If your child has been diagnosed with severe scoliosis, then there is a good chance their doctor is recommending surgical correction. Surgery is more effective for severe scoliosis than years of bracing and physical therapy, and it can be a better choice for preventing long-term side effects of scoliosis. Here is what you should know about scoliosis surgery as a parent.
1. Most surgeries are now minimally invasive.
If you are picturing your child having a large incision all of the way down their back, then know that this probably won't be the case. Today, most scoliosis surgeries can be performed in a minimally invasive way. This means only a few small incisions are made along either side of the spine, and the surgery is performed using small, robotic tools and a camera inserted through these incisions. This approach results in a shorter healing time, a lower risk of side effects, and less pain.
2. The spine will be straightened with screws and rods.
Parents often wonder how, exactly, a child's back can be straightened. Basically, the surgeon will slowly manipulate and bend the spine, and then use an assortment of metal rods and screws to hold the spine in its new, straighter position. This is a slow process, and as such, the scoliosis procedure can take up to eight hours. The more severe your child's curvature, the more screws, and rods will be used. But rest assured; they will be made from titanium, a metal that the body does not react to.
3. Recovery takes several months.
Recovery from scoliosis surgery does take a few months. Your child will need to spend most of their time in bed for about a week after surgery. Then, a physical therapist will help them slowly become more active. They may be able to return to school and other less demanding activities after a couple of weeks. They'll need to wait at least three months before doing any heavier physical activity or athletic events, and even then, they should avoid contact sports like football. Your surgeon will tell you when they can engage in these higher-contact activities. Some children will need to avoid such activities forever since there is a high risk of damaging the spine.
If you have any additional questions about scoliosis surgery, talk to your child's doctor about a minimally invasive scoliosis procedure. This procedure is quite effective, and although recovery can take a while, it is often the best option for correcting moderate to severe cases of scoliosis.