Harrington Rod: Is It Right for Your Scoliosis?

Picture of Harrington Rod operation

Surgery is often hailed as the be-all and end-all cure for scoliosis. And the Harrington rod is used in the majority of scoliosis surgeries performed in the U.S. It’s been used on idiopathic scoliosis patients since the 1960s, and, though the surgical techniques and equipment have evolved, the gist of the surgery remains the same.

How the Harrington Rod Works

Scoliosis spinal fusion surgery is performed by inserting a Harrington rod with a ratcheting system along the concave part of the curve and attaching it to the spine with two hooks (one at the top of the curve and the other at the bottom). The surgeon then uses the ratcheting system to stretch and straighten the spine before fusing it (often replacing the spinal discs with bone grafts from the patient’s hip) into that straightened position.

Due to the nature and purpose of a spinal fusion, that portion of the spine will not be able to bend as it did before. The spinal discs are removed and the vertebra in the curve are all fused together to straighten the curve. Spinal fusions can take weeks to take hold and fully form. The Harrington rod is able to support the spine while it’s fusing and provides ongoing support in later years.

The procedure is available (and recommended by most surgeons) for anyone with a Cobb angle higher than 45 degrees. However, it’s generally considered unwise to operate on children still growing. Growing spines have a much higher risk of the scoliosis substantially increasing above and below the fused areas once the surgery is completed (this is called the ‘Crankshaft’ phenomenon). Plus, it’s possible to outgrow the rod if the surgery is performed before you’re finished growing. In that case, you’d need to have another surgery to remove and replace the rod, which is no easy feat.

Complications and Risks

By its very nature, the surgery to implant a Harrington rod into the spine is incredibly intrusive. To make room for the rod and to prepare for the fusion, the surgeon removes the spinal discs, and the nearby muscles and soft tissue take a beating. The ratcheting system is screwed into your vertebras and pulled to forcefully bend your spine in the opposite direction and then fuse it in that position.

In any major surgery, you’re at risk for severe blood loss, urinary infections from catheterization, pancreatitis and obstructive bowel dysfunction from immobilization after surgery. Aside from those, the list of possible complications for scoliosis surgery includes:

  • Infection
  • Bending or breaking of the Harrington rod
  • Fusion not taking (called ‘pseudoarthrosis’)
  • Curve increasing in later months/years despite the surgery
  • Flatback (a painful condition where the cervical, thoracic and/or lumbar spine lose their curve after the thoracic curve is straightened)
  • Neurological complications such as partial or total paraplegia, quadriplegia or a peripheral nerve deficit (which often manifests as an abnormal or loss of sensation in your legs)
  • Additional surgeries to fix complications or failures due to a trauma (like a car accident or bad fall)

Harrington rod

This is an image of an actual Harrington rod that was removed from a patient’s spine after it broke, just six months after the surgery. You can see the break in the middle of the rod on the left.

There’s no coming back from this surgery. You can remove the Harrington rod, but you can’t un-fuse a fused spine. And this surgery will permanently affect the way you move on a daily basis. Many patients are surprised to find out how much their mobility has decreased after the surgery. Studies have shown that the overall mobility decreases by 25 percent after the surgery. And with the loss of mobility in one section of the spine, more pressure is placed on the other sections. This can cause increased pain, discomfort and an increase in those affected curves.

The absence of spinal discs could also end up being a drawback. Without spinal discs, any major jolt could cause an accelerated amount of pain and damage to your spine. Spinal discs exist to soften those blows, so an incident like a minor car crash would be much more agonizing for someone with a spinal fusion.

Not a Cure

The Harrington rod does straighten the Cobb angle in most cases, however, it can’t be considered a cure because it fails to address the underlying causes of scoliosis. It takes a curved spine and replaces it with an unnaturally straight and inflexible one.

Because those underlying causes weren’t addressed with the surgery, it can’t prevent the spine from curving down the road. Many patients experience an increased Cobb angle five to ten years down the road, despite the Harrington rod and the spinal fusion. It also doesn’t always put a stop to the symptoms that many scoliosis patients experience. Any pain you’re experiencing will likely not disappear after the surgery.

Benefits of Alternative Treatments

There is a time and a place for scoliosis surgery. For extremely severe cases, where the Cobb angle is over 80 degrees, surgery could be the only way to remove the pressure it puts on the organs. But in most cases, the surgery isn’t a medical emergency. And as such, it’s best to treat it as a last resort. Alternative treatments like physical therapy and scoliosis-specific chiropractic adjustments have been shown to correct the curve without surgery as well as address quality of life symptoms like pain, trouble sleeping and headaches.

In fact, many patients see improved success rates and fewer complications with the Harrington rod surgery after they first test out the other treatment options available. Tension in the spinal cord can prevent the spine from bending into a fully straight position, limiting the success of the surgery. Stretches and exercises can work to create a more flexible spinal cord ahead of the surgery. A flexible spinal cord also reduces the risk of neurological complications during the surgery.

In the end, whether or not you move forward with the Harrington rod surgery is entirely your call. Talk through all of your options with your doctor, keeping in mind that there is no rush to make this decision. Trying other treatment options first won’t negatively affect the results of the surgery. They may even improve those results!

Are you thinking about the Harrington rod surgery? Have you already had the surgery? What benefits or drawbacks have you found? Share your story with us in the comments below.

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154 comments on “Harrington Rod: Is It Right for Your Scoliosis?”

  1. I had a Harrington Instrumentation and spinal fusion in South Africa in 1981. I would like to know about 'pain treatment' for when you are over fifty. And also if rod can be removed please. Thank you

    1. CLEAR's protocols have helped many people who were still suffering from pain or limited function post-surgery. Although the fusion limits the extent of the correction that can be achieved, many adults with Harrington rods have found that the CLEAR adjustments, exercises, and therapies do a wonderful job of helping them to get through the day. You can find a case study here: http://26anr53alfsk2zsjwe2yplw2-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/WFC-ACC-20141.pdf
      Most surgeons do not recommend removing the rod unless it is life-threatening. If the rod must come out, usually they will recommend that a new one replace it. Scoliosis surgery does permanent and irreversible damage to the bones, discs, & muscles of the spine; without the rod to hold it in place, the spine will collapse very quickly since the connective structures have been disrupted.

    2. If you know someone who's already had the surgery, and their spine would more than likely collapse of they are removed, but she is in chronic pain from the rods. Enough to where she's at a breaking point. Do you believe any replacement rod put in could help?

    3. There's no guarantee that replacing the rods would help with pain. It's important to understand the source of the pain; the most likely cause is from overworked muscles, but if the pain is from loosening or breakage of the instrumentation, then replacing the rods is more likely to help. I would recommend that your friend consult with the surgeon who performed the surgery; due to subtle variations in how the scoliosis surgery is performed, it's always best to go back to the original surgeon if possible.

    4. Dear Thea,

      I had the very same operation in 1983 in South Africa. I was 15 years when I had the operation. I am almost 50 years and to date, have experienced no pain.

    5. I had 2 sets of Herrington rods successfully removed after 23 years. Tumor at T9 in 1981, fusion broke in 1997, repaired and added another set of rods. I was miserable. I begged my surgeon for years until he finally said yes. I run 3 miles a day at the age of 49, and lift weights every day.

    6. i had a friend that got 3 rods in his back. the pain continued for many years and then the pain got so bad, he hanged himself in his gma's basement. my advice is correct the mineral and vitamin shortage to heal naturally. the sod is only approved for a fore arm, not a back or a leg. if you are thinking about getting one, i say not to. if you already got one, sue them for miss application of medical apparatus. i heard some received half a million

    7. I had the surgery in 1975. I also broke one rob and had it removed in 1983. I have had no problems with the rid being removed. My surgery it not remove my disks either. I have water therapy and pacing yourself helps a lot. Laying on a ice pack helps and being in tune with your body. Your body will tell you when to stop doing an activity. If you listen life will be much better

    8. Hello
      I had my rod done in Pretoria in 1989 and see yours was some eight years before. Where did you have it done? I also still have my rod. I have found I am not having issues with compacting of my discs in my neck. What issues have you had. I would love to compare notes and treatments. I now live in Wales UK.

  2. I had Harrington rod surgery in 1976, I am currently battling more pain, numbness and loss of strength in my legs than i can deal with...no medications help...what is my life expectancy...I am afraid that it is greatly compromised..

    1. How scoliosis - and scoliosis surgery - affect life expectancy is a controversial question. There have been conflicting studies regarding how scoliosis affects life expectancy, and no studies on how surgery affects life expectancy in patients with idiopathic scoliosis that I am aware of (although there is some limited evidence that surgery improves life expectancy in patients with certain types of neuromuscular scoliosis, such as scoliosis caused by cerebral palsy).
      It is never too late to seek care! CLEAR treatment has helped individuals of all ages, including adults who had the surgery in their teenage years. I strongly encourage you to reach out to a CLEAR doctor and find out if something can be done to help you manage your pain & symptoms naturally, without drugs!

    2. Hi Kathleen I had my rod put in in "77"....after surgery did you have to lay straight and getting flipped over every few hours for mths then have plaster on for 12 mths then a brace for another 12mths..? im in my 50s now and my spine has curved badly lumbar region where rod finished ...im suffering with pins and nestles in leg, hard to sit on a chair with both cheeks on chair if u get my drift. .lol...shooting pains in groin when walk....I have one leg shorter also...are u suffering these symptoms to Kathleen. ...are u in Australia? ?..cheers vicki..????....there is a excellent web site called .....scoloisis warriors you can really relate....????????✔????

  3. Ross here I have a harrington rod from t8to my pelvic bone and broke the first rod 30 yrs ago and had new one put in .The plate that was supposed to sit on,ended up w acme thread bar between hips.I was shot in the back by my boy scout leader w a ,44magnum hollow point w dumb dumb cross, in the kitchen after target practice.Happened in Oak Bay , Victoria BC Ca.1972 and kept from public or no insurance paynent.The RCMP and Police let him go home for Christmas,in Calif. never returned.He promised to come back.I bled out three times before stabilizing .Now being paraplegic ,almost quad, the doctors said 5 to 10 yrs life expectancy but I lived now 45 plus yrs w pain now back bone is worn and beat on for all that time .Now encased in bone the doctors have no alternatives.Can I say fairly that amputation of my now a swollen no bend at the knees legs.Also my hip bone rubs my ribs on left side,any ideas for my back to hold upright and allow rehab.
    to have a purpose of getting up out of bed,after our wonderful health care has left me in bed for 7 yrs w no way to get going and get back to a functional life.Any ideas for new treatments or 3d printed back bone,any clues as what may help.Thanx for your time Cheers I will wait as ,not going anywhere soon.

    1. Wow, Ross, that is quite the story! Due to the unique nature of your case, I would not be able to provide specific advice over the Internet. If you were to get in touch with a CLEAR Certified Doctor and share your x-rays and medical records with them, they might be able to provide some thoughts as to whether CLEAR treatment could help you. However, this might be a case where a surgical stabilization/fusion could be your best option. You can find a list of CLEAR doctors here: clearscoliosis.wpengine.com/find-a-doctor/. If there is any help we can provide in helping you to select a doctor, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected]!

  4. I had herrington rod surgery for my scoliosis in 1966 when I was 14 years old. 3 rods total and bone taken from my hip to use in the fusion. My surgery was performed by Dr. Mullen at Children's hospital in Seattle, WA. I have had very good luck in that I had not much pain during the past years...just off and on low back pain that I think is normal for any person. However, two weeks ago I began having severe back pain (no incident to point to as the cause, maybe just overworking my back). Now I am experiencing what I believe to be very severe back spasms (always when trying to get in and out of bed, or turning myself over in bed) as well as constant daily pain across my lower back. I had an Xray taken 4 days ago which showed marked degeneration of L4-5 just below the fusion of one of the rods. I don't know what option is best for me...manage the pain and hope to get through it, or surgery. Also, I would like to know how to find a doctor in the Bellingham or Seattle Washington area who knows about herrington rods and surgery. Thank you for any advice you can give me.

    1. Hello,
      In my opinion, spinal fusion addresses the symptom of scoliosis (the curving of the spine) without fixing the cause (why it curved in the first place). Therefore, whatever it was that caused the spine in the first place is still there. The muscles and the body are fighting against this artificial correction, which often leads to muscle spasm and pain down the road, after the surgery. It's also very common for the segments above and below the fusion to start deteriorating faster, due to the increased stresses placed upon them by the fusion of the spine. It's often called ASP, Adjacent Segment Pathology (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4591457/) or ASD, Adjacent Segment Disease. There is some controversy regarding whether this happens due to poor surgical technique, or patient factors predisposing the spine to further injury.
      CLEAR has helped many people regain some of their function after scoliosis surgery, and reduce their pain levels (see the last case study on this page for more information: https://clearscoliosis.wpengine.com/about/research/); you may want to consider getting in touch with a CLEAR Certified Doctor in your area, such as Dr. Scot Sorum in Bellevue, WA. Unfortunately I do not have any personal recommendations for scoliosis surgeons in the Northwest, but perhaps Dr. Sorum could point you in the right direction.

  5. In 1988 I had scoliosis surgery. Herrington rods were wired to my spine. I had severe painful scoliosis. My spine was almost like an S getting ready to collapse. Anyway, my question is, since then i put on alot of weight. How can i safely exercise my midsection to lose this weight since i can't bend it ? Also how much weight can i lift without hurting my spine, rods and wires??

    1. Sit-ups are terrible for your spine. The best exercise to do for the abdominal muscles, that doesn't harm your spine, are bicycle kicks. Lie down on your back, and place 3" (5 cm) supports underneath your neck and low back (unless you have a spondylolisthesis in the low back, in which case don't place a support there). You can use a rolled-up towel similar to what is described in the Spinal Molding exercise here: https://clearscoliosis.wpengine.com/living-with-scoliosis/scoliosis-exercises/back-exercises/. Then, lift your legs up in the air and pretend you are pedaling an imaginary bicycle.
      It's impossible to estimate exactly how much weight is safe for you to lift without being more familiar with your individual case and performing an exam in person, but to be safe, a good general rule of thumb is to get help when lifting anything over 20 lbs (9 kgs). If lifting even this much causes pain, however, then it may still be too high. I would highly recommend consulting with a scoliosis specialist if you need a more detailed answer to this question, or help with special restrictions/limitations at work.

    2. Mine is like an S too. My surgery was in 1992 I was 10. I have severe lower back pain I can't lay on my left side or it kills my back and shoots pain in my left leg. Also my back swells up too and when it's cold or rainy my back kills me. I didn't want the surgery but I didn't have a choice I have had back pain b4 and After surgery. My back pain is daily and the Dr:s don't tell you the older you get the worse it seems to get at least for me. I personally don't recommend this surgery. It also can cause damage I wish I could just have it removed because it didn't exactly straighten my back and my tailbone is huge and also gives me problems. I have arthritis in my neck from the rod I have to turn my body and people that doesn't have scoliosis doesn't have a clue the severity of it and the pain the Dr's don't even tell you about. Living with scoliosis and the pain is a night mare

  6. Hi, need some advice here, why everyone here complaining about the pain several years after surgery? I'm going for the surgery soon, in Malaysia. I have no idea what's is the rod that they will insert in me, I only know 2 titanium Rots and 28 screws. I'm 24 years old, my scoliosis had progressed to 58degrees. Will the surgery make me worst when I grew older? After getting the surgery can I still get marry and pregnant like normal people? Can I still wear heels after the surgery? Is there anything that I wouldn't be able to do for the rest of my life or anything I should be aware of? Thank you

    1. It's impossible to predict exactly where you'll be after the surgery. Some patients report improvements in their pain levels, while others experience no change, or the pain gets worse. While most people report satisfaction with the results of their surgery, this doesn't always correlate with improvements in objective measurements of function or cosmetic appearance. Fusing one area of the spine tends to place more stress upon other areas, and this can accelerate the process of degeneration. The good news is that most people with scoliosis rods do not experience any significant problems with giving birth. High heels (greater than 3 cm, or 1 inch) can be bad for your spine; surgery or not, we recommend limiting the amount of time you spend wearing them if possible. Regarding post-op activities, most patients can return to general functioning after a few months, but there are some activities (full contact sports, high-impact activities like mountain biking, and some types of martial arts) that most surgeons will recommend you say away from.

    2. Hi Nana,
      Perhaps by now you've already had this surgery and know the answers to your questions. If not, I wanted to share my experience with you.
      I had this surgery when I was 14 and I'm now 32 years old. I have carried and delivered 4 healthy babies. I have run 2 marathons and 6 half marathons, done several triathlons and 3 Spartan races. I started out lifting light weights at the gym about 6 years ago, and slowly worked up to powerlifting 6 days a week, pretty heavy. I've tried to keep in good physical condition, with very strong muscles and core to protect my spine. I do have lower back pain, but the stronger my core, the less often it hurts. I highly recommend weightlifting to keep muscles strong and pain at bay, but learning proper form to protect your lower back is imperative.
      And yes, I LOVE wearing high heels 🙂 I hope you have a healthy low-pain life!

    3. I had scoliosis surgery 34 years ago. My scoliosis was severe and with the harrington rod fusion, I was able to live a normal life...the fusion did not include the bottom curve but that curve responded to the correction of the top curve. I had three uneventful pregnancies in terms of anything to do with my back. I've been quite active for all these years with little pain. I am, however, on this site because now after all these years the rod is bothering the inside of my skin when I over-due things. But I believe the surgery saved me from caving in on myself and I'm grateful to have had it.

    4. Do NOT have this surgery . It shortens your life and your organs all start becoming sickly and failing. People commit suicide from the pain. Find another way! Go for laser treatment.

  7. Hi

    I'm also from South Africa and had the Harrington Rod surgery in 1999 when I was 12. I still have a very pronounced curve and my right scupula hangs forward which really embarrasses me. People frequently question me about my back.

    Every single day my back gives me trouble. I've gone to physio, chiros and bios and have been deligent with the exercises they gave me on top of being very physically active and yet I'm still in so much pain and still very lopsidded. I'm scared to have children because I don't want to pass on this horrible gene... plus preganancy with this back would definintely be unbearable.

    I went to another orthro for a check up and he examined my x-rays and said the surgery had been done very well... But every day is sore and that's clearly how the rest of my life is going to be and nothing seems to help:-(

    I would definitely look at other options and avoid this surgery if possible.

    1. I had my surgery in 1992 I was 10 and I have
      Severe lower back pain that goes into my left leg and my left side swells could this be dics from the rod I personally wouldn't recommend the surgery it is a life time of constant severe pain

    2. With scoliosis surgery, the spinal discs in the area of the fusion are removed and bone chips (typically harvested from the patient's hip bone) are inserted in their place, to encourage solid bony fusion of the spine in that area. With the discs gone, the spine loses some of its ability to effectively absorb shocks, compression, and the daily effects of gravity, thus placing the remaining discs below under greater strain. This may accelerate the process of degeneration in the spinal joints, and increase muscle tension. Despite what many surgeons tell their patients, the un-fused areas of the spine do NOT become more mobile to compensate for the fused segments (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16449904), and the reductions in spinal mobility are still present even 20 years after the surgery (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16449899).
      Swelling on one side of the body could arise from any number of causes, such as a restriction in lymph flow, weakness in the veins, a viral infection, or problems with the pancreas, or kidneys. A consultation with a healthcare professional might be able to shed some more light on this for you.
      CLEAR has been able to help many post-surgical patients to improve their function and reduce their pain; please consider reaching out to one of our doctors to see if we might be able to help! https://clearscoliosis.wpengine.com/find-a-doctor/

  8. Hi, I had a surgery in 1992 in Poland. I was 11 years old. I had 64 degrees angle before Harrington rod and after was 32. I'm 36 years old and 11 weeks pregnant. What are the chances I can give normal birth or C section is recommended? Is epidural safe? Is my back strong enough to carry that weight? My OB/GYN isn't much informed about it and I'm trying to do some research before next visit.

    1. Unfortunately there has not been a great deal of research on scoliosis & pregnancy, so we don't currently know if women with scoliosis (or those who have had the surgery) are more likely to deliver via C-section. Epidurals do tend to be more difficult to perform, and sometimes cannot be performed at all, so it is important to discuss this with your anethesiologist and birthing team in advance. People with scoliosis are also at greater risk for developing back pain, so finding natural ways of helping with this (such as chiropractic) is also a very good idea. You might find the information in this article helpful: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4472295/

    2. I had harrington rods inserted 1966 i will not go into the pain i am in now but i have given birth to two sons and absolutely no problems at all.
      Now that is my experience dear i am fused from T4 to L3. Yours could be different but up to your specialist.

    3. I had Harrington rods put in place in 1993 at the age of almost 13 years old in Kalamazoo, MI. I have been fortunate to lead a very full life. I have two children that I birthed completely naturally without any pain medications. It can be done! I have focused highly on nutrition and mental strength and it paid off during pregnancy and childbirth.

    4. Hi just wanted to let u kno..I've been thru 3 pregnancies with really no problems ..2 normal n 1 c section..my last child was in 1994..dont kno when but now my harrington rod is broke n 1 dr is wanting to do surgery to remove the rod. .dont cheat yourself out of a child...the best feeling in the world..they are grown n now having babies of their own....enjoy your life

    5. They had a terrible time putting epideral in my back . They had to for both my children get the anesthesiologist that did major surgeries come to put in my needle . They had to go in at an angle and put it in early stages it slowly w d down my labor .. Long labors with both children

  9. Hello I had surgery in 1985. I never let my scoliosis stop me from my child hood. Yes there were limits to what I could do. But now that in 44 the pain won t go away my pelvic speaded 4 years ago the Dr couldn't find out why. The left hip is were they removed the bone to place in my neck usually doesn't give me problems it the right hip that causes all kind of problems. I can't lift my right leg that much the pain is so bad that I can't move at times and it feels as of it's going to break. Every time I go to the Dr. Or hospital they just give me meds that don't work. Can you please give me some advice on what I should do. My legs are my life and I feel as if the Dr.don't want to do anything because I have the rods in my back. I've been dealing with this for far to long and I haven't received any help just pain meds

    1. You are not alone; many people who have had the scoliosis surgery as teenagers suffer from pain & limitations in adulthood. While parts of the spine that are fused can no longer be treated, it may be possible that CLEAR chiropractic care could help you to regain some of your mobility and reduce your hip pain. You can read a case study of one such patient here: http://26anr53alfsk2zsjwe2yplw2-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/WFC-ACC-20141.pdf
      I strongly suggest that you reach out to a CLEAR Certified Doctor and schedule a consultation to see if CLEAR could help you! https://clearscoliosis.wpengine.com/find-a-doctor/

    2. I too started experiencing hip pain about 15 years after my Herrington rods were put in. I saw a skilled chiropractor who told my my hips were severely out of alignment, which is normal considering how much a curved spine affects your hips. Simple chiropractic adjustments have helped me tremendously. It's not a quick fix, it takes the body time to retrain, heal and learn to stay in place, but the relief is instant. If hip alignment is your problem, then I'm sure this will help. And yes, hip adjustments are safe even with rods on your spine as long as you're seeing an experienced chiropractic Dr.

  10. I just found out today that my rod is not connected to the top or the bottom of my curvature I had the procedure when I was 16 about 33 34 years ago I don't know where to go from here

    1. I would recommend that you reach out to the hospital or surgical center where they conducted your surgery immediately!

  11. I'm a 53 yr old woman diagnosed with 45° cobb angle at 13, it has progressed to an 86° cobb angle. I've had 4 natural births and 1 c-section, my pregnancies did not affect my everyday life and back pain wasn't an issue until I was given a epidural during labor with my 4th child (age 35 then) my previous measurement in 2012 was °65, I recently sought a Doctors evaluation today and he recommends the titanium rod, it's a big decision but fear the progression of my curving spine. I'm very active, yoga everyday but the pain I'm experiencing is more frequent. I wonder if this is something I should consider, I've seen a chiropractor specializing in scoliosis and says he's not comfortable treating my condition, any advice is helpful.

    1. Many chiropractors claim to specialize in scoliosis, but only the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute has an established training & certification program through an accredited chiropractic university. Pain may or may not be helped by the surgery, and the operation is irreversible. In my opinion, it's always best to explore as many different conservative approaches as possible before going down the surgical route.

    2. I have had scoliosis problems since age 10. I wore a brace for 6 years which helped stop the curvature. At age 16 I was taken off the brace. I followed doc's advice for several years. In my late 20's, 30's and 40's I stopped follow ups on my back and started ' abusing' my back by carrying heavy items and the like. My curvature grew at a quick rate. At age 41 I seeked help from a chiropractor. That was when my curviture spiralled to 83 degrees! Ivwas desperate for relief. I could not walk, sit or lie down painlessly! I had rods inserted and am grateful for the relief. I was painfree and totally ambulatory for 10 years and I am gratefull for those years! Ubfortunately now I am suffering from numbness in my right leg and a shortening of that leg. My hips are so heavy and tight that it is painfully hard to move my legs. Physical therapy and stretching are a tremendous help. I would advise scoliosis suferrers against this surgery unless they have an extremely advanced curvature that males it difficult to breathe and walk.

  12. I was born with severe scoliosis; I spent 12 years going to Shriners, and wore a Milwaukee brace for 2 yrs(from age12-14)-1970-72. Shriners couldn't do my surgery, because I was considered "the granddaddy of them all," so they searched the country for a qualified orthopedic surgeon, and found one in Boise, Idaho. I had triple curvature, the middle one being 90 degrees. Being only 14, I only understood part of the process, but after reading the article here from January 2017. I have never had trouble with them, unless I use improper body mechanics or work in places like nursing homes, which I did for awhile-ouch! Now I notice that when I use upper back muscles around the trapezius muscle, I have some pain that comes and goes. Plus, I've gained a lot of weight that I need to lose. I am 59 years old now, and have done great! I wish I could thank my Dr and his brother(also a dr who assisted with my surg)-for the life they have given me! Now only neurosurgeons are allowed to do spinal surgeries, I guess, but my orthopedic drs were awesome! If there is any information not posted that would be beneficial, I would love to have it!

  13. Hi I'm in the UK, I had Harrington rod put in in 1980 when I was 15.all was great apart from a few twinges n aches but nothing I couldn't live with. I had the rods removed in 1980 as something had gone wrong and were causing pain, again after all was well. I'v had three pregnancys all of which were good in fact I think my posture was better while pregnant i had two normal births and one emergency c section at age 42 but no way could I have let them give me an epidural cant stand any one touching my spine make me feel sick!!?? In the last six to seven years the pain in my lower back n hips has been bad, I think it's flat back syndrome but nobody seems to want to talk about that in the UK. I've had acupuncture n injections n physio etc etc for my hip but doc has referred me back to spinal surgeon, just got an app through only been waiting 12months for this, waited 18months for the first app then 12 months to see the hip surgeon, wish me luck. Good luck to you all oh n go ahead n have babies don't let scoliosis hold you back xx

    1. This is a very common request. Please keep in mind, though, that CLEAR Institute is a Non-Profit. We do not provide treatment or treatment recommendations; our purpose is to educate people about scoliosis & chiropractic, and help people suffering from scoliosis to connect with chiropractors with advanced training in this spinal disorder. You are welcome to send x-rays; however, we will not provide medical opinions for your specific case. Rather, we will use the information to help connect you with the best doctor for you, who will then review your x-rays and provide a more detailed, individualized assessment.

  14. I have had two spine fusions. L1, L5, S1. My back is in constant pain. I am 60 years old. One surgery 2010 that was botched. Corrected in 2013. Can I have the titanium rods and screws removed? Stopped taking loads of medication. Last injection was horrible. Tried PT, acupuncture, you name it. Any help out there for me? Desperate in Maryland.

    1. The surgery to remove the rods typically takes twice as long and costs twice as much as the surgery to implant them. What's worse, insurance will not cover the costs unless the rods pose an immediate danger (of puncturing a lung, severing an artery, etc.). Furthermore, most studies find a drastic collapse in the spinal column if the rods are removed, due to the disruption of the spinal joints, discs, ligaments, and muscles. The most recent recommendations state that if the rods need to be removed for any reason, it's best to implant a new set.
      CLEAR has helped many patients who underwent scoliosis surgery. In fact, one of these patients was featured in a case study that was presented at the largest chiropractic research conference in the world: http://26anr53alfsk2zsjwe2yplw2-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/WFC-ACC-20141.pdf

  15. I was wondering if anyone has had any trouble with hip pain and pain in the buttocks area after having the rod for many years .. Also lower back being hyper mobile ?

  16. My daughter is 11 years old and has Ullrich Muscular Dystrophy . She lost her ability to walk just over a year ago and is now using a wheel chair to get around . Scoliosis had never been a issue until we started using her chair . We were told a month ago that her scoliosis was to a point that we need to think about surgery . Most in partly due to her lungs . She blew a 40 on her last test but has had a average of 35 . They said that they can't do the surgery if she's under 32 % . After reading some of these comments , I'm a bit nervous . We are located in Birmingham Al area and we will be seeing Dr Conklin . Have talked with a few other people that have had the Harrington surgery and they were more then happy with him . They all said we were in the right hands so that's great . Do we have any other options that we can look into ? Any and all advice would be greatly appriciated . Thank you , Fil .

    1. Unfortunately we currently do not have any CLEAR doctors in the Birmingham area, so receiving CLEAR treatment would require you to travel to an IC (Intensive Care) Certified clinic for two weeks, at least twice a year for at least three years, and then once a year for the next two or three. If this is feasible, CLEAR could be one potential alternative. If it's not, surgery might be your best option.
      The average age of curve acceleration (when the scoliosis gets worse the fastest) in females is 11.7, so I would encourage you to be aware of the possibility that her scoliosis might get worse at this time in her life. Ultimately the decision is up to you, but there are times when scoliosis surgery really is the best option for a patient, and CLEAR recognizes this fact. I am not a scoliosis surgeon, and thus not truly qualified to offer a formal recommendation, but this might be one of those times.
      I wish you and your daughter all the best of health & happiness!

  17. I have a Harrington Rod in my back which was put in when I was 17. I am now 45 and having issues with my neck. I am seeing a chiropractor but it’s too early to tell if this will help. I’d this normal?

    1. Many adults who had Harrington rods implanted in their spines as teenagers will experience pain or problems later in life, due to the fact that the reasons why the scoliosis developed in the first place are not addressed by the rods. Those same forces which drove the scoliosis to get worse still act upon the fused spine, and can cause the spine to buckle or degenerate in the un-fused areas. I wouldn't call any pain 'normal,' but it does make sense that the neck or other areas might develop problems when you account for the laws of physics, gravity, and spinal biomechanics.
      While it can be difficult to find a surgeon willing to perform a revision surgery (or an insurance company that will pay for it), fortunately it is possible to find relief through chiropractic and other conservative treatment methods. Check out our Research page for one such example of a patient who underwent spinal fusion surgery and was still able to be successfully treated with the CLEAR protocols. If your current chiropractic treatment doesn't provide you with the results you are looking for after a few weeks of care, I'd suggest looking into CLEAR or a different, structurally-based technique (such as CBP or Pettibon). One thing you definitely do not want to do is ignore the pain, or try to manage it with painkillers; over time, the mechanical problems with the spine could get worse, and cause damage which is irreparable even with specialized chiropractic treatment.

  18. I had the rods implanted in 1986/87 as a young child. I am now 42 years old and over the last few years have begin to have increasing pain. I had a orthopedic specialist or an MRI. I always thought you couldn't have such a procedure ( after my surgery as a child my doctor told me not MRI'S because it could cause damage or even cause parallelization). I went forward with the test because this dr.told me that was not a true statement; now since having the MRI my back makes a popping /or clicking noise. My neck now hurts and that never caused me pain before. I am convinced that my rods shifted in the machine. Is there any treatment for this new pain? Should I have not had the MRI done?

    1. This is a very interesting comment, and a very good question - thank you for taking the time to post! There has never been any research done to determine if the incidence of spine pain increases in patients with spinal instrumentation after an MRI, but it certainly does sound plausible. If the rods have been in place for many years, it is possible that the anchor points might have loosened in some areas, and that the strong magnetic field of the MRI could have pulled a loose screw or hook further out of place. It might be worth your time to reach out to the orthopedic center where the surgery was performed to inquire about this possibility, and ask if any other patients have ever reported similar experiences. In regards to relieving the pain, many patients who had the surgery and were then treated with the CLEAR methods later in life experience reductions in their pain because we are able to improve the biomechanical function in the unfused areas, and reduce the stresses acting upon those anchor points and fused segments. I definitely think you should reach out to a CLEAR doctor to share your x-rays & medical records and schedule a consultation; they would be able to let you know if they could help you, and more precisely estimate the potential correction and chances of success. https://clearscoliosis.wpengine.com/find-a-doctor/

  19. I had rods placed in my back in 1993 at age 13. I experience a lot of pain in my shoulder blade that goes down my arm into my chest and neck I also have a weird numbness in my left leg sometime. You can also feel the screw between my shoulder stick out. They cut a bone out of my hip and placed it in my shoulder. I have a hard time every day with pain and no doctor can help or tell me why. I have had 3 children tried to have my first one natural but could not so I have had to be put to sleep every one of them..does anyone else have any of these symptoms?? Thank you

    1. While it is possible to remove the hardware, it is not possible to repair the damage done to the bones of the spine or the surrounding tissues. Also, part of the surgery involves removing the spinal discs, and these cannot be replaced. If the hardware is removed, the collapse of the spinal column is accelerated. For this reason, the current recommendations state that if the rods do need to be removed for any reason, they should be replaced with another set.

  20. When I had surgery in 1981 I was never told what to do once I came out of my plaster of Paris cast. Now in my fifties, I would like to know how often does one check on your hardware and curve. Thank you

  21. I've spoken with numerous orthopedic surgeons, and hundreds of patients who have had the surgery - in my experience, it is actually very rare for a surgeon to perform any type of follow-up after the scoliosis surgery. I would recommend having check-ups (including x-rays) at least every five years, and scheduling one immediately if you notice any increase in back pain or sharp pains in the spine.

  22. Hey. I am 15 and already had 2 surgeries. One I had when I was 12, it was a simple fusion in which no rods were inserted in my back. I had a curve of 48 degrees at that time. I wore brace for about 2 years because I was told that my height was still progressing. I visited my doctor a month back to ask for the removal of brace but I was told that my curve had progressed to 67 degrees and that I needed another surgery in which I would get rods inserted. I have had the operation and a month has passed but I’m scared that what if the curve again progresses and something like a re-surgery happens to me? I am 15 and having double scoliosis. Any information would be beneficial.

    1. Hello, and thank you for taking the time to share your story. I admire your bravery and courage, to have gone through everything you have at such a young age!
      According to recent research, operated patients lose about one-third of the correction ten years after the surgery. Many people have scoliosis surgery thinking it will be the final solution to their worries about scoliosis, and sadly, this is not always the case. Scoliosis surgery is also a permanent, life-changing event... even if the rods are removed, the disruption to the elements of the spine & the surrounding soft tissues de-stabilizes the spinal column to the point where most surgeons recommend putting new rods in; otherwise, the scoliosis can get worse very quickly after the rods have been removed.
      But there is hope, and good news! CLEAR has helped many people with scoliosis even after they have had the surgery; in fact, I presented a case study on one such individual at the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) conference in Miami a few years back, which you can read about here. Simply by working on the areas above and below the fusion, we were able to reduce the forces going into the fused areas. This resulted in a substantial improvement in his quality of life, pain, and other symptoms, as well as a complete restoration of all the correction he had lost over the years, right back to where he was just after the surgery! While this correction wasn't permanent (taking care of your spine is like eating well & exercising - if you stop doing it, the positive changes can slowly go away over time), it does offer a lot of hope that loss of correction post-surgery can be prevented or reversed. We've even started working with some orthopedic surgeons who have recognized that their patients do better before & after scoliosis surgery if they go through CLEAR treatment!
      I would highly recommend getting in touch with a CLEAR Certified chiropractor; they would be able to prescribe a home exercise plan and provide treatment that could reduce the risk of your curve progressing again, even after the surgery. By restoring good motion & alignment to the areas above and below the fusion, you can increase the chances that you will be able to continue doing the activities you love for years to come.
      I wish you all the best of health & happiness!

  23. In November 1978 I had spinal fusion from T-5 to L-4 with a Harrington rod. The bone was taken from my hip and I swear that hurt the worst. Next most painful was 5 rib resections. I was 13. Since then, I've apparently done multiple things that are no-no's: riding horses and show jumpers (also being bucked off), playing volleyball, bowling in a league, playing horse shoes. I have also been in a couple of wrecks. I also had an MRI. Everything seems relatively fine. Yes, my lower back hurts, but I attributed to being out of shape and obesity. I have also had bilateral Achilles tendonitis that improved with physical therapy. There is also weakness in my thigh muscles. After reading the comments and replies, I am beginning to wonder if some side effects may be part of the issue.

  24. Son had rod a placed at age 17. Now he is 23 and in grad school. Having truble going to bathroom.
    Motrin is aleviating inflamation on nerves that control elimination. Fear he was not done growing and bone went out instead of up. Thoughts?

    1. Problems with the bowels & bladder can be a warning sign of a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome, where the nerves branching out from the spine in the low back become compressed. In severe cases, this can lead to permanent incontinence and/or sexual dysfunction. While this condition is rare and the chances of your son having it at age 23 are very small, it would still be important to see a doctor. There is a chance that the rod may have bent, slipped, or broken, and is putting pressure on the nerves. A CLEAR doctor or other scoliosis specialist would be able to take x-rays of the low back, and help to determine whether or not referral to an orthopedic surgeon for a re-operation would be necessary. In the event that another surgery is not needed, please consider consulting with a CLEAR doctor to determine if they might be able to help your son. Many CLEAR patients experience improvement in their symptoms while going through treatment for their scoliosis, and our protocols have been successful in helping even patients who have previously had scoliosis surgery (read more here).

      Please feel free to reach out to us at (866) 663-7030 or by e-mail at [email protected] if you have any questions or if there is any additional assistance we can provide!

  25. Hello,
    I’m 18 years old and I had the surgery 2 months ago (to treat my lumbar scoliosis) I’m fused from T4-L5, before having the surgery I was aware that I would lose back flexibility, but I didn’t think I would be this immobile. Now actually having the surgery...I regret it so badly I’m in a lot more pain than before I can’t walk the way I used to, I feel absolutely useless, I’m depressed and have a lot of anxiety because of it. I really want to know if it’s to late to have all these rods and screws removed? I really hope a better cure for scoliosis is found because having surgery isn’t a win win. In addition if I do have the screws and rods removed what happens to my spine does it return to its original state? Does it stay straight? Will my spinal flexiblity return?

    1. Part of the scoliosis surgery involves removal of the spinal discs and certain bony elements of the spine, so unfortunately even if the rods and screws are removed, there is a permanent change to the spinal structure. Most surgeons will recommend that, if the rods have to be removed for any reason, that a new set be installed in their place to prevent the spine from collapsing. Your best option would be to consult with the surgeon who performed the operation to determine what your options are. If you don't like the options they provide, please keep in mind that CLEAR treatment has helped post-surgical patients in the past; for more information, check out the case study at the bottom of our Research page.
      I wish you all the best of luck in your scoliosis journey!

    2. Hi Erykah
      I am 67 years old and was one of the first to have the Harrington Rod surgery in Australia when I was 15 years old. I had the rods removed 10 years later as I was experiencing severe pain at the point of attachment around the T4 area. I was told that the rods were superfluous at that time as they had done their job, which was to hold the spine in place while the bone grafts fused. There was no suggestion of more rods. The spine of course is fused, and I don’t recall much difference in flexibility between pre and post removaI have had, and am having a full life - career, three children and a very active lifestyle. More importantly, I am relatively pain free as I swim 1 kilometre most days (as suggested by my orthopaedic surgeon all those years ago), walk and practise yoga. In addition, I regularly have deep tissue massage and osteopathic treatment. My Cobb angle was 55 degrees before surgery and 27 after. This has progressed to 45 at last check a few years ago.
      I am not advocating the removal of the rods, as practices of course would have changed over the years and the additional surgery is best avoided. I do remember that when the rods were in place I had few problems, and attribute this to being diligent with swimming and keeping fit. So important! I wish you all the best.

  26. I had a Harrington/Herrington?Rod! Operations 1969 Feb at Oswestry, Robert Jones / Agnes Hunt Shrewsbury!
    I get an occasional twinge in bad weather but Am I in danger of any sorts?

    1. Hello,
      Renshaw stated that, "One would expect that if the patient lives long enough, rod breakage will be a virtual certainty." While it's impossible to tell which patients are at risk without taking x-rays and examining the patient in person, I would recommend that anyone who has had the scoliosis surgery in their youth be periodically evaluated by a scoliosis specialist for signs of rod breakage, wear & tear, or other spinal problems. Many people have spinal fusion surgery thinking it will end all their worries about their spine & their scoliosis, but this is not always the case.

  27. I had surgery in 1969 at the age of 13 1/2. Had two Harrington rods put in. After surgery I spent a month in hospital (in Vancouver, BC). I was on a Foster bed with which they would be able flip me over every few hours. Then came the body cast. Went home and lay flat on my back for 5 months. Then back to hospital where they removed my cast and put another one on, supposedly a lighter one. After that I slowly was able to walk again. After being in bed for 5 months it was hard for my body to adjust being upright. This cast stayed on for another month.
    I went back to school and had a normal life.
    I had two children naturally, no epidural.
    Now I’m 62 and a grandmother. I haven’t had any problems other than occasional sciatica. The only thing is that the left side of my back is completely numb. I was told they may have damaged a nerve during surgery. What started out as a small numb area has now grown to half my back. I’m not sure if that is normal.
    I never had any pain before the surgery but I was told my curve would get much worse. I don’t regret having my surgery.

  28. Flat-back and Crankshaft from 3 Harrington Rods in 1981 in San Diego Redy Children's Hospital by Dr Scott Mubarak.

    I was 14 and only had a 45 degree angle and have LOST my Life, fully disabled since 2008 from Flatback Deformity w SEVERE PAIN since 2009!

    I wish daily I would die and have it be over because i have never LIVED!!

    I live in LA and havign to move to VA to be near family for help to get around.

    I go to Cedars Sinai to get evaluated by a TOP surgeon Dr Johnson before my move in 3 wks.

    I want an explanation of what happened and an idea of what my future may be, can i get even worse? I cannot take worse, a person can only tolerate so much pain.

    WORE than right now is unthinkable!
    The pain is UNREAL and CONSTANT.
    I've had numerous Radiofrequency nerve ablatives for pain, over 25 varied epidurals blocks for pain and NONE work.

    I use a TENS 24/7, 2 pain pills a day, phsy therapy for years , 110 pounds never gained weight, treated my spine with Kid gloves and end up worse than i began!?.

    I have a consult at Cedars Sinai , a top spine Dr, to get an expectation and insight in to what the heck has happened!

    I knew i have global fixed saggital imbalance called Flatback as of 2009 but since 2014 my shoulders have now curved to left, and developed right shoulder protrusion with SEVERE constant pain!

    I had ERO pain at 14 when i had the surgery done.

    I'm 51, never could have kids bc the pain and Flatback had begun , vegetarian , low body weight, no alcohol never smoked , worked out all life till 35 when Flatback deformity and pain began and i was never informed I could get that !!

    We were told by surgeon id be fixed FOREVER if i got Harrington rod surgery!
    I am now severely and painfully deformed , the PAIN is UNREAL!

    My left leg goes dead with no notice and i fall.
    I Use TENS unit 24/7, get 10-30 trigger injections EVERY 4 wks, religiously.

    Two surgeons say i need the MOTHER of ALL Revision surgeries called PSO, Pedicle Subtraction Osteotomy that has a 30 % of paralization!

    ALL rods need to be removed and 4 ribs , they create new ribs of metal and insert new rod and create new spine from cadaver bone!

    IT IS A $400,000 Cash Only Surgery!! FOR REAL, NO Surgeon that is skilled enough to do a PSO takes insurance, you pay out of pocket.

    Even the Dr i am seeing may 17 in LA at Cedars Sinai wont take insurance for my consult bu ti must know. 4 yrs ago when i got my 2 opinions from surgeons , my shoulders hadn't begun the new curving and new breath taking pain i am in non stop!


    My curve was not severe, 45 degrees.
    My single mom was told that I would die before 25 if i didn't have the surgery, it scared her into surgery.

    By 41 yo, I was Fully disabled!

    Over 25 nerve blocks, RFA nerve abalations for pain, epidurals, NOTHING has taken pain away.

    WE were Guaranteed Id NEVER have any more curving if i had the Harrington rod surgery, I stood right there as my mom asked!

    I had ZERO pain prior to surgery and did not know i had Scoliosis till school did a screening.

    I learned the AMA stopped using Harrington distraction rods in 1986 because it was causing FLATBACK deformity and my surgery was done 1981... so the DR already knew this!!

    I would like to SUE the makers of these Harrington rods and use the money for the surgery to rebuild my spine with the PSO surgery i cannot do, bc i don't have $400k cash.

    My fusion is from T3-L4-S1., Fusion was NEVER supposed to extend to L4-S1 i learned 27 yrs later, surgeons weren't supposed to fuse to that level.

    I followed up at Bellevue in NYC till 10 yr anniversary then told i didn't need to any more.
    The pain began 8 yrs later at 32 but was achy thats all.

    Meds don't help and now the GOVTs want to stop opiate meds because of those who take and abuse it who dont need it!

    I learned AMA knew in 1981 when i had my surgery , that thousands who had Harrington rod surgeries were needing and getting revisions bc they got Flatback and pain who had surgery in 60s-70s.

    So my DR who did this surgery to me , a child, was FULLY AWARE that i would develop Flat-back deformity and later on and STILL did IT! THAT is EVIL! Wheres the accountability!?

    He fused my spine to L4-S1 ,took away my Lordotic curve.
    WHERE IS THE Restitution for me and others.

    NOW, I've developed a NEW Cervical curve (shoulders) above the fusion AND SEVERE pain i did NOT have pre surgery in the past 4 years on top of the Lumbar spine pain ! HOW can this BE?!!

    PS I have not been able to lay to sleep in a bed since 2009!
    I must sleep in a recliner in a bent V position due to Flatback !

    My life was STOLEN, my health, my career, no kids, and have lived disabled with chronic severe pain since 2009 , my hip is 1 -1/2 inches higher causing a big limp, Its progressing and when the surgeons who hav ethe way to fix me wont take insurance leaves those of us who cannot afford a $400 revision surgery as me, must live each day , praying to God to die soon bc the pain is unimaginable.

    I have handled best i can the pain for a decade, but Last 3 years its worse, this is too much.
    I went in trusting this Dr. a 14 yo child and a trusting mom for surgery to fix me and they took my life away.

    1. Your story is heart-breaking to me. You are not alone; I have heard others who have shared similar experiences.

      If you get a job you don't like, you can always quit & find a different one. If you get married & it doesn't work out, you can always get a divorce. But scoliosis surgery is forever; once the operation has been done, it cannot be undone. It is very sad that sometimes, parents make this decision for their children, trusting in the advice of the surgeon, and they are left with ongoing pain & disability.

      Your life and your experience are NOT without meaning. Your story is important for others to hear. As part of raising scoliosis awareness, we encourage people like you to share their personal experiences with scoliosis here, and with us directly at [email protected]. With your permission, we publish them in our Personal Experiences section of our blog.

      The CLEAR methods have helped many people who have had the surgery; you can read about one such patient here. If there is a chance for you to give CLEAR a try, I would encourage you to do so. We offer financial resources to assist people in doing so through the CLEAR Family Fund.

      Please know my thoughts & prayers are with you! If there is anything we can do to help, please reach out to us at (866) 663-7030 or [email protected]. May you find hope & healing in your scoliosis journey!

    2. Hi D Davis. I'm 48 and have a very similar story (see below). I'm on permanent disability, have mobility issues and I'm in pain daily. My physician prescribed pain medication ONCE; a 30 day supply, then I was told that I could keep taking the muscle relaxer but not the pain meds. When I had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer, I cried because finally I was pain free since the surgeon gave me pain medication following the surgery. I, too, have a cervical spine curve. I have a cervical spine MRI scheduled for June 4 to see if the spinal cord flattening, etc. is worse. I wonder how many other adult Harrington rods patients are suffering like this.

  29. I had scoliosis surgery in 1969 when I was 14. I’m in terrible pain. I went to a spine doctor who took X-rays. He told me my Harrington Rod has pulled away from my spine above the bolts that hold it in place. He said I need to have the rod cut off at the top down to the bolts. Has anyone heard of this problem? He said during the aging process my spine is changing. He said the rod can break through my back above where it is bolted in. I can’t stand the pain anymore. Any suggestions or referrals to a good surgeon? My surgery was done at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital under Dr Hugo Keim and his assistant Dr. Oliver.

    1. Hello,
      Yes, I have had patients who have experienced similar failures of their instrumentation. The challenge tends to be that, due to the variations in the types of surgical procedures, the preferences of the surgeon, and the instrumentation used by the hospital, most orthopedic surgeons will decline to perform revision procedures unless they either performed the original surgery, or worked at the hospital or with the surgeon who did. I would highly recommend reaching out to Columbia Presbyterian, and letting them know you need to learn more about your options pertaining to a scoliosis surgery performed at their center in 1969, which is in need of revision surgery due to instrumentation failure.

  30. Please someone help me. I have and S shape spine and my curves are 60 and 54. I’ve been depressed since the doctor told me I need surgery I feel like my life will no be the same again and I wont never be happy and pain free. I dont know If I should make the surgery o no! This decisition is killing me!

    1. First, it's important to recognize that scoliosis surgery is not a medical emergency. You should not feel rushed into or pressured to undergo the surgery right away.
      Second, it's worth pointing out that it has never been proven that having surgery for scoliosis results in a better long-term quality of life for the patient. Some people do very well after the surgery, but some people do not. I highly recommend that you consider & pursue all other available options (such as CLEAR, or scoliosis-specific physical therapy and advanced scoliosis bracing) before making a decision whether or not to have surgery. You cannot be forced to have scoliosis surgery; it is always your (or your parents') choice. Once you have the surgery, it is permanent and cannot be undone. The instrumentation can be removed, but the disruption to the spinal column cannot be reversed.

    2. Please get a second opinion whether there are alternatives for you. Physical Therapy for scoliosis and scoliosis safe yoga by a scoliosis yoga coach. The surgery is difficult and side effects can occur, 10+ years post-surgery.If 2nd opinion doc recommends surgery I wish you great success and wonderful health. I am grateful for the surgery because I had an extremely advanced curvature and suffered greatly. Even with the side effects 10 years later I am grateful because it saved my life. But if it is determined that it is not necessary there are other alternatives.

  31. In spite of all the ups and downs of scoliosis surgery, and pros/cons, I was a Shrine Kid from 1960 to 1972 after my scoliosis was discovered. It got progressively worse as I grew, and at age 12 I was put in a Milwaukee brace for 2 yrs before it was determined that surgery was necessary. I had triple curvature, the middle curve being 70 degrees. Shrine Docs considered= the operation the "granddaddy of them all," and were unable to perform it. They searched the globe for a qualified surgeon and found him at Boise, Idaho. I even had physical therapy 1st, which was also of no help...to this day, I still have no pain or after affects. I had 2 operations a week apart in July of 1972-one on my left rib cage because I was also missing a rib, and the doc used half a rib from my left side to even me out...I was also missing vertebrae(s). So my back was a mess! I am 60 years old and way overweight and still have no problems. My primary surgeon, Dr Howard Johnson in Boise, also had a brother who was a dr who assisted him...Dr Howard has since passed away, but I am ever grateful to him because he created a miracle in my life! I wore a cast for a year, and was never bedridden except for my 2-3 wks in the hospital...I was 14 then, and thank goodness I wasn't required to lay around because I would've gone nuts! I have lived in Montana all my life, and don't know any orthopedic docs in Montana qualified to look at me-even for yearly xrays, etc...My stepmom had scoliosis surg with half rods on her lower spine, and she has had nothing but trouble...and she's been a nurse for 46 yrs! Her doc is a neurosurgeon and I'm very unhappy with him...he will never touch me! I also stay clear of chiropractors and massage therapists...Up until a few years ago, I could get on and off the floor with no trouble, as well as climb stairs, etc...not now! Getting rid of wt will help, I know...and am working on it...I can still move, bend over, etc, and only noticed minimal mobility limitations after surgery.

  32. I am 65. At 13 had Milwaukee brace for 2 years, then Harrington rod (at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis), then bed rest for 7 months, then something like a corset for awhile after I was out of bed. No major problems.

    Surgery left 2 vertebra at top and bottom unfused, and there is some movement in the middle, where the rods overlap somewhat.

    Pregnancy and childbirth were fine.

  33. I had Harrington Rod fusion in 1969 at age 18 by Dr. S. Fulton Tompkins, Oklahoma City, OK. My scoliosis was 40 degree between the scapula, probably as a result of Polio at 7 months of age. The polio left my left arm and shoulder significantly atrophied and consequently overdeveloped musculature of the right arm and shoulder pulled the spine to the right. With the curvature was a significant twisting of the spine resulting in my upper body twisted to about 45 degree from my lower body. I chose to have the surgery because of the increasing discomfort. The surgery outcome was great for me. I have lived a close to normal life. Became an electrician (yes, climbing ladders and poles, etc.) to work my way through college and have been in the mental health field since 1975. I do have some discomfort but it is manageable and mostly from the muscle and joint pain as a result of post polio syndrome. The surgery relieved the constant pain and gave me a shot at a near normal life and it was a God Send. I credit Dr. Tompkins and the Harrington Rod procedure. Don't be afraid of the surgery but do your homework and make it a last resort.

  34. I wanted to add I'm now 63, and have been dealing with the medical issues for over 30 years.
    I've tried everything available to this date. Nothing has worked. Dozens of specialists and no one has helped.
    Millions spent too. I had a x-ray by the 2018 surgeon and he saying all is fine. No it's worse then it's ever been.
    CNAs daily basis, aid and attendance, because I can't even shower dress or feed myself. Car takers do everything I can no longer do. And I must pay out of pocket for the care.
    RA, and four type of arthritis,fibro,RLS, nerve damage,neuropathy, numerous medical issues beyond my back and neck. No discs ,rods from chest to pelvic. And lied, said it was titanium,not steel. I'm furious at what those doctors didn't tell me before surgery and the conditions surrounding the Harrington rods and devices used. I see there's a lawsuit for the rods.?
    I just so happen to find out today exactly what was used during the surgery. I need more information and answers after reading this site tonight. Just happened to come across it by accident.
    Hopefully find some answers.

    1. Hello, Sue.
      I am so saddened to hear of all of your complications. Unfortunately, stories like these are more common than you think. I would suggest seeking a support group; if not in person, there are options online. You are not in this alone and your struggles may ring true for many others where you could help and support each other. I would also suggest finding another doctor who may be more receptive to your complications and willing to move forward with some solutions to help ease your everyday struggles. As far as the services we offer, a few of our CLEAR doctors have treated patients who have had the surgery done, but it would mostly be working with your neck and hips (areas that were not fused by the surgery). If you would like, we would be happy to direct you to the closest CLEAR doctor to you. In the meantime, know that there is hope. Please let me know if there is anything we can do for you.

  35. Hi, I'm in the UK. I had surgery for kyphoscoliosis in 1989. I was 16. My surgery was pretty much as described in the article except i had two surgeries within two weeks of eachother. The first surgery saw the surgeon go in through the front to remove 3 ribs. My lung was deflated at 5 discs were removed. Two weeks kater the Harrington rods were inserted either side of my spine and the ribs were used to pack where the discs were removed. The rods were inserted and i wore a plaster cast for 12 months and a removable body brace for another 12 months. My rods run from the top of my spine to around the bottom of my rib cage.

    After i had healed I had no pain from my surgery at all.

    At 26 I gave birth to my only child. I developed pre-eclampsia which they believed was due to the rods being there. Apparently the bones soften allowing room for the heart and lungs as baby grows but my rods prevented this so carrying the baby put pressure on my main organs. I also struggled to breath.

    After baby I was diagnosed with restrictive breathing condition due to my posture.

    My job was a carer at a local hospital caring for stroke patients. I started getting lots of lower back pain and pain radiating down the back of both legs and a sensation of burning and stretching in my hegs and feet. I left my job and went to work at a pharmacy. I discovered that standing on my feet for 8 hours a day made things worse and I was constantly prescribed co-codamol 30/500 by my GP. The pharmacist (my boss) suggested I change my GP. So I did and I was referred to the musculoskeletal team at my local hospital. I had an MRI and was diagnosed with tethered spinal cord syndrome and split cord malformation. I had surgery to detether my cord but surgery was abandoned due to too much scar tissue. Since then i have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my facet Joins between S1 and L4. My lower spine has curved too and my consultant believes this is due to the rods. My condition is degenerative and I constantly live with severe pain which controls my life.

    Recently I've been wondering if my rods have corroded since i have been getting some strange symptoms which are related to metal poisoning. Next step is blood tests and urine test.

    I don't regret having the surgery since it corrected my upper spine but I guess I would only recommend it if your curve is as severe as mine was. The consultants at the time told my parently that if I didn't have the surgery then my spinal issues could be life threatening, so it had to be done.

  36. I had a full spinal fusion in 2012. I had a 65 percent curve in my spine. For the past week or so I’ve had pain in the right side upper middle of my back. I have 2 rods and 20 screws. I’m not sure what could be causing my pain. I am 55.

    1. Hi and thank you for your question. Unfortunately, your case needs to be reviewed in person and not a simple email conversation will help. I would encourage you to immediately consult with a surgeon or a CLEAR certified doctor regarding your current condition. The pain could be something simple, or as complex and dangerous a a screw coming undone or a rod breaking. Please seek immediate consultation.

  37. I had the harrington rods for a fusion at L4 and L5 it never took the fusion and. The pain was hell . We have better things to use today ..thats old tech from the 60 or 70s. I had mine put in 1991 a had them removed in 92 and had screws with rods put in. Much better for a spine fusion.

  38. My mom got the surgery in the early 1970s, she was 15. Now her quality of life is poor.
    Here's what she told me after a recent doctor's visit: My spine has elevated my diaphragms unevenly - one is higher than the other which hurts my lungs. I am being twisted from the inside out which impacts the heart too. Very compact fit. I was told that my rod was taken out in but it wasn't. It’s still there the long and short one. That’s why I am struggling with long car rides and trying to stand up straight - so painful. Don't get one. You may be in constant pain when you're older than 60.
    I believe she was one of the first people to get the procedure done by Dr. Harrington in Houston, TX.

  39. Hello,
    I had the Harrington (my paternal sur name is Harrington) rod surgery in '74 by Dr. Larry Mann at UMC in Tucson when I was 16. My curvature was very severe. Part of my hip bone was cut to fuse the rod to the upper and lower areas of my remaining spine.

    Since that time I gave birth to 4 children naturally. Have lived a relatively pain free life until about 5 years ago or so with a lot of pain from my nerves at my right shoulder down to my finger tips. The pain is numbing and I sometimes loose my grip on holding objects but that is not often. My lower back has signs of pain too as well as the hip area of cutting/fusion. The most pain I experience though is from my neck. It is chronic and rarely lets up.

    Generally I use some kind of ointment such as ICY HOT to relieve the pain along with laying straight on my mattress, which has accomidated my body form/shape to give me comfort. I am particular about the type of pillow I am comfortable with too; how it is angled and its' height are a factor.

    I had an X-ray a few years ago showing my rod is still firmly in place. I'm sorry to read about other scoliosis patients who's rods have broken. Genetically I have siblings and cousins who also have scoliosis. My case, from our family generation, has been the worst along with a cousin who went through so much physical therapy, wore a back brace, and finally had the surgery.

    My constant worry is for my grandchildren's health and what can be done with screening if they happen to also carry this disability. They are still very young but it does weigh heavy on my mind...if they do have scoliosis, what measures are taken today that are helpful which have been researched since my time, before the Harrington rod surgery is even considered?

    I would like to know if there is any type of pain relief for the nerves from my right shoulder down to my fingertips.

    I would also like to know if anyone has ever had this hidden disability brought forth through the US court system to recieve social security disability benefits. Thank you.

    1. Considering the strong genetic link in your family, I would highly suggest having your grandchildren monitored closely. As with any condition, the sooner treatment is given, the better outcome can be expected. As far as the issues you are having with your shoulder and arm, those could be linked to the lower part of your neck, which typically is not fused with the Harrington Rod surgery. I would suggest contacting a physician to have your neck looked at to determine if this may be the cause of your symptoms. Yes, I believe many scoliosis patients who had the Harrington Rod surgery have gone through measurements to get disability benefits. However, I am an unsure as to how to go about doing that, as we do not perform surgeries nor do we advise patients after surgery on what measures to take in order to do that. You may be able to contact an orthopedic who could follow up with you and possibly help guide you in that direction.
      If you would like to have one of our CLEAR doctors monitor your grandchildren or evaluate you and your current symptoms, please look on our website to find a doctor closest to you.

  40. Hello, I just happened to stumble across this site, and I also have Harrington rods infused into my spine. My surgery took place in 1995 at the age of 15. I am now 37 and have had no issues that concern me. I occasionally get these knots in my back behind my Rhomboid area and have to roll around on golf balls to release the tension that can also cause headaches. I usually get these subtle pinching pains when I work out or sit straight for too long. I'm interested in knowing if most of these problems/ pains occurred later on as you got older or immediately since your surgery? Is there anything I can do now to prevent issues when I get older?
    Thank you
    Orange County, California

    1. Hello, Katherin,
      These problems could happen immediately following surgery or they could be something that develops over time. It would be hard to say whether or not they are related to your surgery. I would suggest a consult with an orthopedic to determine if they are a side effect of the surgery or if there was something that they would recommend doing. As far as CLEAR treatment goes, there is very little we can do in the area of the Harrington Rod surgery. Mostly we can help restore function in the neck and hip area where the surgical rods are not in place. Best of luck.

  41. So glad to find this site. I was diagnosed w/ severe idiopathic scoliosis at 12 yrs. old by my 6th gr. teacher and school nurse after seeing me silently crying in pain everyday. I'd been complaining since I was 8yrs.old.Small town GP kept assuring mom it was growing pains I was 5' 7 1/2" tall T 11yrs old. My curve was a perfect "S" . We were told that it was so severe that I would be a great candidate to go to Texas and have a " newer" procedure in a teaching situation arena and the chances of paralysis was extremely high but " at least I wouldn't feel pain anymore. Being from a small town in Ohio and eldest of 6 children from a poverty situation, it was decided by Mom and myself to not try to get there.I was consequently put in a plaster ( 15lbs) body cast w/ fresh ones every few months from age 12 to 15 yrs old. It was thought that it would stop curvature. I wore a lge shoe lift on outside of oxfords and one shoulder was sloping way lower than other. When final cast was removed , it was thought that though there wasn-t correction, I would be ok. I had difficulty walking distances as time progressed. My legs would " grind to a halt or give out and I 'd have to stop frequently before they'd " work" again. In college I had more and more pain and difficulty walking. I got married and worked and bore two children. The first natural- 2day breeched birth- no meds.I began having difficulty breathing, dropping things, never connecting it to spine. At 25 yrs old I fell down a flight of stairs and it was discovered during tests for damage that I was pregnant. I was pressured that my spine was in such terrible condition that I should abort the child and immediately see surgeons in Cleveland Clinic to have immediate surgery. I chose not to abort and carried son to nearly full term W/ placenta previa- my 2nd son was emergency C-section because I went into labor prior to scheduled C- section. My 3rd child was delivered by C- section early to prevent hemorrhaging and death. In Jan. 1980, I had an anterior spinal fusion and 10 days later a posterior fusion with Harrington rods and pedicle screws.( which I later learned had been found not safe to use in spinal fusions. Bone from my rt hip and a rib, cadaver bone , etc were used. I wore a full plaster body cast for nearly 1 yr. My youngest was 1yr and 2mos old. at time of surgery. I had to move in w/ parents while my husband worked and visited for nearly a yr. Flat on back except for bathroom. The curves had continued to worsen. Pain was horrendous and I have a very high pain tolerance . Tens unit , meds did nothing - even an attempt to implant tens unit didn't work. I spent next 3 1/2 yrs being rushed back and forth to Case Western Univ. Hosp.with infection, pneumonias, phlebitis, dvts, total hysterectomy, weakened legs, loss of reflexes in legs & arms, breathing difficulties, rt. hip replacement, other surgeries. Then RA, Sjogrens, fibromyalgia, osteoarhtritis, osteoporosis, severe obstructive sleep apnaea and narcolepsy interconnective tissue joint / neuromuscular disease. I don't fully test positive for MS or Lupus. Had my thyroid totally removed it was so disease. NOW, the Orthopaedic Surgeon that did first fusion and his understudy who took over my case when he retired has discovered I have cervical stenosis and discs pressing on spinal cord in neck- ltd use of hands, wrists & arms. AND stenosis in lower spine, lower spine "gone", one rod is lying half-way in spinal column effecting bladder and bowels, and a screw if fully floating in spinal column. I use a wheelchair now I am 71- still have a lot to live for. I am seeing a neuro- surgeon for opinion on what to do as my pulmonologist/ sleep disorder specialist, G I specialist, rheumatologist, and FP drs. All say that rod and screw MUST come out. I have sickle cell trait, scoliosis and sleep apnaea , and severe year round allergies, thyroid disease run strongly in our family. HELP! My midsection ias now severely compressed and pushed to one side, my lungs never fully developed due to scoliosis. I KNOW that only God has blessed me to work, teach, rear my children, sing for 21 years w/ a travelling, recording choir, teach, help run a non- profit charity for 25 yrs- so many things. My Drs say they don' t know how I do anything. I now have home healthcare, I can't reach up to do my own hair now, etc. Still pray, attend church when I can, provide people in need w/ resources, info, basics. Just getting more difficult to function.

    1. Thank you for reaching out. I am sorry to hear of the pain you have suffered for so many years. The struggles you have had are shared with so many patients we encounter and have made our mission to help. Due to the fact you already have the rods in your spine, we are only able to work on areas of your spine that have not been fused. If you would be interested in having one of our CLEAR Scoliosis Doctors take a look at your xrays/MRIs to determine if we could help, I would suggesting visiting the "Find a Doctor" section.
      Best of luck to you.

  42. I had scoliosis surgery in 1987 in ottawa. I am not sure of the details of the surgery other than I had a rod put in, bone from my hip was added, back was fused, and my nerves were shut off so that I wouldn't feel pain around the surgery.
    Everything was fine until 2006. I had to get physiotherapy and massage therapy due to issues. I learned pain management techniques. Everything turned out ok.

    Starting in 2019 I have starting to have a hard time walking, standing, sitting, lying down and basically moving. Pain management techniques are no longer working.

    I don't want medication. That doesn't usually work for me.
    It isn't lack of exercise or anything. I am and always have been extremely active despite these issues.

    The issue is the 'turning off the nerves' that feel pain around my surgery. As a result, I get lower back pain and that translates to eventualy hip pain to upper leg pain. But I don't know where the pain is originating.
    Same with the Shoulder - > Neck pain. Where does it originate?

    My doctor says that he doesn't know what to do and asks me for suggestions.
    I tell him I don't have any and even if I did, he should ignore them because I spent 0 days in medical school.

    1. Hello, Charles,
      The scoliosis surgery is usually done from the upper back down the spine to the low back. However, often the neck and hips are freely mobile. If the issues you are having are being caused by the neck or hips, that would be something that we could help with. If it is coming from an area of the spine where the surgery was done, unfortunately you would need your orthopedic to address that. I would suggest having your x-rays sent to one of our CLEAR doctors to evaluate and determine if you would be a candidate for the type of care we provide. On our website there is a tab that will help you "Find a Doctor" closest to you. Best of luck.

  43. I have herrington Rods from 1979-2019..the top of my spine is fused from all the way down..the top tip of the rod is pressing toward my skin lately..how can I avoid the pressure?Do doctor have to cut the tip off?

    1. Hello, Yvonne,

      I would suggest a consultation with a surgeon. If it is that close to the skin, there's a chance they would want to cut it off. Best of luck.

  44. Got spinal fusion in Texas in 2012. How different are Harrington rods used in 2012 as opposed to the rods used in the 90’ or 70’s? I’m 25 years old now. Have no problem other than ocasional back pain but it goes away. Other thing that the surgery did was give me depression and anxiety since I think I will be severely handicapped by my mid 30’s. I see no point in continuing my career or starting a family

    1. Hello, Rigo,

      There are some patients who become handicapped because of the surgery; however, it is not a guarantee. Not everyone who has the surgery has that type of outcome. Many people do continue on to have children, maintain a career, and live a basically normal life, with some limited range of motion. There may be some newer technology advances with the surgery; however, we do not perform surgery, so I could not be specific as to what would be different from your particular surgery. If that is a concern of yours, I would suggest a follow up with the surgeon to discuss your concerns.

      Our CLEAR Scoliosis doctors have helped many patients following their surgery to help balance their hips, work with the natural curvature of their neck, and help to manage pain. If you are interested in a consultation with one of our CLEAR doctors, I would suggest visiting our website to find a doctor near you. Best of luck.

  45. I am 75 years old and was operated on by Dr. Paul Harrington , in Methodist Hospital, Huston Texas, in 1962. He put in the Harrington rods and fused my spine in two places, correcting a 75 degree curvature in upper spine and a 63 degree curvature in the lower spine. I spent four months, flat on my back in bed my senior year of high school. After that I gradually worked up to going back to school in May of 1963 and graduating with my class. I married at 19 and went on to have six healthy children, naturally and without drugs. I had them in 1964, 1966, 1969 1979, 1982 and 1988. I still am able to play tennis on a weekly basis. I ran my own home decorating business, hanging all the draperies I made by myself. I worked in a school cafeteria for three years before starting my own business. All without pain. At 75 my left hip hurts a little and my body movement is not as good as it once was. Do you have any recommendations for exercises that would help loosen me up a little?Overall I think Dr. Harrington did a good job for me and if I had to do it again I would.

    1. That's great news to hear. Oftentimes we hear stories that are much worse. That's amazing that you had the surgery with Dr Harrington himself! As far as the hip pain goes, at CLEAR Scoliosis Institute we prescribe exercises that are patient based and are prescribed according to each person's x-rays. In order to prescribe exercises, we would need to have x-rays taken of you in order to recommend the most effective exercises for you. I would recommend visiting our website and selecting Find a Doctor to find the closest CLEAR doctor to you to help with this. Best of luck to you.

  46. Hi my name is jessie I have had rods and fussions for a little over 19years ago my spine was so bad I had scoliosis and kyphosis I had to go through chest surgery and back surgery together i was not told how long i need to wear my brace or anything I'm sure I did things I shouldn't have been doing I still have a lot of pain some times especially with rain and Cold weather I have scoliosis below my rods now and a lot of nerve damage now the surgery saved my life my spine was so bad I've never been the same since surgery it seems to be getting worse every day but I continue to keep on doing what I can thank you for chering and letting me talk about my epriense and things i deal with everday I ido my best not to complain or let people see how much pain I'm in sometimes. Jeessie

  47. I also had this surgery at Shriners in Lexington ky at the age of 14 I’m 38 now. I had no pain prior to surgery but by my year 3 check up is when it all started pain In my shoulders muscles spasm that lasted days sometime weeks! Many trips to the ER. first it started out every now and then and has got worse and worse over time. I’m a hairdresser and on my feet 8-12 hours a day the pain is about to get me down I have been in constant pain for the last 5 years every single day pain in my lower back going down both legs and numb, tingling and burning pain. And now my dr wants to reconstruct my rods but first he wants me to have a mri? and I’m scared to have one my doctor told me I could never have one done! I’d I had it to do over I would never had this done. I don’t know if removing them would be best or leave them and work on the lower back

  48. I had Harrington rods implanted in 1990. I’ve been unhinged on my bottom right side for 13 yrs that I know of. I’m not sure how it happened or when it happened. But I have most of my pain in lumbar area right side. Exercising can be limiting. I try to manage the best that I can without taking meds. I do get numbness in my feet and legs depending on how I’m sitting and burning session in my hips occasionally. I had a deep hip cortisone injection in 2017 to help with the pain. It didn’t really help. I’ve not seen an orthopedist since then. I’m wondering should I find another doctor who may be able to give me other options.

    1. I'm sorry to hear of your complications following the scoliosis surgery. I would definitely suggest a follow up with someone to address the issues you have been experiencing. Our CLEAR Scoliosis Doctors are trained to work with patients who have a scoliotic spine; however, the hardware left in the body following surgery can create some limitations. I cannot say whether or not they could be of assistance, but I would recommend consulting with the closest CLEAR Doctor to you to determine if they can be of assistance to you. This information can be found on our website under "Find a Doctor". If you are not interested in care by one of our Doctors, I would still recommend following up with a Doctor to address your concerns and symptoms. Best of luck.

  49. I had the Dwyer procedure instead of the Harrington rod and had a return of scoliosis 7 years after procedure.. I had the operation at the age of 18 and am now 63. What can I do? I am losing height which is my biggest worry. I also had a major muscle damaged during the operation which causes much pain.

    1. Hello, Linda,
      Our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute Doctors are trained in treating scoliosis. Post surgical patients need to be evaluated before treatment, and treatment would need to be modified. I recommend contacting the closest CLEAR Scoliosis Institute Doctor to you, found on our website under Find a Doctor, to determine if you would be a candidate for care. Best of luck.

  50. I have Rod's for t4tol3 had kyphosis and sclerosis so severe it was going in to my organs it has been 19yrs ago ihave sclerosis be low my rods severe nerve damage ditrating disks that's all i know about right now i have cronic pain i have ditrating disks in my neck there was damage done to my sciatic nerve on lf side my feet turn in some times especially if I try to stand some times especially on my lf side the surgery saved my life but I have a lot of sevre problems now I don't reget having surgery it saved my life thank you for letting me share some of my story

  51. I’m a 59 yr old woman who have surgery in the early 1970 in Melbourne Australia lve had a very hard life and have always had health issues more than most
    I’m age now my Surgoen and drs are passed away so not many Otrhopedic drs will even look at me or give me an appointment so lm hoping l can get more information to help me from this website
    Thank uoi

  52. I've had T5-T10 also c4-c7 fusion.harrington rods.Im always in pain.I did the chiropractor , pain clinic and now I'm forever on opiods.I feel as if I lost myself in misery.I had 4 wrecks that took a toll on me.2Breaks and all in between.plus I have RRMS disease. I'm screwed. I would not recommend ,unless it's life-threatening I.Mine was only Last pain management.

  53. I had scoliosis and kyphosis bad it it was curting into my organs the surgery was 19 year ago I have had a lot of sevre pain and other problems I have a lot nerve damage it evitsd my leg and hip I don't believe that surgery would help me I have scoliosis my rods

  54. I recieved rods in 1983 when I had sking accident. Never really had much pain. I was in car accident 2 months ago 3 disks out in neck 1 in lower back the neck pain and burning I cant take it I cant work what can I do

    1. Hello, Bill.
      I'm sorry to hear of your situation. As far as the discs being irritated in your neck, you have the option to see one of our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute Doctors. Oftentimes, a car accident causes straightening in the neck. Straightening the neck typically results in disc irritation. Our doctors are trained in how to rehabilitate the neck to help restore its natural curvature. Your neck is freely movable. as the Harrington Rod Surgery does not go up that far in the spine. To find the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute doctor closest to you, please visit our website under Find a Doctor. Best of luck.

  55. After my back collapsed into flatback syndrome, Harrington Rod surgery (from T4 to the ilium) saved my life and gave me a decent quality of life for 8 years so far. However, I have long had pain at the location of the uppermost screws at T3-T4. My pain doctor suspects the screws are aggravating the musculature nearby. I will see a very experienced orthopedic surgeon in 6 weeks to get a complete evaluation. Most importantly, except for this aggravation, I have had no pain at all since the reconstruction surgery. No more low back pain at all ever. So, it was a very good thing.

  56. Hi there had my Harrington rod when I was 10 years old now 41 years old do have pain but life is OK and my back has stayed the same didt grow after that so I am only 5 ft tall but if I didt have it don't I would sill be here so I want to thank everyone that help me

  57. Hi, I had Harrington rod surgery 24 years ago when I was 15. (38 now) 2 rods fused for t1-l2. I had a 72% curve after surgery they got me to a 20% just a year after I started to have increase pain. I cant remember a time I didn’t have some kind of back pain thought my teen and adult life. I figured was pretty normal after a mayor surgery but the last 10 years I would never thought I would have this much pain. It has got worse and worse each years seems like. The pain has got so bad in my back and legs that I have a hard time just putting socks on. I have tried so many times to find a dr to help that I was just ready to give it. I had one tell me I was to high risk and he didn’t feel comfortable with my case which I totally respect him telling me the truth. I live in a very small town where the closest specialist are 2 plus hrs away. I was finally sent to one recently that does want to help but the news was something I didn’t want to hear I had a meylogram done and my rods had curved more from a 20 to 36 he told me the weight and the curving was crushing my lower spin pinching my nerves I have severe degeneration in l2 and l3 and l5-s-1. He told me that the only thing to help and to further loss of mobility is to remove my old rods break my spine reline and place new hardware. 13 Vertebrae to be exact.He said it is a very risky surgery and it would be 100 times worse then the first one!! With no guarantee. Could make me worse possibly nerve damage. I’m just at a lost! I feel as I’m dang if I do dang if I don’t. ???? Please help

    1. Hello, Nicole.
      I am sorry to hear of the difficulty you have had. That seems like a drastic surgery. Unfortunately, we do not perform surgery nor can we make surgical recommendations. When patients who have already had the scoliosis surgery contact us, we are only able to assist them in the areas of their neck, hips and spine that are not fused. I would highly recommend you discuss your concerns with the doctor who is wanting to perform the surgery, or with another orthopedic surgeon. I apologize we could not be of further assistance. I wish you the best.

  58. I have had scoliosis all my life. I am 74 now. I had fusion of L 3 4 5 two years ago because I couldn’t bend over without terrible pain. My bones are very soft. I have osteoporosis. My curve starts at the throrasis and continues up. I have been dealing with sciatic pain constantly. I have a nerve stimulator implant which has helped but the Dr says the only way to relieve the pai is with scoliosis surgery I am very concerned about what to do. I have been through numerous therapy sessions and still pain

  59. in 1979 at the age of 12, the Harrington rod was installed and fused in my spine from my back hip bone in Houston Texas. I never really had issues for I gave birth to 5 children, ran 2 marathons, very active however I have noticed I do have flat back appearance as I have gotten older. Now at the age of 54, I recently began having several intense back mainly the middle to the left area around the L4, L5. With the slightest wrong movement lately, I get this severe twitch that I feel all the way down my leg. I recently was walking in the store and thought I was loosing complete feeling, scared on taking another step for the thought of falling, not to mention the intense pain. The pain feels as it is coming from the area they removed the bone to fuse the spine. When it grew back it appears that it might be overgrowing affecting my spine. I concerned that maybe my spine could be shifting in the area of L4 and L5, is this possible, Is this possible

    1. Hello, Shirley,
      I am sorry to hear of the issues you're having. Depending on where the rods are, it could be possible that is happening. Oftentimes as a person ages with the rods, they could be at higher risk of a disc bulge or herniation as well. I would recommend seeing your orthopedic to have some imaging done. If the rods are not connected that far down, one of our CLEAR Scoliosis specialists/doctors may be able to give you the relief you are searching for. I would suggest contacting the CLEAR Scoliosis Doctor closest to you to determine if you would be a candidate for care. You can find them on our website under "Find a Doctor". Best of luck to you.

    1. Hello, Richard,
      At this time, no such thing exists nor do I think one will in the near future. It would be very difficult to duplicate nature as you say. Your spine houses all of the nerves in your body, so I would assume that process to be very tricky. If you or someone you know has a scoliosis that you would like one of our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute doctors to look at, we would be happy to do so.

  60. My 27 year old son had this surgery at 14 1/2 years old. It was the best decision for my son and he hasn't had any issues. He can still train with his trainer and do sit-ups and much much more.

    I do have a question we have only gone back to the doctors a few times when he was younger and the doctor said unless we have complications we never need to have it looked at. Does this sound right?

    1. Hello,Kareen,
      That is typical for an orthopedic procedure. If you have concerns, I would encourage you to contact them. We at CLEAR Scoliosis Institute typically work with patients to avoid surgery or help with treatment of the neck or pelvis following surgery. If there is anything we can do to help, please contact the closest CLEAR Scoliosis Institute doctor to you, which can be found on our website under Find a Doctor. Best of luck.

  61. I am definitely a candidate for the surgery due to scoliosis. PT is what I will beginning next week. I am 56 years old and I see what scoliosis has done to my 84 year old mother. My legs and feet are numb and if I don't take my gabapentin on time, I feel horrible pain of stinging by a thousand sweat bees all over my feet. My lower back has a significant curve and continues to get worse. I am horrified by the news from my spine doctor this week. I also have several crushed disks in my lower back and several in my neck. I am so upset by the news and just wondering if it benefit me to have the surgery. I wan't to get off the gabapentin and would love to feel all my legs and feet again. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Will the surgery stop the curving of my spine?

    1. Hello, MJ,
      Thank you for reaching out. I am sorry to hear of the issues you are having. They are very common with older patients with scoliosis, especially with a lower back curvature. Before you consider surgery, I would suggest contacting one of our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute Doctors to determine if you could be helped by our treatment protocols. Surgery should be considered a last resort. Based on your age, your scoliosis is most likely not highly progressive as your bones are skeletally mature; however, chances are the lower back is very unstable. This is a common problem our doctors treat and have been able to help patients in your situation. To find the CLEAR Doctor closest to you, please visit our website under Find a Doctor for a consultation and/or evaluation. Best of luck.

  62. I had Harrington rods implanted, along with a bone graft/fusion 18 years ago. With the instrumentation that was surgically placed, am I able to have an MRI?

  63. I had Harrinton Rod surgery in Chicago in 1985 when I was 13. It was a hasty decision by my father and not a decision I would have chosen as an adult. For reasons unknown to me my father did not keep me up with any of the post surgery follow, nor the physical or rehabilitative therapies I should have received nor any guidance in dealing with this foreign object and moving forward with the rest of my life. As an adult of nearly 50 I am just now finding out that this surgery required so much more follow up, therapy, reevaluation, checks for breakage or corrosion, monitor for lung or heart problems, tumors and cysts. One post op appointment is all I got.

    I have dealt with varying degrees of pain my whole life, never knowing the cause. Knowing what I do now, all my pains are directly related to the fact that my spine was fused way too early in my growth cycle. Even at 13 years old I remember thinking it was a bad idea because I wasn't done growing.

    In my experience this surgery was nothing but drawbacks and has caused me nothing good and my spine is more crooked than before. I have chronic neck, shoulder, shoulder blade, lower back, hip, siatic pain that increases with each year. I am 48 years old and can say that I could likely be legally defined as disabled well before I turn 60. If I would have known long ago as a young adult that I could have had them removed I would have sought that out, now it is slowing crippling me. What can I do?

    1. Hello, Shannon.
      I am sorry to hear of all of the issues you are having. Unfortunately, many young children are still subject to this same procedure to this day. I have heard many stories similar to yours and it is heartbreaking. At CLEAR Scoliosis Institute, we have worked with quite a few patients post-surgery to help them manage pain, as well as work with the areas that are not fused, such as their neck and hips, which often have issues due to the decreased mobility and muscle stiffness. We have had success in these areas post scoliosis surgery. One of our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute Doctors would be happy to help you to determine if they could be of assistance. To find the closest CLEAR Scoliosis Institute Doctor, please visit our website under Find a CLEAR Doctor. Best of luck to you.

  64. Can you safely use a hot pack for relaxing the muscles and promoting circulation a year after rod surgery for a 11 year old child that has sensation and can tell you if the skin is too warm?

    1. Hello, Robin,
      Recommendations for heat are usually when there is a chronic problem (something that has lasted over a few months). However, heat should never be used if inflammation is suspected. I would check with the orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery if this is something they can safely do. I would also recommend mentioning to them that the muscles are continuing to be an issue post-op. I apologize I don't have a direct answer for you; however, without knowing a little more about your child and their particular case, I would not feel comfortable giving that recommendation. It should just be a simple call with their orthopedic surgeon.
      Best of luck.

  65. I am 59 years old and had scoliosis as a child. At that time the Harrington rod was the only choice available. My curve would of punctured my lungs in 6 weeks if the surgery wasn't performed. I had the surgery over 40 years ago at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. I had a very active life. I was an athlete and played many sports. Nothing hindered me. I have 2 children without any complications from the surgery. Unfortunately now 40 years later and 30 pounds heavier, I have developed flatback syndrome. I'm starting to bend over and have trouble standing up straight. So I am considering surgery. I am still young and I don't want to end up using a walker or a wheelchair.

  66. I had surgery in 1978 to correct severe scoliosis - I was 16 and had two curves. Some 43 years later, the biggest problem I have had is finding care; no back doctors in my area have experience with the rod, and I don't know anyone to ask questions.

    BENEFITS: My parents were told I would have faced paralysis if scoliosis wasn't corrected

    I have debilitating pain that we believe comes from natural changes in my bones that work against the rod. My right shoulder blade has spasms, and the pain level is excruciating. I cannot stand up straight. I worry about how I will age.

  67. When I was 10 I had the bars put in but 2 years later I became allergic to them and had then removed. I am now 69 years young and having problems!

    1. Hello, Linda.
      That had to be difficult. It is not often done. If you are having problems with your scoliosis, the best place to start is to have an x-ray done to see where you are as far as degrees/severity. If it has been some time since someone last looked at your spine, it would be helpful to know the level of degeneration or damage there is to your spine. Many of our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute certified doctors have worked with patients who have previously had the scoliosis surgery. Oftentimes they are able to help alleviate or reduce pain, as well as improve mobility and function of the spine. I would recommend contacting the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute center nearest you to determine if you would be a candidate for care. To find the nearest center, please visit our website under Find a Doctor. Best of luck to you. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

  68. Hi. I am a 58 year old female and I have severe scoliosis which has got considerably worse in the last few years,. My last x-rays in November 2020 show a Cobb angle of lumbar 64 degrees and thoracic 77 degrees.
    I have been considering Harrington Rods as a treatment but I am very concerned about the dangers. Just to make things worse I have syringomyelia (spinal cysts) and am not sure if the insertion of rods would negatively affect me. At the moment I am in severe discomfort as it feels like my right rib cage is hitting the top of my hip.
    None of my clothes sit properly on me anymore, suffice to say I have learnt not to wear stripes.
    Any suggestions would be welcome to stop it getting worse and to reduce my discomfort.

    1. Hello, Morag,
      I'm sorry to hear of the issues you are having. Scoliosis can definitely be a struggle, especially as the degrees become more severe. Everything you are saying makes sense, as the rib cage does begin to get close to the top of the hip and obviously things do seem to look asymmetrical. Our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute certified Doctors specialize in the treatment of scoliosis to avoid surgery. Most of our Doctors have treated curvatures as severe or even more severe than yours, so there is hope. You would want to seek treatment at one of our Intensive Certified Clinics, as they are more equipped to treat you. To find the nearest CLEAR Scoliosis Institute certified clinic, please visit our website under Find a Doctor. Feel free to reach out if you need further assistance.

  69. I had the scoliosis operation in 1979 in Maryland. I was 15 only thing I really knew about the operation was my parents and Doctor said I was getting it. I had no say. I am now 58. I knew I had the Harrington rod in my back. I knew they took a piece of my hip. My mom said it went between disc.
    Until what I read today I had no idea they took out some discs. Now I'm somewhat freaking out. I've always been just fine. I am not an exercise person. Never have been. So my flexibiity is where I would I would expect it to be. I've had 3 kids and been an "average" person. So no ill effects but after reading what I have I guess I'll add SO FAR.

  70. My rod broke 6 years after surgery!... I am in the hospital for pain management..
    Pain so severe, my legs cannot hold me up, discs have dissipated,the pain has
    affected my head, I must lay down a few minutes sitting up!

    Today, I a. Extremely angry, must have morfen drips. , ! I had surgery in 1984.
    If any semi assistance now available please inform me. Thank you.

    1. Hello, Angela,
      I am sorry to hear this. Your story is, unfortunately, one that we hear often. Many of our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute certified Doctors have worked with patients post surgery. They can often assist in working on areas above and below the areas where the surgery took place to help stabilize them to increase some mobility and reduce pain. I suggest having your x-rays/MRIs sent to the nearest CLEAR Scoliosis Center to determine if you would be a candidate for care. To find the nearest clinic, please visit our website under Find a Doctor. Best of luck to you. There is hope.

  71. I had the S shaped curve at 65 degrees when i was 12. I had the corrective surgery at 12 before I stopped growing. Rods were places at the base of my spine lower back, and Ive had flat back ever since, im 44 now. A year ago i was diagnosed with sciatica from an injury and then it was discovered that the rods , after 30 years have INFUSED into my spine causing limited mobility , extreme pain, and nerve damage . There is nothing that can be done to correct or fix this matter. My question is will I have to expect to be in a wheelchair as the years go on? Walkers etc... What else can i expect as I have not been back to my ortho dr. since a year ago due to me falling into deep depression over this diagnoseds!!! please any and all feedback will be appreciated. thank you.

    1. Hello, Rosalind,
      Unfortunately, stories like yours are ones we have heard many times over. Our sympathies go out to you, and people like you are the reason why we do what we do. I'm sorry to hear of the complications you have been having. Once fusion occurs, it cannot be undone unless it was for lifesaving measures. I cannot say if things would progress to having to use a wheelchair or walker; however, my suggestion would be to continue to move as much as possible, as the more immobile you are, the harder it will become to be mobile. Mental health can definitely be affected by such physical limitations and should be addressed. Once you feel better mentally/emotionally, you may begin to have the desire to move around, possibly on walks, physical therapy, etc. Our CLEAR Scoliosis Institute certified Doctors have worked with several patients who have had scoliosis surgery in the past to keep the areas of the spine that are moveable moving. I suggest contacting the nearest CLEAR Scoliosis Center to you to determine if you would be a candidate for care and what time of customized at home exercises and therapies would be beneficial for you. Best of luck. There is hope.

  72. I have had my Herrington rods since 1988. I am now 50 years old and my pain just started within the past 3 years and is really causing problems with sleep, I can not walk very far, it hurts just to stand. What can they do? I heard an 80 year old women had her rods remove and feels great. After reading this I cant imagine them removing them. My rods go from C3 to L7. Any reccomendations?

    1. Hello, Launa,
      Thank you for reaching out. It is not common for an orthopedic surgeon to remove the Harrington rods once they are put in unless it is life threatening. If the pain is very debilitating, it may be worth having a consult with one to determine if they would consider it. Our Doctors who are certified with scoliosis treatment through the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute work with patients who have scoliosis to help lessen their pain, stabilize their spine and improve function for daily activities. When a person has already had scoliosis surgery, some modifications need to be made with the treatment program, but your upper neck and pelvis are likely movable and can receive care that could help with some of the symptoms you are having. I suggest contacting the CLEAR Scoliosis Center closest to you to determine if you would be a candidate for care. To find the nearest clinic, please visit our website's Find a Doctor page and enter your zip code. This will give you a list of the closest Doctors to you. Please let us know if you need further assistance. Best of luck.

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