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Additional Fusion 40 years after Harrington Rod Surgery

Started by amidani on 03/15/2017 10:31am


I had spinal fusion from T2-L2 in 1978. Approximately three years ago, I noticed that I was leaning forward. Gradually, I began having difficulty standing up straight after sitting for long periods. I also was very active--running daily, going to the gym, swimming, etc. My life has gradually become more limited due to pain and fatigue. Additionally, I suffer from chronic migraines.

Last summer, I went for a surgical consult and was told that I have DDD above and below the fusion, but that L3 is collapsed and L4-5 are also affected, with a reverse curvature below the fusion. I have since had 4 additional consults. Each surgeon gives a different opinion, but all say that surgery is inevitable but elective. One surgeon has suggested fusing the remaining vertabrae below the fusion which would involve putting screws into my hips. Two surgeons are suggesting just operating on L3-L4 and removing the discs and replacing with cages. Another surgeon said not to do anything until I can't move.

I am 53 and live alone. I am terrified and do not know what to do. I have done PT, accupuncture, biofeedback, aquatherapy--nothing has helped. I have seen doctors in NYC and the surrounding area. I am truly at a loss as to what to do,

Looking forward to hearing from others.


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1 Response


Hello, and thank you for sharing your story with us. Based on what you've written, it sounds like you've approached your pain the right way: You have been active, explored a wide array of non-surgical treatments, and you've sought out the opinions of multiple doctors. You're clearly an advocate for your own health, and that is outstanding.

We wish we could tell you the right treatment path to take, but only you can make that decision. But, we can help give you some things to consider as you weigh your options. There may very well be numerous ways to treat your spinal issues--no one "right" answer may exist--so your best way forward may be in your gut. In other words, ask yourself these questions:
1. When you meet with spine specialists, do you have time to ask questions?
2. If you do, do you feel you receive transparent responses?

We think learning as much as you can about a procedure and building trust with your doctor help make the right direction clearer. If you need some examples of good questions to ask your doctor, we think you'll find this helpful ( Spine Surgery: Questions to Ask Your Doctor ).

We hope others in this Community share their experiences with you, too. Keep us posted on what you decide to do. We wish you the very best of luck!