View Full Version : Mild case of kyphosis - should I get surgery?

5th February 2008, 05:11 AM
Hello everyone I would like your advice on whether or not to get surgery. I am 20 years old and have a mild case of kyphosis (about 55 degrees). I have occasional backpain, and my doctor told me that this surgery would be for aesthetic purposes only, and would not improve my back health. He said that my kyphosis is not bad, and it will only get worse very slowly with age. I am too old to get bracing, and I would like to get this done because I am unhappy with the way my back looks, and am worried about the general back health and future problems with my back. I would also become 2 inches taller (I am 5'11 right now) However, I am worried about the risk of paralysis and other problems of back surgery.

I do not completely believe this doctor that the surgery would not improve my health. I think that going through with this now would reduce my chances of injury and other disorders in the future. I also dont like the way my back looks and dont want it to get any worse.

I know my case is not a serious one, but I would really appreciate any feedback. Should I do it? Do you think the risk is worth it? Please respond. Thank you.

Amazed Jean
5th February 2008, 05:41 AM
Hello and Welcome. So you saw a guy that wasn't a scoliosis specialist right?
Well over 1000 cases of Scoliosis here and still we have not found two that are exactly alike. About 35 years ago they were telling me that my back wouldn't get worse too. Now at 57 and rapidly approaching 58 years old, I can say they lied! I heard a lot of things that just plain weren't true. Another thing I think is that so far everyone I know with scoliosis that is untreated eventually gets progression of curves. I know that's not what you want to hear. As you can read in my signature below mine did progress rather a lot. I unfortunately am now a great example of what NOT to do. I don't want to frighten you I just want you to take charge of your own health. The doctors aren't as invested in your health as you are. Lots of people here that can point you in the right direction. Also there are a lot of people here that speak scoliosis they/we all get it. Once again Welcome!

5th February 2008, 12:39 PM
Hi satyris,
With a curve of 55 degrees you'd have to consider if the benefits far outweighed the risks.I suggest you talk with a kyphosis specislist who has the experience in dealing with such cases.It's a more complicated surgery than scoliosis, but can still give excellent results.
However to gain a cosmetic improvement you will have to sacrifice some flexibility.
What I would do in your case is find the best surgeon possible.
Have a consultation and discuss what can be achieved.Watch and wait for a year or so to see if pain levels worsen or if the curve increases but you really need x rays and an assessment to use as a baseline for future reference.
A fused spine can never be as good as an unfused one but it's possible to live a normal active life.

5th February 2008, 02:58 PM
Hi satyris
I have a kyphosis as well mine is 92 degrees.
If i was you i would wait and see for 6 mths or a year and then get a follow up xray and then see what your curve is like.
I get pain in my spine have done for years but as its progressed to 92 degrees it need to be done ....
I know how you feel cosmetically i have the same problem and its not nice The end of the day you need to sit down and talk to your family about it and then decide.
If it is really upsetting you then have it done its a major operation i must stress and if possible weigh up the pro,s and cons on leaving it a year or having it done but then saying that you would probally have to wait for around 6-12 mths tor surgery anyway its been a year at the end of the this mth that i went to see the surgeon and am having surgery in march so therfore it might just be as well to get your mri scan done if you havent already (you need a mri scan before spinal surgery )
and once thats done and thats clear then get on the waiting list and see what your backs like then .....
There are a few of us in here with kyphosis mark myself kentish and a couple of others so am sure they will give you advice to.
If you look at the top of this forum there are pictures of mine and marks back for you to have a look at ........
Hope this helps a little

5th February 2008, 04:10 PM
Welcome to SSO satyris.

Unless I'm mistaken, it looks like you've only spoken to your doctor and not an actual back specialist. My doctor was absolutely useless and in 2 years gave me 3 different diagnosis for what my problem was. It doesnt sound like you're confident with what they are saying so you need to get a referal to someone who specialises in orthopedics. Once you have the referal they will be able to monitor your spine, give you a more accurate diagnosis and try different methods of pain relief as well as trying to improve your posture and cosmetic appearance with some physio. I think I always knew that I would need surgery so I never put enough effort into my exercises but I would really recommend giving it a go.

The surgery for kyphosis is major and I was told that only 10-20% of people that have surgery end up with no pain so its certainly not a quick fix. If I wasnt suffering from a lot of pain then I'm not so sure that I would have put myself through the surgery. If your main concerns are cosmetic then I would definately say to see whether strengthening your back muscles helps. There are so many ways to do that eg hydrotherapy, pilates, gym etc.

As Jean says, everyone is different so its very difficult to say whether surgery is right for you. In fact thats gonna be a decision that you will probably have to make mostly on your own once you have more information. To put yourself through surgery, you have to be sure that its the right choice for you. Afterall, it wont be very nice to regret your decision if you end up with more pain than you started with.

But definately get a referal to a specialist and good luck.

5th February 2008, 07:22 PM
Wow. The posts above mine are all quality, so I can't add anything. But I will reinforce the main points:

* Curves can progress in adulthood, so pay attention to your body
* You need to see a proper kyphosis specialist who knows what they're talking about
* If you're not confident in a doctor's assessment of your case, always seek a second opinion

I agree with Sins that at 55 you can take a year or so to watch it, but do find yourself a kypho-scoliosis specialist clinic to start monitoring. The adult spine isn't as stable as the less-experienced docs would have us believe.

6th February 2008, 04:08 AM
Hey everyone thanks for all the great feedback! I'm very glad I found this site and thank you all for making me feel welcome.

To clear up any confusion, yes this doctor is actually a specialist, and he will be the surgeon as well. I had an x-ray done last year and so I had to wait 9 months for this appointment that I had last week. Yes Kentish Ive had some stupid doctos too, one even told me that I have a bulging disk when that is clearly not the case. However, this one seems like a very good doctor and knows what he is talking about. I had a new x-ray done last week and there was no noticable change from last year. Based on this he concluded that the progression of the curve will be very slow and is not cause for surgery. But I am still concerned about my spine and fear that it will get worse. I think this doctor is just giving me the roundabout because right now my case is not serious.

Sins, I am aware of the loss of flexibility, but is that the only disadvantage of having a fused spine? I want to do what is best for my back in the long run, and I am not sure if this is the right choice. I have been recommended some exercises by the doctor to improve my back strength and I will be doing those as well.

I know this is a personal decision at the end of the day, but it really helps to talk with people who have or have had a similar problem. So once again thanks for all the great advice!

8th February 2008, 02:04 PM
Ok well its good that you're seeing someone that knows their stuff. With kyphosis, trust me, we all feel like we're being given the run around before surgery. Its just because its such a major operation that they prefer to monitor it for a few years 1st, try out alternatives to surgery like physiotherapy and to make sure that it is or will get worse. Unfortunately that is the way of things.

I would suggest though getting a second opinion. You need to have confidence in your specialist so getting a 2nd opinion would either give you more confidence in the one you're already seeing, or maybe you would prefer the specialist who you see next. I think the main thing now though is that your spine is being monitored so it might be a good idea to get copies of your xray so that in future if you do see someone else, you'll have your own record of what your spine looked like so they can compare with any new xrays or scans.

I know it feels like slow progress sometimes having to keep going back and being checked but dont just stop going. If you give it time then you should get a definate answer.

Amazed Jean
8th February 2008, 07:12 PM
And one more thing - keep us posted. We are all great at encouraging you no matter what you opt to do!

27th March 2008, 08:23 PM
Hi-I had the surgery last October b/c my curve was about 80 degrees and I had so much back pain and leg pain that I could not work. Something I learned is that recovery from surgery takes a long time (in my case it is expected to be about a year) and in some cases you can end up with more back pain than before the surgery. I actually ended up with the one rod coming loose on the bottom and I am facing a possible second surgery. I am not trying to scare you but it is a huge thing to consider. One thing that I tried before I agreed to surgery was a chiropractor which helped a little for me but my curve was so bad that he could not fix me. For you it might work and then you would not have to take a year out of your life recovering and you won't have the risks of surgery and you won't lose flexibility. I totally didn't believe the chiropractor would work but he did help a little and normally I guess that Chiropractors in some cases can totally reverse some minor curves. I am not saying that a chiropractor will for sure help-I am just saying it is a good thing to consider. In any case I think waiting a year is good advice-surgery for Kyphosis is not something you want to rush into unless it is the only option. Waiting will also give you some time to weigh the pros and cons of surgery. My surgeon was understanding about me trying the chiropractor first I think b/c they like to try all options first before surgery especially with young people. Also remember that people who don't accept you b/c of how you might look are not people who deserve your time. That was a hard lesson for me. Also being so young-you have your whole life ahead of you and what ever you decide, it should be in your best interests and something you will be living with-not the doctor. One last thing-make sure that you do try what you can now while you are young b/c physio and the chiropractor and what ever else are more probably effective now than in say 5 years or more. Please keep us updated as well.