Swimmer

For many scoliosis patients, the most difficult aspect of coping with their condition is not the pain or the cosmetic appearance of their back but the physical restrictions that a spinal curvature imposes on their life. This makes scoliosis a particularly problematic and limiting ailment for people with a keen interest in sports and/or other physical activities due to the discomfort, the health risks, and the constraints that stem both from the condition itself and from certain scoliosis treatment methods. 

While there is no proven link between swimming and the occurrence of scoliosis, the condition if often detected in those who swim competitively or train regularly, and because of the imbalance caused by a spinal curvature, this can make it difficult to swim in straight lines (among other issues). Although swimming is largely considered to be a beneficial exercise for scoliosis sufferers due to the non-jarring movements and improvements in flexibility and muscle strength, it can also prove challenging for people with curved spines. There are several reasons for this:

  • Breathing Capacity - For those with particularly severe curves, scoliosis can lead to reduced lung capacity, which is especially frustrating for swimmers due to the vital role that breath control plays in achieving success on a competitive level.

  • Increased Difficulty in Performing Certain Movements - Aside from breathing difficulties, a primary concern for many swimmers with scoliosis is their range of motion, which can be limited by the presence of a spinal curve. While modified movements can facilitate the basic action of propelling oneself through water, this difficulty in executing the desired movements to the best of one's ability can become frustrating for many swimmers, who may find that they are unable to perform at their usual level as their scoliosis progresses.

  • Restrictive Treatment Programmes - Supplementing time spent in the pool with other forms of treatment can be beneficial for those with scoliosis, but certain treatment methods can present difficulties for swimmers, particularly those who train on a daily basis. Back braces, for example, are commonly prescribed to younger sufferers as a measure for preventing curve progression, but this approach relies on strong and constant pressure, which means that the brace must be worn for long periods of time. This can make bracing incredibly inconvenient and somewhat ineffective for swimmers, who must remove their brace every time they enter the pool. As for scoliosis sufferers who undergo spinal fusion surgery for their condition, they have to spend several weeks recovering from the operation before they are able to resume their training.

What are the best scoliosis treatment options for swimmers?


Jessie Bowen

For swimmers and other scoliosis sufferers who regularly take part in physical activities, the most beneficial treatment option is often the one that supports their ability to correct and manage their condition without placing unnecessary restrictions on their ability to perform. Over the years, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have treated several swimmers, including some who travelled from overseas to complete a treatment course here.

One example is Jessie Bowen from Canada, who was told that she urgently required surgical treatment for her spinal curvature at the age of 14. Being an individual who was very physically active and swam on a daily basis, Jessie found it very difficult to deal with the prospect of spending 6 months laid up while recovering from major surgery. This is what led her family to get in touch with Scoliosis SOS and enrol her onto one of our intensive 4-week treatment programmes. While there were many initial reservations about the cost of travelling to England and receiving treatment, this all proved to be more than worthwhile for Jessie, who reaped both the short- and long-term benefits of our unique treatment approach.

Not only did Jessie experience noticeable improvements in her physical appearance and pain levels, she was also provided with enhanced knowledge about her condition, which granted her the ability to manage her symptoms on a continual basis. The impact of this treatment was so striking, in fact, that Jessie was prompted to pursue a career in physiotherapy, and now works as a qualified practitioner in northern Canada.

To read more about Jessie's story, click here.

If you're a swimmer who suffers with scoliosis, or a similar spinal issue, and would like to find out more about how we can help you to manage and overcome the limitations of your condition, please feel free to get in touch with us today!
Axel from Sweden

Although the Scoliosis SOS Clinic is based in London, we consider ourselves to be an international treatment centre - just take a look at the overseas patient case studies featured on our website. 

Over the years, we have treated patients from a huge array of countries. Scoliosis sufferers have come to us from North America, Africa, Asia and Oceania, not to mention our many patients from across the European continent. This includes several patients from the Scandinavian region - patients such as Axel Von Sydow, who travelled from Sweden to enrol on one of our 2-week fast-track courses.

Axel suffers from a condition called Scheuermann's disease, which manifests itself in the form of a rounded upper back (hyperkyphosis). The effects of hyperkyphosis are similar to the effects of scoliosis, except for the fact that the condition causes the spine to curve forward rather than sideways. Like scoliosis, the condition can be very painful for those who suffer from it, particularly following periods of exercise or long spells of inactivity. This was certainly the case for Axel, who first noticed his condition during his time as a teenage ice hockey player. Axel noticed that his back often felt stiff after playing sports, and after undergoing further medical investigation, he was diagnosed with Scheuermann's.

Although Axel found that he was able to manage his condition for many years, he noticed that as he got older, he was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the symptoms of his hyperkyphosis - particularly the feelings of fatigue. This was especially problematic for his job as a software developer, which required him to sit down in the same position for long periods of time. Having heard about Scoliosis SOS from his mother, who had been researching Axel's condition online, Axel decided to look into our treatment options further and find out about some of our previous hyperkyphosis cases.

Impressed by what he found online, Axel booked onto one of our fast-track courses, making the journey over from Sweden to begin his treatment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London. Our 2-week courses combine course exercise classes with one-on-one treatments with our therapists, allowing patients to fine-tune their programme in order to relieve the symptoms of their own spinal curvature. This is particularly helpful for patients from overseas, as it allows them to identify and perfect a specially-tailored set of movements for treating their condition in only a short space of time. These exercises can then be performed by the patient themselves in order to continue the progress made at our clinic.

To find out more about Axel's story, watch his patient experience video:


If you're patient from Sweden who is currently looking for an effective non-surgical approach to treating your spinal condition, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our clinic today to find out how we can help!
Scoliosis (when it's not idiopathic) can spring from a number of different conditions, with all kinds of factors potentially contributing to the development of a spinal curvature.

From osteoporosis to Rett syndrome, we've discussed many of these underlying conditions here on the Scoliosis SOS blog, and today we'd like to talk about pectus excavatum - another condition that can cause scoliosis to arise.

What is pectus excavatum? 

What is pectus excavatum

Pectus excavatum (PE) is a congenital chest wall deformity that arises due to the abnormal growth of several ribs and the sternum, giving the chest a caved-in appearance. The condition is more common among men than women; it can be present at birth, but sometimes it doesn't develop until adolescence.

PE typically affects 4-5 ribs on each side of the sternum. The condition's visibility varies from one case to the next, and there can sometimes be significant asymmetry between the two sides of the chest. 

Symptoms of pectus excavatum

PE sufferers may experience chest and back pain (this is usually of musculoskeletal origin). In mild cases of pectus excavatum, the patient's heart and lung function may be completely normal, although their heart may become displaced and/or rotated. In more severe cases of PE, mitral valve prolapse (click-murmur syndrome) may be present, and the patient's physical capability may be limited due to decreased lung capacity. 

What causes pectus excavatum?

The exact cause of this condition is unknown, although some cases of familial occurrence have been reported (suggesting that PE may be a genetic condition). Pectus excavatum is also a common symptom of Marfan syndrome, and many children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) develop PE due to the diaphragmatic breathing that commonly accompanies that disease.   

How is pectus excavatum diagnosed?

PE is can be diagnosed via a visual examination of the anterior chest wall. Chest X-rays are also useful in diagnosing the condition. If the patient suffers from PE, their X-ray scan will display an opacity in the right lung area. PE is differentiated from other disorders by eliminating other signs and symptoms.

Treating pectus excavatum

Mild cases of pectus excavatum may require no corrective procedures at all. In more severe cases, the patient may require surgery, in which case several tests will be performed (including a CT scan, pulmonary tests, and cardiology exams).

Exercise plays an important role in the treatment of pectus excavatum. Exercising can stop or slow the progression of the condition, as well as helping to improve the patient's posture.

Pectus excavatum and scoliosis

Pectus excavatum sufferers are more likely than average to develop scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine. This is especially true if PE has arisen as a result of Marfan syndrome or SMA, since both of these conditions can themselves lead to a curvature of the spine.

If you suffer from scoliosis or another spinal condition - whether as the result of PE or not - you'll be happy to know that the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help! Our ScolioGold programme is an exercise-based treatment regime that we use to help scoliosis sufferers combat their symptoms and achieve a higher quality of life.

If you would like more information regarding ScolioGold treatment and how this could help you manage the symptoms of your condition, please get in touch with us today!
Can Scoliosis Be Cured?

One must be careful when using the word 'cure' in a medical context. There is a big difference between a 'cure' and a 'treatment' - an effective treatment might completely eliminate the symptoms of a disease, but if the underlying disease is still present then - strictly speaking - the patient has not been cured.

By the most rigid definition of the word, scoliosis is more or less impossible to outright cure. Even if the patient no longer suffers as a result of their curved spine, their scoliosis is still there; even if the angle of the curve is reduced to the point that it no longer qualifies as a case of scoliosis, the patient has not truly been 'cured' because there is a chance that they may relapse and that the curve will begin to progress again.

Don't worry, however - if you suffer from scoliosis, there are a number of very effective treatment methods that can help you to overcome the symptoms of the condition and achieve a high quality of life.

Common scoliosis treatment methods

When a medical doctor diagnoses you with scoliosis, they will likely recommend one of the following courses of action:
  • Observation. If your spinal curvature is quite mild and/or you haven't yet finished growing, medical practitioners may recommend forgoing treatment for the time being and simply observing the condition's progress. Further action can be taken at a later date depending on whether the curve improves, gets worse, or stays the same.

  • Bracing. Some scoliosis patients wear a back brace to halt the progression of their spinal curve. This is effectively a rigid plastic shell that prevents your back from changing shape any more than it already has. Sometimes the brace is only worn at night, but it is more common to keep it on around the clock (except when showering or bathing).

  • Surgery. Spinal fusion surgery is an operation that is commonly used to combat more severe spinal curves. Click here to read about this procedure and what it actually involves.
Remember, none of these approaches - not even surgery - 'cure' scoliosis as such. Rather, they aim to relieve the symptoms of scoliosis, straighten up the spine, and stop the curve from progressing any further.

Treating scoliosis with physical therapy

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis patients using a set of non-surgical therapies that we collectively refer to as The ScolioGold Method. This programme is specifically tailored to the needs of scoliosis sufferers, combining numerous treatment strategies in order to effectively combat:
  • Back pain
  • Mobility and flexibility issues
  • Muscle weakness
  • Further progression of the condition
  • The visible symptoms of scoliosis (e.g. uneven shoulders, leaning to one side)
While ScolioGold therapy cannot truly cure scoliosis any more than surgery or bracing can, this has proven to be capable of minimising the symptoms of scoliosis and dramatically improving patient QOL (quality of life). It also has a demonstrable impact on the Cobb angle - click here to see X-ray evidence of this.

We at Scoliosis SOS are currently in the process of applying for NHS funding, which would make ScolioGold treatment far more accessible for UK patients. In the meantime, if you'd like to arrange a consultation at our clinic in London, please get in touch today.
Scoliosis Treatment Norway

Undergoing scoliosis surgery can be a rather scary prospect, and so it's perhaps no wonder that people are often willing to travel thousands of miles across land and sea in order to access an effective non-surgical alternative. Norway is one country that is quite short on non-surgical scoliosis treatment options, which explains why several of the pins on our Overseas Patients map are situated along the western edge of Scandinavia.

Case Study: Camilla Bang

Camilla, a young woman now in her early 20s, is one scoliosis sufferer who frequently flies over to our clinic from Norway for a refresher session. We first treated her in 2013 after she decided that she didn't want to have steel rods inserted into her back!

Camilla was first diagnosed with scoliosis as a teen. She was experiencing a bout of back pain, and her mother - upon examining Camilla's back - noticed a visible curvature that prompted the family to visit the hospital in Oslo for an X-ray. That scan revealed a 37-degree spinal curve; one year later, another X-ray showed that Camilla's Cobb angle had progressed to 43 degrees, severe enough to qualify her for surgery.

However, when Camilla realised what the operation would actually entail, she and her father began researching alternatives. Their search led them to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London, which turned out to be a less expensive option than the one non-surgical scoliosis treatment clinic located on the other side of Norway. (London's many shopping opportunities were a big draw too!)

Camilla attended a 4-week ScolioGold course back in 2013 and saw rapid progress thanks to our special exercise-based treatment programme. Eventually, her curve was diminished to a Cobb angle of 38 degrees, and her refresher sessions and ongoing exercises have managed to keep it there for several years now.

Watch the video below to see Camilla speaking about her experiences at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.


Whether you live in Norway or a completely different part of the world, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help you to combat your spinal curvature. Contact us today to arrange a consultation (this can be carried out via Skype or telephone call if needed).