The overall goal of scoliosis surgery is to correct the spine through the fusion of the vertebrae. The fusion of the spinal vertebrae stops the spine from bending and deforming any further. Medical professionals are able to correct the spinal curvature by approximately or more than 50 percent. Each individual’s recovery from spinal surgery may vary in length.
After the scoliosis surgery is complete, the patient often has to stay in the hospital for approximately four days. This is only an estimate as the stay can vary from three to seven days depending on each patient’s personal factors and condition. The orthopedic team that monitors the patient during their hospital stay is typically made up of a surgeon, resident surgeon, nurse (RN), and a physician assistant.
After scoliosis surgery is complete, an epidural is placed in the back in order to control pain. Generally, the epidural is removed after the third day following surgery. A catheter is placed in the bladder in order to keep the patient from walking to the bathroom following the first couple of days after surgery is completed.
After the epidural is removed, the catheter in the patient’s bladder will be removed as well. After the catheter and epidural are removed, patients are assisted by a physical therapist in order to walk. The first day of physical therapy often involves the individual moving from the bed and into a chair. The second day of physical therapy involves the patient walking a further distance, usually outside of their hospital room.
On the third day of physical therapy, the patient is allowed to walk as much as they can tolerate. Finally, the physical therapy treatment ends on the fourth day when the patient is allowed to walk up and down stairs. Before a patient is able to be discharged, they must undergo x-rays of their spine. These x-rays are taken in order to ensure that there are not issues with the spinal alignment or implants that were placed during surgery.
Recovery from Scoliosis Surgery
After leaving the hospital and returning home, individuals are homebound and are not allowed to go into school, work, or engage in physical activity for approximately two weeks. This allows for an appropriate length of time to heal from invasive spinal surgery.
During this period of time, individuals must not disturb their bandages. Individuals should not shower or get their bandage wet and are required to sponge bathe only. After individuals go in for their follow-up appointment when the two weeks of recovery are over, they will be allowed to resume showering and bathing as normal. During their follow-up visit, their surgeon will inspect the surgical site and change the bandages.
Typically individuals are able to fully recover from scoliosis surgery within a year. The first six months after scoliosis surgery limit activity to only engaging in necessary activities of daily life. This means that individuals are not allowed to engage in physical activity that is strenuous. The allowed physical activities include walking, bending, and personal care. Individuals should not engage in heavy lifting.
Heavy lifting includes anything that is over the weight of a dinner plate. Further, individuals should not run or jump for the first six months after scoliosis surgery. From six months to eight months after scoliosis surgery, individuals may begin to engage in more physical activities, like swimming. Individuals are required to visit their surgeon after six months following surgery and be examined through x-rays and a physical examination.
From eight months to ten months following scoliosis surgery, individuals will be allowed to engage in closed chain kinetic exercise. Closed chain kinetic exercise involves planting the foot while the lower limb moves during the exercise activity. An example of closed chain kinetic exercise is riding a bicycle. When riding a bicycle, the foot is planted on the pedal and the lower limb is able to rotate. After ten to twelve months following scoliosis surgery, individuals are allowed to run, jump, and participate in solo sports.
Solo sports can include swimming, golfing, and any other sport that does not include contact with another person. After 12 months following scoliosis surgery, individuals visit their surgeon for a final check-up regarding their healing progress. If everything looks normal during the physical exam and on the x-rays, the individual will be allowed to return to normal activities.
If you would like more information regarding recovery from scoliosis surgery please contact us at 205-637-1363. We look forward to speaking with you!