Living with scoliosis can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. If you or a loved one are facing the decision of whether to undergo scoliosis surgery, it’s important to have all the information you need to make an informed choice. In this blog, we will delve into the risks and benefits of scoliosis surgery, providing a comprehensive understanding of what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. From exploring non-surgical treatment options to explaining the intricacies of spinal fusion surgery, we aim to equip you with the knowledge necessary to navigate this complex decision-making process. Join us as we shed light on the potential outcomes and long-term benefits of scoliosis surgery, helping you make the best choice for your health and well-being.


Understanding Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition that affects the spine, causing it to curve sideways. It can impact the vertebrae and lead to postural issues and pain. While alternative treatments like bracing or Scoliosis Boot Camp with the ScoliSMART Activity Suit may be considered, there are cases where scoliosis surgery is recommended for correction, particularly when the spinal cord is at risk. However, this surgical option is not without risks, including the potential for infection or nerve damage. On the flip side, there are benefits to scoliosis surgery such as improved posture and reduced pain. Post-surgery, x-rays will be necessary for monitoring and rehabilitation to ensure a successful outcome that involves bending and stretching exercises.

Causes and Symptoms of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, the most common type of scoliosis, usually emerges during puberty. Its exact cause is associated with genetic variant patterns that affect coordinating growth and spinal maturity. Symptoms may include uneven shoulders, waist, or hips, and back pain. Detecting and treating it early can prevent further progression. Treatment options vary from exercise programs to bracing or surgical intervention. By understanding the causes and symptoms of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, individuals can seek timely medical attention and explore suitable treatment options that best suit their condition, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for accurate diagnosis.

Who is at Risk for Scoliosis?

Scoliosis can affect people of all ages, but mild scoliosis is most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents at a young age in recent years. Girls are more susceptible to developing scoliosis than boys. Risk factors include family history, certain medical conditions, and genetic disorders. Regular check-ups with a healthcare professional, including a physical exam, can help identify scoliosis early and determine if treatment is needed.


Can Curvature of the Spine Get Better Without Treatment?

In some cases, mild scoliosis may improve naturally, especially in growing children. However, regular monitoring is crucial to prevent worsening of the condition. Without treatment, scoliosis can progress and potentially lead to more severe health issues. Consulting a healthcare professional is recommended for proper evaluation and guidance on treatment options.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Idiopathic Scoliosis

Non-surgical treatments for idiopathic scoliosis include specialized exercise programs like Scoliosis Boot Camp with the ScoliSMART Activity Suit, physical therapy and exercise to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine and improve posture, chiropractic care to improve spinal alignment and reduce pain, bracing to prevent further curvature of the spine, and pain management techniques such as medications, acupuncture, or other pain-relieving methods. These non-surgical approaches can help manage the discomfort associated with scoliosis without resorting to invasive procedures such as surgery.

Scoliosis Boot Camp

Scoliosis Boot Camp offers a non-surgical treatment program that focuses on exercises and stretches to improve spinal alignment. This program includes using equipment to correct posture, increase core strength, and create a new and better posture memory. It can be an effective alternative for those who want to avoid surgery or are not ideal candidates for it. Commitment and consistency are key factors for seeing results. Consultation with a ScoliSMART doctor is important before starting any non-surgical treatment program for scoliosis.


Online consultation scheduling is available!

Now it’s even easier to connect with ScoliSMART. Schedule your no-cost, no-obligation phone or Zoom consultation online with a ScoliSMART physician. Visit the ScoliSMART BootCamp page and click the “Schedule Online” button at the top of the page. Then select the best date and time to connect with a physician. Schedule your consultation right here!

ScoliSMART Activity Suit

The ScoliSMART Activity Suit is a non-surgical treatment option for idiopathic scoliosis. Designed to be worn during specific exercises and activities, it promotes proper alignment by utilizing the twisting generated from normal walking motion. This suit can be used in conjunction with other non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy, to address spinal curve issues. It is important to consult with a ScoliSMART doctor to determine if the ScoliSMART Activity Suit is appropriate for individual cases.

The Schroth Method Explained

The Schroth Method is a non-invasive exercise-based approach. It focuses on improving posture, increasing flexibility, and strengthening muscles. This method utilizes customized exercises tailored to each curve pattern, aiming to reduce pain and enhance the quality of life for patients. To benefit from the Schroth Method, it is recommended to work with a trained therapist who can provide proper guidance and instruction throughout the treatment process.

Is Spinal Fusion Necessary for All Cases?

Spinal fusion is not always necessary. The severity and progression of the condition determine the need for surgery. Non-surgical treatments like bracing or physical therapy may be sufficient in some cases. Consulting a non-orthopedic surgeon spine specialist is crucial to create an appropriate treatment plan.

Introduction to Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure commonly used to treat a curvature of the spine and rib cage. It involves fusing together two or more vertebrae using bone grafts, rods, screws, or other hardware such as pedicle screws. While there are risks associated with spinal fusion surgery, such as infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and fusion failure, the benefits can include improved spinal alignment, reduced pain, and an improved quality of life. It is crucial to carefully consider these risks and benefits, including the impact on spinal bones, in consultation with a doctor before deciding to undergo spinal fusion surgery.

How Does Scoliosis Surgery Work?

Surgery for a spinal curvature can use various techniques, including open surgery in the operating room. Surgeons may use spinal instrumentation like metal rods and screws to straighten and stabilize the spine. A spinal fusion can also be performed to permanently connect affected vertebrae. The goal is to reduce pain, improve appearance, and prevent further curvature.


Postoperative Care for Surgical Intervention

Postoperative care is crucial for a successful recovery. Pain management, including the use of pain medicine, plays a significant role in this process, with medication and physical therapy helping to alleviate discomfort. Rehabilitation, including physical therapy and exercises, is essential for regaining strength and mobility. Proper wound care and monitoring for signs of infection are also vital aspects of postoperative care. Regular follow-up appointments with the surgeon are necessary to monitor progress and address any concerns. Understanding potential risks and complications associated with surgery, including the impact on skeletal maturity and the formation of solid bone, is important for informed decision-making, while discussing the potential benefits, such as improved spinal alignment and reduced pain, can help patients have realistic expectations. In some cases, a body cast may be necessary for proper healing and support.

What is the Recovery Time for Post Operation?

Recovery time after surgery varies depending on the individual and procedure. Typically, patients spend a few days in the hospital and experience full recovery within 3-6 months. Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises, including those for small incision procedures, are recommended for a successful recovery.

Risks Associated with Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion surgery, although beneficial, comes with several potential risks. There is a risk of infection at the surgical site, which can be managed with proper wound care and monitoring. Excessive bleeding during or after the procedure is another possible complication. Nerves surrounding the spine can be damaged during the surgery, leading to nerve-related issues. Nonunion, where the fusion doesn’t fully heal, is another concern. Implant failure, such as screws or rods becoming dislodged, is also a risk. Adverse reactions to anesthesia are possible but can be mitigated through careful monitoring.

How Can Risks be Minimized?

To minimize risks associated with any surgical procedure, it is crucial to choose an experienced and specialized surgeon. Follow all pre-operative instructions and maintain a healthy lifestyle before and after surgery. Openly communicate with your surgeon regarding any concerns or questions about the risks and benefits of the procedure.

Benefits of Scoliosis Surgery

The procedure offers several benefits for individuals with this condition. By correcting spinal deformity through the straightening of the spine and correcting any curvature, it improves overall posture and alignment. Surgery also helps reduce the pain and discomfort associated with a curvature of the spine, enabling individuals to engage in daily activities more comfortably. Additionally, it can improve lung function by creating more space in the chest cavity, which is especially beneficial for severe cases. By addressing physical limitations and pain, surgery enhances an individual’s quality of life and self-esteem while preventing further progression of the condition.


Long-Term Outcomes of Surgery for Scoliosis

Long-term outcomes of multi-level spinal fusion indicate that 40-55% of patients may experience significant complications. However, it also has the potential to improve spinal alignment and reduce curvature, providing relief from pain and discomfort associated with the condition. Additionally, surgery can enhance posture and appearance, offering potential cosmetic benefits. Most importantly, surgical intervention can prevent the progression of the curve and mitigate the risk of potential complications.


In conclusion, the decision to undergo surgical intervention is a complex one that should be made after careful consideration of all the risks and benefits involved. While non-surgical treatments may be effective for some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary for others, especially those with severe curvature or worsening symptoms. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the procedure, postoperative care, and the potential risks involved. However, it is also crucial to remember that it can help the quality of life for individuals with this condition.