Coping with the changes

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After scoliosis surgery, you may find routine activities difficult for a while. Learn about some coping strategies that may be useful during this time.

Key points

  • As you are going home from the hospital, make sure to take pain medication, sit in the front seat of the car and bring some pillows to prop yourself up.
  • Sleeping may be difficult after your surgery. Try using your own bed, some sleep aids — like a pillow roll or quiet music — and setting up a routine and sticking to it.
  • When showering, keep your incision dry until it is completely healed. Have someone close by in case you need help.
  • It may take a few weeks or months before your body relaxes into its new shape. Be patient with your body and wear clothing that makes you feel comfortable.

The car ride home

  • Make sure to take pain medication before you leave the hospital.
  • Sit in the front seat. Generally you can make more adjustments to this seat to make things more comfortable for you.
  • Bring some pillows with you to help prop yourself up. It may help to hold one pillow in front of you, against your stomach and chest.

Sleeping

  • Roll up a blanket or buy a long pillow roll to place behind you when you are sleeping on your side. You probably did something like this when you were in the hospital.
  • Don’t get a special hospital bed for home use. Use your own bed. Your body is used to it.
  • When getting out of bed, lie on your side and then push yourself upright into a sitting position. Then stand up using your hands/arms to push you off the bed.
  • Sleeping may be difficult. Set up a routine and try to stick to it.
  • Have a book or quiet music close by for the times when you wake up in the middle of the night.

In the shower

  • Keep your incision dry until it is completely healed.
  • Put a towel over the incision as the pressure of the water may cause pain.
  • Use a stool in the shower in case you feel faint or tired.
  • Use a moderate water temperature. Heat may make you feel faint.
  • Don’t use scented or exfoliating soap. Use baby soap.
  • Don’t let shampoo or conditioner run over your incision as it might sting.
  • Have someone close by in case you need help.

Body changes

  • It may take a few weeks or months before your body relaxes into its new shape. Be patient with your body and wear clothing that makes you feel comfortable.
  • Your appetite and digestive system may not be back to normal yet. Eat smaller meals every couple of hours and drink lots of fluids.
  • If you are a girl, the surgery may cause some disruption in your menstrual periods. Most girls get their period at the time of surgery and then skip the next one. Things generally get back to normal after one or two cycles.
  • You will be feeling stiff and sore. Get up and move around or go for a walk. Movement will make you feel better.
Last updated: June 1st 2008