• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Moving again after surgery to correct scoliosis

November 7, 2021
scoliosis patient Pat Druckenmiller in her garden

Pat Druckenmiller is a person who likes to keep moving, whether that means playing clarinet in a community band, teaching students at a tribal college, relocating her family to the other side of the world or simply taking a walk each day. She and her husband, Doug, have lived a life full of adventure, including living in multiple states, traveling the world extensively and living in Taiwan.

Throughout these adventures, movement has kept Pat fit and active. However, her ability to move slowed and nearly stopped in 2020 as arthritis and scoliosis in her spine caused significant pain and instability.

Pat had an increased risk of osteoarthritis because she developed scoliosis as a young child following a significant growth spurt. Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine, and adults who had scoliosis as children, such as Pat, are more likely to have chronic back pain due to chronic inflammation and spinal tension.

"I made two decisions then: to keep moving and to delay surgery for as long as possible," says the 75-year-old retired English professor. "I already had arthritis in my knees and exercise kept the pain away, so I decided to do exercises to keep my back happy."

And exercise she did.

Pat regularly attended physical therapy sessions and walked 3 or more miles each day at home. For nearly 17 years, this routine helped keep her symptoms at bay and keep her moving.

That changed in 2014 when Pat started to experience more pain in her back and legs, and required additional treatments, including epidural steroid injections.

Read the rest of Pat's story on Sharing Mayo Clinic.