Blog Post

Scoliosis Surgery Changes Life for Barbara McClintock

Sep 28, 2016

Almost 80 percent of Americans will have an episode of back pain in their lifetime.

It's the most common reason people see the doctor. One local woman found help at CHI St. Vincent.

"I was in trouble. I was in trouble and I knew it," says Barbara McClintock, a scoliosis patient.

She suffered for years from back pain that made simple daily tasks like sitting down or sleeping at night, always difficult.

"Nobody ever told me what was wrong. I go to the doctor. I had MRI's. I can't tell you how many MRIs I had and nobody ever told me anything," she explains.

It wasn't until Barbara's daughter was screened in high school that nurses found her daughter had scoliosis, a condition where your spine is curved, not straight.

"That was the first time I ever heard of it," Barbara recalls, saying she knew she had the same condition.

Help came at 75 years old, when she found out doctors at CHI St. Vincent who said they could fix her spine.

Justin Seale, an orthopedic spine surgeon, says most people confuse the pain for arthritis, when the pain actually comes from muscle tension from not being able to stand with their head over their pelvis.

During surgery, Dr. Seale will place screws and rods throughout the spine to straighten it up.

"In Miss Barbara's case, she had a kid curvature that went untreated and slowly progressed with time," he says.

Dr. Seale says they can do surgery at any age, but it's about patients making that decision.

"This is a very underserved population in our area, especially locally, because for years, people have been told nothing can be done," he continues.

Today, Barbara is proving there's a solution. She re-learned how to walk, this time using her arms in motion, and she's pain free.

"I think God sent us here because I've never had doctors that really cared," she says.

Her quality of life changed soon after surgery, doing things she wasn't able to do for years.

Doctors say the surgery lasts at least six hours and recovery can take several months.

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