Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Surgery for Severe Scoliosis

Monday, 05 Dec 2011 09:09 AM

Question: I am 72 years old and severe scoliosis is causing me to bend (with much pain). It gets better when I get on the inversion table. I have tried physical therapy, braces, and have pain meds along with muscle relaxants.
One doctor said I had to have surgery to put in rods, screws, etc. At my age and with osteopenia, I am afraid to have surgery. Do you see any way I can avoid it?
Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
Severe scoliosis can be disabling. In addition to causing pain, a severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly and even breathe. Severe scoliosis progresses with time, so your doctor may have suggested scoliosis surgery (spinal fusion) to reduce the severity of the spinal curve and to prevent it from getting worse.
This type of surgery is increasingly being performed in the elderly population. However, there are complications that could occur. Your doctor is the best judge of your overall general condition, and will possibly look into weighing the benefits against the risks involved.

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