Image Alt

Frequently Asked Questions

Physiotherapy Questions

How does physiotherapy help scoliosis?

A Physiotherapist who specializes in Scoliosis can complete an assessment to give you a treatment plan that suits your needs. Some patients will require pain management and advice around positioning and pacing. The majority of patient will benefit from the correct exercise prescription.
Scoliosis Specific exercises (SSE) have many benefits. For some they will reduce symptoms of pain, stiffness and discomfort. SSE are mainly used to reduce the rate of curve progression and in some cases SSE will reduce the cobb angle. The correct exercise programme will also improve your general health and wellness, make you stronger, more adaptable and more flexible. The breathing techniques used can help to relax the nervous system and to improve your lung capacity.

How often would I need to attend physio for scoliosis?

This depends on each individuals needs. Most patients attend for an initial consult and will come for review within a fortnight. If the individual is doing well with their programme and is compliant with daily completion then the sessions are spaced out to every 6 weeks. Many patients will cease Physio once they have finished growing. For others Physio may be required at stages throughout life.

How often would you recommend I do the exercises for? Daily/weekly?

Generally the exercises are to be completed daily. We give short, sharp programmes to allow them to easily become part of the daily routine. The usual programme lasts 12-15minutes. As the individual improves this can be reduced. The exercises work by teaching the body how to move in a way that creates length in the spine. Once capable of doing this the strategy can be introduced into other forms of exercise. The programme will become less like a physio rehab programme and more like other forms of exercise the individual enjoys. Exercise prescription can vary depending on what each individual needs.

How long each day should I work on my exercises for?

We give short, sharp programmes to allow them to easily become part of the daily routine. The usual programme lasts 12-15minutes. Exercise prescription can vary depending on what each individual needs. If the programme feels like too much or too little with clear communication we can resolve any issues and adjust the length of time to better suit.

Do you recommend any other exercise along with my physio exercises?

Yes. The more exercise the better. We encourage a minimum of 5 hours of exercise to be completed every week. This can be any form of exercise the gets the spine moving. The stronger and more flexible you are the more adaptable that your body will be.

If I am successful in reducing my degree of curvature with physio, should I continue doing my physio exercises?

This depends on each individual case. Generally if you have reached the end of growth and your cobb angle is mild-moderate then the chances of the curve progressing towards a surgical cobb angle are low. This means that the exercises are no longer necessary. We do encourage you to maintain your active corrections and stay fit, strong and flexible with regular exercise.

Can I swim after surgery?

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for spinal patients. Yes, you can get back in the pool as soon as the scar heals.

will i still need physiotherapy after surgery?

Physio is certainly advised post-op. Your body will have gone through a significant change. It is very important to improve your proprioception and body awareness as well as improving your mobility, strength, and endurance. Completing a physio programme also helps to improve your confidence in your post-operative body.

is there some sports and exercises to avoid doing after the surgery?

You are advised to avoid playing rugby, squatting with a heavy load, deadlifting, or going on rollercoasters. Return to most contact sports is best to build back to over the course of 9-12 months. Other than that exercise and activity is strongly encouraged.

what exercises can i do pre-operately?

Pre surgery doing scoliosis specific exercise can be very beneficial. Getting generally fitter, stronger, and more mobile is recommended. You are best to target all aspects of your fitness. Strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and mobility are all important areas.
A minimum of 5 hours of exercise per week is recommended for the best outcomes.

Surgical Questions

How much taller do/can you get after surgery? Does it make you taller?

Scoliosis and Kyphosis correction generally will make you taller. The surgery will correct the curve/twist and brings it into a straighter/taller spinal position. The amount of change depends on the degree of curvature that was in the spine and how much correction is achieved.

How successful is the surgery overall?

It is the gold standard treatment to have a spinal fusion with rods due to the success rate both in the short-term and the long-term. 5% of patients may require further surgeries

Do you have scoliosis after the surgery?

You may have a small curve post-op, but it will have reduced significantly from a pre-surgical curvature.

Would you ever require surgery again?

5% of people post-operatively may require a much smaller surgery in 5-10 years’ time.

how long is the surgery?

The surgery usually lasts between 7-8 hours.

can I walk after surgery?

Most patients are out of bed on the first day post-op. Usually you will sit out and if that goes well you will go for a short walk. Then gradually each day you will go a bit further.

can I bend after surgery?

In the first few weeks bending is not encouraged. The focus is to allow the surgical area to heal and the fusion to occur.
Depending on how far down into the lumbar spine the fusion goes will dictate the level of mobility that you will have in your spine.
It is so important to work on hamstrings length and hip mobility pre-operatively as this will also improve your ability to bend forwards after.

what can I do after surgery?

Depending on how quickly you begin to achieve your goals post operatively in physiotherapy you can begin to start back into your sports when both the surgeon and physiotherapist deem you are safe and strong enough to do so. This usually takes between 6 months to a year post-operatively. At this stage you will be fit and strong enough to return to your usual activities.
Mainly we encourage all sport and exercise when your body is strong and mobile post op. However certain things we do advise against such as rugby, squatting with a heavy load, deadlifting, or going on rollercoasters. You want to avoid anything that puts an excess compressive force though your spine.

how should I be sleeping before/after the operation?

Initially post operation laying flat on your back is best, as time goes on sleep in whatever position is most comfortable.

Pre-operatively sleep in a position is most relaxing and cosy for you.

what exercises can i do pre-operately?

Pre surgery doing scoliosis specific exercise can be very beneficial. Getting generally fitter, stronger, and more mobile is recommended. You are best to target all aspects of your fitness. Strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and mobility are all important areas.
A minimum of 5 hours of exercise per week is recommended for the best outcomes.

what exercises can I do post-operatively?

Initially post-op you will do very simple bed exercises and the focus will be on building up your walking tolerance. Once you see the surgeon at 6 weeks post-op you will be cleared to start into a more specific post-op strength and endurance programme. This will be a goal orientated programme.

how long is recovery?

Every patient, body and spinal recovery process is different. In general, it can take up to 4 weeks to return to school. After 6 weeks you can start seeing specialist physiotherapy to set goals and work towards achieving them. It is not until 6 – 12 months of Physiotherapy approximately that you can start returning to sports and other hobbies but again this all depends on the individual. Some progress back to their previous activity level much faster and for others it can take longer.

will i still need physiotherapy after surgery?

Physio is certainly advised post-op. Your body will have gone through a significant change. It is very important to improve your proprioception and body awareness as well as improving your mobility, strength, and endurance. Completing a physio programme also helps to improve your confidence in your post-operative body.

with or without surgery what would future pregnancies be like?

The surgery and/ or scoliosis does not seem to have any effect on pregnancy and delivery.

will i be different after surgery looks wise?

Yes, the surgery will correct your scoliosis. Improving your spinal alignment will reduce the appearance of any prominent areas in your back. Generally, this will improve pelvis, hip, and shoulder imbalances. Some imbalances may remain, but small imbalances are normal in the general population regardless of scoliosis/ kyphosis.

will there be much scarring?

Generally, the scar is a long, thin, neat line down the length of your spine. Initially it will be pink/ red, but it will fade to a whiter colour.
You can use creams/ oils over the area once the scar heals.

Best age for surgery?

The need for surgery depends more on the degree of curvature and rotation in the spine.

Can I swim after surgery?

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for spinal patients. Yes, you can get back in the pool as soon as the scar heals.

can i lift weights after?

Yes! Post-op you will start some light upper limb weights from the first or second session depending on your post-op assessment. The amount you lift will depend on your ability, the goals you achieve during your rehab and is best to be guided rehab with a scoliosis specialist. The positions you are in are crucial.

is there some sports and exercises to avoid doing after the surgery?

You are advised to avoid playing rugby, squatting with a heavy load, deadlifting, or going on rollercoasters. Return to most contact sports is best to build back to over the course of 9-12 months. Other than that exercise and activity is strongly encouraged.

will the operation affect my rib cage?

Yes. Your surgeon will correct the rotation in your spine. As your rib cage is connected to your spine it has also twisted. When the surgeon de-rotates the spine the ribcage usually will also correct.

are there any effects after the operation on my back/body?

In general, the spinal fusion will correct the twist or rotational element in the spine and ribcage. This will change your overall posture.
Immediately post-op your body will be fatigued from the surgery and the general anaesthetic.

how much pain will i be in after the operation?

You will have your pain well managed medically in the hospital and by four weeks most patients have stopped using pain medication.

how long will the process take, step by step e.g. leading up to it, during, after?

It is hard to say exact times due to our current pandemic, and other external factors that can occur. Usually within the year of surgery being advised. You will undergo pre-op assessments such as lung volume tests, MRI etc and usually you will have your surgery within 3 months following this. Usually you are admitted the morning of the surgery. The surgery last 7-8 hours. You will be in hospital for 5-7 days. You will return to school/ college 4 weeks post-op. You will attend for your post-op review 6 weeks post-op with your surgeon and then you will commence your physio. Depending on your abilities you will initially see your physio twice the first month and then every 6 weeks for the first-year post-op or until you are back to your baseline.

will school/college be the same e.g school bag?

We advise that you do not carry your school/heavy college bag for the first number of months. The school/college can usually organise a second set of books for you. We also encourage movement breaks as sitting for long periods of time is uncomfortable.

How quickly do I go home from hospital/how long will I be out from school?

Most patients will spend between 5-7 days in hospital. Usually you return to school part time 4 weeks after the surgery. Usually half days initially and then build up your time.