View Full Version : Physical activities for fused spines...

10-15-2007, 02:45 PM
Hello everyone!

I am 24, my surgery was seven years ago next month. Prior to having surgery I was a really active teenager. I was in competitive dance 4 times a week, took tae kwon do, and did high jump. After surgery obviously I stopped a lot of these activities to allow for proper recooperation and healing. Seven years later, I still don't do much physical activity. I've been blessed by a fast metabolism and good genes, so I'm still pretty slender, but I'm just frustrated at the lack of options there are for me as far as physical activity. I have a fair amount of chronic pain, including arthritis and muscular problems as a result of my scoliosis. I have no flexibility in my upper body, I can just bend at the waist.

What do you all do for physical activity that doesn't have a negative effect resulting in pain and exhaustion? I am going to start cross country skiing once the snow comes (I live in Canada). My specialist recommended a website called www.yogaforscoliosis.com but it is more for prevention of non fused scoliosis.

I want to be more active and healthier than I am right now, any advice? Thanks!!

10-15-2007, 08:23 PM
I also have some interesting metalware in my back and a reasonable size fusion. I don't really rotate much at all, and can't really arch my back. I have longstanding issues with chronic pain, a lot of muscle tension and pain, but the desire to do intensive exercise when I can... with the option of taking it easy if I need to.
For me, swimming has been an absolute godsend in terms of pain reduction and fitness. When I started I could barely swim a lenghth, but I worked with a PT who helped me with a pool program. I just started out kicking with a kickboard and fins, then built it up to include arms with fins.
What I liked about it was the lack of jarring, it seemed to really protect my back. Also, the water is supportive of joints and doesn't force you into weird positions.
Stuff that I do in the pool as tolerated:
High intensity= Swim freestyle/backstroke
Moderate= swim with kickboard, kickboard and fins; swim with a bouy between my legs and just work my arms; swim freestyle using fins
low= walking in the pool, I haven't tried 'aquajogging' but people wear floaty belts and just work their legs.
A few things that have been helpful have been getting lessons, because when you start you move your arms way faster than you need to and wear yourself out. Wearing fins are helpful to reduce intensity, kickboard is good.
All the stuff helps develop postural muscles, especially doing some of the drills that are avaliable like holding the board and swimming on your side.
I also do pilates, but that came later on, but the combination of physio and pilates has been excellent (I'll let someone else talk about pilates.. search the forum for pilates and a book 'pilates for fragile backs, everyone loves it here).
I hope this helps, try working with a trainer as it is unbelievable what a difference technique makes. You can work at any level in the pool, I truly can't endorse it enough.
My theory with swimming is to just do what you can, anything is better than nothing, and if on the day you feel like more that's great. But, like anything, over-doing it can lead to pain later on in the day. I encourage you to try it, and let me know how you go.

10-15-2007, 10:11 PM
Hi girls

This has nothing to do with exercise, I noticed you both said you have chronic pain. Do you know what the source of your pain is? Have you been to the doctor to find out if there's anything you can do about it?
I hope the exercise will help. Take care.

10-16-2007, 05:54 AM
My daughter is 3 years post-op and she belongs to a dance company. She does ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, and hip hop. Her teachers have to make some slight modification when putting her in some dances. However, she does a fantastic flatback and is great on pointe where a straight back is important.
I work out in a therapy pool where the water is kept at 90 degrees. We have an exercise bike, a treadmill, and an ellipitical all in the water. We also do water walking. It is a great way to work out without strain on your back.

10-16-2007, 10:39 AM
I like the elliptical and the excercise bike. I walk alot too. You could ask your doctor to refer you for some pt (esp if you are in pain). Or you could look into a personal trainer. Just suggestions if you want someone to work with you/push you when you need it. I second nzgirl's recommendation of 'Pilates for Fragile backs'. Pilates and yoga can really help strengthen and tone. Start off with easier exercises, whatever you decide, and add on as you get back in shape. Good luck!

10-16-2007, 03:12 PM
I was also really active before surgery and was so afraid of having that ability to be active taken from me. I am fused T3-L5 and had intense low back pain/stiffness until 4 months post-op when I began PT. After 6-8 weeks of PT, I can play golf, was told I could play softball but haven't yet, ride a stationary bike, eliptical, run around outside with our dog, play on the floor with babies...you name it, I do it! I'm also currently taking a regular beginners yoga class and although I do have to modify some of the poses with an exercise ball, I love it!

My surgeon told me that anything I did before surgery I could do after surgery and not to let me talk myself out of doing things. Good luck with getting active again!!!!

10-17-2007, 02:27 PM
Hi girls

This has nothing to do with exercise, I noticed you both said you have chronic pain. Do you know what the source of your pain is? Have you been to the doctor to find out if there's anything you can do about it?
I hope the exercise will help. Take care.


I have arthritis pain and muscular spasms. I have been to my specialist and I have anti-inflammatories, and I have been referred to massage therapists. #1 My benefits don't cover massages, so I try to go every once in a while but it really adds up! #2 I hate taking heavy medications, so I try not to be dependant on my anti-inflammatories. Thanks for your concern. ;)

I have tried some aqua size/jog classes, I know water activities are really good for me, I will try and get back into them. Thanks everyone else for your advice, I will definitely look up that pilates book, I did extensive pilates before I had my surgery in 2000.

Thanks! :D

10-17-2007, 03:49 PM
Yeah-I was very active also and talking with the orthopedist, he told me I would do everything again after the brace was off-wrong-I too have chronic pain and have gone from a)working full time as a physician and B)taking care of my small farm and c)horseback riding to a)still working full time(I am the breadwinner in my small family) and b)taking care of my small farm and c)riding horseback when i can. All this is done in pain, I don't have options. My surgeon told me I should only work 20 hrs a wk but had no response when I asked him if he would pay for me to run my place. Then he suggested I go on disability and he was lucky I didn't have a gun handy. I don't ride as much and I do it with pain but my horses are my heart. I am going to see another surgeon to ask about revision( I really think our bodies hate having hardware) even though I do not want to have more surgery. I do hypnosis therapy, stretching, swimming to keep going. I will find a way. The hypnosis helps as does meditation but there are days I am a very irritable B___. I am also looking at nerve blocks but that does not address what is causing my pain. Best of luck, I think activity is the best- agood pt and massage therapis talso help LSH