After Scoliosis Surgery

Some scoliosis sufferers undergo spinal fusion surgery to correct their spinal curve. As with any surgical procedure, there are many risks involved - risks that put many people off the idea of scoliosis surgery altogether.

For some people, however, surgery is the only treatment available. If you are preparing for a spinal fusion procedure, you should bear in mind that surgery is not an instant miracle cure - there is a recovery period, and the exact results of the operation can vary.

What happens after the operation?

After your surgery, you will be required to stay in hospital for a certain amount of time, with the exact duration differing from one case to the next. The discomfort that immediately follows spinal fusion surgery is generally greater than for other spinal surgeries, and patients usually stay in hospital for three or four days after the operation, but a longer stay after a more extensive surgery is not uncommon. If you have undergone extensive surgery, or if you're an elderly patient, it is recommended that you stay in a rehabilitation unit after release from hospital.

How long will it take to fully recover and return to a normal lifestyle?

After surgery, it usually takes a while before the patient can return to a normal active lifestyle. This is because the surgeon will need to see evidence of the bone healing first; the speed of the fusion process varies greatly because all bodies heal (and incorporate the bone graft fusing the vertebrae together) at different rates. In some cases, you won't see any evidence of the bone healing until at least 6 weeks after the surgery.

During this period, the patient's activity is restricted. Large-scale bone healing doesn't take place until three or four months after surgery. After this period, the patient's activity can be increased.

Some spinal fusion patients are required to wear a back brace for a period of time after the operation. The decision to use a brace and the degree of restrictiveness depends upon your surgeon’s preference and other factors related to your surgery.

How long will I need off work?

Time off work also varies depending on how extensive your surgery was and also what type of job you do. Downtime can vary from 4-6 weeks (common for a single-level fusion in a young, healthy patient with a desk job) to as much as 4-6 months (which may be necessary after more extensive surgery on an older patient with a more physically demanding occupation).

How can Scoliosis SOS help?

It is difficult to predict the length of your recovery period and the amount of pain and discomfort you will feel after undergoing spinal surgery - these things vary greatly from one patient to the next. However, if you wish to speed up the recovery process and reduce any pain you're still experiencing, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help! Our ScolioGold method can help to reduce back pain, improve mobility, speed up the correction of a spinal curve, and correct any secondary curves that may have developed above or below the fusion site. 

Our ScolioGold programme is largely based around the Schroth method - however, unlike many other clinics, we don't solely use Schroth exercises to treat scoliosis. Instead, we compliment it with a range of non-surgical spinal treatment techniques, resulting in a more well-rounded treatment regime.

If you wish to find out more about our ScolioGold method and how it can help you recover from scoliosis surgery, please contact Scoliosis SOS and book an initial consultation today.
Although it is estimated that over 4% of individuals have some degree of scoliosis, many people have never heard of (or know very little about) this condition. 

Scoliosis Treatment Diagrams
Image Source: Arallyn on Flickr

Whether you have just been diagnosed or are simply looking to find out a little bit more about scoliosis, we thought that it would be a good idea to provide a short history of scoliosis so as to allow our patients and other visitors to find out more about mankind's understanding of scoliosis and how this has progressed over the years.

Scoliosis in Ancient Greece

Although our sophisticated understanding of scoliosis, what causes it, and how to treat it is a rather modern development, knowledge of the condition can be traced back to ancient civilisations, and is well-documented by ancient Greek scholars. Hippocrates wrote about spinal curvature throughout his medical literature, although there was no clear distinction between different types of curve at this time. He even developed treatment methods and devices for spinal correction, the most well-known being his 'Hippocratic ladder' and 'Hippocratic board'.

This research was furthered by Galen in the 2nd century AD, who is considered to be an early pioneer of spinal research, and who is said to have first coined the term σκολίωσις/sκoliosis (from which the modern term derives). 

Ambroise Paré's Scoliosis Brace 

The modern Boston bace (designed circa 1972 in Massachusetts) is widely used to treat idiopathic scoliosis, particularly in children, by halting curve progression. The concept of bracing for scoliosis, however, has been around far longer than the 1970s, with Ambroise Paré suggesting the use of a metallic brace for spinal correction during the Renaissance era. Known as the 'Father of Modern Surgery', Paré was the first to use continuous bracing as a form of treatment for scoliosis, and was also the first to recognise that this was not useful once the patient had reached maturity. Despite his insistence on the bracing method, Paré never rejected traction therapy, continuing to use this in his treatments, and also insisting on the importance of exercise for healthy spinal development and curve correction.

The Development of Cobb Angle Measurement 

Cobb Angle Measurements

The system used nowadays to measure scoliosis and post-traumatic kyphosis is known as the Cobb angle, which acts as a guide for assessing the severity of a patient's curve. This method was devised by and named after John Robert Cobb, an American orthopaedic surgeon who worked at what was then known as the 'Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled' from 1934 onwards. It was here that Cobb experimented with and developed his scoliosis assessment method as a way of better understanding the condition and avoiding unnecessary surgery.

Would you like to find out more about non-surgical scoliosis treatment? Visit our treatment page to read about the ScolioGold method we use here at Scoliosis SOS, or get in touch with us here.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

If you have suffered with scoliosis in the past, you may be prone to adult degenerative scoliosis (ADS). There are two forms of ADS: degenerative scoliosis, which affects adults who have had scoliosis previously and is caused by the degeneration of the facet joints and intervertebral discs (the moving parts of your spine); and De Novo scoliosis, a curve in the spine that first appears in adulthood and is again caused by wear and tear of the discs and facet joints. In both cases, ADS is typically diagnosed after the age of 50. 

Curvature of the spine due to degeneration can occur slowly over time. Someone with adult degenerative scoliosis may experience a variety of pains ranging from a dull back ache to sciatica; it may also make walking difficult or, in extreme cases, impossible.

How does ADS develop? 

Everyone experiences natural degeneration of the facet joints and the intervertebral discs as they grow older; however, for some people, the degeneration process is accelerated. If the degeneration process takes place on only one side of the spine, the resulting imbalance can cause the spine to curve. Interestingly, most cases show no significant symptoms, and so adult degenerative scoliosis can often go undetected.

Common ADS symptoms include:

  • Back Pain - This will not start suddenly; instead, it will slowly worsen as the degeneration process progresses. The initial pain can begin as just a dull ache or a slight stiffness; this is usually located in the lower back, but in some cases it may occur in the middle of your back. The back pain tends to be at its worst first thing in the morning, improving once the patient gets out of bed and starts moving around. The pain can return towards the end of the day, or after any vigorous or strenuous physical activities. Sitting reduces some of the pain, as the facet joints are under more pressure when you're in a standing position.
  • Nerve Root Impingement - This can occur when a bone overgrows or when there's a spur in the bony hole where the nerve root exits the spine. If your nerve root becomes impinged, you may suffer from severe pain, numbness, tingling, and in some cases a weakness in the lower back and/or leg. These symptoms are usually felt on just one side of the body.
  • Neurogenic Claudication - This occurs when the patient's lumbar spinal canal narrows, resulting in the nerves becoming compressed and causing leg pain and muscle cramps when the patient begins to walk. This type of pain affects both legs, and begins after the patient has walked a short distance; in more severe cases, it is even felt when the person is sat down or flexing forward.
  • Postural Changes - Because of the accelerated degeneration of the spinal joints, the patient's spine may begin to curve forward or to the side. This will cause the patient's shoulders and hips to become uneven, and they may even become shorter. If the degree of the spinal curve becomes too severe, the patient may experience balance problems, and it may even push the rib cage against the heart or other internal organs. 

How can degenerative scoliosis be treated?

Most cases of adult degenerative scoliosis can be treated non-surgically using physical therapy. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat our patients using a non-surgical method that we call the ScolioGold method. This treatment regime is based around the Schroth method, but is also complemented with a range of well-established non-surgical spinal techniques that ensure all aspects of the patients's condition are fully treated. We're constantly monitoring and developing our techniques to reflect any advancements in the non-surgical field.

If you suffer from adult degenerative scoliosis and you would like to find out more about our non-surgical treatment methods, please do no hesitate to contact us.
Exercise is important for scoliosis sufferers - in addition to being good for your overall health, the right kind of physical activity helps to strengthen the muscles that may have been weakened by the curvature of your spine. However, some exercises can have a negative, even dangerous impact on a scoliotic spine, and if you have scoliosis, it's good to know which stretches and exercises might do you more harm than good.

We at Scoliosis SOS have a lot of experience when it comes to treating scoliosis and other spinal conditions, and our physiotherapists understand exactly how a curved spine can be affected by different movements and extensions. Today, we'd like to highlight some exercises that scoliosis patients are better off avoiding.

Positions and exercises to avoid if you have scoliosis 

Lumber Hyper Extension

Lumbar Hyper-Extension

It's important to avoid any position which will exert excessive force to the lower back through extension. This will encourage compression of the lumbar spine, and is especially dangerous if you have an underlying spinal problem such as spondylolisthesis.

Thoracic Rotation

Uncontrolled Thoracic Rotation

You should avoid any prolonged positions where your upper trunk is rotated above your lower trunk as in the images above. This will apply inadvertent torsion and twisting forces to your spine - especially critical when looking at scoliotic rotation. 

Hyperflexion of the Neck

Hyperflexion of Neck

Positions such as the one shown above apply excessive strain to the small vertebrae in your neck; if you have scoliosis, this will also place increased weight and strain through the weaker parts of your spine, potentially causing your spinal curve to increase. 

Back Bend

Back Bends

Similar to hyperextension of the lower back (see above), this position will put undue stress and strain on your spine, and may cause your spinal curve to become even more severe.

If you want to learn more about which scoliosis exercises to avoid, or if you're interested in receiving treatment here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Here at Scoliosis SOS, we pride ourselves on our status as a truly international treatment centre. Scoliosis sufferers of all ages have come from all over the world to receive non-surgical treatment at our clinic - in fact, in the last year alone, we have treated individuals from no fewer than 72 different countries and territories! (Not including the United Kingdom, where our clinic is located.)

Scoliosis Patients from Around the World

In the last 12 months, as shown on the map above, we have been lucky enough to meet and treat people from:
  • Algeria
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Faroe Islands
  • France
  • Gambia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Kenya
  • Kuwait
  • Lithuania
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Norfolk Island
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia 
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States of America
  • Virgin Islands
You can read about some of our visitors from abroad on our Overseas Patients page. If you visit our YouTube channel, you will also be able to watch interviews with many of our foreign patients.

Why do people choose to travel to our clinic?

Having scanned the long list of countries above, you may be wondering why exactly the Scoliosis SOS Clinic is worth a long journey to London from Tanzania or Peru or New Zealand. In other words: why do people from every corner of the globe come to our clinic in England?

The answer is rooted in the fact that we specialise in non-surgical treatment for scoliosis and other spinal conditions. In most parts of the world, the standard treatment route for scoliosis sufferers involves wearing an uncomfortable plastic brace and undergoing surgery if the curve progresses past a certain point. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer a real alternative to surgical intervention: ScolioGold therapy, our own treatment programme which is based on the Schroth method but also incorporates numerous other approaches.

For years now, ScolioGold treatment has been reducing Cobb angles and improving quality of life among scoliosis patients from all sorts of backgrounds. Effective non-surgical treatments for scoliosis are unfortunately still unavailable in many countries, and this - combined with the worldwide word-of-mouth advertising that our happy patients provide for us upon returning home - goes a long way to explaining why people are prepared to travel long distances to benefit from our own treatment methods.

No matter where in the world you live, if you are suffering from a curved spine, we would love to hear from you. Contact Scoliosis SOS today to arrange an initial consultation - this can be carried out via Skype or over the telephone if you don't live anywhere near London.