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What Should I do After Scoliosis Surgery?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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After scoliosis surgery, it is important to take good care of the spine while it heals to reduce the risk of complications. Generally, this involves resting and avoiding certain activities, and may include some physical therapy. A patient will receive a detailed list of aftercare instructions from the surgeon and before resuming certain activities, it may be necessary to receive clearance from a doctor. Patients who are not sure about whether something is safe can ask their surgeons for specific guidance.

Surgery for scoliosis involves fusing a part of the spine with abnormal curvature to prevent further bending. Patients can expect to spend several days to a week in the hospital. Immediately after scoliosis surgery, a doctor will give the patient a neurological examination to check for damage to the spinal cord. The patient will need to wriggle fingers and toes, and answer some simple questions. A doctor will discharge the patient when the patient can safely walk, eats well and tolerates food, and no longer requires a catheter or drains. Issues like fever, intense pain, and swelling may force a patient to stay longer in the hospital.

Some people need physical therapy after scoliosis surgery. They will learn to walk and bend safely, and may receive training in how to use a cane or walker. For older patients, a stay in a rehabilitation facility can be part of the recovery process after getting out of the hospital. A patient may also need to wear a brace during the early healing stages, depending on the severity of the curvature and the type of surgery.

For around six months after scoliosis surgery, patients need to avoid bending and twisting at extreme angles. They also cannot lift heavy weights and should ask for assistance with these tasks. Patients should avoid activities that might jar the spine, like contact sports, as these can endanger the healing process. After six months, a doctor may clear a patient to return to most activities, usually with the exception of heavy physical strain. A year after scoliosis surgery, the patient should be able to return to normal activity levels.

Scoliosis surgery aftercare includes attending regular medical appointments to check on the spine's healing and progress. Patients should discuss any side effects or concerns they have, as they may be signs of a problem. These can include pain, strange sensations along the spine or lower extremities, and other physical symptoms like gastrointestinal distress.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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