Recovery Period Following Scoliosis Surgery

About Scoliosis

There are some individuals who do not have a straight spine but rather have a left or right sided curvature in this area. This curvature of the vertebral column may be mild, moderate, or in some cases severe and is termed as scoliosis and the curve that the individual has is called as scoliotic curvature.

In most of the cases, there is no cause identified as why the curvature develops. Such cases are known by the name of idiopathic scoliosis. In cases where scoliosis develops as a result of a limb length discrepancy or as a result of muscular spasms then it is termed as non-structural scoliosis. There are cases where the spine itself is curved, this is termed as structural scoliosis and this is a condition which cannot be reversed.

Recovery Period Following Scoliosis Surgery

Recovery Period Following Scoliosis Surgery

Surgery is recommended for individuals who have severe scoliotic curvature. This is quite a complex surgery and the recovery time after such a procedure is also quite long. Recovery from scoliosis surgery requires lot of lifestyle modifications and of course a lot of patience on the part of the patient as well as the support network that the patient has.

Immediately following scoliosis surgery, the patient will be put on pain medications with the help of a pain pump. This will be done for about two to three days postsurgery. After that oral pain medications will be started. If the surgery is done for adults then the pain medications may continue for a few months while for children this may be limited to a couple of weeks.

After surgery, a drain pipe will also be put to collect fluid that may drain from the incision site. A Foley catheter will also be placed to collect urine till the time of discharge.
Post scoliosis surgery, the patient will be asked to ambulate under the supervision of a physical therapist. The frequency of ambulation is increased as tolerated on a day to day basis till the time of discharge. At discharge, the patient may be given a walker or a cane for ambulation until the time they can walk unassisted. Normally, children do not need any walking assistance.

Eating normally starts a couple of days after surgery because immediately after surgery patients find it difficult to keep the food down and even the bowels become slow to move immediately after surgery. The diet is started with a soft liquid diet and then is gradually increased until the patient is able to tolerate a normal diet. It takes usually a couple of weeks for the patient to be discharged from the hospital after a scoliosis surgery.

Once home, the patient is given instructions on incision care and how to cover the incision before bath so as not to wet the incisions. Once the wounds have completely healed, and the physician gives the go ahead, then the patient can bath without covering the incision.

It should be noted that the lung function of an individual decreases after a complex surgery such as a scoliosis surgery, thus breathing exercises need to be done daily till the respiratory function improves. The lung function also needs to be checked at every followup visit after the surgery.

About 6 to 8 weeks out of scoliosis surgery, the patient will be encouraged to walk; however, the patient will have to avoid any bending, heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling until the physician gives the go ahead. The patient will not be allowed to partake in any sporting activity during this period. The patient is allowed to do gentle workouts like walking on a treadmill, swimming or bicycling.

It takes roughly 3 to 6 months for the individual to return to unrestricted activity after a scoliosis surgery. There may be some restrictions like no participation in sports like gymnastics, competitive contact sports like football, and ballet dancing as these may be detrimental to the spine and may lead to progression of scoliosis despite having surgery to correct the scoliotic curve.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 23, 2021

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