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Discharge Instructions for Scoliosis Surgery

You have been diagnosed with scoliosis. Your spine curves and twists from side to side. This problem is most often found in girls in their early teens, although boys and adults can have it, too. No one knows exactly what causes scoliosis. But we do know that scoliosis is not caused by activities such as carrying heavy bags or playing sports. If someone in your family (such as a parent or a sibling) has scoliosis, you may be more likely to have it. You and your doctor decided that surgery was the best option to treat your scoliosis. Here’s what you need to know about home care after surgery.

Incision care

  • Check your incision daily or have someone check for you. Look for redness, tenderness, or drainage.

  • Avoid soaking your wound in water (no hot tubs, bathtubs, swimming pools) until your doctor says it’s OK.

  • Wait 3 day(s) after your surgery to start showering. Then shower as needed. Carefully wash your incision with soap and water. Gently pat it dry. Don’t rub the incision, or apply creams or lotions. To avoid falling while showering, use a shower stool.

Other home care

  • Take your pain medicine exactly as directed.

  • Don’t take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, unless instructed by your doctor. They may delay or prevent proper fusion of the spine.

  • Continue to wear the support stockings you were given in the hospital, as instructed by your doctor.

  • Wear your back brace as directed by your doctor.

Activity

  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need handy. Keep everything else out of the way.

  • Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

  • Use nonslip bath mats, grab bars, an elevated toilet seat, and a shower chair in your bathroom.

  • Free up your hands so that you can use them to keep balance. Use a fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things.

  • Use chairs with arms to make it easier for you to stand up or sit down.

  • Use a walker or handrails until your balance, flexibility, and strength improve. And remember to ask for help from others when you need it.

  • Don’t bend or twist at the waist, or raise your hands over your head for the first 2 week(s) after your surgery.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 4 pounds for 2 week(s) after surgery.

  • Don’t sit for more than 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Take frequent short walks. Walking is key to your recovery.

  • Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s OK.

  • Nap if you are tired, but don’t stay in bed all day.

Follow-up

  • Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your doctor.

  • Keep appointments for X-rays. They will be taken periodically to check the healing of your spine.

 

When to seek medical attention

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Painful calf that is warm to the touch and tender with pressure

Otherwise, call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Drainage, redness, or warmth at the incision

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38°C) or shaking chills

  • Weakness in your arms or legs or loss of bowel or bladder control

  • Swelling of the foot, ankle, or calf that is not relieved by elevating your feet

  • Increased pain

 

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