I’ve lived with my spinal fusion for over thirty years now. And I’ve worked with people who have fusions for close to ten years, teaching yoga and then strength training and Pilates. I love this work! And through these experiences I developed some thoughts about surgery as a treatment for scoliosis.
Spinal Fusion Surgery as a Choice
Surgery is a very personal and individual choice. It’s always a choice despite what some doctors may say. It’s not easy deciding whether to have surgery or not. The right decision varies for everyone and may also change depending upon a person’s age.
When surgery is for a young person, I suggest involving the young person in the decision-making process. Yes, this is difficult and delicate. But so is living with a spinal fusion. I’ve heard clients share discontent and anger about fusion surgery as something that happened to them when others made the decision on their behalf or when they didn’t fully understand the surgery.
Spinal Fusion Surgery is Not a Cure
Surgery is not a cure for scoliosis. Surgery may help some of the issues an individual is experiencing such as curve progression. But it will likely cause other problems at some point. The long-term risks of scoliosis surgery have not yet been reported in the research. Everyone has a different experience with spinal fusion surgery for many reasons.
Spinal fusion surgery helps stop the progression of the curve by aligning and reducing the curvature in the spine. However, it doesn’t alter the neuromuscular patterning inherit in scoliosis. At some point, many people find that it’s helpful to understand the underlying scoliosis so that they can work with the soft tissues and ribs surrounding the fusion to unload and stabilize the adjacent segments and to adjust out their pattern with postural correction.
I personally found that understanding both my fusion and scoliosis extremely empowering, especially when it comes to staying active. I want my body to support the fusions rather than the fusion supporting my body. This interview with Hagit Berdishevsky provides a great deal of information about Fitness, Sports, & Scoliosis Spinal Fusion Surgery.
Regardless of whether someone chooses to have surgery or not, scoliosis is a lifelong condition. It asks us to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Scoliosis is a lifelong journey both with and without corrective surgery. One of the reasons I teach small group classes dedicated to people with spinal fusions is to build a community so that we don’t feel alone in this journey.