Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine of a person is curved in the wrong direction than spine’s normal curves. It may lead to sideways curves. A normal spine when looked at from the side appears to have curves that can be seen out at the neck (cervical spine), in at the mid-back (thoracic spine), and out again at the low back (lumbar spine). The sideways curves in the spine from the rear view that looks like an “S” or a “C”, is known to be scoliosis.
Most surgeons recommend scoliosis surgery for children who have very severe curves, 45-50° and greater to lessen the curvature and prevent it from getting worse.
Often scoliosis has no specific cause (idiopathic) and the pain may abate itself without any treatment or after non-invasive methods such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, or cortisone-like injections into the lower spine. Surgery is only advised when surgeon can precisely identify the cause of the pain and the patients who do not respond to primitive treatments. The surgery may also help people who have worsening of symptoms, or who have a progressive decline of neurological condition.
Spinal fusion is used to treat scoliosis. It is an extensive surgery that is considered only after proper consideration of all the options. During a spinal fusion procedure, the surgeon corrects the curvature problem with the position of small bones of the spine called vertebrae. It results in restricting the movement between the vertebrae by fusing two levels of bones together. This allows the painful vertebrae to heal and become a single, solid bone.
Therefore, spinal fusion surgery is recommended when motion is the source of pain. There are different methods and techniques for spinal fusion such as PILF, TILF and other minimally invasive techniques. The choice of type of surgery will depend on the patient’s age, health status, and the specific spine condition that needs to be corrected. Minimally invasive spine fusion procedure reduces the recovery time, and offers advantages such as less post-operative pain and discomfort. The scoliosis surgery cost in India may vary depending on the type of technique used, but is still lower than many other countries.
Usually, by the time scoliosis is severe enough that surgery is required, the aim of the procedure is to reduce this sideways curvature of the spine. As the spinal fusion is a major surgical procedure, the patients has to careful and considerate during the surgery. There will be many do’s and don’ts that a patient has to follow during the months after surgery. These precautions will help smooth the recovery process.
After the surgery, patient will stay in the hospital for a few days, where they will be carefully monitored by the surgery team. When they return home from the hospital, the doctor will provide a list of precautions that must be strictly followed to help the healing of spine. The recovery after a spine fusion surgery may take up to a year for the spine to be completely fused and a person to return to all activities.
The dos and don’ts after a scoliosis surgery can be advised on the basis on recovery timeline as they vary for different phases of rehabilitation.
1 week after scoliosis surgery:
- Expect a lingering mild pain for a few weeks which gradually reduces, so does the dependency on painkillers.
- Walk slowly and carefully around for longer periods.
- Open or touch surgical dressing over the incision until the follow-up appointment with your doctor.
- Take bath or shower until the doctor advises so
- Expect to resume normal activities, work or school until 2 to 4 weeks post surgery.
- Lift a briefcase or backpack until 4 weeks post surgery.
1 month after scoliosis surgery:
- Aim to stop taking pain medicines by this time as it can become addictive if consumed for longer periods.
- Start some light social activities, but take care of the wound and spine movement
- Wear a protective brace if recommended by the doctor.
- Lift any heavy weights and try not to bend forward until 6 to 12 weeks post surgery.
- Run or jump around
- Drive a car until advised by the doctor. Typically, it will take 6-8 weeks post surgery to start driving and it is only recommended after narcotic pain medications are no longer taken.
3 to 6 months after post surgery:
- Expect some mild stiffness in the back, especially in the region where vertebrae were fused. But there will be enough motion in the unfused area for patient to comfortably perform all daily activities of living and many sports activities.
- Resume or take up most non-contact sports by 6 months after the surgery, including running, weightlifting and other exercises.
Take part in contact sports, such as football, until the doctor’s is okay with it. It may take a full year to completely heal after surgery, and contact sports should be avoided during this time.