Kyphosis is a condition in which the spine begins to curve outward. It causes the patient to appear as though their head and shoulders are slumped forward. In some cases, the patient may even appear as though they have a hump on their back. Kyphosis can be congenital, the result of an accident, or due to a neuromuscular condition. In many cases, it can be managed with physical therapy and a brace. in some cases, however, a doctor may recommend surgery to correct the abnormality. Here are some questions you may have if spinal surgery for kyphosis is being recommended for you or a loved one.
What does the surgery actually do?
The goal of the surgery will be to straighten the spine. Often, this is done by inserting a series of screws and rods into the vertebrae. Once this hardware is in place, the surgeon will straighten out the back, slowly correcting the arch in the spine. Bone grafts may be used to fill in some of the hollow areas on the inside of the spine. When necessary, the bone is taken from the patient's rib area.
How is the surgery performed?
Spinal surgeries can sometimes be performed in a minimally invasive manner, using small incisions. However, many kyphosis surgeries are too extensive and involve too much of the spine to be performed in this manner. So, there's a good chance the surgeon will need to make a long incision down the length of the spine. X-ray imaging may still be used to guide various instruments, further minimizing the risk of damage to the spinal cord.
What is the recovery process like?
This is an extensive surgery, and as such, the recovery process tends to last several months. Patients will spend a few days in the hospital post-surgery, and after that, they are typically sent to a rehab center where they can undergo extensive physical and occupational therapy as they recover. Once they return home, they generally still attend weekly or biweekly physical therapy sessions to continue strengthening the spine and related musculature. Post-surgery pain is generally managed with prescription pain relievers, and sometimes also with other soothing therapies like acupuncture.
If your doctor is recommending surgery for kyphosis, it is generally because other treatment options simply won't be effective. It is not the easiest surgery to go through, but the results are generally worth it. Talk to your surgeon or a spine surgery specialist group like The Anand Spine Group to learn more.