Anyone who had spine fusion surgery for scoliosis, or tried alternative methods?
November 29, 2011 6:10 PM   Subscribe

My daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis 2 years ago, wore the boston brace for a year, but her curve had progressed to 50 degrees, which is the number to be operable. I would like to hear from people who had (or had their child) go thru surgery, or tried other alternative methods, like the Clear method. How is it living years after surgery, its success, or the success of Clear method or any other treatment? The idea of spine surgery for my child is overwhelming and scary and I would like any input from people and parents who experienced or are experiencing thru it. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here's my rambling experience with scoliosis:

I'm in my 30s and had scoliosis surgery when I was 13 (female). I never wore a brace because my scoliosis wasn't detected until it was too late for that. Surgery was successful, I suppose, because it corrected the curvature somewhat and the steel rods which were put in have prevented my spine from continuing to curve. There were two surgeries within 1 week of each other: the first to collect bone from my rib to use during the second where the steel rods were fused to my spine. I went home week after the second operation, but had to return within a couple of days because of an infection which lead to another month in the hospital.

Recovery was very painful and spending time in a hospital is never pleasant, but if you're their for your daughter to support her through it, it is manageable. Things may have changed since I had my surgery almost 20 years ago, but I was out of school for over a month. I have long scars on my back which, along with the curvature itself, were very traumatizing to me for a long time, but I've grown to accept my body. Be aware that your daughter might develop body image problems and be ready to help her.

If there's anything specific you want to know, just MeMail me.
posted by oceanview at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2011

In my family of 5 kids, 3 of us had scoliosis and subsequent surgery. I had the Harrington procedure to correct scoliosis when I was 15 and recovered very well. I've been able to run, swim, cycle, do archery, ride horses, do yoga, train with heavy weights, and start training for SCA style medieval battle with my doctor's blessing (I gave it up after being hit on my helmeted head a few times -- archery butts don't hit back!). I have rarely thought about any potential restrictions on my activity.

Some people report complications from Harrington procedures, but my siblings and I never experienced these. My mother didn't have the surgery until she was in her mid-fifties, with a very serious degree of curvature and daily pain. She came out of the surgery somewhat straighter, but still in a lot of pain and was never really well again. I tend to jump up and down in scoliosis threads for this reason: if you aren't lucky enough to have the scoliosis revert, as it did for two of my siblings, and if it continues into adolescence, you should do something to ameliorate it. No one should have to go through what my mother went through. There are other options besides the Harrington: your doctor can fill you in.

I have lots more detail about my experience: you can MeMail for the brain dump.
posted by maudlin at 7:36 PM on November 29, 2011

I'm 30, and had surgery to stop my curves from getting worse when I was 13. They found my scoliosis during a routine at-school testing, and I wore a brace for a year trying to correct the curves (I had two curves - both very severe by the time they were discovered). When the brace wasn't doing anything to help, and the curvature was getting worse at each check up, my family and I agreed to let them correct it surgically. They took bone from my pelvis to fuse to my spinal cord and to the titanium rods (it was all done in one four or five hour surgery). I was in the hospital for about a week, and then spent three months on bed rest (no car rides and very little walking) before I could return to school. For a year after that, I wore another brace to protect my healing body, but then after that, I soon returned to all the activities I enjoyed before. Since then, I have noticed very little that I can't do that others can (some bending is limited, but I don't think anyone but me even notices).

As for the scarring, I have a single scar down the center of my back, from just below my neck down to the small of my back, and a second scar from where they took the bone from my pelvis, and that scar is a little thicker... but everyone that has seen my scar has been fascinated by it and wants to hear the story. I'm kind of proud of those scars, actually. It was a tough thing to go through, but after getting through all that, routine doctor's visits are no sweat. :) Wearing the braces (before and after) were more emotionally embarrassing for me than the resulting scars, though most people were nice about it or at least didn't point it out.

I'm happy to answer any questions about my experience (though I know nothing about alternative treatments), and will ask my mom if she has anything to share about her experience while I was going through it. My family and friends (and even my school teachers!) were supportive throughout the whole process. My grandmother kept a journal about my experience (which I still have, and am happy to share if you'd like to read it). Feel free to MeMail me... and your daughter as well, even if it's just for support.
posted by evolvinglines at 9:54 PM on November 29, 2011

i had spinal fusion surgery for my 57 degree curve when i was 18 (7 1/2 years ago). never wore a brace.
i have a faint scar that curves around my right side, and i think it's pretty cool. i am still numb around the incision and my rib where they took bone for the graft.
recovery was painful. i was in the hospital for a week, took ~three months to feel good again and i was back to normal within a year.
how old is your daughter? i was in the pediatric ward at the hospital, which probably made my stay more pleasant.
my surgeon performs two surgeries per day; the morning one is more desirable than the afternoon one.
memail me for more specific info about my experience and my mom & dad's too!
posted by sabh at 9:40 AM on November 30, 2011

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