If you've been diagnosed with severe scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine), there's a good chance your doctor has presented surgery as a recommended treatment option. While the thought of having spinal surgery done may seem scary, the truth is that a minimally invasive scoliosis procedure known as video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) can often be used to correct this ailment. Using two small incisions, this procedure can be performed under a general anesthetic, with most patients returning home within just a few days.
If you're planning to have this procedure done to correct your scoliosis, there are a few things you may need to expect once you leave the hospital.
Wearing a Brace
It is not uncommon for patients who have undergone surgery for scoliosis to have to wear a spinal brace for anywhere from 2-4 months following the procedure. If you are instructed to wear a brace, be sure to follow your physician's or surgeon's orders regarding how often it should be worn. This brace will play an important role in protecting your spine during the recovery phase.
Before you're discharged from the hospital, you will likely be instructed in some at-home exercises and stretches you can do to stay active and support your recovery. Some of these may be simple breathing exercises to improve blood circulation while your mobility is hindered. However, leg-flexing exercises can also be helpful in strengthening your core and supporting your posture.
Medication and Pain Control
Make sure you have spoken with your doctor or physician before you leave the hospital about what kinds of medications you can take for pain control. In some cases, nonsteroidal medications need to be avoided because they can increase the chances of blood clots. The same goes for women taking hormonal birth control; you may be instructed to stop taking hormonal birth control following your discharge from the hospital until you're able to walk and exercise again.
Your surgeon will want to schedule a follow-up appointment to assess your spine and the success of the procedure. You can expect this appointment to be arranged around one or two months after the surgery. Even if you're feeling great and are not experiencing any pain or symptoms, it's important to attend this appointment.
Going through surgery to correct scoliosis can be nerve-wracking. With the right medical team supporting you and with the right knowledge on what to expect, however, you'll be prepared for your treatment.
To learn more, contact a resource like The Anand Spine Group.