Keeping the spine aligned and getting plenty of rest were the top priorities in the first weeks and months after scoliosis surgery. After three months, the patient is usually given clearance to become more active and start doing moderate exercise again. This will probably include a physical therapy program to help strengthen back muscles and improve flexibility where possible.

See Rehabilitation Following Lumbar Fusion

6 to 12 Months Post-Operation

Somewhere between the 6- and 12-month mark, the doctor will X-ray the spine again and note that the fusion has reached completion. Once the doctor verifies that the fusion has reached full strength, the patient is allowed to return to all activities with no restrictions.

Most activities that the patient had participated in prior to surgery should still be possible now. Although, depending on how much of the spine was fused, there could be some dance moves or gymnastic moves that are either no longer possible or must be done in a modified way due to some part of the back not bending. In addition, the patient may want to discuss high-impact activities with the surgeon, such as amusement park rides, bungee jumping, and full contact sports.

See Practical Advice for Recovering from Back Surgery

Even if the patient is given the OK to return to all activities, there are some habits that are to be continued for the rest of his or her life. These habits include sitting with good posture, bending at the knees when lifting heavy items, and not smoking.


Complete Recovery in One to Two Years

While the spinal fusion will reach completion within a year for most patients, any potential nerve trauma sustained during surgery may take up to two years to heal.

See All About Neuropathy And Chronic Back Pain

It is common for scoliosis surgery patients to experience some numbness in the back and/or legs immediately following the surgery, especially at the incision site. That numbness can linger for months but will likely be mostly or completely gone within a couple years.

See Leg Pain and Numbness: What Might These Symptoms Mean?


Follow-Up Exams

The patient may be monitored with intermittent examinations and X-rays for one to two years after the surgery. Once the bone is solidly fused, no further treatment is required.

Dr. Steven Anagnost is an orthopedic surgeon and Founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Tulsa, OK. He specializes in spine surgery and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He has taught minimally invasive spine surgery techniques to surgeons around the world and on staff for the Orthopaedic Surgery Department at Oklahoma State University.