Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that is commonly recommended in severe cases of scoliosis
. In the UK, spinal fusion surgery will usually be considered as a treatment option once the patient's spinal curve measures 40 degrees; in some other countries, it may not be recommended without a Cobb angle measurement
of at least 50 degrees.
Does spinal fusion surgery have a high success rate?
There are lots of stories on the Internet about spinal fusion procedures that didn't have the desired effect (i.e. reducing curvature, preventing further progression of the curve, and easing symptoms such as back pain). There are even some accounts of operations that made things worse, leaving the patient in more pain and even less able to move around freely.
It is true that spinal fusion surgery can go wrong, but in the majority of cases, there are no significant complications and the treatment works well. As Leah Stoltz, founder of the Curvy Girls support group for young scoliosis sufferers, told us when we interviewed her
"Something I've noticed a lot is that you really only hear scary or worrisome stories of surgeries not going well. For the innumerable number of cases that go well, they don't necessarily need to talk about it as much...that's one of the reasons I try to talk about [my experience of spinal fusion surgery] so much."
What complications can arise?
When complications do arise from spinal fusion surgery, they vary greatly in severity and seriousness. Possible complications include:
- Failed fusion
However, as stated above, the risk of complication - especially severe complication - is very low.
Alternatives to spinal fusion surgery
If your scoliosis has progressed to the point where you are being considered for surgery, you have probably already tried other treatment methods such as bracing
. However, even advanced cases of scoliosis (40-50 degrees and over) may be treated via a non-surgical, exercise-based programme such as ScolioGold
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have treated countless scoliosis patients who thought that surgery was their only remaining option. The ScolioGold method, our own carefully-selected combination of non-surgical treatment techniques, has proven very effective in relieving pain, reducing curvature, improving mobility and muscle balance, and improving overall quality of life.