View Full Version : Bending, Lifting, Twisting restrictions

10-22-2009, 11:25 AM
Hi all,
So, for how long does the whole "no bending, lifting, twisting" restriction actually apply? I am almost 7 months post-op and am back taking pilates, which requires quite a bit of twisting. do you think it's okay to gently twist the back for exercises such as the "saw" (which requires stretching forward & reaching the pinky finger of your front hand across the outside of the opposite foot. it can be a small move, but you're supposed to reach to your furthest point while maintaining your turned position as you inhale and return to sitting. then, you exhale & undo your rotation, coming to the starting position.) anyway, there are various, similar twisting type exercises in class, and I'm wondering if these exercises can in fact do damage to, or compromise a fused (or still fusing) spine. I am fused T2-L1, so even though most of the motion in my lumbar area has been preserved, I understand it's not the best idea to use it in such ways that I am putting unnecessary wear & tear in that unfused region, causing stress and possibly another operation down the road. I did ask my surgeon about engaging in certain pilates exercises, and he just said "let pain be my guide"... thoughts??

10-22-2009, 12:48 PM
I can answer for my kids but I am not so sure the answer applies to adults.

Bending, lifting, twisting is restricted in the 8 months after surgery.

That is only to catch the ~5% of kids who won't fuse correctly without restrictions. Ninety-five percent of kids need no physical restrictions other than their own pain in order to avoid a pseudoarthrosis.

Knowing that, while I did remind the first kid not to bend/lift/twist in those eight months, and while I will remind this second kid not to do that in this eight months, I don't worry about it too much if they forget. And everyone forgets. Impossible not to.

Good luck.

10-22-2009, 01:30 PM
I am 26 (25 when I had the surgery this spring), so who knows, maybe my body heals more like a "kid" than an adult. Besides some lung complications I had post-surgery, my surgeon has said I've been way ahead of the curve since day one. Also, my surgeon did use BMP to solidify my fusion. I hope these factors have helped me to fuse more quickly. At 7 months post-op, I guess no one can say for whether I'm fused without a CT scan. In the meantime, though, I don't think a little light twisting will hurt....I was very careful about no "BLTing" for the first three months, when it's most important.

10-22-2009, 01:36 PM
I agree you are probably similar to the teen crowd at your age. Also the BMP does speed fusion as advertised as far as I now. So I guess your surgeon is correct to tell you to let pain be your guide.

dolores a
10-22-2009, 03:10 PM
I was addressing this topic in somebody else' thread the other day, I am about 4 and 1/2 months post-op, my surgeon lifted all restrictions, seems a little early to me, especially when I see other people having to wait a lot longer. I've decided to listen to my body, if it hurts don't do it yet.

10-22-2009, 05:40 PM
I've been letting pain be my guide since day 1 since I was not given any advice at all. I found my information on this forum.:p But I haven't had any pain since before 3 months and admit I've probably overdone the bending. I never had a grabber. But now that my knees are starting to show signs of wear, I'm thinking of investing in a grabber. Going to have a look at them today.

My x-rays at 6 months showed new bone in the pelvic area but not anywhere else. My surgeon assured me that new bone in the thoracic area does not show on x-rays, which makes me wonder when I read about patients as early as 6 weeks showing bone growth on an x-ray. So, I'm confuddled! Any advice/info welcome!

10-22-2009, 05:57 PM
My surgeon also advised me that you can't view a fusion on an x-ray; rather, a CT scan is needed to confirm. My surgeon's standard protocol is to not expose his patients to a CT if they do not have symptoms associated with a pseudoarthrosis, or nonunion. At one year, they perform left and right bending x-rays on post-fusion patients to determine whether there is any gross movement within the fused area to help tease out the presence of a nonunion. But, again, he doesn't think it's necessary if you do not have symptoms of a pseudoarthrosis.

10-22-2009, 05:59 PM

It takes 12 months to fuse, with no 100% guarantees, BMP 6 months. I would still take it very easy.

Pain is a great indicator that you just did something wrong...... which is fine, and is a quick and easy answer for a Doctor, but once the tire is flat, its flat, once the damage is done, its done.

Its funny how baseball pitchers who have rotator cuff surgery pitch weeks after their surgery. If I had a $30 million dollar contract, I could have done that also. Rotator cuff surgery takes 12 months.

Slow and easy, I should add it to my signature.

PS Your body will heal like a 26 year old. Its nice to have positive thoughts......I'm the new 30 ya know.

10-22-2009, 08:05 PM
The local doctor I went to for my 6 months told me the same. He saw fusion in spots but they really can't see it in thoracic area due to other organs--lungs, etc. in the way. That's the area I'm most concerned about too since that was spot with the biggest curve. Hope that helps. Janet

10-22-2009, 09:57 PM
I had surgery on May 4th. Dr Lenky at St. Louis. My surgery was t2 to the sacrum. I am 69 years old. I am doing well so far. I walk a mile a day on the treadmill. 2.2 mph. I have a great support group. How are you doing?
What problems do you have. My curve was 95 T and 62 L

10-23-2009, 01:04 PM
yah, speaking of rotator cuff injuries, did anyone else's rotator cuff become significantly weakened with their spinal fusion surgery? unfortunately, my doc had to do a lot of work with pulling my left shoulder back (he had to go in that area twice, too, b/c the day following my surgery, a CT scan confirmed there was a misaligned screw at T2)...anyway...the second surgery did my shoulder in even more. it was SO weak after surgery that when I began PT and they were evaluating my strength, it felt like I was paralyzed when they tried to have me do this one particular movement. it turned out it involved the rotator cuff muscle, and I just couldn't do it - I could not get my arm to move. But yeah, I am still VERY weak in that area at 6.5 months post-op, but I hoping I will regain at least 50% of its strength with time. Good thing I'm right-handed! ;)

10-23-2009, 01:22 PM
At my three month visit, my doc told me the most important thing to avoid was twisting, especially bending and twisting at the same time. I asked for a specific. He said for example, when I am sitting (bending), he does not want me reaching across my body(twisting).
Twisting will hurt the fusion.

I know we all heal at different rates for all sorts of reasons, but since I'm in my 50's my fusion is expected to take a year or more so I will be careful for at least that long.


10-23-2009, 02:26 PM
Welcome to the forum. We not only share the same doctor but are curves are very similar also. I'm over all doing well. I'm overall able to do more than I thought I would at this point. My biggest disappointment was I have a lean to the left with my torso and still a fairly obvious rib hump all along the right side. Much of this wasn't so obvious at the beginning due to the swelling. However, it's so much better than it was before and Dr. Lenke really worked a miracle on me. Hope all is going well with you. Janet

10-23-2009, 03:06 PM

My shoulder problems were not due to my scoliosis. 2 weeks before my surgeries, I hit the hill. LOL
I had a devastating ski crash. I was on a runout at the bottom of a hill, and while traversing, I hit a grooming lip with my tip at about 45MPH and was thrown down hard. My shoulder hit the ice at 45. I finally got up after about 30 minutes and had to ski out since it was the backside of the mountain.
I shattered my humeral head, and tore my supra spinatus, and could not move my arm at all.

When Dr Menmuir saw this, he said that with the drugs I was going to be on, I wouldn't feel a thing. In other words, we are not putting your scoli surgery off for a broken shoulder......my scoli recoveries were done with my shoulder broken from that ski accident.

Even though I went skiing at Park City last April, I'm still nervous and have not bought a pass for this season. My skiing will have to be very reserved from now on. I'm afraid of crashing. No more off piste or high velocity.

I usually ski the "cheaper" family owned ski areas. I would rather support them rather than supporting a ski corp. Sometimes, the grooming isn't all that great. I can ski for $20 at Donner ski ranch.

A-Basin is an old favorite. I used to rip up there 30 years ago. Great memories of the mountain, and the old bar. We would party in the parking lot which they call "the beach" now, and they charge now to park there. That's a shame.

PT will help your shoulder. "Full recovery" can take some time with these surgeries.


10-23-2009, 03:12 PM
I love A-Basin! I live just a little bit southwest of Denver, so I go up to A-Basin quite a bit during snowboarding season. Unfortunately, since I just got my surgery this spring, I am on snowboarding restriction for the 09/10 season! :( It's okay, though, because I think I'd be too nervous to try anything remotely risky, i.e. jumps, fast speed, etc., at this point. I hope by the time the 10/11 season rolls around, I will be fully healed/fused and confident to hit the slopes again! However, with snowboarding, falling is inevitable...that's what I'm worried about. :/

And wow, scoliosis surgery on top of a damaged shoulder? Ouch. Glad all is well now!

10-23-2009, 04:59 PM
Thanks Jesscv and Doodles, that information did help a lot. I am going to worry less and assume that because I have no pain, my fusion is ok. Yesterday I bought a grabber to save my knees from the many squats I've been having to do every day. It works well and my grandchildren have been having great fun with it.:)

01-08-2010, 04:08 PM
I'm really worried about the bending/twisting thing too. I am finding it really hard getting into a comfortable position to sleep, and often wake up lying with my hips on their side, but with my shoulders facing downwards so that my arms are either side of my torso, which is obviously twisting, and for a long period of time. I can't seem to help it, it happens in my sleep! I'm only 1 month post op so concerned I'm doing real damage. Any advice?????

01-08-2010, 09:06 PM
hamlette, when I was early post-op, I'd get into a comfy position then stuff a pillow lengthwise against my back and another against my front, or lying on my back, pillows lengthwise on either side. This stopped me from tossing and turning and getting into a "sore" position. That'd be my suggestion.