If you have a particularly severe spinal curve, or are considered to be at risk of further curve progression, it is likely that you will be offered the option of undergoing spinal fusion surgery to correct your scoliosis. While it is true that spinal surgery is a major operation that involves some risky procedures, there is also a lot of misinformation surrounding the subject, which can make things extremely stressful and intimidating for those who are thinking of undergoing the procedure.
To clear up some of these issues, and to provide more information for sufferers who have been offered a scoliosis operation, we have assembled a list of some of the most commonly-asked questions on this topic, complete with answers:
Q. How severe does your curve have to be before you're offered the scoliosis operation?
A. Although there is some debate regarding the threshold for scoliosis surgery, many doctors will recommend the operation to those who have a Cobb angle
greater than 40-50 degrees.
Q. Does it take a long time to recover from scoliosis surgery?
A. Although recovery times can vary somewhat from patient to patient, those who undergo surgery should expect to be out of action for some time following their operation. After surgery patients will generally stay in hospital for three or four days, although this may increase depending on the extent of the operation. Your activity will be limited until the doctor can see evidence of healing, which can take up to 6 weeks. Large-scale healing will not take place until 4-6 months after the surgery, after which activity can be increased once more. We can help with the spinal fusion recovery process here at Scoliosis SOS - click here
for more information.
Q. Can surgery cause paralysis?
A. Like any form of surgery, scoliosis operations can carry additional risks to the patient's overall health and wellbeing. This fact is important to consider before undergoing surgery, but should not be used to scare patients unnecessarily. There are several possible risks
associated with scoliosis surgery, including paralysis and other neurological complaints. The actual risk of experiencing these risks, however, is very low, with paralysis occurring in less than 1% of cases.
Q. What happens to my spine during scoliosis surgery?
A. The operation used to treat scoliosis is referred to as spinal fusion surgery, and it involves anchoring a series of rods to your spine, reducing the angle of your curve and serving as a splint to hold the spine in place. Following this, a bone graft (sometimes real, sometimes synthetic) will be applied to eventually fuse with your spine, preventing the curve from progressing any further. You can find out more about the process here
Q. Can I still have a baby after undergoing spinal fusion surgery?
A. Yes - there is no reason why someone who has undergone spinal fusion surgery should not be able to conceive (unless there are other mitigating factors to take into account). In addition, most women who have undergone spinal fusion will still be able to give birth naturally, as this does not necessarily increase your risk of having to undergo a C-section.
Q. Is there anything I can do to improve my recovery after the operation?
A. If you are having difficulties with your recovery, or are finding that some aspects of your scoliosis have not improved in the way you would have liked, it is
possible to seek post-fusion therapy. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide assistance with back pain, mobility, secondary curves and more. Find out more about the spinal fusion recovery services we can offer here
Q. Will the rods stay in my back, or will I have to have them removed?
A. Yes, in the vast majority of cases the rods are implanted for life, due to the serious nature of the operation and possible complications associated with removing them. Rods are removed in around 2% of cases, the most common cause for this being the irritation of the overlying muscles. In most cases, the fusion will hold despite removing the rods, although in some cases it is possible that bending may occur.
Q. Can my symptoms be reduced without undergoing an operation?
A. Although surgery may sometimes be the only option for correcting a severe spinal curve, it is often possible to reduce the symptoms of scoliosis without undergoing surgery. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London, we provide effective treatment to patients from all over the world who have been told that they require an operation for their scoliosis. To find out more about our ScolioGold treatment programme, please click here
or visit our video experiences page.
Would you like to speak to us about our non-surgical scoliosis therapy programmes? Get in touch to find out more or to book a consultation.