Harrington rods for scoliosis

If you suffer from scoliosis, you will probably have looked into the various treatment options for this condition. Today, we're going to look at the pros and cons of one specific treatment method: spinal fusion surgery using Harrington rods.

What are Harrington rods?

Developed in the early 1960s by Dr Paul Harrington, the Harrington rod is a straight rod that contains a ratcheting mechanism. These rods are used in spinal fusion surgery to reduce the curvature of the patient's spine.

The rod is positioned along the concavity (inside) of the spinal curve and attached to the spine using two hooks - one attached to a vertebra at the bottom of the curve and the other to a vertebra at top of the curve. Then, employing the ratcheting mechanism, the surgeon stretches the spine to straighten the curve and fuses into position.

Do Harrington rods help to correct scoliosis?

For 20 years, Harrington rods were seen at the 'gold standard' for spinal fusion surgery - if you underwent spinal fusion surgery before the year 2000, the surgeon most likely used Harrington rods. This procedure was routinely recommended for any patients with a spinal curve exceeding 45 degrees.

These days, however, there are a number of alternatives for scoliosis patients who require surgery. You can read about these more modern methods here.

Harrington rods have been successful in many cases of scoliosis, but they also come with a number of risks and limitations.

What are the risks and limitations of Harrington rods?

As with all surgical operations, there are risks involved with the procedure described above. This intrusive operation requires the surgeon to remove spinal discs and muscle so that the rod can be inserted and screwed onto the vertebrae. The spine is then bent forcefully and fused into that position. Infection is one possible complication - other potential risks include:

  • Bending and breaking of the rod
  • Hardware migration
  • Pseudoarthrosis
  • Flat back syndrome

Furthermore, this surgery is not recommended for patients whose spines are still growing. Performing a spinal fusion on a growing child can lead to a number of complications, such as the Crankshaft phenomenon. As young spines continue to grow there is a chance the spinal curve will also change, which may mean the rod will end up causing further complications.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

In some very severe cases, surgery is the only way to ensure that a spinal curve will not get any worse. In most cases, however, there are plenty of other scoliosis treatment methods available that do not involve intrusive, potentially risky surgical procedures.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we offer a non-surgical scoliosis treatment programme called ScolioGold therapy, which combines a number of effective techniques to improve patient's condition. To see how effective non-surgical treatments can be, have a look at our results and see how we have reduced our patients' Cobb angles without surgical intervention.

If you have any more questions about scoliosis surgery and how our non-surgical approach can help you with your back condition, please get in touch today.

Neck pain and computer use

Neck pain is strongly associated with excessive use of computers.

Office workers have a higher incidence of neck pain than people in any other occupation. However, the relationship between symptoms and risk factors is currently still unclear.

A recent research study was conducted by the University of Queensland to examine the relationship between self-reported neck pain and a range of individual and work-related factors. Office workers both with and without neck pain were recruited for the study.

All participants completed a survey, which included a numerical pain rating scale and such independent variables as:

  • Demographic
  • Individual
  • Work-related factors
  • Neck/shoulder muscle strength
  • Endurance
  • Range of motion

So what were the results of the study?

Neck pain was significantly associated with females in senior occupational roles and those working more than 6 hours a day on the computer, which resulted in a reduced cervical flexion.

Many of our patients here at Scoliosis SOS find that they struggle with being seated at a computer for long periods of time. There are lots of ways in which patients can adapt their seated position to ensure they stay in their corrected posture. We encourage patients to take regular breaks from their computers and ensure they know how to cope when working at a desk.

If you suffer from scoliosis or neck pain, please contact us today. Our experts can offer advice, treatment and a spinal/ergonomic assessment.

Sciatica is a fairly broad medical term that usually refers to a painful or tingling sensation in and around the legs. Up to 43% of the population will experience sciatica at some point in their lives, although this depends on how strictly you define the condition.

What does sciatica feel like?

Different people experience different sensations when suffering from sciatica. Some experience stabbing or shooting pains, while others describe the feeling as numb and tingly, not unlike pins and needles.

These sensations may occur in any of the following body parts:

  • Legs (especially the backs of the legs)
  • Feet
  • Buttocks
  • Back

Sciatica usually affects just one side of the body, but it has been known to cause pain / numbness in both sides.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica

Sciatica arises when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the hip down through the leg, is irritated. This can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including (but not limited to):

  • A herniated spinal disc ('slipped disc')
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Pregnancy
  • Trauma (e.g. from a car crash or sporting accident)

Can scoliosis cause sciatica?

Yes, it can. While sciatica isn't one of the more common symptoms of scoliosis, the two conditions can occur simultaneously, and in some cases, the patient's spinal curve may indeed be the underlying cause of their sciatica.

There are a number of ways in which a curved spine may lead to sciatica (or symptoms that are virtually indistinguishable from sciatica). The most common causes are:

  • Pinched nerve – When the spine curves and twists out of its normal position, it may press up against the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain or a loss of feeling.

  • Putting more weight on one leg than the other – An individual with a twisted spine may end up walking differently, shifting more weight onto one leg to compensate for the change in their posture. While this in itself won't result in sciatica, the overburdened leg may begin to feel painful after a while, and this pain may be mistaken for sciatica.

In other cases, the patient's scoliosis and their sciatica may both be caused by the same underlying condition. As mentioned above, spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis are known to cause sciatica, and both conditions can result in a curvature of the spine as well. To read about how stenosis and spondylolisthesis are linked to scoliosis, click on the corresponding links above.

If you're experiencing pain or discomfort as a result of scoliosis, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help. Our ScoliGold treatment method has proven extremely effective in the treatment of patients with curved spines – get in touch now to arrange a consultation.

40 Degree Scoliosis

While even a minor spinal curvature can have a huge impact on an individual's life, scoliosis tends to be particularly problematic when the curve measures 40 degrees or more.

As we've explained previously in our guide to Cobb angle measurements, UK medical professionals usually recommend surgery when a scoliosis patient's spinal curve reaches 40 degrees (although in some other countries, the threshold is 50 degrees instead). Spinal fusion remains by far the most commonly-used surgical method for correcting curvatures of the spine, and so this is the procedure that most people with 40-degree scoliosis end up undergoing.

READ MORE: What Happens During Scoliosis Surgery?

 

Is there an alternative to surgery for people with 40-degree scoliosis?

While surgery is the most frequently-recommended treatment option for spinal curves measuring 40+ degrees, it is not the only path available.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we often treat scoliosis patients with curves of 40 degrees and up, and we have consistently found that our non-surgical, exercise-based treatment programme can eliminate the need for surgical intervention altogether.

VIEW TREATMENT RESULTS: Before & After X-Rays

 

Case Study: Ahda from Malaysia

Ahda Khalil, a 12-year-old girl from Malaysia, came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in late 2016 because she didn't want to undergo surgery for her condition. Ahda's scoliosis had already passed the 40-degree mark, and several surgeons in Kuala Lumpur had told her family that surgery was the only viable option, but after conducting some research on the Internet they travelled to London and Ahda completed a ScolioGold treatment course under the supervision of our highly-trained physiotherapists.

If you'd like to hear the full story, please watch this video interview with Ahda and her father:

 

How do we treat 40-degree scoliosis?

The ScolioGold method incorporates a number of proven non-surgical techniques into a wide-ranging treatment programme that's specifically tailored to the needs of people with scoliosis (and other curvatures of the spine).

Here are just a few of the methods we currently utilise on our scoliosis treatment courses:

If you would like to book a Scoliosis SOS consultation for yourself or a loved one, please fill out our online form or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

Running a marathon

The London Marathon is fast approaching, and if you're preparing to take part in the run, it's even more important than usual for you to look after your back.

Back issues can result from all manner of activity and inactivity. Lots of runners experience lower back pain; this is due to the repetitive stress and impact on the body for a significant stretch of time.

If all the bones in the vertebrae and the other vertebral articulations are functioning well, then running should not cause any problems. It is when these vertebrae are aggravated that runners experience back pain.

Lower back pain is common among new runners and runners who have come back too strong and too quickly after taking some time off.

What back problems do runners most commonly experience?

  1. Muscular pain that comes on suddenly in the lower back is indicative of a muscle spasm. Your muscles will feel very tight, and the pain can be extremely severe and debilitating in some cases. This type of pain does not cause a shooting sensation, and can be corrected through ScolioGold exercises.

  2. Pain shooting down the back of one or both legs indicates a trapped nerve, often known as sciatica. Sciatica can cause a great deal of discomfort and will need to be fully assessed to determine the best form of treatment.

How to avoid back pain from running

To prevent back pain, it's important to work on strength and flexibility all the way through your kinetic chain. Your spinal muscles are supported by your core - having a strong core is essential, and this is where our ScolioGold therapists come in. Asking your ScolioGold therapist to teach you core-strengthening exercises will be highly beneficial to your overall health.

Tightness or weakness in your glutes, hips, quads and hamstrings will also have an impact on the muscles in your lower back, putting more strain on those muscles and setting them up for a spasm.

At Scoliosis SOS, we always advise our patients to continue with their hobbies and other things they enjoy doing - they just need to do exercises that are specifically tailored to them to compensate for any potentially problematic activities. Building a strong core and balanced muscles will significantly reduce your chance of injury.

If you are trying to prevent lower back pain or spinal injuries whilst you run or train for a marathon, make an appointment with one of the Scoliosis SOS Clinic's specialist therapists today. Contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.