Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Will I lose flexibility in my spine with a scoliosis or kyphosis instrumentation and fusion?

Ben, 18, several months postop from scoliosis surgery
 One of the common questions we get from our adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and kyphosis patients and parents, as well as our adult patients and some of our early onset scoliosis patients is this:  "Will I (or my child) lose mobility in my spine after I have a spine fusion for my deformity?"

The answer is: "Yes, you will lose some mobility in the sections that are instrumented and fused."  However, fortunately most people do not notice any decrease in mobility for several reasons:

1. The thoracic spine moves very little, if at all due to the rib cage and very narrow discs at those levels.

2. In the adult patient population, degeneration and arthritis tends to decrease spine range of motion, including in the lumbar area so there is not much motion.

3.  You can easily make up for the few degrees of lost flexion / extension since you can bend over 130 degrees through your hips at the femoral-pelvic joint, just below your spine.

To prove this point, many of our patients have returned to very aggressive athletic activity including lacrosse, basketball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, tennis, baseball, football, gymnastics and roller coasters!

Benjamin doing the limbo 6 months after scoli surgery
We have other patients, however, that have gone back to all sorts of different forms of dance:  jazz, ballet, hip-hop, musicals... you name it!  Often they are getting back to these dance and other activities during the first few weeks and months after surgery, which is certainly important for high-performance athletes and dancers --- they cannot afford to be out of their sport for a year!  Plus, sports and dance are so important to the social and psychological development of young people... and some older people as well!

So, to round out our list of sports our postop scoliosis patients have been able to accomplish and send to us, I received these photos this week of Benjamin, a 18 yo young man who had scoliosis surgery with us several months ago.  Here are some links to Benjamin's surgery, postop posture improvement,  recovery, postop lunch visit  in Baton Rouge, LA and Duke Raleigh Hospital Blog.  He is doing great in college now and his mom and dad Rachel & Mark (both physicians) who sent me these pictures  and this short note from her iPhone:

Just another chance to thank you for a healthy and very happy and still limber Benjamin! " -- Rachel and Mark

Benjamin with his mom and dad at college

Dr. Lloyd Hey
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery

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