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Home | Scoliosis | Outcomes of Scoliosis Surgery



Patients Experience Pain Years After Scoliosis Surgery

Surgeries can severely impede a patient’s long-term quality of life. For the most part, these patients aren’t receiving all the necessary information they need when considering the true long-term effects of undergoing scoliosis surgery.

Especially when it comes to all the available options, standard or alternative. One in three spinal fusion patients reports back pain after scoliosis surgery — usually within 7 years of the treatment. Nerve damage, implant failure, joint degeneration, and other surgical implications can all cause chronic pain, which severely impacts the patient’s long-term quality of life. Patients are not given this information at the initial surgical consultation but are oftentimes told that after the surgery they will be able to lead a normal healthy life with no restrictions. This is not accurate! 
Patients are not given this information at the initial surgical consultation but are often times told that after the surgery they will be able to lead a normal healthy life with no restrictions. This is not accurate! 

Surgical Outcomes

  • Patients Experience Shoulder Pain after Scoliosis Surgery

    Patients tend to have shoulder pain after scoliosis surgery and require physical therapy and medication. Some patients also experience persistent pain at the bone graft site (from where the bone was taken), which can be long-lasting. Additional complications that may be associated with scoliosis surgery include loss of proper spinal balance, failure of the bones to properly heal and fuse (pseudoarthrosis), instrumentation failure, and vertebral degeneration in the levels adjacent to the fused section.

  • Patients Experience Lower Back Pain after Scoliosis Surgery

    Unfortunately, scoliosis treatment usually revolves around a narrow-minded focus—preventing curve progression—without full consideration for the patient’s long-term quality of life. While traditional treatments, such as bracing and surgery, can achieve some initial curve reduction, over the course of a lifetime, they can also cause significant harm. Especially if the typical Boston Braces or other 3-point braces are used. Surgery, for example, might seem the best and ‘fastest cure’ course of action when your most pressing concern is to avoid curve progression or to want to ‘get it over and done with,’ but what about 25 years from now? 
    Patients can and oftentimes do experience disability or back pain years after scoliosis surgery. Statistics show that a high percentage of scoliosis surgical patients become disabled as adults.

  • One Surgery Might Not Be Enough for Scoliosis

    Studies show that 14% to 19% of scoliosis surgery patients eventually need more surgeries, called a revision surgery or removal of instrumentation surgery. Over a 20-year period, ongoing back pain has caused between 3% and 10% of patients to require revision surgery. The main causes for re-operation are painful implants, infection, or failure of spinal fusion. It is extremely important to consult a doctor for a complete list of indications, adverse effects, warnings, precautions, clinical results, and other important medical information pertaining to scoliosis surgery.
    Unless surgery is the only option due to extenuating circumstances, patients should opt for alternative, non-invasive scoliosis treatment methods. This treatment will likely:
    ● Stop the curve from progressing and even reverse it.● Reduce rib prominence and diminish spinal deformity.● Allow the patient to live a happy and healthy life without the fear of invasive surgery. WARNING: Scoliosis surgery may kill or paralyze you.
    Sadly, there is a real possibility that you could die or end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life from your scoliosis surgery. It is a COSMETIC procedure.

  • If you are Considering Scoliosis Surgery, read these facts

    ● There is NO MEDICAL REASONS for the Surgery. It is a PURELY COSMETIC PROCEDURE.● There ARE side effects.● People do DIE. In fact for kids, 2/1000 surgeries are fatal.● People do get PARALYZED. 4/100 patients suffer from paralysis.● 19% required re-operation within 2 to 8 years after surgery due to PAIN.● To date, there is no conclusive medical evidence that correction through surgery improves function, self-image or health.● Patients report lower back and shoulder pain five years after scoliosis surgery. In teens, scoliosis surgery is a COSMETIC procedure; most of the time, there is no medical justification for doing the surgery.
    Dr. Hersh is happy to assist you with any questions you may have. He is available to discuss your case by telephone or email.
    Surgery or Alternative Treatment: Dr. Hersh explains your choices.

  • Here are a few sample letters from actual persons who underwent surgical intervention for scoliosis correction(The exact wording has been altered to protect the privacy of the individual)

    "I have broken rods in my lumbar spine after full spinal surgery. I hve back and neck pain and I have separation of abdominal muscles by 9 cm so my intestines protrude through my stomach wall cavity. I have hyperlordosis and kyphosis and severe scoliosis. My lumbar curve is collapsing and shrinking due to broken lumbar rods. I am waiting spinal surgery. Can you help me with my spine or stomach?" - Nicola R.
    "I am 52 years old I underwent scoliosis surgery at age 46 here in Buenos Aires. This scoliosis I have had since my adolescence. In the first operation I was left with an imbalance and they operated again to straighten me out. Now almost 5 years have passed since this second operation and one of the bars in the lumbar area is broken. These are titanium implants thanks."
    "I had Harrington rods fused in 1999 when I was 12. I now am 31 years old and have had two children back to back. Because of my hips spreading during birth I now have incredible pain effecting the quality of life. I no longer live in the state I recieved my surgery in and I'm looking for options as most regular doctors don't know what to suggest other than physical therapy and its not working..."- Jennifer H.
    #I had a 65 degree curve in my spine. i got diagnosed at 16 had the surgery at 17 i now have 2 Harrington robs in my spine to hold me up straight i am now 27 and have so much pain in my hips, right shoulder and my lower back. I am so worried about my future with this condition and if i am even able to have kids? No one understands my pain and it so frustrating since i am so young. I have so many concerns and questions about my disorder as i would now like to start a family. please respond and please help me."- Chelsea C. 
    "En Colombia tiene alguna referencia o atienden en alguna ciudad? Tengo muchas preguntas así como aparece en su web de pacientes operados. Después de 11 años de mi última CIRUGIA donde tengo las barras en toda la columna pero que se han venido presentando intensos dolores, tanto lumbares como es la parte dE La nuca como si estuviera una piedra encima y por ende dolor de cabeza. Después de tanto tiempo (donde pienso que esas barras y tornillos deben de estar ya adheridos a mi cuerpo) es conveniente operar y retirar??? O como se podría manejar esto?Muchas gracias y espero una respuesta de parte de ustedes."
    Translation: "In Colombia do you have any reference or do they serve in any city?I have many questions as it appears on your website about operated patients. After 11 years since my last SURGERY where I have bars throughout my spine but intense pain has been occurring, both in the lumbar region and in the back of the neck, as if there were a stone on top and therefore a headache. After so much time (where I think those bars and screws must already be attached to my body) is it convenient to operate and remove??? Or how could this be handled? Thank you very much and I look forward to a response from you."-Silvana Sofia S.

    "Hi! My daughter who is now 67 had a Harrington rod inserted in an operation in 1966. For about the last 15 years or so she had had various problems with her health. Could the rod corrode and cause multiple health problems? Nausea, weakness, blood sugar somewhat high, etc. Her doctors cannot find anything wrong with her but continue to try to find something. If the rod had corrosion, could that be the cause of the problems she is having? And how does it get fixed in short of removing the rod which I believe would be almost impossible at this point..." She lived in San Clemente, CA.

    "I’ve been trying to find research on the long-term effects of adolescence spinal fusion. I had a 56 degree “C” curve corrected, without hardware, when I was 14. I am now 63, and for the past ten years have been suffering from severe neck and overall back pain. As a result, I have had a multilevel anterior cervical fusion, and two lumber fusions. I have a multitude of issues with my back now; osteoarthritis, DDD, stenosis, spondylitis, spondylitisthes, to name a few. I’m getting ready to have a pain pump surgically implanted as years of standard pain management has been unable to effectively manage my pain. I had to retire from my job of over 31 years and ended upon disability due to my back issues. For 40 years I basically had no problems after my fusion. Lived a normal life, had two children, played tennis, water skied and enjoyed all normal activities. I’m just interested to see if anyone else has developed these issues after a fusion. I was told that because I had thirteen levels fused in my thoracic spine, my motion was limited, and the stress was all placed on my neck and lumbar areas above and below the fusion. It was a process that was probably on going for years before I saw someone. My MRI on my neck showed everything on three levels had herniated into the spinal cord. Anyway, if you have any information I would love to see it. I haven’t found much." - Karen W.

    "Hi, is there anything that can be done for patients like me that have broken Harrington rods? I had my first surgery for 45° angle when I was 13 in 1978. When those rods broke and my curve began to progress again, painfully, I had it all redone at age 34. Now at age 55, the rods are broken again and I have chronic SI joint inflammation (shots did not help) and difficulty walking. Three orthopedic surgeons have said there is nothing they can do., except prescribe physical therapy since I can’t tolerate NSAIDS any more. Do you have any new techniques or therapies I could try? Thanks so much!"- Nancy K.
    Hello good morning, My name is kathy and im doing kinda bad right now i had back surgery before in 2012'now 2016 it started hirting again the pain in my pilvic went to have xra mri and all the bones are broken inside my back i having a hard time walking it hirts so bad well now i have a smell coming from my pores when i sweat wow what else i need a doctor that can help me and tell me whats going on can you help me??? - Kathy BS.


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