When we discussed the signs and symptoms of scoliosis on this blog previously, we explained that spinal curvature often causes the hips to appear uneven, with one side sitting higher than the other. This uneven posture can cause pain for the patient when walking or standing for long periods of time, limiting the range of activities that they are able to perform without experiencing discomfort.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

How are scoliosis and hip pain linked?

The condition known as scoliosis (where the spine curves sideways) can lead to a variety of secondary problems, with hip pain sometimes developing as a result of stretched ligaments due to the spinal deformity. In addition, one hip may end up carrying more weight than the other because of the tilting caused by scoliosis; this leads to a misuse of tendons and muscles, which also results in pain.

What is the source of this hip pain?

The hip pain experienced by scoliosis sufferers usually occurs as a result of straining the iliolumbar and sacroiliac ligaments, strong bands of connective tissue which help to stabilise the lumbosacral spine at the pelvis. This type of pain is referred to as sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain, with discomfort also resulting from pelvic dysfunction due to disturbance in normal moving patterns, and from the myofascial restrictions that develop as a result of muscle recruitment patterns being altered.

Can scoliosis treatment help with hip pain?

Once a thorough assessment has been conducted in order to determine the nature and cause of the hip pain, this information can be used to create a targeted treatment plan that uses manual therapy to address the problematic areas. This approach is then used to restore alignment and to correct abnormal patterns of movement, relieving stress and preventing future pain in the process.   Here at Scoliosis SOS, we tailor our non-surgical treatment programmes to the specific needs of each patient, allowing us to achieve the best results for each individual. If you suffer from hip pain due to your spinal condition, we will be able to take this into consideration when devising and delivering your treatment programme in order to provide relief from the pain and restore normal movement going forward.   Click here to learn more about our ScolioGold treatment method, or book an initial consultation here.

Spinal Fusion Surgery
 
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that is commonly recommended in severe cases of scoliosis. In the UK, spinal fusion surgery will usually be considered as a treatment option once the patient’s spinal curve measures 40 degrees; in some other countries, it may not be recommended without a Cobb angle measurement of at least 50 degrees.
 
 

Does spinal fusion surgery have a high success rate?

There are lots of stories on the Internet about spinal fusion procedures that didn’t have the desired effect (i.e. reducing curvature, preventing further progression of the curve, and easing symptoms such as back pain). There are even some accounts of operations that made things worse, leaving the patient in more pain and even less able to move around freely.
 
It is true that spinal fusion surgery can go wrong, but in the majority of cases, there are no significant complications and the treatment works well. As Leah Stoltz, founder of the Curvy Girls support group for young scoliosis sufferers, told us when we interviewed her:
 
“Something I’ve noticed a lot is that you really only hear 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…that’s one of the reasons I try to talk about [my experience of spinal fusion surgery] so much.”
 
According to the University of Washington’s Department of Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, the average curve correction achieved when spinal fusion is carried out on someone under 16 with idiopathic scoliosis is roughly 70%. The operation carries a 2-3% risk of complications.
 

What complications can arise?

When complications do arise from spinal fusion surgery, they vary greatly in severity and seriousness. Possible complications include:
  • Infection
  • Failed fusion
  • Paralysis
However, as stated above, the risk of complication – especially severe complication – is very low.
 

Alternatives to spinal fusion surgery

If your scoliosis has progressed to the point where you are being considered for surgery, you have probably already tried other treatment methods such as bracing. However, even advanced cases of scoliosis (40-50 degrees and over) may be treated via a non-surgical, exercise-based programme such as ScolioGold.
 
ScolioGold
 
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have treated countless scoliosis patients who thought that surgery was their only remaining option. The ScolioGold method, our own carefully-selected combination of non-surgical treatment techniques, has proven very effective in relieving pain, reducing curvature, improving mobility and muscle balance, and improving overall quality of life.
 

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Kyphoscoliosis
 
Kyphoscoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine on two different planes: the coronal plane, which divides the stomach and back; and the sagittal plane, which divides the body into its left and right sides.
 
This curvature is effectively a combination of hyperkyphosis (forward spinal curve) and scoliosis (sideways spinal curve). Kyphoscoliosis can occur at any age, and in some cases, it may even be present at birth due to congenital issues.

Symptoms of kyphoscoliosis

Kyphoscoliosis is typically noticed due to the visible signs of a hunched or uneven back. If the curvature is excessive, it can also cause physical debilitations. 
 
If you believe that you (or a loved one) may have kyphoscoliosis, here are the symptoms to look for:
  • A hunched back
  • Uneven shoulder blades
  • Arms or legs that are longer on one side
  • Difficulty walking normally
  • Back pain
  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue
In severe cases, kyphoscoliosis patients can also experience difficulty breathing/eating, heart issues or even neurological problems.

Causes of kyphoscoliosis

Kyphoscoliosis can develop at any age and may be caused by a variety of different issues. Many cases of kyphoscoliosis are found to be idiopathic, meaning the exact cause of the condition is unknown. 
 
In some cases, prolonged bad posture can lead to postural kyphoscoliosis. This can usually be eased with physical therapy, depending on the degree of the curvature.
 
Infections such as tuberculosis and osteochondrodysplasia can also be a cause of kyphoscoliosis as they weaken the spine. In patients aged 50+, kyphoscoliosis can develop when degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis are already present.

Kyphoscoliosis treatments

Physical therapy

Physiotherapy can help with mild to moderate cases of kyphoscoliosis. The main aim of physical therapy is to make the spinal tissues stronger in order to help correct the curvature as much as possible.
 
The Scoliosis SOS Clinic is dedicated to helping those suffering from spinal issues such as kyphoscoliosis, hyperkyphosis and scoliosis with physical therapy. Our ScolioGold courses work towards improving the posture and symptoms of those suffering from kyphoscoliosis.

Bracing

In many mild to moderate cases of scoliosis, hyperkyphosis, and kyphoscoliosis, a back brace is used to stunt the progression of the spinal curvature. The brace supports the muscles and bones and encourages the straightening of the spine.
 
The back braces needed for kyphoscoliosis are still in development as they need to stunt the curvature in both the coronal and sagittal plane.

Surgery 

Surgery becomes an option once kyphoscoliosis becomes severe and threatens to impact the patient’s breathing. When considering surgery for kyphoscoliosis, all factors need to be taken into account, such as age, the cause of the condition, risks and recovery time. 
 
If have been diagnosed with kyphoscoliosis and you feel you may benefit from the treatment available from Scoliosis SOS, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today by clicking the button below.
 

World-class acrobat, Lauren Hill, has been somersaulting her way around the globe at competitions since the tender age of 7 and has had the privilege of being part of Team GB at 3 Championships where she has won gold at European and World level. At 16 years old, she found her life in “sudden turmoil” after a shock diagnosis of Scoliosis and the threat of a high-risk operation to surgically immobilise and straighten her spine, which would have put an end to her acrobatics for good. Now thanks to a unique exercise programme she can look forward to pursuing the competitive and future performance career she always dreamed of.


When Lauren’s coach noticed her hips and shoulders looked uneven and one shoulder blade protruded he advised Lauren’s mother Alison to see her GP immediately. Lauren was initially diagnosed with a leg length discrepancy.  Yet, in just a short period of time Lauren was in terrible pain and had started to lose her flexibility. Lauren’s mother was desperate to help Lauren find some treatment that would mean she could continue with her dreams of being a professional acrobat.

Lauren enrolled on a four-week course of ScolioGold therapy and has achieved amazing results. Lauren is no longer at risk of surgery and has never been so excited about the future. 

For more on Lauren’s story please see the video below: –


Read more information about our treatment courses or Contact Us to discuss how ScolioGold therapy could help your spinal condition.
Scoliosis sports to avoid
 
Physical mobility is a prominent issue for scoliosis sufferers, especially those who regularly participate in sports and other forms of physical activity. These activities play a significant role in many people’s everyday lives, providing them with a fulfilling sense of self that cannot easily be replaced. 
 
Whether your chosen activity is a dearly-loved hobby or a career aspiration, the prospect of being unable to participate as a result of your spinal condition can be devastating. In order to provide a greater insight into how scoliosis can impact your ability to perform certain physical activities, today we will look at sports and exercises that scoliosis sufferers are commonly told to avoid, discussing the possible risks involved and how to avoid them. 
 

Sports to avoid if you suffer from scoliosis

Individuals with scoliosis are commonly told to avoid the following sports and activities:

Weight lifting

When performed incorrectly, weight lifting can be problematic even for people with healthy spines. For scoliosis sufferers, the risk of discomfort and further deterioration increases due to the existing weaknesses caused by having an uneven spine. The abnormalities caused by scoliosis result in unnatural movements within the body, which can be placed under further pressure by repetitive motions and heavy loading.

Impact sports (rugby, hockey, American football)

It is often recommended that scoliosis sufferers avoid or reduce their participation in sports that could cause ‘impact injuries’, which occur due to high speed bumps and falls during matches (e.g. when a rugby player is tackled and lands on hard ground). This can cause spinal fractures and damage to the joints, which increases the risk of degenerative disorders and further progression for those who already suffer with scoliosis.

Dance, gymnastics and yoga

Activities that involve the bending and flexing of the spine are often discussed as being problematic for those who suffer with scoliosis due to the excessive stress that certain movements can place on your spine. For reasons that are not entirely known, instances of scoliosis are also higher amongst dancers and gymnasts, although there is no clear evidence that the movements themselves lead to scoliosis. It may simply be the case that the condition is more likely to be observed under these circumstances, or that those who are genetically predisposed to excel in these activities are at a higher risk of developing scoliosis.

One-sided sports (tennis, golf, skiing)

Certain sports run the risk of unevenly working the spine due to the fact that one side of the body is placed under increased stress or performs certain movements more than the other. For patients with scoliosis, this can lead to discomfort and further progression of their already uneven spine, causing the rotation of the spine to worsen.
 

Does scoliosis mean I have to give up these sports?

Despite the fact that certain movements performed in sports are risky for scoliosis sufferers, this does not mean that you should give up on your life passions as a result of your condition! The key to overcoming the obstacles posed by having an uneven spine is getting to know your individual restrictions and limitations, adjusting your approach to avoid injury, and building up your strength.
 
While certain sports may be more dangerous for scoliosis sufferers than others, even the activities mentioned above can be performed safely when the sufferer is provided with the right management and treatment programme. This will not only teach you which exercises to avoid, but will also allow you to build strength in weaker areas of your body and retrain your body to avoid movements that place undue stress on these areas.
 
In the past, we at Scoliosis SOS have treated a number of sportspeople and dancers suffering with scoliosis, many of whom thought that their condition would eventually prevent them from taking part in these activities. Using our ScolioGold treatment method, we delivered a programme that was individually tailored to each of their conditions, allowing them to successfully manage their symptoms and continue to take part.
 
If you’re an active individual with scoliosis and you’re worried about the impact of this condition on your ability to participate and compete in sports, please get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team to discuss how we may be able to help.
Scoliosis treatment without surgery

Scoliosis, a condition where the patient’s spine curves sideways, can be found in roughly 4% of the global population. Of those 4%, some have a very mild spinal curve that only measures 10-20 degrees, while others are more severely affected by the condition.

Generally speaking, once a scoliosis patient’s Cobb angle has progressed past the 40-degree mark (50 degrees in some territories), doctors will recommend spinal fusion surgery as the best course of action.


Now, there’s a reason why spinal fusion surgery is the standard treatment for severe scoliosis. The operation has a good overall success rate, achieving the desired effect (reducing curvature and preventing further progression) with no complications in the majority of cases.

However, there are a number of reasons why a scoliosis sufferer may wish to seek alternatives to spinal fusion:
  • All surgical procedures carry a certain level of risk – possible complications include infection and problems related to the anaesthesia used to sedate patients during surgery.

  • Spinal fusion surgery in particular can lead to a number of other complications, although the risk is very low. Read about the risks associated with scoliosis surgery here.

  • The spinal fusion procedure tends to be followed by a long recovery period, during which the patient may temporarily experience pain and reduced mobility/flexibility.

  • Depending on where you live, there may be a long waiting list for spinal fusion surgery, and time is imperative when your spinal curvature is still progressing. (This has been a particularly big problem in Ireland recently.)

  • The long-term effects of spinal fusion surgery on patients are still relatively unknown, especially as techniques keep changing. However, some patients may continue to experience or develop pain, while others find that a secondary curve forms above or below the fused area. Occasionally, it is necessary to undergo another operation to extend the fusion.

Treating scoliosis without surgery

With the above in mind, it’s perhaps easy to understand why a number of scoliosis patients are reluctant to undergo spinal fusion surgery. So what other treatments are available?

Mild to moderate cases of scoliosis are frequently treated using a Boston brace, but this approach doesn’t reverse the spinal curvature – it just aims to prevent it getting worse, and therefore it’s no use if your scoliosis is already quite severe or if you are an adult.

However, there are a number of non-surgical techniques that have been shown to reduce the Cobb angle and effectively combat the symptoms of scoliosis. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we combine a number of these methods into our own unique scoliosis treatment programme called ScolioGold.

Here are some of the techniques we use to provide scoliosis sufferers with a real alternative to scoliosis surgery:
If you would like to learn more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses, please call 0207 488 4428 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.
Muscular dystrophy and scoliosis

While we specialise in the study and treatment of curvatures of the spine, we also possess an excellent working knowledge of other health problems that are linked to scoliosis. There are many disorders that may lead to a curvature of the spine, and one of the more severe disorders that can causes scoliosis is muscular dystrophy.

What causes muscular dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of diseases that affect the skeletal muscles and cause them to weaken and break down. MD is a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse over time, and it often begins by affecting a particular group of muscles before then affecting the rest of your muscles more widely. 

MD is generally hereditary, and is caused by mutations of genes on the X chromosome. Each disorder is formed due to a different set of mutations, but each type of MD prevents the body from producing dystrophin – a protein that is essential for the building and repairing of muscles. Dystrophin is part of a very complex group of proteins that ensure your muscles work correctly. The protein links various components of the muscle cells together and anchors them to the sarcolemma (outer membrane). If the protein is absent or deformed, this process will not work correctly, and disruptions will occur in the outer membrane. This will weaken the muscle and damage the muscle cells themselves. 

MD can also be caused by a spontaneous mutation. This can happen when there are errors in the replication of DNA and spontaneous lesions occur due to natural damage to the DNA.

Types of muscular dystrophy 

There are many different types of muscular dystrophy, and each disorder differs in which muscles it affects, the degree of muscle weakness caused, how quickly things worsen, and when the symptoms begin.

Here are some common types of muscular dystrophy:

  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – This is the most common form of MD. It generally affects boys in early childhood and is first noticeable when the child starts walking. By age 10, the child may be required to wear a brace for walking; by age 12, most sufferers are unable to walk at all. Sufferers generally do not live beyond their 20s or 30s.

  • Myotonic Dystrophy – This type of MD causes delayed relaxation of muscles, as well as muscle wasting and weakness. Myotonic MD varies in severity and affects many body systems in addition to the skeletal muscles. It can develop at any age, and life expectancy isn’t always affected; however, sufferers may live shortened lives.

  • Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD) – FSHD initially affects the muscles of the face, shoulders and upper arms, then progresses slowly. It usually develops during early adulthood and isn’t life-threatening, but individuals who suffer from FSHD will become severely disabled.

  • Becker Muscular Dystrophy – Becker MD is a less severe form of Duchenne MD (see above) that is caused by the production of a shortened but still partially functional form of dystrophin. It affects boys in late childhood, and individuals with this type of MD can live to reach old age.

  • Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD) – LGMD affects the upper arms and legs of both boys and girls. A person suffering from LGMD will normally live a normal life with some assistance; however, in some extreme cases, it can cause death due to complications. 

  • Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy – This type of MD doesn’t usually develop until a person is 50-60 years old. It affects the muscles of the eyelids, face, and throat, later followed by pelvic and shoulder weakness. It doesn’t tend to affect the patient’s life expectancy.

  • Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy (EDMD) – EDMD usually develops in childhood or early adulthood. It starts in the hands and feet, then progresses to the arms and legs later on. Most patients will also suffer from cardiac conduction defects and arrhythmias. Most people with this condition live until at least middle age.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of muscular dystrophy are:
  • Progressive muscular wasting
  • Poor balance
  • Inability to walk
  • Breathing problems
  • Cardiac problems (due to the muscles of the heart being weakened)
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Scoliosis

The connection between MD and scoliosis

As mentioned above, one common symptom of MD is scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine). This happens because the muscles are no longer strong enough to support the spine, causing it to curve over time. Sadly, there is no cure for MD, but there are a range of treatments that can help with the physical disabilities and problems that develop as a result of the disorder. Medicines such as steroids are used to improve muscle strength, while ACE inhibitors and beta blockers can be used to treat heart problems. 

In addition to these medications, physical therapy can used to manage the physical disabilities that are caused by muscular dystrophy. If you suffer from scoliosis due to MD, 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 to learn more about ScolioGold treatment and how it can help you to manage the symptoms of your condition, please get in touch with us today!
Scoliosis X-Rays
 
Since scoliosis cannot be ‘cured’ in the true sense of that word, treatment efforts tend instead to focus on managing the condition. The key aims of scoliosis management are as follows:
  • Stop the patient’s spinal curve from progressing any further
  • Reduce the Cobb angle (i.e. the severity of the curve) if possible
  • Treat symptoms such as back pain, reduced flexibility, etc.
In this post, we will describe some of the most commonly-used scoliosis management strategies to give you an idea of how this condition can be dealt with.

Observation

When diagnosing a patient with scoliosis, a doctor may initially recommend that no treatment be undertaken at all. This is particularly common when the patient is a child (and thus still growing) and when the angle of the curvature is quite mild. In lieu of immediate treatment, the patient’s spine will be observed over time so as to find out whether the curve is getting better, getting worse, or staying where it is. This will then allow the medical practitioner to select the best course of corrective action to manage the patient’s scoliosis (if any).

Treating the Symptoms

Even if the patient’s spinal curve is not being directly treated, it may still be necessary to treat certain symptoms that may be negatively affecting their quality of life. Common treatments include:
  • Pain medication – Painkillers of various strengths may be prescribed to help the patient cope with any pain they are experiencing as a result of their scoliosis.

  • Physical therapy – Physiotherapy and exercise can help scoliosis sufferers to retain their flexibility and mobility. Physiotherapy-based programmes can also constitute an effective treatment for the scoliosis itself (see below).

Bracing

Scoliosis patients sometimes have to wear a rigid plastic brace in order to help manage the condition. This brace doesn’t reverse the progression of the spinal curvature, but it can arrest progression so that the curve doesn’t get any worse.
 
Scoliosis braces are typically worn for 23 hours per day and should only be removed when bathing/showering. This, of course, is a fairly invasive and irritating form of scoliosis management, that most patients would prefer to avoid if possible. Click here for more information on bracing.

Surgery

If the patient’s spinal curve has progressed beyond a certain point (usually 40-50 degrees, also the threshold is different in different parts of the world), scoliosis management may no longer be a viable option and they may have to go in for spinal fusion surgery. During this procedure, general anaesthetic is used to keep the patient unconscious while the surgical team uses small hooks/screws to correct the curve and effectively fix the spine in place. Click here to learn more about spinal fusion surgery.

Physical Therapy

Wondering how we can help you manage your scoliosis? As noted above, physiotherapy can help to minimise the impact of scoliosis on the patient’s flexibility/mobility. However, exercise-based treatment programmes have also been shown to:
There are many different exercise-based treatment routes available to scoliosis patients, some of which are more effective than others. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat patients via a regime called the ScolioGold method, which combines a number of proven non-surgical techniques into one programme that addresses every different aspect of the condition in question. Once the 4-week course is completed, patients can practice the exercises they’ve learned at home to continue to manage the progression of their scoliosis. 
 
Scoliosis affects over 4% of the global population, meaning that millions of children and adults around the world are affected by this condition. There are a few different ways to treat scoliosis, but here at Scoliosis SOS, we treat scoliosis via a combination of well-established non-surgical spinal techniques – we call this the ScolioGold method, and it has helped countless scoliosis sufferers to overcome their symptoms and live a higher quality of life.

Sadly, many scoliosis sufferers worldwide do not have access to non-surgical treatment options, and so these people often have no choice in their own countries but to undergo spinal fusion surgery. Many patients find the thought of this procedure quite frightening, and choose to go overseas in order to access effective non-surgical scoliosis treatment.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we’ve had the pleasure of treating patients from all over the world, some of whom have travelled thousands of miles to receive treatment at our London clinic. One memorable overseas patient was a girl named Amita, who travelled all the way from India to get treated here after being turned away by many specialists at home.

Case Study: Amita from India

Amita had been suffering from scoliosis for twelve years before she received treatment at our clinic. She was first diagnosed around the time of her 10th birthday, and shortly after that, Amita was fitted with a back brace and told she had to wear it for at least 23 hours a day, removing it only to bathe or shower. Amita found the brace very uncomfortable, and the rigid plastic eventually caused sores to form on her body. Despite this, she continued to wear the brace until she was fifteen, when she was told by the doctor that she had stopped growing and that, because of this, her spinal curve would now stop progressing.

Sadly, this wasn’t the case. When Amita was in her early twenties, she began feeling some side effects as a result of her scoliosis; these gradually got worse, and by the time she was twenty-one, she was in almost constant pain. This was an issue for Amita, as she was studying for her exams at the time and had to move every few minutes in order to relieve her back pain. The family decided to see a number of specialists to get a range of opinions; however, these specialists offered very little help, effectively telling Amita’s family that nothing could be done for her. The only option the family were given, as a final resort, was spinal fusion surgery – this was very daunting for Amita, as she had just entered the world of work, and major spinal surgery would mean taking at least 4 months off to recover. Amita decided that she would simply have to put up with her pain, no matter how excruciating it became.

Several months passed, and Amita was offered an opportunity to work in the UK. Whilst researching places to stay in London, she came across the Scoliosis SOS Clinic; Amita was excited, and contacted us for further details. She was given a great deal of information, and finally received the ray of hope that she had been awaiting for most of her adult life: scoliosis may cause pain, but it is treatable!

Since attending a four-week treatment course here at the Clinic, Amita is no longer suffering from chronic pain. Furthermore, thanks to our help and advice, she knows what to do to relieve her symptoms and make the pain disappear when she does get the occasional twinge.

Amita is one of the many scoliosis sufferers we have welcomed from foreign countries. If you would like to learn more about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and the treatment courses we provide, please click here to get in touch.