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Old 3rd September 2014, 01:54 PM
Aaron123 Aaron123 is offline
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Default Help with my kyphosis

Hi guys, I'm new here so I'll start off with my story. (I know this is pretty long, just skip to my questions at the end if you don't want to read).

I first discovered something was wrong with my back when I turned 18 after losing a huge amount of weight (40kg), and instantly realized my posture was terrible. I made a huge effort to correct it, and along came the pain. I figure that after around 12 years of growing whilst being overweight with a bad slouch had caused something wrong, and found out it was scheuermann's disease. Apparently its quite mild being just over 40 degrees, however it looks a lot worse than just 40 degrees when i stick my arms out or bend down (possibly because my lower spine seems to go inwards quite a bit too). On one of my X-rays the doctor pointed out that one of my vertebrae has a pointy bit sticking out, which is most likely rubbing against the other vertebrae and that is what is causing the pain. He also said that he thinks I have arthritis in that part of the spine. The specialist however did not pick up on any of this and just said that my vertebrae have been pretty badly damaged, and that the kyphosis is non degenerative. He said that the only way to fix it would be to have a spinal fusion, even though my curvature is not bad it would still fix the pain. However I feel like he was just saying this to try get a patient and make some money out of me, the last thing I want is a metal plate fused into my spine.

Although its 'mild' the pain has been unbearable, the first year being the worst. I couldn't sit down or stand up for long periods of time, and whenever I came home from school I would lie down on my bed and wait for the brunt of the pain to subside. It's been 2 years now and the pain is still here, not quite as bad but its still pretty awful. I do a lot of weight lifting and exercise now, and find it really frustrating that I can't do any heavy weight exercises standing up. By the end of the day my back is usually killing me. I feel like I'm having to structure my life around my stupid back problem. I have intentions to join the military after university, and the specialist I saw (who also does the medical checks for military enlistments) said that I should have no problem getting in. My problem is the pain. There is no way that at this point in time I would cope with the pain that will come from joining the military, so here are my questions:

Is it actually possible to have arthritis in the thoracic spine? (As the first doctor told me).

Does kyphosis affect potential height? (I'm a pretty short guy, just below 5ft 7, and feel like my shitty back is damaging my potential height).

Treatment? I've been doing basic stretching and lots of exercise which I believe has taken some of the pain away. What are the best exercises and stretches to do?

Will wearing a brace help? (Pretty sure my growth has finished, 20 years old).

Future treatment? Spinal fusion can't be the only way... What is our hope for a better alternative to fix spinal deformities in the future?

I've never actually gone on any painkillers for it, I've just fought through the pain and really wan't to overcome this as naturally as possible. Has anyone figured out a way to become pain free without any kind of drugs?

Thanks a lot guys, its nice to find people that share the same problems.

Aaron,
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Old 3rd September 2014, 01:58 PM
Aaron123 Aaron123 is offline
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Default Re: Help with my kyphosis

Oh, and the letter that the specialist gave me says: "...mid thoracic segment T7 through T10. This results in a segmental kyphosis of just over 40 degrees in these segments but he remains in a globally compensated sagittal balance...it looks quite aggressive in terms of the involvement of the endplates..." Not sure if this will help you guys understand it better, I don't really understand the the segment bit.
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Old 4th September 2014, 09:45 AM
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GillyG GillyG is online now
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Default Re: Help with my kyphosis

Hi Aaron

I'm afraid I'm not much of an expert on kyphosis but I just wanted to welcome you to the site. I'm sure someone will be along to help soon though
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Old 4th September 2014, 07:27 PM
KMaxwell KMaxwell is offline
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Default Re: Help with my kyphosis

Hi Aaron and welcome to the forum!

You ask a lot of great questions - in fact, you may want to consider emailing them to your doctor as well as he/she can probably give you more 'informed' answers. But I have done loads of research on kyphosis plus I work for in a doctor's office so I might be able to answer a few of your questions. I'll do my best.


Is it actually possible to have arthritis in the thoracic spine? (As the first doctor told me).

Yes. Anywhere you have a joint between bones you can have arthritis. You don't have to be old to have it - it can happen if you have abnormal or excessive wear and tear on a joint like you have with your spine.

Does kyphosis affect potential height?

It can - anything bent is going to be shorter than if it was straight. However, correcting the curvature doesn't guarantee you'll be taller. It depends on a lot of factors and varies per person. For me, I lost 2 inches in height over the years due to my curvature but only gained back about a 1/2 inch post surgery.

Treatment? I've been doing basic stretching and lots of exercise which I believe has taken some of the pain away. What are the best exercises and stretches to do?

I'm a HUGE believer in stretching and exercises to reduce back pain. I would guess you'd want to specifically focus on your core (ab and back muscles) to build up a natural support for your spine - kind of like wearing a brace. You may also have tight hamstrings - they are pretty common with folks that have hyperkyphosis ('hyper' meaning more than the normal kyphosis curve). Hamstring stretches can be very helpful if that's the case.

Deciding which exercises are best for your particular situation should be determined by a professional - can you get a referral for physical therapy from your doctor? I do physio for my back and it makes a big difference on how my spine feels. If your doctor feels it's okay, yoga is also a great type of exercise for people with back issues.

Will wearing a brace help? (Pretty sure my growth has finished, 20 years old).

At 20 years old, you should totally be done growing. My understanding with back braces are that they are really only effective in correcting curves while you are still growing. After that they can be helpful in stabilizing curves and reducing pain but not fixing the curve. This would be a great question for your doctor - he/she can tell you if it would be useful in your specific situation. Also, keep in mind that strong core muscles act as a natural back brace as well.

Future treatment? Spinal fusion can't be the only way... What is our hope for a better alternative to fix spinal deformities in the future?

Spine fusion isn't the only way but for now it is considered the best option when all other efforts have failed. But fusion isn't without it's own problems so I think you've very smart to look at all your other options before even considering it. I was against taking pain killers too and used yoga and stretching as my main ways to reduce pain (before my surgery). There are other alternatives you could try - such as cortisone injections (a long-term type of pain control but it doesn't work for everyone) or accupuncture, diet modifications, etc. Plus, there is research being done all the time on spine issues so new technologies may become available to you in the near (or distant) future as well.

I've never actually gone on any painkillers for it, I've just fought through the pain and really wan't to overcome this as naturally as possible. Has anyone figured out a way to become pain free without any kind of drugs?

I was not able to get completely pain free without drugs but I was able to use stretching, exercise and a healthy diet to reduce my pain to manageable levels most of the time so I didn't have to take pain meds - at least until the last couple years before I had surgery... but I was able to put off surgery for 30 years so that's something.

I hope you are able to find a solution to your back pain, it's not an easy thing to live with. Take care!
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- Kay

I was diagnosed with Scheuermann's Kyphosis at age 16. I had an 80-degree thoracolumbar kyphosis and mild scoliosis. My posterior fusion surgery was performed by Dr. Sethi in Seattle on Earth Day 2014. It reduced my kyphosis to 50 degrees and my scoliosis to about zero.
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Old 4th September 2014, 07:54 PM
KMaxwell KMaxwell is offline
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Default Re: Help with my kyphosis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron123 View Post
Oh, and the letter that the specialist gave me says: "...mid thoracic segment T7 through T10. This results in a segmental kyphosis of just over 40 degrees in these segments but he remains in a globally compensated sagittal balance...it looks quite aggressive in terms of the involvement of the endplates..." Not sure if this will help you guys understand it better, I don't really understand the the segment bit.
The segments refer to your individual vertebrae and 'segmental kyphosis' just means that the excessive kyphosis over plus 40 degrees is limited to the the T7-T10 vertebrae.

What is says about your sagittal balance is good - if it was off that could be another indicator for possible surgery. On the flip side, having 'aggressive' endplate irregulatiries may be something you'll want to keep an eye on in the future. It isn't a terrible thing but indicates your condition could be progressive.

All the medical terminology can be a big frightening but regardless of what it says, you know what it boils down to - it's about your pain. I think you're on the right track with seeing a doctor, finding this forum, asking questions, and looking for the best options for treatment. Good luck with everything!
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- Kay

I was diagnosed with Scheuermann's Kyphosis at age 16. I had an 80-degree thoracolumbar kyphosis and mild scoliosis. My posterior fusion surgery was performed by Dr. Sethi in Seattle on Earth Day 2014. It reduced my kyphosis to 50 degrees and my scoliosis to about zero.
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Old 5th September 2014, 06:51 AM
Aaron123 Aaron123 is offline
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Default Re: Help with my kyphosis

Thanks a lot kmaxwell, I did physio for quite a while but he eventually told me that there wasn't much else he could do, just that I continued stretching/exercising. I'm hoping the doctor isn't right about the arthritis, but I think I'll go get it checked out further.

Thanks again,
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