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Harrington rods - senior

Started by limey on 07/29/2010 12:32am

I have searched this site for anything to do with my situation but can't find anything other than cases to do with spondylosis, accident treatments and broken rod queries.

I am 65 years old and had Harrington rods inserted into my lower spine nine weeks ago after waiting seven months and four op cancellations.

I spent nine days in the hospital and fourteen days in a rehabilitation hospital - I did suffer acute severe pain bouts in both (we're talking crawling up the bed here!) and I was released on Hydromorph 18mg twice daily and Gabapentin 600mg three times daily..along with the usual anti-infammatories and rheumatic strength Acetaminophen just for good measure.

I did think I should have been at least reducing the meds by now but did try recently, with disastrous results. I felt as though I had the 'flu and was as weak as an kitten but the pain and numbness came back in my left leg along with the nerve pain..not as bad but really uncomfortable.

I am so much worse off compared to before the operation. Then at least I could stay walking, say shopping, for an hour then have to lie down for an hour. Now, without the meds I can't walk anywhere.

Am I being too impatient? i have no experience in orthopedics and have scoured sites for help.

My surgeon took an MRI after the op and hecan't see ant reason for the pain which occurred afterwards. He is on vacation now and I know it will take forever to get an appointment with him in the future (no care plan).

Any seniors out there who have had this op and can advise me of the time of recovery/time to come off the meds?

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4 Responses


My heart goes out to you but hang in there. I had rods put in 2001 and after that initial horrible pain, it was a success. That was at 56 years old. In 2004 I had a rods causing pain and my doctor took all the instrumentation out and knew I should be fused. Two months later I totally collapsed on top and by night I was hunched over. He wanted me to go to his mentor in Kansas City, which we did and also went to the Spine Institute in Minneapolis. We chose Minneapolis. When I woke up from surgery, I was told I had a spinal fluid leak and would have to lay flat on my back for as many days as I could. I did it for 9 days and was able to get out of bed without a headache. They said they were not able to put them all the way up as I had some bone missing. Because they only did 1/3 of the job, the pain was excrutiating all the time. That surgery was in 2005. There was just not enough support up and down my spine. I was just going to get a permanent brace and wear it the rest of my life. I had been in one for 16 months after the Minneapolis surgery and I don't think they knew what to do with me. So.....through a long chain of events, I was able to see Dr. Ondra at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago. They had a new procedure where they cut a few wedges in my spine. Straightened my spine in the operating table and then put instrumentation in. It was suppore to be two 12 hour surgeries but it was one 15-hour surgery. I had done great, with pain medication for 4 years. In the last month, I have fractured both rods and I am scheduled for revision October 7th. Yes, I am a smoker and Dr. Koski said if I did not quit smoking, he would not do the surgery. Seems so easy doesn't it. I sure need lots of pray to see that happen. In 2003Ihad breast cancer and chemo and radiation. It was easier than I thought it would be. Life has really been great, but not sure what is ahead so I am searching the internet. Not writing this for sympathy but hopefully it will help some people who are in the same boat. Bye for now-


A wonderful update for any senior contemplating this surgery!
It has been a long haul and the progress so slow that I could only see my 'progress' retrospectively.

Only when I looked back could I see that I was able to do things that I couldn't do before - sounds silly but the tiny things that you do every day...I couldn't manage and suddenly I realized that I could!

I did exercise every day, even though I was only walking around the table for ten times, then eleven then twelve...resting for half an hour afterwards. Tried doing the same outside and everything ached so I felt as though I would never make it to the Mall again...ladies...you know what that means!!

Anyway, last week hubby and I took a walk along the path beside the beach..not far until everything muscles ached again, but today things have taken a leap forward. I'm sure it's because I've stuck to the Hydromorph and Gabapentin as prescribed and rested so much between exercise.

We are going on a cruise to Alaska next week so around the deck will suit me fine...but I'll be careful not to overdo it.

So...rods CAN be inserted into a senior, although I'm sure my case isn't anywhere as bad as the previous poster.

Just a bit of good news here which I find is rare! That's the problem with these forums I find...only when you try to find an answer to anything, only those with problems post anything...that's how I ended up here.

Best of luck to everyone...say a prayer...it helps!


NINE WEEKS? I know these are famous last words, but be patient. I had ups and downs for six months and then one day realized "I feel better". It was a good nights sleep, once a week, then 2 or 3, then time would go by and I would get down again, and then everynight. Its a major surgery and it was done because your spine was so messed up, there were no options. This isn't a surgery that is done without very specific patient selection. Just hang in there. Call and demand to be seen. They cannot make an existing surgical patient 2 months post op having problems wait weeks and weeks to get in. They will do it that day or the next. Be assertive. LET US KNOW HOW YOU ARE DOING. I am in my mid 50's and had them in my early so I am a sophomore or junior, but not far behind you.


Well here I am again! Sixteen months after the op and feeling great...well for a 67 year old as great as I expect to feel!
I was taking 37 tablets a day at one time and now I'm down to three. I found that when I changed from the expensive non generic morphine not only were they SO costly but that I didn't get great pain relief. My family doctor put me instead on M-Esion which are as cheap as chips in comparison and lo and behold my pain has begun to subside. I have been able to come right down in time...with a few hitches when I went too far without seeing him! so now I only take one 15mg caps of Esion every twelve hours and one Gabapentin 100mg at night. that will be the next thing to go as my nerves seem to have finally knit and the feeling is almost back altogether - only my little toe to go...yeh!

so, yes it has been a long haul but SO worth it. Just thought I would put a bit of good news up here for anyone else thinking of having it done.

Thanks for the support guys!