I’ve been meaning to write this post since July because on 29th July 2016, I was 6 YEARS post my scoliosis surgery. I really can’t believe that it has been six whole years, it really doesn’t feel like it.. time goes way too fast!!Anyways, I thought I would write a quick update on how I’m feeling 6 years on, as it may interest those waiting for surgery or in the early stages of recovery.
Generally, six years on, my back feels pretty good. In the immediate months following my scoliosis surgery, I never, ever thought that my back would ever feel anywhere near as “normal” as it does now and for that I am so grateful.
I think what it highlights is that recovery from scoliosis surgery is often slow and you’ll keep making progress as time goes on.
I’ve broken the post into categories for an overview of how I feel generally at 6 years post op.
I think I’m pretty lucky in the sense that I don’t really get much back pain from my scoliosis now day to day. I get lower back pain if I’ve been walking around all day, or on my feet for a long period of time, but I think most people do. It usually feels better once I sit down. The main issues I’m experiencing all these years on on relate to muscles. As I have been gradually doing more activity (running, gym etc) I have found that I seem to be injuring myself quite easily – especially through doing activities such as running.
According to my GP and physio, the injuries and resultant pain I’m getting now relates to my muscle imbalance that is caused by my scoliosis. As one side of my back is stronger than the other, the stronger side overcompensates (when I run for example) and so I’m more prone to injury than the average person. At the moment I am trying to strengthen my back and shoulder muscles through weight training, as well as trying to keep my core strong through exercises such as the plank. Hopefully over time, I can strengthen my back and core and prevent injury when I’m doing my cardio/running! I think I’ve realised over the past 6 months how crucial strong muscles are in managing and preventing pain from injury, especially in people with scoliosis.
My flexibility now is pretty good! I can bend to pick things off the floor easily and have no real issues anymore (I used to use my grabber for a while after my surgery). It’s taken me years to get to this stage though. I could probably even touch my toes if my calf muscles weren’t so tight! I think the flexibility side of things really does depend on the length of your fusion – mine is T3 to L3 – so the bottom few discs are unfused which allows me to retain some flexibility. The length of the fusion depends on the location of the curve(s) and will be decided by the surgeon. Generally though, surgeons will try their best to keep as much flexibility in the spine as possible.
Immediately after surgery and the months that followed, I remember that the discomfort was often worse than the pain. It was constantly hard to get comfortable and I remember I was only comfortable on a straight backed chair with lots of cushions! These days, it’s really not too bad! I still find it better to sit with cushions behind me at work and generally if I’m sitting on a sofa. I also tend to avoid wooden hard backed/plastic chairs if I can because they are the worst! However, post surgery it’s more because my back doesn’t bend to fit the shape of the chair which makes it uncomfortable.
As you can see from the photo above, my scar has faded loads! You can still see it yes, but that doesn’t bother me – I’m so proud of it and everything I have been through and overcome.
Psychological effects of scoliosis
I don’t think this ever goes away completely – even after surgery. As my spine is not “straight” after surgery I am left with a residual curve and so my back does not look “normal.” Over time though (and maybe with age!!) I have honestly become less bothered by how it looks and what other people think. It used to take over my life but I don’t let it anymore. Yes I still feel self conscious, especially when swimming and things like that – it’s hard to shake – but I don’t let it take over my life anymore or dictate what I wear.
I know that not everyone is so lucky, but overall, I think my back feels pretty good 6 years post scoliosis surgery. I am constantly doing and have done lots of things I never thought would be possible post surgery and I’m very active in general 🙂
If you’d like to know anything else about how I feel at 6 years post op or have any questions please do let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back to you 🙂
Bye for now!
Photo by kathryn