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When can I go back to school

Dr. John T. Smith

University of Utah Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

You can usually return to school as soon as you have the energy to make it through the whole day. For most patients, they tend to miss about one month of school, while some are ready to return after two weeks. For this reason, many patients prefer to have their surgery done during the summer, so that they are well recovered by the start of the new school year.

Dr. Frank J. Schwab

New York, NY

In general, absence from school ranges from one to three months. During this time the surgeon and his staff will coordinate a home teaching program in which your tutor will communicate with your school to ensure you are covering the same curriculum as your classmates. Returning to school depends on your recovery, transportation concerns, distance from school, and elevator access (if necessary).

Dr. Dennis G. Crandall

Mesa, AZ

We let patients go back to school as soon as they feel good enough. This may be as soon as 2 to 3 weeks after surgery in some cases.

Dr. Scott J. Luhmann

St. Louis, MO

Each school is different, and the administration of your school is an integral part of this issue. In general, from our perspective, you may return to school for classroom activities when you can tolerate it and are off oral narcotic pain medications. Some individuals have returned at three weeks after surgery.

Dr. Thomas G. Lowe

Woodridge Orthopaedics & Spine Center, P.C.

Most patients return to school approximately four weeks following the surgery. Some kids return sooner but some are a little slower. We try to make arrangements for a second set of books so that books don't have to be carried back and forth to school during the first 4-6 weeks. We also recommend that when going back to school, you be allowed to go to your classes a few minutes before class is dismissed.

Dr. John P. Lubicky

Chicago, IL
Shriner's Hospital for Children

You can go back to school whenever you feel up to it. Typically most people need to have a week or two at home after hospital discharge to regain their strength and stamina before they can tolerate going back to school for a whole day. Some people require less time, some more, but it really depends on the individual as to what they can tolerate.

Dr. Patrick Bosch

Albuquerque, NM

Most patients return to school in 3-5 weeks. I discourage returning to school until pain control with non-narcotic medicines is possible.

Dr. James Mooney, III

Detroit, MI

Return to school is usually between three and six weeks. This is very dependent on the patient's activity level and speed of recovery.

Dr. Baron S. Lonner

New York, NY

We allow our patients to return to school by 6-8 weeks after surgery. Patients are not allowed to return sooner except under special circumstances because there are sometimes unpredictable occurrences in school, such as young people running in the hallways and inadvertently bumping into the patient. When you return to school, we will give you a note requesting two sets of books, one set to be left at home and one in school so that you are not carrying heavy book bags during the recovery period. Patients are also given notes to request home tutoring which can be started as soon as the patient returns home from the hospital.

Dr. Robert W. Molinari

Rochester, NY

Some patients return to school as soon as two weeks after surgery. Most are back at school within four weeks.

Dr. Robert S. Pashman

Los Angeles, CA

For school-age children and adolescents, most scoliosis surgeries are done in late spring or early summer to enable the patient to return to school in late summer or early fall. Patients who have surgery based on this kind of schedule do not miss any school.

Dr. Jean-Pierre C. Farcy

New York, NY
M.M.C. Spine Center

Usually after two to three weeks at home unless the commute is long and difficult.

Dr. Michael F. O'Brien

Denver Orthopaedics

Most patients who undergo standard anterior/posterior procedures for uncomplicated scoliosis generally will go back to school in 3-6 weeks. There may be some restriction on activities early on but generally by 3 months patient are back to doing most normal daily activities including school.

Dr. David W. Polly, Jr.

Minneapolis, MN

Typically I tell people they will be out of school 6 weeks. Most school districts will provide a home tutor if you are out of school 6 weeks. Sometimes people are ready to go back sooner (3-4 weeks). But often what happens is you are just tired or out of gas and can't make it through the whole day.

Dr. Charles E. Johnston, II

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Orthopedic Group

Usually at about 3 weeks after surgery.

Dr. Stephen Ondra

Chicago, IL

Patients can go back to school when their pain is under adequate control. Typically, this is 3-4 weeks. After the pain is under good control, the most common hesitance of a patient going to school is the need to wear a brace. By wearing loose fitting clothing, the impact of the brace can be minimized. No physical education activity should be done for one year. There are lifting limits for books and we discourage backpacks.

The commentary above recounts the experiences of these physicians. Medtronic invited them to share their stories candidly. Keep in mind that results vary; not every patient's response is the same. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any products that are mentioned above.

It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications and benefits of spinal surgery with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your doctor's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

  • Published: June 20, 2002
  • Updated: April 19, 2010