Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Back Pain Forum

Harrington rod-future?

Must Read
What structures make up the spine? We review basic spine anatomy here...before identifying potential causes of back pain....
Click here to learn about the most common causes of back pain, and things that increase your risk of backache. We cover lower back pain and upper back pain....
Back pain symptoms may seem obvious. But do you know when symptoms of back pain are more serious or when to see a doctor? Learn what action to take & when...
Hello,
I am 38 years old with spinal fusion with Harrington rod when I was 11 years old. I had 3 children normal birth who are 10, 4 and 3 years old. I had no problems but the last 8 months I have a lot of pain and I am really afraid. I had a CT scan and I developed disc bulging under the fusion and osteoarthritis, the doctor said is too early for my age. I did exercises for scoliosis but then was consulted to do pilates in order to avoid movement of the lumbar spine.
My fusion is from T2-L2. I am afraid to develop a flat back syndrome although I am not fused under L2. I am doing physiotherapy when I find time and sometimes swiming although difficult with the children
I was told by my doctor to work part time (apply for disability)as I work full time right now, but I don't know what to do. I love my job very much and I am Head of a Department in a hospital the last 13 years and I don't know if with the part time work I will loose my position. I don't know what to expect in the coming future.
Can you tell me your opinion please
Did you find this post helpful?
|

User Profile
replied March 19th, 2011
Especially eHealthy
Scheduled,
You have done wonderfully for someone having as significant a fusion as yours. The Harrington rod was an excellent option when it was used, but as you know, it could not be bent to more replicate the sagittal curvature of the spine. After a long fusion, stress is transferred to the segments immediately adjacent the fusion. So, it is not uncommon to have problems at those segments. Advanced degeneration with disc problems and osteoarthritis of the vertebral bodies and facet joints occur most often.
Unfortunately, your options are not many. Surgery to address discrete disc problems may be feasible. If the facet joints are the problem, facet joint injections or radio frequency ablation may be done. Further fusions may become necessary, but, one may end up "chasing their tail". Have you spoken with a pain management physician or a physiatrist (a doctor specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)?
By decreasing your physical demands you may delay the inevitable. Can you do more desk work as the head of the department, delegating the excess lifting, bending, toting? Hopefully, your employer knows what an asset a person is, who has been at a job for 13 years.
Good luck.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 20th, 2011
Dear Gaelic,
thank you very much for all the information.
So do you believe that it will be better for me to reduce my working hours? Would you recommend swimming and pilates to help?
|
Did you find this post helpful?

User Profile
replied March 20th, 2011
Especially eHealthy
Scheduled,
If you can decrease any heavy lifting, twisting, carrying, etc it will help to slow the degenerative processes. A sedentary job, desk type work would probably be best. However, only you can make that decision, since you know your body, pain tolerance, job description, monetary requirements, etc.
Any activity which keeps you in good cardiovascular fitness, good core strength, and does not put stress on your back is excellent. Water aerobics, pilates (if they do not hurt your back), walking, biking, elliptical trainers, etc can all be good. Find an exercise that you enjoy, that you can stick with, and that doesn't cause you discomfort in the back.
Again, you may want to speak with a physiatrist, as they are doctors trained in physical training/rehab, pain management techniques, and could probably set up an exercise program for you. He/she may also help with your employment situation.

Wishing you the best.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 22nd, 2011
Gaelic,
thank you very much for the information. I am Head of Pharmacy Department and I do not lift anything. In my position I have work only in the office but prolong sitting is not very good for me since the rod is pressing down the fusion and the muscles get relaxed when sitting. The other thing is that I need protected time in order to do exercises like pilates, swimming e.t.c.
I have visited SOS scoliosis clinic in London and I did exercises 7 hours a day for 4 weeks, but these exercises were for the correction of scoliosis so I am not sure if they are appropriate all of them. About a phsyiatrist, I don't think there are experience people in my country.
Sometimes I feel I can do more things than usually but some others find myself difficult to accommodate all my responsibilities. But is really hard for me to stop doing things that I did in my life or to leave my job.
Do you know other similar cases and what people do with their lifestyle?
Thank you very much
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 29th, 2011
My Harrington Rod Experience - Effects Years Later
I am 28 and had a full harrington rod spinal fusion to correct my scoliosis when I was 12 years old. I had no negative side effects up until 2004 when I gave birth to my first son. Things have seemed to go down hill after that. I deal with chronic severe pain in my lower back, mid back and top right shoulder blade area and have been prescribed opiate narcotics, which have increased my quality of life significantly, but still do not take the pain away completely and I hate taking these things daily. I actually just got back from the reconstructive surgeons office today and they are scheduling me to get scar removal surgery in May. The perpendicular scar where I had the bone graft during the fusion has become raised and open (almost like a sore) for the last 3 years and they are finally going to cut it out and cross our fingers that it does nto come back! I also have had 5 finger surgeries in the last 1 1/2 due to infections in my fingers. I have seen primary care, spinal surgeon, scoliosis specialty, dermatologist, infectious disease - you name it and no one has an answer for what is going on.

Many doctors seem to think that I am having a "foreign body reaction" and my body 16 years later is rebelling! I live in San Francisco, CA and finally got an appt with the top scoliosis rod removal specialist here at Stanford University and he reviewed my case and refuses to remove the rods. He thinks that the risks of removing them far out weigh the problems I having now. He said that today Harrington Rods are rarely used and when a spinal fusion is done they usually go in and remove the rods 2 years or so later because they cause more negatives later in lafe. He refuses to remove my rods because they are "hybrid" meaning they are apart of me and my bones, blood vessels, etc are apart of the rod hardware now, so trying to remove them could be deadly.

Not the most positive reply, but I wanted to share my experience with those of you that are questioning your future.

I have found a few things that help with my pain management: compression sleeves on my legs, medication, swimming, NO HEELS, bed wedge (i purchased a bed wedge that I use when lounging around and it works wonders), cold ice packs, NEVER ANY FORM OF HEAT - this only inflames the problem.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 30th, 2011
Physiotherapy for people with harrington rod
Dear Merissa,
I am really sorry having so many problems.
If rods cannot be removed then what is the choices?
Have you tried any pilates? Is there a physiotherapy centre in USA dealing with people with harrington rod for scoliosis?
Thanks
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 31st, 2011
i have been looking for alternative choices for years and can't find anything. No one has any answers. I have tried to come to terms with the fact that this is what my life will be like and find a better way to endure it, but its hard.

Yes, tried pilates. I do not know of any physiotherapy in the US that deals with Harrington rod patients.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied April 2nd, 2011
Thank you very much, I will try.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied May 15th, 2011
geez, i just spent 15 mins typing out my harrington rod experience and it logged me out - crappy website!@
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied June 20th, 2011
Harrington Rod
I never respond to these but after reading 'scheduled' feel like its my story exactly. I'm 38 and had rod put in at 12. I have two children and had decent pregnancies but for the last 8 years Ive been getting infrequent spasms in lower right back, and since my second child its gotten much worse. I had an MRI earlier this year and was told I have two bulging disks. I went to the back specialists at Beth Israel in NYC and they said there's nothing to do but get cortisone injections for pain, which is just a band-aid. Several times a year the spasms are so bad I literally cant leave the sofa for three or four days. Otherwise I have general chronic pain in lower right side, legs, hip, and of course it travels around. Sitting is terrible for prolonged periods, and lifting my children has been a problem, although I do it way more than I should. How can you not? I decided last year to start swimming, and while Im inconsistent, it has been so good for me. That, combined with stretching. You must make it a priority. Im trying to do that, although with toddlers its hard. But nothing is more important than this. I refuse to get further surgery or start taking strong pain meds, since I fear once I start I wont be able to get off. I think exercise is the key. I have been told by someone I respect that the pilates table is amazing for us. Its so expensive but am thinking I have to give it a go. So my suggestion is keeping limber, swimming, and going easy on yourself when you feel flare ups. Also I spent a fortune on a tempurpedic bed and I love it - no more limbs falling asleep. Anyway good luck to us all!
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied June 20th, 2011
Harrington Rod
I never respond to these but after reading 'scheduled' feel like its my story exactly. I'm 38 and had rod put in at 12. I have two children and had decent pregnancies but for the last 8 years Ive been getting infrequent spasms in lower right back, and since my second child its gotten much worse. I had an MRI earlier this year and was told I have two bulging disks. I went to the back specialists at Beth Israel in NYC and they said there's nothing to do but get cortisone injections for pain, which is just a band-aid. Several times a year the spasms are so bad I literally cant leave the sofa for three or four days. Otherwise I have general chronic pain in lower right side, legs, hip, and of course it travels around. Sitting is terrible for prolonged periods, and lifting my children has been a problem, although I do it way more than I should. How can you not? I decided last year to start swimming, and while Im inconsistent, it has been so good for me. That, combined with stretching. You must make it a priority. Im trying to do that, although with toddlers its hard. But nothing is more important than this. I refuse to get further surgery or start taking strong pain meds, since I fear once I start I wont be able to get off. I think exercise is the key. I have been told by someone I respect that the pilates table is amazing for us. Its so expensive but am thinking I have to give it a go. So my suggestion is keeping limber, swimming, and going easy on yourself when you feel flare ups. Also I spent a fortune on a tempurpedic bed and I love it - no more limbs falling asleep. Anyway good luck to us all!
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied August 4th, 2011
32 years after harrington rods
I had an MRI done and am waiting for consult with a Dr. but the report says my Harrington Rod is in place with a WARP artifact due to the Harrington Rods. Whatever does that mean? also bulging L4-5 disc. No wonder i can't get rid of the pain. Anyways what will be the outcome and what will the Dr. suggest? I think it's time to apply for diability. Any suggestions?
|
Did you find this post helpful?

User Profile
replied August 4th, 2011
Especially eHealthy
driverdown,

Metal implants cause distortions of the MRI images. WARP is just one of the many different artifact images it produces. There is nothing that can be done about it. The radiologist just has to record all the findings on the pictures. They will often record where the artifacts appear, to say that if there is a problem under the distortion, they can't see it.

While disc bulges are often associated with early disc degeneration, they can also be seen in 40% of nonpainful spines. So, the presence of a bulge has to be correlated with the patients history and exam.

Luckily, it did not say the disc has torn or herniated or that there was compression of a nerve root.


The results of the study, have to be correlated with a patient's exam, otherwise it really has no meaning. If the exam and study correlate, then it can provide confirmation of a problem.

Good luck.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied November 21st, 2011
Harrington rod - the future
I just thought I'd share my experience as a "vintage" Harrington Rod-er. I am soon to be 50 years old (although feel 22!) and had my rod (T2 - L4) when 16. thats 34 years! I've been in a car accident (with whiplash), had two babies (one natural, one c-section), all with no problems. I have no residual pain or discomfort, although notice now, in my advanced age, that my hip joints are getting stiff (due to not being able to flex from the waist for all those years I guess). so just wanted to say for anyone else out there who's worried about the future with you rod (as I always was), there can be clear skies ahead. Mind you, I've led a very sedentary life (by choice) and don't enjoy exercise at all - so didn't ever put my body in a position where it might want to rebel, I guess!
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied May 11th, 2012
32 years post surgery complications
I am 48 years old and had my herrington rod surgery when I was 16. I have had pain for years. Mostly I felt from over use. Cleaning Houses and a lot of physical activity. After reading this forum I have discovered that my symptons seam to be very commom after this surgery. I am now experience, chronic pain in my lower back and hips both sides. I sometimes feel the pain in my neck, which I thought was stress. I also have experienced the pain between the shoulder blades on the right side. I notice my lower back pain gets worse when it rains. Has anyone else had this problem. Lately the pain is so bad, and I havent been to an orthopedist in 20 years. The earliest I can get an appt with one is a week from now. I really am having a hard time with the pain and am contemplating just going to a walk in clinic. Should I just wait for the ortho appt and stick it out with the pain, over the counter meds dont do anything.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied May 11th, 2012
32 years post surgery complications
I am 48 years old and had my herrington rod surgery when I was 16. Two children. I have had pain for years. Mostly I felt from over use. Cleaning Houses and a lot of physical activity. After reading this forum I have discovered that my symptons seam to be very commom after this surgery. I am now experience, chronic pain in my lower back and hips both sides. I sometimes feel the pain in my neck, which I thought was stress. I also have experienced the pain between the shoulder blades on the right side. I notice my lower back pain gets worse when it rains. Has anyone else had this problem. Lately the pain is so bad, and I havent been to an orthopedist in 20 years. The earliest I can get an appt with one is a week from now. I really am having a hard time with the pain and am contemplating just going to a walk in clinic. Should I just wait for the ortho appt and stick it out with the pain, over the counter meds dont do anything.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied December 23rd, 2013
I am 47 and had harrington rod installed in 1980 (current time is end of 2013) from above my tailbone to between my shoulder blades (S-curve, 53 degrees to 51). My pain has been off/on since the surgery, but numbness in my left leg followed the birth of my child. Since moving from the hot climate of Texas, to the seasonal climate of NC, my lower back, left side, has given me horrible fits especially in the "winter" months. I can't change position in bed without considerable pain and taking 10 minutes+ to do so. During the winter months my sleep does not last longer than 1.5 hours at a time. Once I am up and moving my pain dwindles, but never goes away. Sitting for extended periods of time is excruciating. I am not as "active" or "fit" as I used to be and I imagine that losing some of this excess weight would help, but time and pain keep me from doing much. I am not a big fan of pain killers - I feel that they aren't a solution, but a band aid. Glad I am not alone.
|
Did you find this post helpful?