Things you CAN do with a fused spine!
Since my scoliosis surgery almost 7 years ago, I have achieved SO many things that I never thought would be possible post surgery. As scoliosis is in the news right now (as a result of Britain’s Got Talent) and in some cases being portrayed rather negatively, I thought I would try and put a positive spin on things.
I wanted to share my achievements post scoliosis surgery to prove that there IS life after scoliosis surgery! Once recovered, your scoliosis shouldn’t stop you from living a normal life.
Disclaimer: Please note, these are all things I have achieved once fully recovered (e.g after at least 1 year post op). Every case of scoliosis is different. I’m aware that not everyone is as lucky to be able to do all these things post surgery. If you have recently had spinal fusion, please do NOT try any of the below until you have had the all-clear from your Dr/surgeon.
Things you CAN do with a fused spine…
Yes, living with scoliosis and a fused spine can be difficult at times. There are things you probably shouldn’t do or activities that need to be adapted post surgery. Sometimes though, it’s easy to ignore all the amazing things you CAN do after such a major life changing surgery.
I have blogged about most of these things already, but thought I’d list them all in one post and keep adding to it as I achieve more things!
- Climb a mountain
- Run 5K, 10K races
- Complete a muddy obstacle course
- Walk 26.2 miles overnight for charity
- Complete a MSc Degree with distinction (while working full time)
- Go to the gym 4/5 times a week
- Body Pump and light weight lifting
- HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes such as Metafit
- Body Combat classes
- Cycling / Spin classes
- Hike up hills
- Ride a Zip wire
- Travel all over the world
ANYTHING you put your mind to!
My surgeon honestly told me there was nothing I couldn’t do after I had all restrictions lifted. (This was after about a year post op.) He even told me I could ride roller coasters and go bungee jumping (I’ll add it to my list…).
I know every case is different and I’m not saying you SHOULD do any of the above things if you have had spinal fusion. Lower impact exercise is much better for the spine than say running.
However, these are just some of the things I have achieved since surgery that I’m proud of.
I never thought I’d EVER be able to do any of the above things when I was in the early stages of recovery. But our bodies are amazing things and I believe we can do anything we put our minds to.
My ultimate goal is to run the London Marathon for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund because, wow, what an achievement that would be!
The Scoliosis Campaign Fund had a team running the London Marathon this year and several team members had had scoliosis surgery. I just found that so inspiring and would love to do the same in the future.
I think surviving this surgery has really made me determined to keep pushing myself to try and achieve more things. I just want to squeeze as much out of life as possible and do as much as I can/try new things. When I first had the surgery, I was scared of causing damage to the fusion but now I am more daring.
There are so many more things I want to do, so hopefully I can keep growing this list over time 🙂
Have you had scoliosis surgery? What have you accomplished that you thought would never be possible post surgery?
Please share your stories below in the comments, I would love to hear from you!
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I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.
41 thoughts on “Things you CAN do with a fused spine!”
Congratulations on your post surgery successes! What you ate able to do after surgery very much depends on how many levels were fused. I can no longer run because my fusion ends at L5. So my disc at L5 S 1 is the only one left that has to absorb all the shock of movement. However I am living a pain free life. Hurrah !! Spend lots of time at the gym working on the elliptical arc trainer and doing strength and conditioning. I wish you continued success with your running. Thanks for sharing your story. Ito is the first one I have come across regarding physical fitness post op
Thanks Margaret 🙂
I think this certainly depends on the type of corrective surgery one has had as well. I’ve had rod implants, and was advised not to horseback ride, skydive, roller skate, or to do any other high impact sports/activities. I was also advised not to lift more than thirty pounds at a time. Surgery has certaintly advanced since I had mine, and perhaps patients are able to do more. You’re spot on when you say consult your specialist before doing any activity.
Thanks for your reply. You are correct it certainly depends on the type of surgery and every case of scoliosis is different 🙂
Hi enjoyed reading your post and agree that scoliosis fusion does not really hold you back. I was one of the first to be operated on in Australia in 1965, I was 14. I am fused T4 to L3 with steel Harrington rods top to tail. I have led a normal life had 2 children worked etc only thing I remember being told not to do was dive and horse back ride. Now I am 70 yes having problems with my neck and lumbar spine but not my op. Just wish others all the best.
Thanks so much Lorraine 🙂
AMAZING for you! I’m not sure how many levels you have fused, but NO respectable surgeon would EVER advise bungee jumping after a true scoliosis fusion. Maybe if you had two discs fused, but you are certainly not the norm. That’s fantastic that you have practically zero restrictions.
I’ve had five fusions, I’m fused from T2-S6 with two 7″ screws screwing my hips to my spine. My first fusion was when I was 14, and my last was in 2015. Then, and now I am not allowed to ski, horseback ride, lift over 15 lbs, run, ride a motorcycle, or even sit for longer than an hour; and that’s the small list of restrictions.
My surgeon is one of the top ten best scoliosis surgeons in the country, and would have a heart attack if he read what you’ve done. Scoliosis fusion cost me my career, delivered a lifetime of major pain medications, severe depression, and permanent disability.
I love that you’re showing a “lighter” side to a debilitating disease, but I truly hope others don’t read this and think it’s normal. Read the stats. Surgery pretty much guarantees a lifetime of pain, and only fixes the deformity; not necessarily the pain.
Best of luck to those with super mild cases, or small amounts fused, but I find your blog extremely misleading to anyone researching their scoliosis diagnosis.
I have pretty much my whole spine fused, apart from 3 discs at the bottom (T3-L3). Sorry to hear about your pain. I don’t mean to be misleading, sorry you feel that way 🙁 I’m just being honest and this is just MY story and I am proud of all I have achieved post op and want to inspire others. I totally appreciate that everyone’s case of scoliosis is different and not everyone is as lucky, which is why I state this at the start of the post.
I hope you find some relief from your pain.
I had spinal surgery back in 2005 at GOSH
I had one of the top surgeons called Mr noordeen who was yours and we’re did you have it done?
I’m not allowed to be lifted, go on horses or trampolines but can pretty much do most other things.
I’m 32 and I had fusion for scoliosis from T4-L2 when I was 14. I was in a cast for about 6 months post surgery, then a brace that i little by little stopped using over the course of the next 6 months. I practice yoga, biking, chopping firewood, whatever needs to be done! I have some stiffness, but that’s where the yoga comes in. My main issues come from pain and stiffness in my neck. But again, yoga combats that pretty well too, when I find the time! I consider myself extremely lucky to have the very few issues that I have. Living a healthy lifestyle is very important for us fused people!!
Thanks for reading my blog and for your comment 🙂 I’m glad you are doing so well post surgery. I think I need to take up Yoga it sounds like it’s very beneficial for those of us with scoliosis. You are right, it’s important to be healthy and as active as possible. Thanks again for your comment!
I’m fused from T10 to s1. I’m also 61 yrs old. Running is not possible. Walking my thighs turn numb. Now my knees are giving me a lot of pain. But I try to keep moving, try to clean my own home just to keep me moving. As soon as I find another indoor pool I am going back to walking in water. Good luck to you.
I too am in my 60’s and try to keep moving the best I can. I have had my spine fused from top to bottom 3 years ago. I have a lot of scar tissue, and numbness daily. Some days I move better than others. I also have a difficult time walking, and tingling and nerve damage in my legs…. it’s truly day to day.
I recently walked a bridge in Florida several times, that equaled about 1 1/2 miles, which was quite an accomplishment for me! I also had a surgery when I was 17 due to scoliosis, I had a Harrington rod put in my back which causEd all my issues later in life. The rod was pushing L5-S1 together, very painful, they had to remove it, and replace with a total spinal fusion. I am doing the best I can now, but I will never be 100%. I wish you luck with all your issues, as I know firsthand how difficult it is.
Hola!!! Fui operada hace 6 meses por una corrección de escoliosis desde T4 a L4. Aunque el postoperatorio fue difícil los primeros dos meses, ahora me siento mucho mejor, creo que las terapias y la actividad física me ha ayudado mucho en mi recuperación! Hasta el momento no me ha afectado mi vida normal pero si me ha hecho más consciente de mi cuerpo y sus cuidados! Que bien saber que después de este tipo de cirugías…la vida puede continuar con normalidad.
I’m probably going to have scoliosis surgery, because I have a 50 curve, and after reading this I feel so much better about having the surgery, thank you for sharing your story with everyone
Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂 all the best with your surgery if you have it!
This is a great read and worth the time spent and yes.. spinal cord stimulation is something that a chiropractor can for sure help to correct and get you in the best of your health
I have all of my thoracic vertebrae fused, at age 14. I ride rollarcoasters no problem as long as I am strapped in tightly enough. I ski, although I do not jump anything higher than 8 feet. I run 5Ks. I can swim for miles.
I was told no contact sports (had to give up hockey) no bungie jumping, no skydiving, no trampoline for the first few years, and a 25 pound weight restriction. If I am sitting hunched over my back will get “stuck” sometimes, But A simple lie down and waiting for it to move back into place (10 seconds) does the trick. Keeping healthy and active is essential.
Wow Renee that’s amazing, sounds like you are doing great. 🙂
Curious…..how old are you? I was able to run, teach aerobics, roller coasters, hip hop dance classes between surgeries, (17years, and 59 years) can’t do all of that anymore!
Good for you btw!
I had my spine fused when I was 15 T4 to L1 using Harrington rods. This was 1979. I did great for years. Continued playing softball and other activities. But around age 40 the pain started. I developed flat back syndrome from the Harrington rods. I’ve had 5 surgeries since then and scheduled for another in Jan. Mostly due to adjacent section disease. The older you get, the more wear and tear on the sections that are not fused. I can’t walk very far and am totally disabled. If you’re thinking of getting the surgery, make sure you understand the possible consequences when you’re older.
Hi Denise, so sorry to hear this. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I hope your January surgery goes well.
Ive just seen this and i loved your story. I turn 20 tomorrow and had my spinal fusion 5 years ago im not sure exactly where it was but it was most of my spine that was fused with titanium rods and screws. I had a speedy recovery as i was only in hospital for 5 days and at my 1 year post op i was cleared for rides and rollercoasters. As its been a few years and am no longer in touch with my surgeon i was just wondering if you had any advice as i was thinking about trying to go back on a trampoline and im also doing a 5k obstacle course.
Thanks for your comment 🙂 I think you should do what you feel comfortable with but with anything you need to be careful not to injure yourself. I went trampolining recently and it was fun, but you need to take care. You should be ok doing the 5K obstacle course as long as you train properly, although this depends on what obstacles there are and the length of your fusion as some obstacles may be more difficult than others if you have a longer fusion. I did Pretty Muddy (5K muddy obstacle course) last year and loved it! You can always skip some of the obstacles if necessary 🙂 I would say do what you feel comfortable with, as long as it doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort.
It was wonderful to read all the comments. I am 71 and had my fusion at 14. I’ve lived through 10 moves and delivering 9 and 11lb babies. I’m not trying to say it was easy with the fusion but you really need to keep active. I try to exercise an hour a day. I walk on a treadmill for half an hour and find working with a ball along with stretching is very good. It also helps that we live in Ft. Lauderdale ad I can walk on the beach with my grandchildren.
I had scoliosis surgery in 2008. I am able to do way more things now and be almost pain free. I did have an adjustment period and had to relearn how to do some things. The first time I tried to swim after the fusion I almost drowned because I could not turn my head enough to get it out of the water. Took me a minute of floundering to realize just to flip onto my back so I could cough and catch my breath lol. I still have trouble trying to get into a low vehicle with out hitting my head because I cannot bend enough. I feel stronger now, then I was before surgery and I am so glad I did it
I am having my entire spine fused in in about 25 days. I am terrified, but my back is worthless as it is now. I feel encouraged reading these comments, especially from the 61 year old. I believe you have to keep moving, otherwise you really will be in trouble. Any advise on recovery? I live alone so how long should I expect to have to have help with the simple household chores, basic necessities? Thank you for your blog.
Good luck with your surgery, I hope everything goes well. I know how you feel, I think it’s normal to be terrified and I was definitely terrified before my surgery. You will definitely need some help for the first 6 weeks or so, maybe longer depending on your age etc. The hospital should give you some things to help you but I bought a grabber which really helped me alot as you won’t be able to reach for things or bend for a while after the surgery. I have written a post on recovery which may help you 🙂 https://lifewithscoliosis.com/2011/08/scoliosis-surgery-recovery/
All the best, Louise X
I am 64 and had a second fusion 3 months ago. I am fused from T3 to S1. I am so happy with the result. I am in physical therapy and my doctor said I can now lift up to 20 pounds when exercising. I am stiff when I sit too long which I have to do at work, but getting up to move and stretch is helpful. In my case, movement is medicine. The science has really advanced. I think a good neurosurgeon is key. I had no loss of feeling or function and am so happy I can be active without pain as I age. Thanks for your blog. It’s great to be able to hear what others have experienced! Also, now that I am properly aligned, I no longer have joint pain in my knees. This surgery has been life changing for me!!
Thanks Julie, I appreciate your comments. Thanks for sharing your experiences 🙂
I had both scoliosis and spina bifita I was told after a major accident in 1980 that I would never work again. Three weeks later I went back to work, thirty two years later I collapsed walking across the parking lot not able to feel my legs my right leg had loss reflex and sensation both years before and not able to feel my left toes. The spine surgery only opposition,after several set backs three years later My surgery finally happen, first cancelled,second time was outside operating room already met my surgery team and along came the surgeon and he told me I was to get up and go home someone broke their back and took my spot.Day after Easter Monday finally had my surgery,ten and half hours later I was done,Two hours c- pac ( recovery) then was coming off the elevator at my room level I felt sensation in my left toe amazing next morning less than twelve hours I stood for first time. It has taken many rounds of physio but today I am able to walk again and have no pain thanks to Dr Baily and his team at London Health Sciences Hospital .I lost five discs and three veritabae and received two titanium rods twenty screws and four cadaver bone cages. I live a much better life now no pain.
Hi Russel, wow sounds like you’ve really been through it! Thanks so much for sharing your story and I’m glad you now live a better life and have less pain.
I was told to not skydive, or ride a horse at a high gallop. I cannot believe he told you you could bungee jump. Would it be worth it? Of course, you are a lot younger than me. I am fused T10 to S1, but it looks like your fusion is a lot longer. Take care and keep moving.
Thanks Tara, I know. I won’t be bungee jumping – no way! I don’t think that is advised due to the pressure on the fusion. Thanks for reading. Louise
I’m so glad you’ve had a successful recovery. My only comment is to BE CAREFUL. I was fused T4-L3 in November 2008 at age 11 and was doing fantastically for a long time. I had no major restrictions and thought I had beaten scoliosis. I was training for my second half marathon in December 2020, with no real symptoms, when out of no where after an everyday run, I started experiencing shooting nerve pain that left me bed bound and required urgent surgery a week later. I had a herniated disc and severe nerve stenosis, requiring nerve decompression and extending my fusion down to S1. Sure, it might have happened anyway, but the degree of impact I was putting on my last few vertebrae undoubtedly spread up the process. Now, two years later at age 25 I’m in chronic pain. This is true for far too many spinal fusion patients and yet, as children and teenagers, it seems like very few of us are warned about the potential outcomes of engaging in high impact activities.
This is so good to hear! They discovered my scoliosis when I was 13, I am now soon to be 63. Never had anything surgical done… but I now have a 60 degree thoracic curve and a degenerative disc at L5-S1. I get really short of breath. They are going to have me do PT and Massage for 6 weeks to see the outcome. But I’m feeling that it is going to come to a fusion someday.
Where did you have your surgery? I live in Colorado.
So appreciate finding people who can relate and I can talk to.
Thanks for your comment. I had my surgery in the UK, 10 years ago now. I hope your PT goes well and you can find some relief 🙂
Hey- I was diagnosed as an older teenager (16) in 1978. It was operable then, but I was a ballet dancer and my surgeon said I could wear the milwaukee brace while not dancing.
I went on (with significant low back pain, as I thought everyone got low back pain for their 30th birthday!) So, as dancers do, I ignored it, kept dancing, seeing a chiropractor regularly. I married at 31,had twins at 35 and another big fat baby at 38. I went back to dancing every time and snapped back into shape. Around age 48, I noticed that I was shorter with new pain. All of my practioners told me NOT to get pregnant, but DEFINITELY to have an x-ray at the first sign of new pain. Long story short, my x-ray showed that I was – in my surgeon’s words – “circling the drain” and headed for a wheelchair inside of a year. Two of my thoracic discs were seperating laterally ready to sever my spinal cord. Needless to say, that I had a 10 hour two surgeons spinal fusion (T-4 thru S-1) for my 50th birthday. At my 4 year post op x-ray, I was finally given the “go ahead” to try anything including ballet.
You are young with your life ahead of you – as is my 15 year old niece – who had an extensive above the lumbar fusion. She too, is doing fine. As a super athlete my ENTIRE life, I only hope you can imagine the loss of identity I’ve experienced. I pray you continue to stay fit for the rest of your days – and every SINGLE day you have on earth. My recovery entailed a YEAR in my back (fusion takes longer the older you get) phys. therapy at the six month mark and believe me when I tell you, NOTHING was the same! It was as though they, instead, transplanted MY brain into the body of a fat girl who’d never done a plié in her life! I was beyond angry at year four – my release date, and spiraled into my first and only depression. I am finally coming around, having had to start my FIRST conventional diet at age 58 and losing weight more slowly than I could have imagined. I was underweight at my twins 1st birthday AFTER breastfeeding and at my singleton’s as well. I could not keep UP to a normal weight! But – with each DAY I was “allowed” I danced!!!
We have excellent technology now. Take advantage of it. Get your checkups and you should do well. And it wouldn’t hurt you to thank your lucky stars that you were born when you were. My three daughters are in college now, probably not much younger than you and were blessed with PERFECTLY straight spines and have no idea as to my emotional journey, but perfect, no less. Be grateful and take pristine care of your new body! All the best!
Thank you so much for this blog louise. This is just woww.. I just had surgery on 8th may 2022 and i am very scared about my future as before this problm I was so much active like I used to go to gym for 2 hours everyday, trekking every week and used to do running and cycling . And I wanted to do more adventures. After surgery I feel my all dreams are broken. But now after reading this blog .. I am just feeling it’s just a part of life..this time too shall pass… after some time I can do everything what I wanted to do…. I just want to know about which level was involved ?? As I had L5-S1 fusion surgery… just want to know about your level…
This blog gave me so positivity
Hi Varsha, thank you so much for your kind comment. What they don’t always tell you is that the recovery from a surgery like scoliosis surgery can take a long time. You are in the early stages at the moment and it will take time for you to get back into being active again. Once you have recovered, I have no doubt you’ll be able to get back into doing what you love again. The key is to not rush and to let your body and fusion heal. It can take up to a year for the fusion to heal properly and you are not supposed to do any bending/lifting/twisting for at least 3 months. As a side note, I didn’t start running until about 4 years after my surgery (I never ran prior to the surgery though!), and it took me over a year to get back to the gym again. You can get there though! Build up your strength gradually and maybe see if you can get some gentle physiotherapy when you feel up to it. My fusion is T3 – L3 x
Hi all! My daughter has been dealing with Scoliosis since she was 7yo. She is almost 14 now and looking to have surgery. We were doing great with combatting the curve until her period started and 2020 shut everything down. Her curve went from 30 degrees to 52 in a 6 month period. Currently we are at 72 degrees. We are going to try the tethering surgery from T7-L2 and a fusion from T2-T6. I am very scared of her future in the long run, but hope we are making the right decision. She is in a lot of pain most of her life. I try to massage her and use the Fascia Blaster to help with pain. She has a natural fusion between T9-T10 but her spinal column is not effected by this. I am glad to hear from others that have had the surgery.