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Scoliosis onset 3 months after fusion (XLIF procedure)

dukeXLIFddukeXLIF Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I'm a 25 yo male. I herniated my L4-L5 disc in February 2008 after years of lesser back pain. I had an XLIF procedure done in June 2010 (3.5 months ago) on L4-L5 - they went in through my left side. At the 3 month mark post-surgery, I had an xray taken to chart the progress of my fusion (no signs yet of fusion). What I discovered, instead, was that my spine is now CURVED towards the right! This is an entirely new development. I had an xray taken at the 7 week mark post-surgery, and there was no curve. My primary care doctor confirmed today before even seeing the xray that "something is going on (with my back)" and my spine is definitely curved. I then showed him the x-ray which confirmed his assessment. I have no idea what is going on and why this would be happening. I am hoping to see a neurosurgeon this Friday. I live in the DC area and will be going to one of the more renowned university hospitals here.

Relevant Information:
-No history of scoliosis in my family and no issues with any kind of curvature prior.
-I am having severe pain in my upper back area (where the scoliosis is) after waking from sleep. I usually wake up in agony between 5-9am. After moving around for 30-45 minutes it goes away and I can barely feel anything else throughout the day until the next morning when I wake up in agony again. This has been going on for 4 weeks but has gotten worse in the last week.
-My upper right buttocks has been spasming off/on since surgery (more noticeable in the last month) and my primary care noted today that the right side of my back is very tense. He commented that he doesn't know if it is tense because of the scoliosis, or if it being tense is potentially causing the scoliosis. And if so, if I'm able to ease the tenseness and spasming, will the scoliosis go away?

1. Has anyone else developed scoliosis (or unnatural curvature) following a fusion surgery? If so, did you learn why it happened. What did you do to fix it (I realize I may get a lot of varying responses with this particular question)?
2. Does anyone have any knowledge as to what about a fusion surgery may have caused this?
3. Any thoughts on if this is potentially being caused by my tenseness/spasming and if I get those to go away, my scoliosis will as well?


*Disclaimer: I understand that there is a chance that this is completely unrelated to my fusion and perhaps I will have to treat this as a completely separate issue and work to heal this newfound curvature in my back. I'm reading as much as I can beginning today on what scoliosis is, treatment, etc - but what I'm really looking for from the forum in this post is if/how/why scoliosis is connected to a fusion and what to do about it.


  • I haven't had back surgery yet, but it's likely within the year. Now back to your question. After I crashed a helicopter, within like 3 months I was in such pain I couldn't even reach forward when driving to turn on the radio! I then went to a Neurologist who was also a practicing chiropractor. It was deemed 'voodoo' back then (1985). He took a series of xrays, and we were shocked (more so me) as I had what he called "double scoliosis!" It was diagnosed at that time due to the sprains and strains I suffered throughout my entire back in the accident.

    In my case, aggressive PT, massage and manipulation *did* get my back straight again. Why tie to your question? I was told that due to the sprains and strains, I was walking, sitting, leaning to avoid pain, and ligaments and muscles were pulling my back out of alignment, and thus the scoliosis. Surgery with fusion too changes the dynamics in your back, neck etc. Hopefully they will find since apparently this is very new, that some sort of therapy will straighten it back out. Please let us know how it goes.

    Ps... the double scoliosis in my case robbed me of 1" in height! Yes, I did get it back. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • before my first surgery my back pain got so bad that I developed a curve to the right in my spine so bad it was visably obvious to anyone that seen me. My body was pullin so hard to keep me off that nerve root that my spine, as matter fact my whole body shifted to the right in the mid section. It was not anything you could conscienely do or correct. I don't know about your case but in mine, once the problem effecting the nerve was removed, everything shifted back to normal.
  • Thank you both. I'm beginning to think this may be the more likely scenario that you both are pointing to - more of a short term effect due to the recent changes in my back due to surgery. Seeing the curvature in the xray really alerted me to try and find out what is going on hopefully before any long-term damage occurred. I'm hoping I can find a doctor this week that will work with me to find out what is causing this and fix it.
  • You're Welcome. I hope you find it is just due to a new position you're holding your back in, and easily resolved. Please keep us posted on what you find out. Take care, and good luck with it!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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