Can I Prevent Having Another Scoliosis Spine Surgery?

Question: I’m 41, and I recently had minimally invasive surgery for scoliosis of my thoracic spine. I have rods, hardware, and screws in place. I’m currently doing physical therapy and taking a couple of medications, but how do I know that this surgery will help me? I’m concerned I’ll need another surgery in the future. Is there any way to prevent that?
─Seattle, WA
Woman in a physical therapy sessionAnswer: With spine surgery—whether it’s for scoliosis or not—there’s no sure way to tell whether you can prevent having another surgery in the future.

But for now, be patient; give it some time. Some people won’t notice the full effects of spine surgery until a few months (sometimes even longer) after the surgery is done.

Is it possible for your symptoms to get worse after spine surgery? Yes. However, be confident in your doctor: He or she recommended the right spine surgery for you at the time. And just because you’ve had surgery doesn’t mean you won’t see your doctor anymore. Your doctor will continue to monitor your condition after spine surgery, so at your next appointment, talk to your doctor about your concerns.

While I can’t promise that you’ll never need to have another spine surgery, I can tell you that if you take good care of your back, your chances of having another surgery will be significantly reduced.

Continue to go to physical therapy and take your medications as your doctor instructed. These are both great things that help you recover after spine surgery, and they may help prevent another spine surgery in the future.

Here’s a brief list of easy things you can do every day to take care of your back and possibly prevent another spine surgery for scoliosis.

  • Exercise often. Try walking, light strengthening exercises, and gentle yoga for starters. But of course, have a conversation with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
  • Sleep at least 8 hours a day—your back needs it.
  • Maintain good posture. Proper posture can help ease tense, constricted back muscles.
  • Keep a healthy weight. Regular physical activity helps you achieve this, but so does eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Although there’s no definite way to totally prevent having another spine surgery after minimally invasive spine surgery for scoliosis, these tips can help minimize your chances of having another surgery in the future.