discs you can preserve the better. speak to a scoliosis specialist and ask to speak to other people that surgeon has treated in the past. you need to do your due diligence to make sure the surgeon is right for you (though i'm not sure how much leeway you have with this in the UK). if you have any other questions, feel free to pm me.
    30 y.o female, very active, considering surgery
    08/03/11 - 54 degrees
    06/2004 - 33 degrees
    Don't like hospitals

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