View Full Version : Post-surgical Exercise?

01-21-2005, 08:15 PM
Hello. I recently (1/28/03) underwent my second surgical procedure for scoliosis, the first having been in the 1970ís. My revision surgery was done in NYC by Oheneba Boachie at the Hospital for Special Surgery. I live in Massachusetts and have seen several physiatrists and physical therapists for post-surgical physical therapy. I have upper back pain due to an extensive lumbar fusion Ė my upper back must now endure the stress of all my movement since my lower back is immobilized.

I was wondering if anyone knew of and could recommend a book about safe post-surgical home exercises for scoliosis patients. Does such a book exist? I canít seem to find any.

Also, if anyone has a really great physical therapist/physiatrist, would you mind giving me their contact information?

Many thanks! - Andra

01-26-2005, 10:11 AM
Hi Loriann,

It turns out that most physical therapy is unhelpful, in the long run, after surgery - at least that's been my experience and many others have said the same thing. What was (and continues to be) helpful was warm-water (90+ degrees) pool therapy through a rehab center. A therapist will be assigned to you and you'll be taught simple moves to help you regain your balance. Later, you'll be taught stretching exercises and mildly aerobic ones (I use an underwater treadmill, for example). I 'graduated' to land therapy, which entailed sitting or lying on a fitness ball and doing balance and stretching exercises. When I progressed to more advanced work I had to stop because it was too painful.

I've since been to several physiatrists (MDs) and physical therapists who have used ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and pressure-point massage, and though these feel good while they're being administered, they have no lasting results.

I am now in the process of learning about 'alternative' therapies and have signed up to work with a Pilates instructor who herself has had a spinal fusion, so she knows which positions are safe and which are not.

There's a woman who runs intructional yoga retreats for fusion patients - her website is: www.Scoliyogi.com.

That seems to be the central problem - there are PTs, and yoga and Pilates and T'ai Chi instructors out there, but most have no experience with people who've had spinal fusions. You can find videos for people with pre-surgical scoliosis, but that's as close as you'll get. And that's not close.

My mid- and upper-back problems were caused by my revision surgery, but I had to have the procedure so I'm not sorry I did it. I had a terribly stenotic (pinched) nerve and was in tremendous chronic pain. In addition, I was developing Flat-Back Syndrome as most people who had scoliosis surgery in the 70's and 80's do. That meant that I would eventually be in a wheelchair - yipes - and have an even harder life.

Who have you chosen for your surgeon? Have you had a couple of opinions? What is your condition like these days? Are you in pain?

I hope I've been of some help to you. Please contact me again any time (at andystanton(at) comcast.net).

Best of luck,

01-26-2005, 11:21 AM
Hi Loriann,

Thanks for your reply! That's great that your PT has experience with fusions and that you like working with her. If you find anything that's particularly helpful, please let me know.

I didn't mean to sound all doom and gloom, actually. I spoke with post-surgical patients (before I had my own surgery) who said they were doing fine. Some were taking a little bit of Ultram and some were fine without any meds. Some went back to work. So, anything is possible!

I hope you find a surgeon you like and I wish you the best of luck. Please keep in touch if you want to continue to "compare notes"!