Dancer with scoliosis

Many of the patients we treat here at Scoliosis SOS are passionate about dancing and terrified at the thought that scoliosis could stop them from achieving their dreams. We have treated patients interested in just about every type of dance you could possibly think of; ballet, jazz, ballroom, tap, hop-hop and street to name but a few.

This is no coincidence as dancers are usually extremely body aware and scoliosis can have devastating implications for dedicated performers. It can cause significant muscular imbalance, together with impaired flexibility and cosmetic asymmetries; symptoms which are particularly highlighted in anyone with the condition who dances.

This lack of ability to perform at a high standard can often result in poor self-esteem, confidence issues and frustration.

Emily’s Story

Emily Hollingsworth from Swindon came for treatment with us in desperate hope of resolving her postural asymmetries and lung capacity problems. Emily hoped to find a way of managing her condition and yearned to rebuild the confidence she had lost since her diagnosis. After finding Scoliosis SOS and discovering ScolioGold therapy Emily was thrilled to learn that she would be prescribed exercises to self-manage her symptoms.

Emily booked onto a four-week course of ScolioGold therapy and was able to achieve a 2.5cm increase in height, alongside a reduction in the rotation of her spine. Emily’s confidence has soared following treatment and she now feels confident in her ability to dance at a high standard and has even said she would be happy to wear a bikini again.

Emily chose to do 4 weeks in one block; however it is possible to split the course into 2 blocks of 2 weeks and research suggests there is no difference in results as long as the full course is completed within 6 months.

Often cosmetic appearance can be a huge motivational factor for young girls to find an effective spinal treatment. If this can be achieved through exercise, rather than spinal fusion surgery then this is an added bonus, especially for dancers looking to retain their flexibility.

All Emily’s exercises were specifically tailored to her back and she was given ongoing support to continue her regime at home.

Dramatic results are often achieved within a 4-week course; however, progress can continue to be gained throughout a patient’s life.

Contact Scoliosis SOS today to find out how our non-surgical treatment courses may be able to help you.

Curvy Girls is an international support group for young girls with scoliosis. Leah Stoltz from New York started the group after sitting in on a meeting of adult scoliosis sufferers and deciding that there ought to be a similar support network exclusively for under-18s. Leah very kindly agreed to answer some questions from the Scoliosis SOS team – scroll down to read the interview in full.

Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group

So, Leah – for those who may not know, what kind of support does Curvy Girls provide for scoliosis sufferers?

Curvy Girls provides peer support to young girls dealing with scoliosis. What’s awesome about our meetings – and the reason our organisation is so successful – is that we’re entirely teen-run. When girls hold their groups, it’s only girls in the meetings, so it’s a safe and comfortable environment.

What treatment(s) have you undergone for your own spinal curve?

I wore a Boston brace for two and a half years, and then had spinal fusion surgery (T5-L4).

Were you pleased with the results?

I was very pleased with the outcome of my surgery and I try to talk about it as much as possible. Something I’ve noticed a lot is that you really only hear (and see on social media) scary or worrisome stories of surgeries not going well. For the innumerable number of cases that go well, they don’t necessarily need to talk about it as much because it was easier to manage. That’s one of the reasons I try to talk about my story so much: to make surgery less scary for those who are about to undergo it.

You live in the USA – how challenging is it to access effective scoliosis treatment in America today?

I grew up and still reside in New York, so for me it was very easy to get access to bracing and surgery, as well as to surgeons who specialise in scoliosis. On the other hand, curvy girls who live in more remote areas of the US might have to travel great distances to receive care. 

When doing research for our book, Straight Talk with the Curvy Girls, we found out that Europe is way ahead of the US when it comes to conservative care – scoliosis-specific exercises and 3D bracing. In 2012, there was only one place in the whole of the US that offered this treatment, and for most of us it was hours away by plane. I am proud to say that, through the advocacy of Curvy Girls, families in the US now have greater access to these conservative care options.

What is the single most important piece of advice you’d give a young person who’s just been diagnosed with scoliosis?

Talk about how you’re feeling! Don’t keep it bundled inside. Find support – a trusted friend, a parent, a Curvy Girl. Curvy Girls has support groups all over the world, as well as an online forum, Instagram page, Facebook group, book…there are so many ways to feel supported and to talk with other girls who are going through what you are going through (or who have already been through the same things).

For the benefit of the friends and families of scoliosis sufferers, could you shine a little bit of light on the thoughts and emotions of someone who’s going through scoliosis?

A scoliosis diagnosis is something that just happens to us; we feel like we don’t have control over it, and sometimes it can feel like there’s no end in sight. We’re told to wear the brace, which is a very passive activity, and on top of that we’re not even sure it will definitely help! And then sometimes we’re told to wear the brace under the threat of surgery, which is a terrifying idea. I wasn’t fortunate enough to know about the Schroth method prior to my surgery, but what I love about it is that it gives us a bit more control over a situation that can feel like it’s out of our hands.

We understand you’re looking for a new UK representative – what does this role entail, and what sort of person are you looking for?

Yes we are! The best Curvy Girls leader is one who has the desire to help others as well as themselves. She should not only want to give support, but be open to asking for and receiving it when she needs it as well. Girls with scoliosis between the ages of 11 and 18 are eligible. We provide all the support necessary to become a CG leader. If you’re open to learning, we’re open to teaching! Application details here.

What’s next for Curvy Girls? What are the Foundation’s aims for the future?

World domination! In all seriousness, we just want to make sure there’s support for girls wherever they are. My personal goal is that support should be offered in tandem with any diagnosis, brace, or surgery consultation. It’s easy to just focus on treating the physical symptoms of scoliosis, but there’s also an emotional component that’s far too frequently ignored. Curvy Girls is the emotional brace for scoliosis!

Visit www.curvygirlsscoliosis.com for more information about the Curvy Girls Scoliosis Foundation, or click here to learn about the exercise-based scoliosis treatment courses we provide here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London, England.
Hyperlordosis
 
The most important thing to keep in mind when seeking information on your curved spine is the fact that no two curves are the same. In fact, even perfectly healthy spines have some level of curvature, although this slight curve does not pose a problem unless it grows to be abnormally severe. Curvatures can occur in different parts of the spine and develop into a variety of shapes depending on the direction and location of the irregularity.
 
Previously on the Scoliosis SOS blog, we discussed the characteristics of hyperkyphosis, a spinal condition which causes the upper region of the spine to curve forwards, creating a hunched appearance. Hyperlordosis, on the other hand, occurs in the lower (lumbar) spine, causing the patient to have an excessively arched posture in the lower part of the back.
 
To explain in more detail, here’s a closer look at the causes and symptoms of hyperlordosis.
 

What causes hyperlordosis?

The first thing to note about hyperlordosis is that it can impact people of all genders and ages – although it is rare in children. The condition is frequently caused by bad posture, along with a number of other contributing factors and conditions, including:
  • Obesity
  • Spinal injury
  • Sitting or standing for extended periods of time
  • Uneven muscles, particularly a weak core
  • Injuries and trauma gained while dancing

 

What does hyperlodosis look like?

Hyperlordosis causes the inward curve in the lower back to become exaggerated, causing the stomach and bottom to appear pushed out, and the inward curve to resemble the letter ‘C’ when viewed from the side. To find out how this differs from the appearance of scoliosis and hyperkyphosis, read our guide to different curvatures of the spine here.
 

Can hyperlordosis be treated?

In the majority of cases, hyperlordosis is not a sign of a more severe condition, meaning that it can be treated and managed with physical therapy and exercises designed to strengthen the back, correct the curve, and improve overall posture. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we are able to provide tailored treatment programmes that are specifically designed with the individual needs of our patients in mind, allowing us to provide the best possible treatment. 
 
If you have recently been diagnosed with hyperlordosis and you would like to find out more about our non-invasive treatment methods, please feel free to contact the Scoliosis SOS team today.
Scoliosis sufferer in the British army

If it is your ambition to join the British Army, you may be concerned about whether your curved spine will scupper your chances of achieving this goal. Today, we’d like to put your fears to rest.

Army Entry Requirements

The British Army’s entry requirements state that all would-be soldiers looking to join a UOTC (University Officers’ Training Corps) must satisfy the Army’s medical requirements. Certain conditions – such as deafness, blindness, and the absence of one or more limbs – are deemed ‘immediate barriers’, meaning that anyone with these conditions is automatically disqualified from entry into a UOTC. The rules are more flexible for other conditions; for example, if you have ever suffered from diseases like malaria, pneumonia, heart disease, or tuberculosis, this may disqualify you from signing up, but the final decision will depend on the details of your specific case.

Back pain, in addition to being a common symptom of scoliosis, is one of the factors that can potentially disqualify a person from entering the British Army. However, it’s worth noting that none of the effects of scoliosis are immediate barriers, and generally speaking, your spinal curve should only keep you from joining the Army if it has a significant effect on your mobility and/or your overall health.

Matthew’s Story

24-year-old Matthew Gilson from Somerset wanted to join the British Armed Forces, but he feared that this ambition would have to be laid to rest when he was diagnosed with scoliosis. He found himself suffering from intense back pain, and this forced him to put his demanding training regime on hold for a while.

Scoliosis sufferer Matthew from Wells

However, after completing a 4-week ScolioGold treatment course here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, Matthew’s pain levels had receded massively, and his posture was better as well. This improvement allowed him to re-apply for the Army and continue following his dream of serving in the military.

If you require scoliosis treatment, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to find out how our non-surgical treatment courses may be able to help you.
Signs of Scoliosis
 

When it comes to treating scoliosis, it is highly beneficial to spot the signs of scoliosis and their progression as early as possible, in order to have the best chance of preventing the spinal curvature from becoming more severe. In order to do this, the symptoms must be recognised in the individual sufferer, in order for them to be examined and diagnosed by a medical professional.

The difficulty with this arises because symptoms often vary from case to case and can be difficult to spot until the curvature is at a later stage of progression. For this reason, it is important to familiarise oneself with the range of symptoms which may be signs of scoliosis, in order to ensure that appropriate treatment is provided as early as possible. 
 
Here’s a closer look at some of the signs of scoliosis across all the age ranges:

Signs of Scoliosis in Babies

In children under the age of five, the condition is referred to as early-onset or infantile scoliosis and can be classified as one of the several possible forms of the disease, including congenital, syndromic and neuromuscular. In those aged 3 or under, this can be difficult to detect and can have a number of outcomes depending on each case. For some, the curve may improve, while other cases will see the curve progress as the child continues to grow. To help spot possible symptoms and signs of scoliosis as soon as possible, here are a few signs to keep in mind: 
  • A difference in shoulder height.
  • Unusual head position (not centred with the rest of the body).
  • Hip and shoulder blade height/position. 
  • The way arms hang beside the body when standing.
  • The sides of the back having an uneven appearance when bending forward.

 

Signs of Scoliosis in Adolescents 

This is the age group that is most commonly impacted by idiopathic scoliosis, developing during puberty as the body begins to grow more rapidly. The majority of curves tend to slow in progression as the individual matures, however, the most severe curves will continue to progress into adulthood. Although some scoliosis sufferers experience pain as a result of their condition, this is not true of every case. Meaning that other symptoms should also be taken into consideration alongside this. Signs of scoliosis in adolescents include:
  • Rib hump/prominence: a lateral shift of the chest relative to the pelvis.
  • Shoulder height asymmetry where one shoulder appears higher than the other.
  • Torso leaning to the right or left, which can also result in one hip appearing higher, or one leg appearing longer than the other.
  • Pain in the lower back (particularly inactive individuals).
  • Uneven skin folds where one side indents more than the other.

Take a look at our video here on how to check for signs of scoliosis in your child:

 

Signs of Scoliosis in Adults 

While the signs of scoliosis are usually spotted at an earlier age, there are cases of scoliosis which develop or manifest themselves in older patients. Although early-onset cases and syndrome-connected forms of scoliosis are known to impact adults, the two main forms of adult scoliosis are adult idiopathic scoliosis and adult degenerative scoliosis. Both these forms of the disease are progressive over time, with those of 50 degrees progressing more rapidly than those beneath this threshold. In the case of degenerative scoliosis, this is caused by a degeneration of the discs, arthritis of the facet joints, and the collapse/wedging of disc spaces, typically seen in the lumbar area of the spine. Signs of scoliosis in adults include:
  • Lower back pain and stiffness.
  • Leaning forwards due to trapped nerves/loss of natural curve. 
  • Numbness and shooting pains in the legs.
  • Fatigue due to stress on lower back and leg muscles, which are placed under strain as a result of the curvature.
  • Shortness of breath due to reduced lung capacity (in severe cases).
 
Here at Scoliosis SOS, we have treated patients with a variety of scoliosis symptoms over the years, each belonging to a variety of age groups, with their own areas of concern regarding their condition and its impact on their daily life. To find out more about the non-surgical treatment we are able to provide here at Scoliosis SOS, simply get in touch with us today to request information or to book an initial consultation below
 
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Is Scoliosis Life-Threatening?

Scoliosis patients often ask numerous questions about their condition when they are first diagnosed. While many of these questions relate to the patient’s quality of life and cosmetic appearance, it is not uncommon for newly-diagnosed scoliosis sufferers to worry about their mortality, especially bearing in mind the progressive nature of the condition.

First of all, it is important to note that scoliosis is NOT considered to be a fatal condition. A curved spine cannot directly result in death.

However, there are some secondary risks which sometimes occur as a result of scoliosis, and these can lead to death in a small minority of cases. 

Lung & Heart Function

In its most severe form, scoliosis can affect the heart and lungs, limiting their ability to function and leading to complications that can potentially result in death. The deformity of the spine and chest wall can restrict lung function, thus reducing oxygen circulation, causing lung tissue to die off and preventing healthy lung growth in younger patients. This can also impact the heart’s ability to function correctly, as the lack of oxygen and proper distribution causes progressive stress, along with the crowding of the organs.

This only occurs in patients with the most severe curvatures (i.e. 100 degrees or more). The symptoms of such conditions also become gradually worse over time, which completely eliminates the possibility that scoliosis could cause sudden death with no prior warning or opportunity to prevent it. Treatment is almost always administered long before the condition has an opportunity to progress to this point, which usually prevents the secondary risks from developing altogether.

Risks for Younger Scoliosis Sufferers 

Most cases of scoliosis develop during adolescence, although the condition can sometimes occur in very young children. Progressive infantile scoliosis is considered to present a higher risk to the patient than scoliosis that develops later in life due to the potential impact on a young, developing body and the risk of progression as the child matures. For this reason, preventative treatments such as bracing are usually recommended right away in order to reduce the risk of later-in-life complications as far as possible.

Risk of Death During Surgery 

Once an individual’s spinal curve has reached an angle of 45-50 degrees, surgery is usually recommended in order to prevent the curve progressing to such an extent that it has a secondary impact on the individual’s health. While the surgery can be a permanent solution to the progression of a spinal curvature, there are several associated risks which can arise as a result of surgery – infection, for example.

That being said, death during spinal fusion surgery is very rare indeed, especially among patients who are in good health aside from their scoliosis. For otherwise healthy patients, the incidence of death as a complication of surgery is said to be less than 1%. The risk is higher for those with other conditions, as well as for older patients, although it is important to note that this is also applies to any other surgical procedure.

Can Treatment Reduce My Risk of Life-Threatening Complications?

While a handful of scoliosis cases have led to the patient’s death, there are many preventative measures which can be taken in order to avoid this outcome. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we specialise in providing individually-tailored correction treatments that are designed with the patient’s specific requirements in mind. We have treated patients as young as 4 and as old as 90+, all with spinal curvatures of varying severity. By educating patients about their condition and teaching them the exercises needed to prevent future curve progression, we are able to avoid the risks associated with severe scoliosis and surgery, further reducing the already low chance of death by scoliosis.

If you are concerned about your spinal curvature and the risks that it might pose to your overall health, please feel free to get in touch with our team today. Contact us now to request further information or arrange a consultation.

What is osteopenia, and how can it lead to adult degenerative scoliosis?

 
Osteopenia Bones
 
Osteopenia is a condition where the bones of the human body lose some of their density, making them more fragile and leading to an increased risk of fractures. Osteopenia often occurs naturally with age and is particularly common amongst post-menopausal women. However, there are certain things that may make you more susceptible to osteopenia:
  • Excessive drinking
  • Smoking
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Coeliac disease
  • Low BMI
  • Certain medications
Osteopenia develops gradually and has few symptoms. Many people with osteopenia don’t notice the condition at all until a relatively minor impact results in broken bones, and for this reason, most cases are not diagnosed until a fracture occurs.

Osteopenia vs. Osteoporosis: What’s the Difference?

If you’re familiar with a condition called osteoporosis, all of the above may sound somewhat familiar. Given that both conditions are characterised by a reduction in bone density (usually occurring in later life), you may even be wondering if osteopenia is just another name for osteoporosis.
 
Well, you’re half right: osteopenia is really just a milder form of osteoporosis. If you have osteopenia, your bone mass has begun to decrease, but your condition is not severe enough to be called osteoporosis. Osteopenia sometimes progresses to the point of full-blown osteoporosis, but many osteopenia sufferers remain in that transitional stage – not every case of osteopenia develops into a case of osteoporosis.
 
Both osteopenia and osteoporosis are diagnosed using something called a DEXA scan. During a DEXA scan, X-rays are used to analyse your bone mineral density; your results are then compared to a healthy person of your age and sex to find your so-called ‘T score’.

What Your T Score Means

  • Higher than -1 SD: You do not have osteopenia or osteoporosis.
  • -1 to -2.5 SD: You do not have osteoporosis, but you may be diagnosed with osteopenia.
  • Lower than -2.5 SD: You have osteoporosis.

Scoliosis Among Osteopenia / Osteoporosis Patients

Reduced bone density means weaker bones, and fractures aren’t necessarily the only thing that osteopenia / osteoporosis sufferers have to worry about. A spine that has been weakened by osteopenia is more likely to curve over time, and so osteopenia / osteoporosis patients are more likely to develop adult degenerative scoliosis than people with a healthy bone mineral density.
 
If you suffer from a curvature of the spine – whether it’s due to osteoporosis, osteopenia, or other factors entirely – please contact the Scoliosis SOS Clinic today to find out about our effective non-surgical treatment courses. Our helpful team of experts will be happy to help you with your condition. 
Scoliosis Scan

The first step for every Scoliosis SOS patient is attending our clinic for an initial consultation. At the beginning of your consultation, we will go through your medical records, evaluate any symptoms you’re currently experiencing, and ask you about any previous treatments you may have received for your back problems. Next, we will conduct a medical examination and evaluation of your spine and back; this means taking many measurements and performing a formetric scan of your back. 

A Formetric scoliosis scan is used to assess and monitor the curvature of your spine. This is done by isolating numerous anatomical markers of the patient’s back. From a Formetric scan, we’re able to quantitatively measure and record a patient’s body characteristics, posture, scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis and many other forms of spinal deformity. The 4D software allows for measures to be taken over a period of time (up to 1 minute) to improve measurement precision. It has been shown to be a useful tool in reviewing the ‘actual state of the patient’ when compared to previous review methods. Furthermore, a Formetric scan does not require any further X-rays and radiation exposure.

In a short period of time, the Formetric 4D System can accurately evaluate:
  • Weight distribution
  • Pelvic position – including torsion, obliquity and anterior/posterior tilt
  • Waistline symmetry
  • Coronal (head above hips) balance
  • Sagittal (side-on) balance, including evaluation of kyphosis and lordosis
  • Shoulder levels
  • Scapular position
  • Neck alignment
Another form of scoliosis scan that we use here at Scoliosis SOS is the Pedoscan. This scan is used for analysis and recording of static and dynamic foot pressures alongside gait analysis. Using precise high-frequency pressure plates, a Pedoscan provides an intricate analysis of the weight distribution and behaviour of the patient’s feet both when standing still and during movement. This scan gives us an insight into how your spinal curve might be affecting your posture and walking habits.

If you wish to book an initial consultation at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please complete the enquiry form on our Contact Us page.