When you or someone in your family are diagnosed with scoliosis, it's normal to wonder if the condition will simply get better on its own. No one wants to go through a potentially arduous treatment for an illness that will eventually resolve itself once things have taken their course.
Unfortunately, scoliosis does not usually get better on its own. Very minor spinal curves may improve with time, but this is very rare and only happens in the mildest cases of scoliosis. In fact, when left without treatment, large scoliosis curves tend to progress further, getting worse and worse until they're causing potentially life-threatening problems. The most severe scoliosis curvatures can lead to restricted cardiovascular and respiratory movement.
What can I do to stop my scoliosis getting worse?
You can prevent your scoliosis from getting worse by seeking treatment from your GP. They will usually refer you to a hospital, and the medical professionals there may recommend bracing, physiotherapy, surgery, or any combination of these.
When you are diagnosed at a young age, it is typically recommended to wear a back brace until your body has finished growing. The brace will help to prevent the scoliosis curve from progressing any further as you grow.
When diagnosed with scoliosis as an adult, physiotherapy and surgery are the most commonly-recommended treatment routes. Only the most severe cases of scoliosis (40-50° and over) require surgical intervention. Typically, the procedure used is spinal fusion surgery, which involves attaching rods, hooks, wires or screws to the curved part of the spine in order to help straighten the spine over time. A bone graft is then used to 'fuse' the spine into the correct position.
How can physiotherapy help with scoliosis?
Here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer specialised physiotherapy courses for those with scoliosis and other spinal/postural problems. We find that many of our patients do not want to undergo the painful process of surgery and would prefer to follow a physiotherapy treatment plan to help improve their scoliosis.
There are a variety of different non-surgical methods that can be used to help reduce the curvature of the spine - here are just a few of the techniques we use to combat scoliosis:
- Schroth method - This method, developed by Katharina Schroth, was introduced in 1921 and has been used ever since. It comprises a series of stretches and exercises that combat the symptoms of scoliosis.
- FITS Method - With an individually-adjusted programme for each patient, this method uses posture patterns to help improve scoliosis.
- Taping - Kinesio tape is sometimes used to help promote correct muscle movements, which can help reduce the pain caused by scoliosis.
- Hydrotherapy - Hydrotherapy is a great way to treat certain symptoms of scoliosis without the strain of doing exercises on dry land.
Visit our ScolioGold method page to read about all the techniques we use to treat scoliosis here at the clinic.
Get in touch with Scoliosis SOS today to arrange a consultation and find out more about our treatment courses.
We treat a number of different spinal conditions here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and one condition that we see more infrequently is congenital kyphosis.
The most common causes of hyperkyphosis - an abnormally prominent forward curvature of the spine - are poor posture and old age. Congenital kyphosis, however, begins to develop before birth, usually within the first 6-8 weeks of embryonic development. A certain genetic defect seems to affect how the vertebrae and discs develop, pushing the spine forward at an angle. When this happens, the baby will be born with vertebrae that have not formed properly, or with multiple vertebrae joined together, causing the spine to curve forward.
How to treat congenital kyphosis
As with other curvatures of the spine, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for congenital kyphosis. The right treatment plan depends on the particulars of the case at hand.
As congenital kyphosis develops before birth, it is often treated when the patient is very young. For that reason, doctors will sometimes advise waiting to see if the child's back corrects itself during growth, closely monitoring the angle of the spine over time.
In other cases, the severity of the condition may lead to a decision that spinal fusion surgery is necessary to stop the curve from developing any further. This is a major (though generally safe) operation that not everyone is comfortable with, particularly when the patient is so young.
There are alternatives to surgery - exercise-based programmes such as our own ScolioGold method (which combines a number of physiotherapy exercises and techniques to help the patient with the symptoms of their spinal curvature) can be very effective in the right circumstances. Physical therapy aims to reduce the angle of the patient's spinal curve, ameliorate symptoms such as pain and stiffness, and help with the patient's body image / self-confidence. Click here to see some before and after pictures of our hyperkyphosis patients.
If you would like to attend a consultation at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and find out more about our hyperkyphosis treatment courses, we would be more than happy to welcome you. We can also conduct remote consultations via Skype or over the phone if you live far away. Get in touch today to arrange your consultation.
Scoliosis sufferers in the Republic of Ireland have faced significant difficulties in recent years. While treatment is freely available through the Health Service Executive (HSE), many scoliosis patients have been forced to wait months or even years for crucial procedures such as spinal fusion surgery. This situation has been dubbed 'unacceptable' by figures within the Irish government, and some people with curved spines have found themselves struggling with pain, depression and reduced mobility as a result of the long wait times.
However, the HSE recently announced that overall health funding would increase by more than €600 million in 2018, with €9 million earmarked specifically for "the expansion of paediatric/adolescent orthopaedic services, including scoliosis". Minister for Health Simon Harris (pictured below) welcomed the increased investment, adding that 2018 would be "the fourth year in a row where significant additional resources have been allocated" to Ireland's health service.
Simon Harris, Ireland's Minister for Health (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
HSE director general Tony O'Brien had a more cautious response to the news, warning (according to The Irish Times) that the HSE still faces "a very significant financial challenge in 2018" due to the increasing cost of delivering treatment and other services.
Scoliosis treatment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic
We've treated countless patients from other countries here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and perhaps as a result of the aforementioned long waiting lists, a significant number of those patients have come to us from the Republic of Ireland.
We provide specialist non-surgical treatment for scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine. Our unique ScolioGold treatment programme incorporates a wide variety of effective exercise-based techniques from all over the world, and has proven extremely effective at reducing curve angle, improving mobility and muscle balance, and boosting overall quality of life.
Molly Garvey is one scoliosis patient who came from Ireland to our clinic in England - watch the video below to hear her story.
If you'd like to arrange a consultation with the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please click here to get in touch.
Pilates is a system of exercises devised by a German physical trainer named Joseph Pilates. It has become incredibly popular in the Western world, with countless Pilates classes available throughout the UK.
But is Pilates beneficial for scoliosis sufferers? It certainly can be - there is evidence that Pilates can help to improve balance and muscle conditioning, and some scoliosis patients also find that Pilates helps to relieve tension, improve posture and increase joint mobility.
This method of exercising is usually very safe, and while it's no substitute for an intensive ScolioGold treatment course, you may find that Pilates goes some way towards helping you cope with your spinal curvature. Today we will be looking at some helpful Pilates techniques for scoliosis sufferers and how you can perform them at home.
Seated Pelvic Tilt on a Stability Ball
To perform this exercise:
- Sit up straight on a stability ball with your feet flat on the floor and hold a support in front of you.
- Slowly tuck your tailbone under, curving your pelvis beneath you. You should feel the ball roll forward slightly.
- Release, then start again.
The side bend exercise focuses on the upper half of your back. Here's how to do it:
- Raise one hand up over your head, towards the ceiling, then bend your knees.
- Once you're in a bending position, take your other hand and rest it on the side of your hip.
- Lengthen your body to one side, rest, and then bend to the other side. Repeat.
This exercise is very gentle and can be conducted by patients of all ages. Lie flat on your back on a soft mat to begin with, then follows these steps:
- With your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (hip-width apart), find your 'neutral pelvis' as shown in the photos above. First, move your lower back as far as you can away from the mat...
- ...and then press it as far as you can towards the mat. The midpoint between these two positions is your 'neutral pelvis'.
- To engage your core, place your finger tips on the inside of your hip bone. Try to tighten your stomach muscles in towards the spine - your tummy should move away from your fingers.
- Hold for six seconds, and then repeat.
These are just a few gentle Pilates exercises that can be completed every morning. Regularly completing this routine can help relieve tension and other symptoms of scoliosis, but if you're looking for a more specialised exercise routine to prevent long-term progression of your condition, we can provide this here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.
Contact us today for details, or click here to learn more about our ScolioGold treatment method.
It is fairly common for a person with scoliosis to also suffer from uneven legs and/or flat feet. Indeed, one of the key symptoms to look out for when attempting to spot a case of scoliosis is whether the patient has uneven hips and/or legs.
There are two different types of limb length discrepancy (LLD), which are as follows:
- Functional Leg Length Discrepancy - Functional LLD is caused by scoliosis. A curved spine may cause the pelvis to become uneven, making one leg appear to be longer than the other (even though both legs are actually the same length).
- Anatomical Leg Length Discrepancy - This is when the structural length of the two legs is actually different (i.e. there is a genuine length difference between one leg and the other).
Anatomical limb length discrepancy can actually lead to scoliosis, since the body tries to compensate for the difference in leg length. This means that scoliosis can both cause and be caused by a difference in leg length.
Luckily, there are some ways to address leg length discrepancy without resorting to corrective surgery.
Treating a scoliosis-related leg length discrepancy
One way to reduce LLD is by using orthotics and/or insoles that are designed to compensate for the difference in leg length. These insoles help to slow down the progression of the spinal curve and relieve some of the discomfort that scoliosis can cause. To learn more about how orthotics and insoles can help with scoliosis-related leg length discrepancies, read our blog on the subject here.
There's also the option to undergo a specialised physical therapy course such as those delivered here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. Using our own ScolioGold method (a combination of proven non-surgical treatment techniques), we work with each individual patient to determine the best way to improve their scoliosis and leg length discrepancies (if present). After an initial consultation, a specialist will recommend the best course of treatment for your case.
The ScolioGold treatment method has been extremely effective with our patients - see some of the results here. Our treatment programme has helped to reduce pain, improve posture and boost confidence while also reducing the Cobb angle (spinal curve) of our patients.
If you are hoping that we can help you with your scoliosis leg length discrepancies, please get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team today.