Harrington Rod and lower back pain

Posted by sutherlin @sutherlin, Dec 2, 2016

I’m new to this site and hoping someone can help. I received a Harrington Rod for scoliosis at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 1977. I have never had any issues with this at all. However, where my rod ends at L1, the L-2 thru L-5 have started to degenerate and I’m sure it is from the 39 years of that part of my back taking the jarring, twisting etc. Back in March I received a steroid injection in L2-L3 which helped. On December 1st I received two, 1 at L-4 and one at L-5. I know it’s only been 30 hours since the shots, but I went to walk this evening and two minutes in, the pain was back. It feels like it’s in my hip but my hip x-rays show my hip is fine(right hip only with pain). Has anyone else experienced this pain with a Harrington Rod in and have you had other medical treatments that helped with the pain. I just want to be able to walk and not be in pain. This all started 5 years ago when I had two bouts of pinched nerve, one affected my left side, the last one on my right and ever since I have never been right. Any suggestions would be helpful

@recoverychris

Hello, I had Harrington Rod placement and spinal fusion in June, 2016. I am 66 years old, having a difficult recovery. Is there anyone else out there with problems related to muscle spasms and chronic pain with this surgery?

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Hello @recoverychris and welcome to Connect. I moved your discussion and combined it with another discussion already taking place on Harrington Rods. We are glad you found this conversation, as other members have discussed the same frustrations and concerns that you have.

In this discussion you will meet @sutherlin, @bethmcch and @suee who all have Harrington rods and may be able to address you questions about recovery.

@recoverychris, what sort of things are you currently doing for recovery? What treatments and therapy have your current physicians offered for relief?

@recoverychris

Hello, I had Harrington Rod placement and spinal fusion in June, 2016. I am 66 years old, having a difficult recovery. Is there anyone else out there with problems related to muscle spasms and chronic pain with this surgery?

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Hi everyone, I am currently taking Tramadol for pain, Tizanidine for muscle spasms, and Gabepentin for nerve conduction. I am riding a stationary bike for 10 to 15 minutes almost daily, walking 15-20 minutes almost daily and doing some abdominal exercises and stretches I was given by my physical therapist. I was recently “graduated” from physical therapy, I didn’t agree with that decision. I found a Brooks re-hab here in Daytona because I know their strong affiliation with Mayo Clinic, where I had my surgery in Jacksonville. I use a large ice pack and also use a heating pad for relief. But, I am still miserable with strong muscle tension that feels like its pulling me down, from my 10th thorasic vertebre through my low back. It’s excruciating and the only thing that gives me comfort is to sit down or lie down. I am really frustrated, I would love to hear what others do that I might try for relief. Thank you for hearing me. On the outside I look like I am fine, others do not understand how much this pain keeps me from being myself, living my life. My body has changed, in that my rear is disappearing, flat back syndrome I think it is called. I am fused into both of my pelvic bones. I would appreciate any input. Thank you all!!

I think steroid shots are dangerous protocol treatments that doctors are required to give before actually attending to your real back problems.
I would find an expert neurosurgeon in scoliosis for another opinion. In 40 years, I would hope a talented surgeon could find a way to really help you.
Research online and be careful of the dates and sources you read. The newer & more scientific, the better .
Best Wishes!

@recoverychris

Hello, I had Harrington Rod placement and spinal fusion in June, 2016. I am 66 years old, having a difficult recovery. Is there anyone else out there with problems related to muscle spasms and chronic pain with this surgery?

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I am surprised your physical therapist 1. Did not tell you to modify exercises that cause extreme pain and 2. To lie down and rest your back for 20 to 30 min. a day. I hope you can get your body and core stronger without so much pain.

Thank you. I don’t have any issues with the rod itself, but its the lower lumbar spine that is the problem with degenerative disc disease. I don’t think I’m different than anyone else that has this problem. I’m waiting for a neurosurgeon to review my CT scan, my SPECT CT scan and my MRI to make a decision on what to do. I just have to continue to be patient and hope for the best. I’m just getting grouchy as I’m in pain 24/7 where before I could sit or lay down and relieve the pain and that doesn’t happen now.

Hi all,

I am also modified at my spine. 26 years old and 11 years post operative. My rods had never given me any issues, that is until I was pregnant with my only son. Shortly after I gave birth to him in January 16 I lost my exes baby weight and with it my lower back pain dissolved. Since then I have gone into business for myself (Again) this time as a landscaper. My body is in the best shape it’s ever been, except my crippling lower back pain that I remember from pregnancy is back. The last week I haven’t been able to move out of bed without excruciating pain. Throughout the day I don’t feel it but something about sleeping causes it to get stiff and I wake up feeling paralyzed (in my lower back). After reading this I feel that it is time to go to the doctor and maybe get x-rays to make sure that I’m not having major complications due to the rods. Any suggestions before I expose myself to further radiation and get X-rays.

@sutherlin

Thank you. I don’t have any issues with the rod itself, but its the lower lumbar spine that is the problem with degenerative disc disease. I don’t think I’m different than anyone else that has this problem. I’m waiting for a neurosurgeon to review my CT scan, my SPECT CT scan and my MRI to make a decision on what to do. I just have to continue to be patient and hope for the best. I’m just getting grouchy as I’m in pain 24/7 where before I could sit or lay down and relieve the pain and that doesn’t happen now.

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Hi Sutherlin. I just read your original post. I, too had a harrington rod placed in my spine in 1969.(lowT – L3). I led a very active lifestyle afterwards…golf, tennis, snow and waterskiing. And the birth of two children. In Dec.1991 I started having sharp pain in my lower back that extended down my leg. Because this was workers comp. It took forever to get to see doctors and specialists. I had a few injections that didn’t work. The pain increased to weakness, as well. After 6 months, I finally saw an Orthopedist who specialized in rods. He thought that might be the problem. He did exploratory surgery and found out that the bottom bracket of the rod had come loose. Unfortunately, it had been rubbing on my nerve for six months and left permanent weakness in my right leg.
Unfortunately, this doctor also did a laminectomy at the L-4 level which eventually led to spondilolithesis. In 2006 and 2007 (first one failed), I had major anterior and posterior fusions L-4, L-5, S-1. After this surgery, I developed CRPS. I have constant pain and weakness in my right leg and I’ve been walking with a cane since. I tripped on a rug in 2011 and caused a double fracture of my pelvis. Then in 2014, I fell and broke my right humerus. Finally, last year, I developed an atypical femoral fracture in my left leg (my good leg) caused by Prolia which I had been taking for osteoporosis. I had a rod placed in the femur and secured with three screws this past January. That seems to have healed. But my CRPS pain is worse. And numbness appears to be starting in my left leg. I take a mixture of meds including cymbalta, lyrica and oxycontin. I cut my oxycontin from 90mg. daily to 15 daily. (It took about a year to do this) I just recently started taking MM drops under my tongue and cream for my foot. It seems to take the edge off. It would be great if this combination really helps.
Probably any more than you or anyone else wants to read. I find this to be a great sight and I am open to any other suggestions to help with the pain and weakness.
Kathy

Several months ago I. Had. Pain. In. My right leg and. Couldn’t walk. Anywhere. All. These. Years after my operation with Harrington rod in (77?). I. Didn’t go c a doctor about it . four months ago I fell and now beside the pain in my leg when I walk I feel. My. Back feel very. Heavy and stiff also l am slightly bended forward. When I do things like sweeping. Pouring soda from a two. Outer bottle. In a cup or anything while standing. Back gets stuff and heavy leg cramps and sharp pain shooting down my leg . xray says moteratly severe rotatory levoconvex scoliosis of the lumbar spine 6mm anterior listhesis of L4onL5 Harrington rod with laminar hooks seen at L5 level and T9-10 level.Harrington rod is broken in midportion at the junction between proxumal2/5 and lower 3/5 heterotopuc bone seen around the Harrington rid with fixtation of the posterior elements from about T12-L4. Broken rod with anklylisus slight spindly plus thesis at L4-5. Help don’t know what it means.

@chantalmatsushigeregis

Several months ago I. Had. Pain. In. My right leg and. Couldn’t walk. Anywhere. All. These. Years after my operation with Harrington rod in (77?). I. Didn’t go c a doctor about it . four months ago I fell and now beside the pain in my leg when I walk I feel. My. Back feel very. Heavy and stiff also l am slightly bended forward. When I do things like sweeping. Pouring soda from a two. Outer bottle. In a cup or anything while standing. Back gets stuff and heavy leg cramps and sharp pain shooting down my leg . xray says moteratly severe rotatory levoconvex scoliosis of the lumbar spine 6mm anterior listhesis of L4onL5 Harrington rod with laminar hooks seen at L5 level and T9-10 level.Harrington rod is broken in midportion at the junction between proxumal2/5 and lower 3/5 heterotopuc bone seen around the Harrington rid with fixtation of the posterior elements from about T12-L4. Broken rod with anklylisus slight spindly plus thesis at L4-5. Help don’t know what it means.

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Hello, @chantalmatsushigeregis. So sorry to hear about your pain, cramping and stiffness. Did your doctor by chance give you some interpretation of what the results of the X-ray showed?

@chantalmatsushigeregis

Several months ago I. Had. Pain. In. My right leg and. Couldn’t walk. Anywhere. All. These. Years after my operation with Harrington rod in (77?). I. Didn’t go c a doctor about it . four months ago I fell and now beside the pain in my leg when I walk I feel. My. Back feel very. Heavy and stiff also l am slightly bended forward. When I do things like sweeping. Pouring soda from a two. Outer bottle. In a cup or anything while standing. Back gets stuff and heavy leg cramps and sharp pain shooting down my leg . xray says moteratly severe rotatory levoconvex scoliosis of the lumbar spine 6mm anterior listhesis of L4onL5 Harrington rod with laminar hooks seen at L5 level and T9-10 level.Harrington rod is broken in midportion at the junction between proxumal2/5 and lower 3/5 heterotopuc bone seen around the Harrington rid with fixtation of the posterior elements from about T12-L4. Broken rod with anklylisus slight spindly plus thesis at L4-5. Help don’t know what it means.

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Moderately severe rotatory levoconvex scoliosis lumbar spine 6 mm anterior listhesis ofL4-5 Harrington rod w/ luminaries hooks seen at l4-5 level & T9-10level rod is broken mid portion at the junction between the proximal 2/5 and lower3/5 heterotopic bone seen around rod w/ fixtstion of the posterior elements from T12-L4 broken rod w/ ankylosis slight spindylolisthesis at L4-5

Hi, @chantalmatsushigeregis. Hmm … since that is not in lay language, let’s see if some of our other Connect members who’ve discussed spinal issues may have some insight for you to shed some more light on the doctor’s explanation. Please meet @johnbishop, @muffincat, @lilgrizz, @parus, @magspierce and @gailfaith. Hopefully you can all meet up here on this thread.

Have you found anything that helps at all with the pain, stiffness or leg cramps?

Here is a site that might explain most of that ‘gobblygook’ which basically is one twisted spine and slipping over in different places
https://www.spine-health.com/glossary/anterolisthesis

Hi, this is @gailb and I have been on the chronic pain Connect site as well as the Bone and Joint site before. I too have scoliosis that was diagnosed when I was about 5 years old. For several years as a child I had to wear leg braces to past my knees to straighten my feet and I suppose my back. Now that I’m approaching 69, my scoliosis has gottn worse and is noticeable. I had a laminectomy in December, 2016 due to my L5-S1 impinging on my spinal cord. The relief of my excruciating pain was immediate. I still had not quite excruciating pain on my right side, but that would require rods and pins so I have been doing everything I can to avoid that surgery on my L4 -L5. I stopped taking Gabapentin in March and amazingly my pain was somewhat less. I didn’t like that med due to memory loss and feeling goofy all the time. I’ll write more later, but I am very interested in this site for scoliosis. I called the Mayo Regenerative group to find out more about stem cell therapy since I’m considering it. They were supposed to call me back but still haven’t called several days later. I see the stem cell providef for an evaluation tomorrow. I’ll let you know what I find out.

@gailb

Hi, this is @gailb and I have been on the chronic pain Connect site as well as the Bone and Joint site before. I too have scoliosis that was diagnosed when I was about 5 years old. For several years as a child I had to wear leg braces to past my knees to straighten my feet and I suppose my back. Now that I’m approaching 69, my scoliosis has gottn worse and is noticeable. I had a laminectomy in December, 2016 due to my L5-S1 impinging on my spinal cord. The relief of my excruciating pain was immediate. I still had not quite excruciating pain on my right side, but that would require rods and pins so I have been doing everything I can to avoid that surgery on my L4 -L5. I stopped taking Gabapentin in March and amazingly my pain was somewhat less. I didn’t like that med due to memory loss and feeling goofy all the time. I’ll write more later, but I am very interested in this site for scoliosis. I called the Mayo Regenerative group to find out more about stem cell therapy since I’m considering it. They were supposed to call me back but still haven’t called several days later. I see the stem cell providef for an evaluation tomorrow. I’ll let you know what I find out.

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The stem cell research sounds very interesting and Im sure better than rods that can twist and break.
I am a year older than you and have found the bones certainly no longer forgive a day of hardwork or a crunch on the ground. Best wishes for your next consult

@gailb

Hi, this is @gailb and I have been on the chronic pain Connect site as well as the Bone and Joint site before. I too have scoliosis that was diagnosed when I was about 5 years old. For several years as a child I had to wear leg braces to past my knees to straighten my feet and I suppose my back. Now that I’m approaching 69, my scoliosis has gottn worse and is noticeable. I had a laminectomy in December, 2016 due to my L5-S1 impinging on my spinal cord. The relief of my excruciating pain was immediate. I still had not quite excruciating pain on my right side, but that would require rods and pins so I have been doing everything I can to avoid that surgery on my L4 -L5. I stopped taking Gabapentin in March and amazingly my pain was somewhat less. I didn’t like that med due to memory loss and feeling goofy all the time. I’ll write more later, but I am very interested in this site for scoliosis. I called the Mayo Regenerative group to find out more about stem cell therapy since I’m considering it. They were supposed to call me back but still haven’t called several days later. I see the stem cell providef for an evaluation tomorrow. I’ll let you know what I find out.

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If. Anything. Its. Better. To. Avoid. Surgery. If. Possible.

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