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Scoliosis loss of height shortness of breath

murjonemmurjone Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Scoliosis
I am 65 and have had scoliosis now for a little more than 10 years. I developed from having rods removed when screws came out and the spine is sliding off from the point where the rods end. I have lost 4 inches in height. During the day my spine slowly settles together losing even more height. I am now having some very scary moments when my spine has settled down and I walk bent over and I have shortness of breath and a little chest pain. If I push myself up on the drainboard stretching as much as I can it will get better. Also if I lay down it will improve, but I am concerned. It is because I just loose room in my chest area to be able to breath. Is anyone having or have had this type of problem? What did you do about it? Because of my age and medical condition doctors say that surgery really isn't an option for me anymore. Any suggestions will be appreciated.


  • I would ask your Dr. for more Ortho and Neurologist referrals. If your Dr. doesn't get another Dr. I think at 65 you're still able to receive an operation. People are getting heart operations at any age. It's the same with spinal operations you're not too old. I would keep asking until you get a Dr. to help you out. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Hi Murjone,

    I too have similar problems as you mention. I came across this site and your post while searching for information myself.

    I am 34 years old, and had an accident 2 years ago where I fractured my spine, an unstable burst T12, as part of the scans done they also discovered that I had a previously undiagnosed scolliosis, which was pushing my upper back forwards.

    I have since found out that the type of scoliosis I have is called Scheuermann's Disease, its a type of kyphosis of the spine that forms as a result of a growth abnormality of the spine during adolescence, which causes the vertebrae to grow faster at the back than the rear, causing the vertebrae to form in wedges, which then push the other unaffected vertebrae forwards.

    In my case it was this condition that is causing my problems, which include being unable to sit or stand for even short periods of time, breathing difficulties, poor balance, leaning forward when walking, leg cramps, and severe back pain, and poor blood circulation in my legs.

    This type of curvature can also occur as part of the aging process, from poor posture or muscular weakness causing slouching, and is often seen in the elderly who developa hunch due to muscle weaknesses that causes the problem with being able to hold themselves upright.

    If as it sounds to be in your case, the scoliosis is as a result of the aging process, or muscular weakness, it can be corrected with muscular exercise to strengthen the back muscles try asking your GP for a referral for physiotherapy, or occassionally if the curvature is severe there is a brace available to support the back.

    If you want more information try doing a google search for "kyphosis".

    Most of what I've learned has been from my orthopaedic consultant, as part of the follow ups from the surgery to stabilise my fractured spine.

    Not to scare you, but if as in my case, this curvature is severe enough it can be really debilitating and can lead to premature organ failure as the reduced height leads to pressure on the internal organs over time.

    In my case I've had this condition since my teens, and its now getting to a point where I can no longer stand or sit for more than 20 mins without severe pain.

    All I've been offered at this point is pain management, a referall to a pain clinic, and counselling to cope with the mental aspects (loss of mobility, pain, depression etc) I'm in the UK where the only option is the NHS, which because of the poor funding, its a continual struggle to get treatments.

    I hope that you get some help soon from your Dr, as I know all to well how bad the pain can get.

    Take care


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  • I don't mean to say that my experience is the same as yours but I have scoliosis too. I am having a 360 fusion in Feb.
    I am 49. I started having shortness of breath about the time - last spring - when I could tell I was getting much worse. I don't in any way mean this is why you have shortness of breath - but I do have shortness of breath and 1 reason is because my spine is pushing against my diaghram and the other reason is because of panic and anxiety. I was 5'6" in high school, when I was 40 I was 5'5" and now I am 5'4 1/2" and that just about broke my heart. My surgeon said I am probably taller in the morning because by the afternoon, my spine is so tired I can't stand up as straight as I can in the morning. Again, I don't mean to say that I think your spine is pressing against your diaghram and that is causing your shortness of breath but that is happening to me. It's not frequent and mostly happens when I use the stairs or have completed a task = also when I get anxious about all my changes - I get shortness of breath then and I do take medication for anxiety. Those are the situations I have, I'm not as tall - but will be taller after surgery - and I have shortness of breath. At the end of my first exam with the surgeon, he asked me what height I had on my drivers license and I told him - 5'6" because to me, I am 5'6" and he replied most patients do the same thing. I hope you get a consultation with a good doctor and find out about your symptoms and what is causing them. I think my imagination was worse than the reality. Hoping you get answers and feel better, Susie
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