Discharge Instructions for Scoliosis Surgery (Pediatric)
Your child has had surgery for scoliosis. This is a condition where the spine curves and twists from side to side. It is most often found in girls in their early teens, although boys can have it too. No one is sure what causes scoliosis, but it is not caused by things like carrying heavy bags or playing sports. Scoliosis does tend to run in families (parent, child, siblings). Here's what you need to know about home care after surgery.
Making movement easier
Remove throw rugs, electrical cords, and anything else that may cause falls.
Use nonslip bath mats, grab bars, an elevated toilet seat, and a shower chair in the bathroom.
Help your child to use a cane, crutches, a walker, or handrails until his or her balance, flexibility, and strength have improved.
Arrange your household to keep the items handy for your child. Keep everything else out of the way.
Encourage your child to use a fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things and keep his or her hands free.
Encourage naps if your child feels tired, but don’t let him or her stay in bed all day.
Make sure your child knows that he or she cannot bend at the waist, twist at the waist, or raise hands over the head for the first 2 weeks after surgery.
Don’t allow your child to lift anything heavier than 4 pounds for the first 2 weeks after surgery.
Keep your child from sitting for longer than 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Frequent short walks are the key to recovery.
Encourage your child to sit in chairs with arms. The arms make it easier to stand up or sit down.
Allow your child to shower as needed, starting 3 days after surgery. Gently pat the incision dry. Don’t rub it or apply creams or lotions.
Don’t let the child soak the incision in water (no hot tubs, bathtubs, swimming pools, etc.) until the doctor says it’s okay.
Check the incision daily for redness, tenderness, or drainage.
Other home care
Make sure your child takes his or her medication exactly as directed.
Make sure your child wears his or her back brace as directed by your child's doctor.
Avoid nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, unless directed by your doctor. They may delay or prevent proper fusion of the spine.
Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your healthcare provider.
Keep appointments for X-rays. They need to be taken regularly to check the status of your child’s surgery and spinal fusion.
When to call your child's healthcare provider
Call the healthcare provider right away if your child has any of the following:
Drainage from the incision
Redness, swelling, or opening of the incision
Increased pain from the incision
Fever as directed by your healthcare provider or:
Your child is younger than 12 weeks and has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C), or higher because your baby may need to be seen by his or her healthcare provider
Your child has repeated fevers about 104°F (40°C) at any age
Your child is younger than 2 years old and his or her fever continues for more than 24 hours or your child is 2 years old and older and his or her fever continues for more than 3 days
Weakness in his or her arms or legs
Trouble controlling bowels or bladder
Painful calf that is warm to the touch and tender with pressure
Swelling of his or her foot, ankle, or calf that is not relieved by elevating the feet
Chest pain or shortness of breath
Increased pain in lower extremity
March 21, 2017
2011 The International Scientific Society on Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment Guidelines: Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment of Idiopathic Scoliosis During Growth. Negrini, S. Scoliosis. 2012;7(3):s1-35.
Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH,Joseph, Thomas N., MD