So, what it is really like living with titanium in your spine?
Can you feel the metalwork in your back after scoliosis surgery?
Does it restrict you in any way?
I know I asked myself these very questions prior to my scoliosis surgery.
I am fused with two titanium rods and 21 screws and from T3 to L3, which is most of my spine.
The screws are also pretty big, as you can see from my X-ray above!
Can I feel the metal work in my spine?
Yes and no.
As I am quite slim I can feel my screws in some parts of my back if I actually touch my back but they don’t cause any pain or problems. If I lean back on a hard chair it can sometimes be uncomfortable – some of the screws at the top of my spine can dig into certain chairs. It’s not painful just a bit uncomfortable sometimes depending on the chair. A cushion is a must!
In everyday life though when I’m walking about I can’t actually feel the metal in my spine. Straight after surgery I was very stiff and walked a bit like a robot for a while but as my recovery goes on I’m starting to feel much more “normal” each month.
Maybe I’m just getting used to it but it is at last starting to feel normal for me.
I only notice it now really if I bend down to pick something up or I’m in a situation where I would usually bend my back. For example, when getting dressed, shaving my legs, tying shoelaces, getting in and out of the car etc as I can’t bend the fused part of my back.
This is sometimes awkward but on the plus side I now have thighs of steel as I have to bend by bending my legs instead. I can still do all the above things, it just takes me a bit longer now 🙂
If you had a shorter fusion you would probably notice this lack of flexibility much less as you mainly use the five lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5) when bending. The more of these lumbar vertebrae fused, the more your flexibility will be affected post surgery.
A benefit of having titanium rods in my spine is that I feel like I have an internal brace and I personally love this feeling!
I feel supported from the inside and I can now sit for hours unsupported (e.g. on a bench or stool) and feel really comfortable, which I could never do before surgery. Also, because you can only sit up “straight” it gives you fantastic posture without even trying, which is a huge plus.
For me, I think this is a novelty that will never wear off, especially after years of looking like I had bad posture due to my scoliosis.
I’ll try and show you an example of this – the below picture is me sitting up “straight” before surgery, it looks like I’m slouching due to my “rib hump”:
|Posture before scoliosis surgery|
|Posture sitting after scoliosis surgery|
I know the one above is taken from a different angle but this is me now sitting on a chair sitting normally or “slouching” from the same side.
I now don’t really need to lean back as the metal supports me and in fact it’s actually comfier not to as my back won’t bend and mould to the chair.
If you have any questions about the metal work, please contact me and I’ll do my best to help!
I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.