Surgery Feedback

To explore the realism of scoliosis treatment, this part of our website provides information that has been collected from other sites and past patient experiences that have undergone surgical procedures. Also located throughout this section are graphic pictures of surgery that may be shocking to viewers. One should consider surgery as the last course of action to treatment, not first, as this path will results in permanent alteration of the vertebral bodies, disks, vertebral joints, muscles scarring and nerve compensation. These surgical changes are non- reversible. By clicking on the links below, you will read real problems from real people. In some instances, the patients had to have more than one Harrington Rod operation in their lifetime (1,3), while other patients had to have their Harrington Rod surgically removed (1,2,3). In some cases, the patients’ rod broke, protruded through patient’s skin, or shifted downward (2,3,6). Other patients developed curves worse than before the operation (1). Another common problem was restrictive lung disease or destroyed lung syndrome (5,8). One thing was common in all cases; the patients were in terrible pain even 25 years post-operation. One patient actually referred to the group as “Harrington Rod Victims” (2). We hope that you will find this information useful. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact us via email at

Source Listings:

· “My daughter-in-law had Harrington Rods put in when she was 12. She is now 22 and has a 46 degree curve – worse than the first time...”
· “…she is in severe back pain now...”
· “Has anyone else had to have a second surgery 10 years after the first??? Will this go on the rest of her life: Another surgery every 10 years?”
· “…I have been also getting severe back pain with pain going down my leg…”
· “…he suggests that I have my Harrington Rod removed and put in a longer one…”

Second Surgery After 22

· “Anyone else out there who had surgery with Harrington Rod about 25+ years ago experiencing problems below the end of rod?”
· “My rod dropped 11 inches and I went through 2 and half month of back pain hell. The tip of my rod went down into my rear. That was 9 days of hell...”
· “Could be one of the screws at the bottom has moved and is hitting a nerve…”
· “When I was 14 I had the surgery. Since I turned 30 the pain has slowly increased and now they say I’m curving again…”
· “The degenerative joint changes from so much surgery (some of the procedures were both anterior and posterior) coupled with the effects of metal-on-bone and over growth of bone grafts into disc spaces and impacts on nerve endings is quite painful at times…”

Pains, Nerve Damage, Stiffness, and Can't Straighten Up

· “I started to get a lot of pain 18 years after my fusion and now, 26 years after the op, I am in constant pain, disabled and an occasional wheelchair user. My problems include: a snapped fusion rod, the broken rod is causing an arthritic bony spur, a twisted pedicle screw, a prolapsed disc at the base of the fusion…”
· “I had bony spurs that caused a lot of pain in my hip from the bone that they removed for the graft…”
· “I too have had the Harrington Rod procedure 19 years ago in 1983. In 1990 I had to have another surgery to remove the top portion of my rod that started to protrude through my skin...”
· “My fusion failed, my body rejected the rod so it was removed when I was 14…”
· “Had a fusion T-3 to L-4 30 years ago, no Harrington rods, just fusion. I now walk with a cane, and stooped over, and so far have lost 4 inches in height, have permanent numbness in my right foot, and pain all the time…”

Broken Rod-Constant Pain

· “Okay, I had my surgery when I was 11, I had an 82 degree curve, and had to have the surgery as quickly as possible. Recovery was slow and painful…”
· “I have been having horrible pain in my right shoulder blade area, it even gets swollen to the point that people ask what’s wrong…”
· “My work is being affected because I can’t even more my right arm…”
· “…doctor said that this was normal in “cases” like me, and I will have to live with it…”
· “I have had a spinal fusion about 2½ years ago. My spine was curved 86º and twisted to the right side. I always have trouble with my right shoulder blade as well….”

Surgical Side Effects

· “My sister had spinal fusion w/ Harrington rods 20+ years ago. In the last year she has developed severe obstructive sleep apnea, restrictive lung disease, leg tremors, upper and mid back pain….”
· “I had scoliosis in 1983 for 120 degree curve which did not correct during surgery and as a result I have restrictive lung disease…”
· “I know so many people who have restrictive lung disease from advanced scoliosis or congenital scoliosis…”
· “…main risks are pneumonia from recurring chest infections…”
· “Had three spine surgeries first Harrington rod, then bone infection, then a rib taken for infusion, another rod placed, then removed due to infection again…”

Multiple Health Conditions Caused by Scoliosis

· “Pregnancy, rods broken 20 years post op…”
· “…I just found out a few months ago that my rod has broken in my back. The surgeon did a bone scan and says the fusion seems to be holding, and isn’t recommending surgery at this time…”
· “I don’t want to destroy my body, but on the other hand I really would like to have a baby if it’s possible…”
· “It’s possible that the broken bit of the rod is rubbing against your spine causing the beginnings of a bony spur…”
· “My rod is now broken but I think it broke after I had children…”

Pregnancy...Additional Problems

· “Spinal cord compression caused by the rod of a Harrington instrumentation device: A late complication in scoliosis surgery”
· “…complication caused by the rod of a Harrington instrumentation device, which resulted in spinal stenosis and myelopathy…”
· “In this case, years after the initial operation, the rod penetrated the lamina at the junction between a thoracic and a lumbar curve, causing spinal stenosis and myelopathy.”

Late Complications in Scoliosis Surgery

· “…With a follow-up of 26 years, she has developed a very severe functional defect of the right lung…”
· “…the patient developed various episodes of pneumonia and abscess formation in the right lung.”
· “This seemed to be caused by a severe hypokyphosis and by residual scoliosis of the thoracic spine with direct compression of the right bronchus by the vertebral column.”
· “After Harrington instrumentation and fusion for thoracic hypokyphotic idiopathic scoliosis, kinking and obstruction of a main bronchus are possible.”
· “In this patient, this complication gave rise to recurrent infections of the right lung, eventually progressing to destroyed lung syndrome”

Re-Occuring Lung Infections

Post-Surgical Feedback

Name: Mellanie
City: North Canton
State: OH
Zip Code: 44720
Comments: Hi! I had scoliosis surgery about 18 years ago to correct a severe “S” curve in my back. I had Harrington rods placed. Now, I am having a lot of pain in my lower back, and my doctor says it’s from arthritis caused by the scoliosis. The only option I’m being given is narcotics for the rest of my life. (They want me to start going to a pain management clinic because I will eventually need stronger and stronger narcotics.) Are there any other options? I don’t wan to have to be on drugs the rest of my life…I’m only 35!

Name: Donna
City: Alger
State: Oh
Comments: I had surgery in 1994 for scoliosis. I had an "s" curve. Both top and bottom were corrected with harrington rods. my top curve went from 55 to 24 to 50 and the bottom went from 60 to 38 to 55. I am now being told I will either have to go throught 3 extensive surgeries over the next five years or suffer. I am in alot of pain and lose feeling in my legs and arms. What are my options?

Name: Cindy
City: Cordova
State: TN
Zip Code: 38016
Comments: I had Harrington Rod placement 10/31/1985 and I am now experiencing severe back pain. Can you send me some information regarding treatment after surgery?

Name: Bridgit
City: Roy
State: Ut
Zip Code: 84067
Comments: I had surgery in 1989 having headaches and backaches. The hump in my back and shoulder is dropping.

Name: Jamie
City: Taylorville
State: IL
Zip Code: 62568
Comments: I had surgery when I was 13 years old and am now 42 years old. I have a Harrington rod in my back. I am having nerve pain in arms and legs. I need medical treatment to take away nerve pain, etc. You may email me with any information you may have for me. I am currently living in Taylorville, Illinois and am seeing a local doctor that has no experience with this. Thank you!

Name: Gerri
City: Kissimmee
State: FL
Zip Code: 34758
Comments: I have had the surgery, but my scoliosis is still obvious! Is there any help in my case?

Name: Peggy
City: Broomfield
State: CO
Zip Code: 80020
Comments: I am 31 years old. I had posterior spinal fusion at age 17 for severe scoliosis from levels T5 – L2. At age 25 my rods were removed during a second surgery because of a broken wire. My fusion is solid, however, I have suffered from hormonal imbalances and fatigue since puberty. I see from your website so much is now known concerning the cause of scoliosis and there is hope for a healthier life after surgery. Please contact me.

Name: Linda
City: Greenwood
State: ME
Zip Code: 04255
Comments: I would like to know more about your program. I was diagnosed with scoliosis in 1960 and have had problems and 2 surgeries to correct, but no luck.

Name: Beverly
City: Jackson
State: MS
Zip Code: 39212
Comments: Hi! I am 22 years old and had corrective surgery at age 11. But, I would like to know more about correcting the shape of my ribs through some type of therapy. I guess it is mostly a “cosmetic” concern. But I would like more info. Thanks!

Name: Kaylene
City: Tulsa
State: OK
Zip Code: 74135
Comments: My scoliosis treatments have been exercise, brace, chiropractor, Milwaukee brace, and finally surgery with Harrington Rods. The surgery was 20 years ago and I still have the rods in place. I have gone from 5’1” to 5’8” during the treatment over the years and have fluctuated between those two heights depending on the treatment. I am now 51 years old and needless to say, I am becoming more aware of daily pain. My original curve in my lower back was not as severe but still around 20 degrees. My doctor said I would be at least 5’11” if my spine were straight. I am currently 5’5” having “shrunk” an inch in the last year. My concern/question is: Are there treatments for scoliosis patients who have had corrective surgery and still have the rods in place? I was particularly interested in the nutritional/supplement portion of your treatment. I naturally shy away from chiropractors, braces, and surgery, as I am sure you can understand, and am looking for a program that will allow me a full and productive life in the years to come. Any information or suggestions you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

Name: Pang
City: Baxter
State: MN
Zip Code: 56425
Comments: I had surgery about two years ago and I still have back problems. The doctors said that they didn’t want to fix my whole back because they wanted me to have flexibility. Does this mean that I may have to get surgery again?

Name: Earnisty
City: Gonzales
State: LA
Zip Code: 70737
Comments: I would like more information on this matter because I had surgery in ’96. I believed it is failed surgery because I’m in constant pain. Are there any treatments that are affordable? Please feel free to contact me by e-mail or postal mail. Thanks!

Name: Sue
City: Colorado Springs
State: CO
Zip Code: 80909
Comments: I’m 57 years old and had spinal fusions done in 1963 and again in 1968. The fusions never really held and over the last few years it seems to be getting even worse. The only solutions offered has been that when the lower back pain gets bad enough they can deaden the nerves so I won’t feel it. Any chance your brace might help? Thanks for any advise you can give.

Name: Michele
City: Norco
State: CA
Zip Code: 92860
Comments: I have had 5 operations for scoliosis. Can you still help me? T was 90 then 40 now 60. My L was 60 now 20. The rod was bent wrong, now I have flat back syndrome.

Name: Scott
City: Cottage Grove
State: OR
Zip Code: 97424
Comments: I had surgery for my scoliosis (idiopathic) in 1986, and am having a lot of pain associated with that now. What can be done about this pain without having to go through the surgery again?

Name: Dale
City: Garden City
State: KS
Zip Code: 67846
Comments: I had a back procedure four years ago, but I am still experiencing a great deal of pain and an inability to walk over half a block.

Name: Lorena
City: Anderson
State: CA
Zip Code: 96007
Comments: I need someone to help me. I have had 2 back surgeries and I was about 12 when I first had the rods put in my back. Now I am a grown woman with two kids. I am 26 now and having an enormous amount of pain and I don’t know the first thing to do. I am very poor and Crippled Children’s Society paid for both of my surgeries then, but now I am reaching out to anyone that can help. Please contact me if you can help in any way.

Name: Yvonne
City: Tamarac
State: FL
Zip Code: 33319
Comments: My question is: I am 32 years old and I have had 2 spinal surgeries; one to implant steel rods and bolts in from my neck to my waist in England, and one to remove them when one broke. So unfortunately I still have a curvature of my spine and am still experiencing severe back and hip pains at times. Am I too old to consider your treatment? Could you please contact me and let me know? Thanks in advance while I await your reply.

Name: Natalie
City: Lewisburg
State: TN
Zip Code: 37091
Comments: I am not the one that had the surgery, my son did. He is now two years old. We discovered something was wrong with his spine when he was 4 months old because he had a hump in his back. We decided to take him to a specialist. They x-rayed every four months and every time the degree of the curvature kept getting worse and worse. So when he turned 1 years old, the doctor decided to do a posterior and anterior spinal fusion. At the time of his surgery, is curvature was 53 degrees. They removed his 8th rib and 5 discs in his back. They then used the rib as a bone graph, I think that’s was they called it. He was in a cast from under his arms to his knees for 3 months. When he came out of the cast, they put a brace on him. He initially started out having to wear the brace all the time except to sleep at night. Since he has gotten older he hates to wear it and he cries. He also gags a lot and throws up frequently when he wears the brace. We went back to the doctor just last week and his curvature has gotten worse again. 6 months ago the curvature was 37 degrees and now it is 43 degrees. He may still have to have another surgery, only this time he will put rods and screws in his back. I know he needs to wear the brace, but I think that it is affecting his digestive system. I just wonder if it will ever get better.

Name: Valerie
City: Berkely
State: MO
Zip Code: 63134
Comments: Your sight is awesome. It really helped me and my family understand my disease more. I noticed that I don't have to let my scoliosis control me but me control it. I just wanted to say thank you to whoever wrote this site. I knew there had to be a different way to go than surgery. I just want to know if I can help. You people on this site changed how I look at myself and now I want to help spread the news. I am going to become an orthopedic surgeon specialist to help others in need of our help. To assure these people
they have a hold of their scoliosis not the other way around. If any of you have any tips for me please write back. Really appreciated the things you have helped me with and I would like to hand the favor. So that others don't have to suffer in pain but in joy. Thank