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Monday, July 2, 2012 12:00
Rugby player tackles serious spine problem
By Neil Fetherston
• Patrick O’Kane (37) from Goatstown thought he had got through the worst of life when he was diagnosed with a severe spinal deformity and underwent an operation to fuse his spine.

A SOUTHSIDE rugby player has revealed how he is enjoying a new life after major surgery failed to rectify a serious problem with his spine.

Patrick O’Kane (37) from Goatstown thought he had got through the worst of life when he was diagnosed with a severe spinal deformity and underwent an operation to fuse his spine.

The fitness fanatic was then left in pieces when he started to experience agonising pain many years after his initial operation. Eventually, after seeking advice from a number of specialists, he was told that he would need further surgery to fuse another six vertebrae which would have left him without flexibility and virtually immobile.

Patrick had always been very fit and active throughout his life until he started to suffer from bouts of severe back pain and was diagnosed with scoliosis, a severe spinal deformity.

From this point, his life spiralled out of control and he was often left curled up in bed or collapsed in a heap due to the excruciating pain. 

Within months he went from being a fit and healthy young man with bags of energy, to behaving like a 90-year-old senior citizen. He had no quality of life and his condition looked like it was rapidly getting worse. Patrick loved rugby but had to stop playing and travelling with the team to the away games which left him depressed and distanced from his social group.

Scoliosis causes the spine to excessively curve sideways. The condition affects more than four per cent of the population and if left untreated can lead to fatal heart and lung problems. Current treatment in this country is to wait until the curve becomes so severe that the only option left is to operate.

The major operation is an incredibly risky procedure which involves metal rods being inserted either side of the spine, before the spine is fused solid.

It was around this time that Patrick underwent a traumatic 10-hour surgery to pull his back into alignment and place metal rods down his spine.

However, he suffered complications with the surgery and he took longer than anticipated to recover.

It was not until another five years later that the pain came back, and it came back with a vengeance.

Patrick was left in despair. He had gone through so much to alleviate his pain and now that it had returned, no one would help him. The doctors told him that they had done all they could possibly do and that he should take pain medication when needed.

However, he discovered Scoliosis SOS, a unique clinic that opened six years ago. Founded and run by Erika Maude, who has Scoliosis herself, the clinic has since brought relief to hundreds of sufferers.

Patrick decided that this treatment could not do any harm and if it worked it could change his life. He booked onto a four-week treatment course and was overwhelmed by the results.

Within weeks of being on the course, Patrick’s condition dramatically improved. He was no longer lying awake at night with pain and his confidence soared.

“Finding the clinic was the best thing that could have possibly happened to me,” he said. “I am a really fit and active person and I have always been determined not to let my condition hold me back, but it actually started ruining my life.

“I thought I had been through the worst of my condition after having the original operation, only to discover that my spine was deforming in a different area.”

He added: “I knew I didn’t want to have surgery again, but I also didn’t want to live on painkillers and have to give up everything I love in life. I also have made some amazing friends, and the support and advice I was given is completely priceless.”

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