View Full Version : Yoga and Scoliosis Surgery Post-Op

hopeful one
05-10-2010, 05:01 PM
Wondering if there are any yogi's out there who have had surgery and were able to return to yoga following surgery. If so, I would love details of postures/asanas you were able to do pre-op that you are no longer able to do post-op (and vice-versa)? Also, has anyone done Bikram Yoga, specifically, before and after surgery? Thanks.

05-10-2010, 05:27 PM
I'm also very interested to hear anyone's responses on this one, as I used to love practicing yoga - however I practiced kundalini yoga. Still it would be interesting to hear what asanas can be done now and what can't etc.

05-10-2010, 09:46 PM
I had surgery about 10 years ago (t3-t12), and have done yoga since then. I was never very serious about yoga, but did take classes occasionally after my surgery. There were certain poses I couldn't do because of the location of my fusion - anything involving an extreme backbend, headstands, etc - but I think the limitations would depend on your fusion. I would talk to your instructor and ease into it very gradually, only after you are fully recovered. Start very slow, see what feels comfortable.

05-10-2010, 11:20 PM
Elise Browning Miller has worked with patients after long scoliosis fusions. You can find her at www.ebmyoga.com or www.yogaforscoliosis.com.

hopeful one
05-10-2010, 11:27 PM
Hi Diane

Thanks for your reply. I have not had surgery yet and am very active in yoga (probably the only thing keeping me from surgery at this point). Even though my curvature is approximately 55 RT/Thoracic & about a 30 corresponding Lumbar, I'm still pretty flexible. I am able to do some postures I fear I will no longer be able to do following surgery (like camel/backbend from your knees or more extreme forward bends). I know it's hard to say (...depends on fusion location, etc). Wish I had a crystal ball.

Incidentally, how are you doing ten years post-op? I appreciate any information you can give me.

hopeful one
05-10-2010, 11:30 PM
Thanks, Linda. I will try to email her a few questions.

05-11-2010, 06:59 PM
10 years post op after a t3-t12 posterior fusion.....mostly excellent. I have been very active - have gone on kayak and canoe trips, plenty of backpacking, lots of international travel (including two long treks in the mountains in Nepal and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru...with a backpack), have done yoga, biked, etc. I also scuba dive. So I definitely can't complain about any restrictions.

I do think my curve might be progressing a little bit - I notice that one shoulder is a bit more curved forward than it was, and I may have some minor thoracic outlet syndrome (occasional numbness in that arm/hand), but nothing more than mildly irritating at this point. My lower back gets quite stiff and sore - at night it can be hard to roll over, it's so sore, and it stiffens up very quickly when I'm lying down - but if I stretch for a minute or two before I get up, I'm fine. But I'm incredibly lazy when it comes to stretching and core strengthening in general. If I spent a bit of time each day doing that, those lower back symptoms would probably improve. I'll have a 10-year follow up appointment this year, so I'll get to see what's what.

I definitely don't regret it. In some ways I wish I had waited a year or two, but only because the anterior + posterior approach was really new back in 2000, and my surgeon didn't do that. If I had had the type of surgery that people seem to have now, I think I would have had a better correction. But I also would have had more pain, and it would have progressed in the interim.

05-12-2010, 10:43 AM
I've never done yoga (pre-or post-op), but do engage in pilates regularly. While obviously certain exercises that involve spinal articulation have to be modified or excluded from your workout altogether, there are still countless exercises that can be done in a neutral spine...you don't use your back. After spinal fusion, a strong core is especially important -- so you don't put unnecessary wear & tear on the unfused vertebrae -- and pilates is excellent for that. the various apparatus in pilates (the reformer, cadillac, chair, etc) offer even more options for me post-surgery, vs. just doing a mat workout. after all, pilates was originally developed as a method of physical therapy for bedridden/injured soldiers returning from WWI. it utilizes no jarring movements, so there is little risk in damaging the spine. if yoga ends up not working out for you, try pilates...but make sure you don't do it alone with a DVD or something - work with a certified instructor! :)

05-12-2010, 11:35 AM
Had a friend in CT treat me to a private lesson on Monday...

Then I did a mat class yesterday, and I can definitely see the possibilities. My doctor in Colorado was always a proponent of Pilates and Dr Rand mentioned it last week after telling me to stay strong, get stronger and maybe I would not need surgery for 5 years or maybe never.

Anything that has been around so solidly for so many years- and still increasing in popularity, is worth looking into.

The doc in Colorado told me to be weary of yoga as far as too much twisting. He told me to be cautious of getting too limber in the core area. I thought this was interesting. Don't know if I totally agree, as it seems that most yoga encompasses both stretching and strengthening. I also personally find that gentle twisting feels really good, especially in my left lumbar hillside. At this point, it seems like all the votes are not in on all of this, {Are any final votes in on ANYTHING having to do with scoliosis?} so I personally am on the "If it feels good, do it" scoli plan.

Jess: A summer goal includes a consult with you. Just giving you fair warning.;)

05-12-2010, 02:25 PM
A couple questions for those who do pilates and yoga. At my year appt. Dr. Lenke said it was OK now to Bend Lift Twist and try to get more flexible. He suggested PT to learn some new exercises. My PT guy and I had sort of fudged on this anyway and started doing some exercises without BLT at about 6 months--he'd wanted only walking and very mild stretches done on the bed basically. Pt guy thinks I'm about as flexible as I can get & doesn't see me doing too much with pilates, etc. without much modification.
I used to do pilates so have tried to get on the floor with legs out to sides--I just fall backwards unless I use arms to hold me up. I showed pt guy and he said it was not lack of abs as much as just the way back is fused. I'm just wondering how anyone can do much of anything other than the warrior pose, etc. I'd like to get back to some classes. Just wondering. Janet

05-13-2010, 02:08 PM
have you scheduled an appt. with my doc yet?! He's wonderful...you need to! i've been working with him a little bit on pilates research as it relates to back patients as well. I will definitely love to meet with you, though!

there are definitely many exercises i simply cannot do anymore in pilates because of my back (seems obvious, as my back doesn't move from the base of my neck to my waist) :), but there are still countless exercises I CAN do - that not one class is ever the same. plus, the exercises I can't do, I modify. that's what I love about pilates. you don't HAVE to do it the way it was originally developed in the 1920s. we've learned so much about anatomy, biomechanics, etc., since then anyway. many exercises that are "meant" to be done with a round back, for example, can also be done with a flat back (neutral) spine. yeah, sometimes the rods and fusion make the exercise more challenging, but i find that to be a good thing. holding neutral makes my work my abs more. :)

05-14-2010, 12:10 AM
Hi hopeful one! I am exactly 4 months post op. I had a/p surgery T 11 to L 4/5. I was very active in Pilates and yoga pre surgery and was very concerned about how my practice would be effected. I had also started my yoga teacher training pre surgery and was recently certified a month ago. I can't do any back bends but I pretty much can do all the standing asanas, standing balances, forward folds, and twists. I also do vinyasas. Just to note I use props a lot and find that with time I am using them less. My physical therapist believes that once I am fully fused I will have no problem getting back into arm balances, headstand, shoulderstand, etc... I am totally amazed at where I am physically. I'm not as limited as I thought I would be. Sometimes I also envision myself in a pose if I can't do it. Just remember that everyone is different but I have heard soooo many stories of people with fusions who have very active and fulfilling practices! Good luck to you! I hope this helped! : )

05-15-2010, 01:05 PM
have you scheduled an appt. with my doc yet?! He's wonderful...you need to! i've been working with him a little bit on pilates research as it relates to back patients as well. I will definitely love to meet with you, though!

Hi Jess,

Scheduling an appt with Dr Jess is also on my summer "Do it" list. If I can get by with slow progression and exercise for awhile, it would be nice to be seen in Colorado. I did send a new friend to him and she is seeing him this Monday. Have read up on him on the internet and he seems to be deep into it, plus from a long line of back orthopedics. Great that he moved to Colorado.

Hopeful One,

I love doing Bikram's Yoga and can do most of it- I've gotten more stiff through the years, so many poses I just stay in the earlier part of the pose instead of trying to push on. Other poses I can do really well and I surprise myself. It is hard to find classes around here that jive with my work schedule- have to go some weekends or at 7 a.m. Have to be so organized to get to that one.

05-17-2010, 10:13 AM
what's your friend's name? My sister is studying to be a P.A. and is actually going to be in my doctor's office shadowing him today. She will probably get to meet your friend. :)

05-17-2010, 06:57 PM
Hi Jess,

Sent you a PM....