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Thread: Sounds like I知 candidate for surgery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Malibu
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    10

    Sounds like I知 candidate for surgery

    I知 a 52-year-old man who was diagnosed with scoliosis in my teens. I have tried almost all remedies except surgery, which my doctor now tells me I need. He proposes fusion from about T4 to S1. I have a lumbar curve of 55ー and a thoracic curve of 44ー. I have been actively involved in bodybuilding since my 20s and that has kept me relatively pain free until now. Although I still workout like mad, I can barely walk more than a half-mile and can稚 stand still for more than five minutes. Sitting at my desk at work is misery and I have found myself living on tramadol. Sounds like I知 an apt candidate for surgery but some comments I read here make me think that I知 asking for trouble. Am I just replacing one pain for another and in the process losing all my flexibility? Would I ever be able to work out again? Vague, unanswerable questions, I know. Guess I知 just looking for feedback from people who have like experiences or concerns.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    Hi,

    if you're in pain now, yes there are no guarantees of no other pains post op but you have to be able to decide if the pain you have now is worth living with, and see if surgery is worth taking risks, but that's a decision you can make and only do for yourself. I can only say be informed, that's the best advice.

    You will not lose that much flexibility, for me I just find it's there when I think about dancing professionally or doing back bends, but other than that it's only a bit of a loss, not life changing.

    Good luck with your decision.
    35 y/old female from Montreal, Canada
    Diagnosed with scoliosis(double major) at age 12, wore Boston brace 4 years at least 23 hours a day-curve progressed
    Surgery age 26 for 60 degree curve in Oct. 1997 by Dr.Max Aebi-fused T5 to L2
    Surgery age 28 for a hook removal in Feb. 1999 by Dr.Max Aebi-pain free for 5 years
    Surgery age 34 in Dec.2005 for broken rod replacement, bigger screws and crosslinks added and pseudarthrosis(non union) by Dr. Jean Ouellet

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Wheeling, WV
    Posts
    1,105
    Hi Leansleft,

    I think we have all had the same thoughts and concerns as you!!! I was always atheltic and had a job that required me to be on my feet 10-14 hours a day. Staying physically active helps us up to a point. My point came when by the end of my shift, I walked in pain, sat in pain, and then when I got home I laid in pain.

    I guess it's just how much you can take. And for me, knowing that my scolioisis was progressing, I couldn't imagine what it was going to be like in the future.

    I lift light weights and I can still golf. I still have some pain, but nothing compared to what I had before.

    Shari

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    new york
    Posts
    212
    Hi
    I'm in little to no pain and becoming more and more flexible each day. I don't know how I lived with the pain before, but I never realized how bad it was or my limitations (couldn't stand or sit for more than 1 hour, no high impact exercises, etc....) I just expected to live that way forever.
    Some things I can't do...........side bends, a full sit up or lift more than 15 pounds as of now. Otherwise I'm back at the gym, danced at my friend's wedding and living a normal life.
    Good luck
    Jenn
    37 y/o female
    60 degree lumbar
    45 degree thoracic
    1st time anterior/posterior surgery May 8th and 10th 2006
    T 5 to S 1
    NYC

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    I live in Cedar Park, TX which is a suburb of Austin, TX.
    Posts
    76

    50 year old, 4 weeks postop

    I am a 50 year old female. My limitations from my 53 degree curve were similar to yours. It finally hit me that I could get relief from the surgery that I tried to avoid like the plague for over thirty years.

    Only 4 weeks post op, I am not yet in a place to say how glad I am to have decided to get the surgery. I am still in a lot of pain with muscle spasms and soreness like I was in a train wreck. I got an infection and had to go back to the OR and be opened up and cleaned out a week after the original surgery and back in the hospital another week. So still not ready to day it is the best decision I ever made... yet.

    I feel very strong and brave at this point. Many friends and family members have stepped up to help me as I am a single mom with one teenager at home. This has been a learning experience to allow others to help me but I can see many positive lessons I have learned already on this journey.

    My doctor said one thing to me when I was try to decide what to do about surgery. I expressed all of my trepidations and he said, "You have a painful deformity and I can fix it." The simplifying of the decision did help me.

    Good luck. The members of this forum are always willing to enter into discussion to weigh the pros and cons of your decision.

    I got a 70% improvement of my 53 degree curve and trust that the talents of my surgeon while pay off in an extended qualty of life as I will retire in June and look forward to more stamina for travel and doing consulting work around the state.

    Joan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    new jersey
    Posts
    850

    give it time...

    Joan--good luck to you & your recovery.. I felt the same way as you at 4 weeks..You are still very early in your recovery since my surgeon said it is a 6 mth to a year recovery & possibly 2 years.. I keep thinking of that as I am now on about 3-1/2 mths now. Time does go fast! I am certain I made the right decision but was like you at 4 weeks, give it time....Ly
    http://lynnebackattack.blogspot.com
    fused T-11 to L-5/@HSS/Dr. Boachie/Dr. Kim
    95 thorocolumbar curve reduced into the 50's

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    near Philadelphia
    Posts
    1,260

    A tough decision

    Hi --
    I'm a 51-year-old woman who has reluctantly decided to have surgery next year because of progressing pain and deformity. The thing I find most difficult about this huge surgery is that it's elective -- the burden of the decision making process rests on you. My advice would be to get a second and third opinion before you decide anything, and if you do decide on surgery, get the very best surgeon you can afford.

    I always tell people that deciding to have spinal fusion surgery is like planning to throw yourself in front of a bus!! But I have found it encouraging that most people get through it okay.

    Good luck,
    Chris
    A/P fusion on June 19, 2007 at age 52; T10-L5
    Pre-op thoracolumbar curve: 70 degrees
    Post-op curve: 12 degrees
    Dr. Boachie-adjei, HSS, New York

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Malibu
    Posts
    10
    Thank you all for your feedback. From the responses, I sense a transportation theme from a train wreck to throwing oneself in front of a bus. Gee, I can稚 wait for the day I知 finally wheeled into the operating room!

    Seriously, though, this forum is a great help in the decision-making process and for its post-op support.

    Andrew

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    68
    Andrew! er Lefty,

    I am a fitness instructor. I had a recent scare so came right back over here, to my scoli pals. It seems I am one of the "lucky" ones and my disc degeneration is far above my fusion, so...I am told I am old. Not really, they just said it's far above my fusion and would have happened anyway. Would it have? I don't know. How many times did I sit at the gosh darn computer or somewhere else and put up with pain, because I was trained to do so at an early age through brace etc.

    aw, in "general" my spine is fused and the only thing I can not due is arch my back. I don't need to be a contortionist anyhow.

    May I augment your joy? You say you like to workout but do you know all of your muscles, how they all work, why you do what you do, and so on? I feel a sense of control I never had before, a new understanding, like how to really contract my abs and which ones at one time, and to what purpose.

    I became an instructor late in life, happenstance. I never dreamed of such a thing. Me, a fitness instructor, an inspiration to others, a "model" yada yada.

    I am just saying all of this so you know exactly what I can not do: arch my spine, big deal, you think anyone has noticed? My brace and the times killed my dreams of being a gymnast anyway. Meanwhile, since you are working out like a fanatic, take your mind to your muscles and get more control over them, (not a solution to your immediate problem) ... and as you re-coop from surgery you can think about muscle AND bone and how they all work together. Empowerment rather than fear fear fear and the unknown.

    My pain radiated from my neck in such a way that I could describe it, "Deltoids, trapazeius, .." Whelp seems there was a unhappy pinched nerve in my neck and those suckers have long reaching "tendrils" so... my shoulder ached etc. ached like a rotator cuff injury. Geez that was a scary 8 weeks.

    Surgery is not to be taken lightly but Lefty, you 'iz a young man at 51. Also, I have said before, the many successful surgery folk, are necessarily here. I wasn't, until I got scared. I am not quite sure why I remain. I guess it's been healing and it's been very nice to meet so many unique people, who may also need some rah-rah'ing from time to time.

    How long has your pain been going on? Mine took 8 weeks to resolve. I am told this is average but it was 8 weeks of [explective] fear and worry.
    Traction at 13, body cast 1 mos., Milwaukee, first plastic (severe allergy, abdomen skin burst, watery) then leather. Harrington Rod @ 15, 9 mos body cast, hips up. 9 more mos being careful and protective. Degenerated disc C4-5 I think well above the rod. Degenerated disc below the rod now? Probably.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    255

    training

    Hi Andrew -

    I'm younger than you, but will need to have this surgery at some point, and share many of your trepidations about it.

    I'm posting though because you reminded me of somebody my brother was introduced to in the UK. This guy had had scoliosis surgery, so when my brother's friend realized I was thinking about it he introduced them. The guy said that the scoli surgery revolutionized his life. He had a really big curve and had always been subject to teasing at school etc., so the surgery helped there, but also he had been told that he should get to the gym and make sure to keep strengthening his muscles. Apparently he is now in the gym most days working out with weights, and is feeling fabulous with his new life, look, and routine.

    If it were me, I'd want to make sure at first that I was under the guidance of a good physio who knew scoliosis surgery, and it might take a while before you could really get going properly, but as far as I know the gym is definitely still a possibility after surgery.

    Take care. Laura
    30y/o
    Upper curve around 55
    Lower curve around 35

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    33
    I am a 54 YO male who has a 30C-50T-40L curve. I have lifted weights most of my adult life like you. I still do but I am finding more and more limitations. I do not do squats or deadlifts anymore (I also dabbled in a bit of powerlifting)If you have not seen a scoliosis specialist that is the first step. I, too, cannot stand for any time at all now and had difficulty walking more than 6-7 minutes. About a month ago I started walking through the pain. I am up to forty minutes now. It still hurts, but much less! When I first tried it, it was because I was starting to have alot of hip pain that some believed was due to not walking. This motivated me to try this. It seemed impossible at first but I progressed. May not work for you, but you could try it. The burning while walking seems to start much later than it used to, then, most of the time, will ease off or go completely away till I finish.

    Tom

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    27
    You could consider a second opinion. In adults doctors tend to be more conservative about surgery than with teenagers but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    1,293

    Exclamation triple curves

    Before my revision I was 30C/80T/40L.
    Be aware that lung impairment happens sooner with triple curves than with double--.
    I got a 50% correction at age 60!!!!

    I would never recommend waiting that long because it seemed to progress more rapidly as the curves got bigger.
    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

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    1,293

    Exclamation triple curves

    Before my revision I was 30C/80T/40L.
    Be aware that lung impairment happens sooner with triple curves than with double--.
    I got a 50% correction at age 60!!!!

    I would never recommend waiting that long because it seemed to progress more rapidly as the curves got bigger.

    I was very active, hiked, did Pilates, didn't smoke/drink, took vitamines---still my (fused without hardware in 1956) curves kept progressing.

    Once I made the decision I crossed off the days in anticipation ---so grateful help was available.
    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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