Hydrotherapy

Derived from the Greek words hudōr (water) and therapeia (healing), hydrotherapy (also known as aquatic therapy) is a method that is used to treat a variety of different bodily ailments. We recently began incorporating hydrotherapy into our ScolioGold method for scoliosis treatment, and today we’d like to take some time to tell you a little more about it.

If you suffer from back pain due to scoliosis – but you’re worried that your reduced flexibility and mobility might hinder you in an exercise-based treatment setting – hydrotherapy is a great solution. Being immersed in water provides support for your body and creates a feeling of well-being without the intensity of land-based exercise.

 

How does hydrotherapy work?

Hydrotherapy combines physical rehabilitation treatments with the natural benefits of water-based exercise. The result is a gentle but efficient scoliosis treatment method.

Water has five key properties that play a large part in the effectiveness of hydrotherapy treatment:

  • Buoyancy – The upward pressure in the water eases stress on muscles and joints, soothing the aches and pains that scoliosis can cause.

  • Temperature – Warm water is known for soothing and relaxing the body.

  • Viscosity – The ‘thickness’ of water prompts gentle resistance from the muscles.

  • Turbulence – When placed in moving water, the body naturally moves to maintain balance, exercising the muscles.

  • Hydrostatic Pressure – Hydrostatic pressure provides a natural relief for joint swelling.

 

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis?

The main benefit of hydrotherapy is that flexibility and mobility are no longer an issue. As mentioned above, the gentle pressure and buoyancy provided by water naturally soothe pain and allow the patient to exercise while at ease.

Pain is often dramatically reduced by hydrotherapy, and as a result of this, patients with limited mobility are able to achieve fantastic results through stretching in the water. These stretches strengthen the muscles in the back and can help improve the degree of the curvature. If patients choose, they can also combine hydrotherapy with land-based therapy on one of our ScolioGold courses.

Another benefit of hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis is that it offers more stability and protection from falls for those who struggle with balance. This is a great confidence boost for many patients.

There are many other benefits of using hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis, including:

  • Pain relief from muscle spasms
  • Ease of movement
  • Increased joint range and flexibility
  • Improved strength and endurance
  • Reduction of oedema (excess watery fluid in cavities or tissue in the body)
  • Improved circulation
  • Better cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased level of relaxation

 

Who can participate in hydrotherapy treatment?

Hydrotherapy is suitable for scoliosis sufferers of all ages. The healing and support provided make it an ideal method of treatment for those who lack confidence when it comes to more traditional forms of exercise. As mentioned above, stability is not an issue for elderly or less mobile patients, as the water allows them to exercise without fear of falling.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have had fantastic feedback from our hydrotherapy treatment sessions to date. We have found that it has offered hope to those patients who thought they would have to deal with their pain for the rest of their lives. Many of these patients did not think they would be able to improve their condition through exercise, but hydrotherapy treatment has provided them with that opportunity. 

If you think hydrotherapy treatment might be beneficial for you, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to book an initial consultation.

If you’re not familiar with medical language (and the Greek/Latin words from which medical language is often constructed), it can sometimes be difficult to work out what people are talking about when they refer to different forms of scoliosis.

Levoconvex Scoliosis

As we’ve seen time and time again here on the Scoliosis SOS blog, there are numerous different terms and pieces of jargon used to describe curvatures of the spine, and one thing we aim to do in our blog posts is decode these terms and help everyone to understand the topic at hand.

Today, we’d like to take a look at levoconvex scoliosis.

 

What does ‘levoconvex’ mean?

Levoconvex scoliosis is a type of scoliosis where the spine curves to the left. It can develop on its own during adolescence (see idiopathic scoliosis), or it may occur as the result of another condition.

As previously explained in our Dextroscoliosis vs. Levoscoliosis article, the term levo- simply means ‘left’. Levoscoliosis curves to the left, whereas dextroscoliosis curves to the right.

Dextroscoliosis vs Levoscoliosis

The term levoconvex scoliosis actually means more or less the same thing as levoscoliosis – it’s just a slightly more specific way of saying it. Adding the word ‘convex’ merely clarifies that it’s the outer (convex) edge of the curve that’s on the left.

 

Convex vs. concave

Every curve has a convex side and a concave side. ‘Convex’ refers to the outside of the curve, and ‘concave’ to the inside.

Convex and Concave Scoliosis Curve

If a doctor describes your spinal curve as ‘levoconvex’, it means that the convex side of the curve is on the left. In other words, the spine curves to the left.

Scoliosis SOS provide non-surgical treatment courses for scoliosis patients. Get in touch now to book an initial consultation – our ScolioGold treatment method is very effective at reducing curvature and improving quality of life.

Case Study: Kayla, aged 15

Kayla was diagnosed with scoliosis and wasn’t entirely sure what it was at first. When the doctors showed her the x-rays of her spine, she was quite upset. Most of the doctors that she visited recommended surgery, physiotherapy or a brace – none of them recommended exercise-based treatment. After coming to the Scoliosis SOS, Kayal really feels that this was the best option for her! 

See our full interview with Kayla here:

Contact Scoliosis SOS > Our Treatment Courses >

Specialised scoliosis physiotherapy

Idiopathic scoliosis (which usually arises during puberty, when the body is going through a period of rapid growth) is often treated using a rigid back brace that prevents the spinal curve from progressing as the patient grows. It’s important to note that the aim of this bracing treatment is not to correct / reverse the sideways curvature of the spine, but simply to stop it from getting worse until the body has finished growing.

And while bracing can be very effective in that respect, it does very little to assist in building up the muscle strength that will be needed to ensure spinal stability once the brace comes off.

In fact, bracing tends to have a negative effect on muscle strength.

Scoliosis braces typically have to be worn for over 20 hours a day in order to achieve the best treatment outcome. During the bracing period, the muscles around the spine are likely to become inactive because the brace is doing their job (i.e. supporting the spine) for them.

This often results in a weakening of the spinal muscles, which may lead to the patient becoming reliant on the support of the brace.

But physical therapy can help with this problem.

There is a lot of clinical evidence to suggest that bracing delivers better outcomes for the patient when combined with scoliosis-specific physiotherapy. A 2011 study1 found that combining these two approaches reduces the risk of future curve progression and thus the likelihood that spinal fusion surgery will eventually be required. It has also been shown2 that completing a scoliosis-specific exercise programme limits the reversal of spinal correction when bracing ends.

Not only are scoliosis-specific exercises recommended in the SOSORT 2011 guidelines for people with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who are undergoing brace treatment, but several authors who developed scoliosis braces (such as the Milwaukee, Boston, Lyon and Chêneau braces) have proposed that scoliosis-specific exercises should be used to complement brace treatment. Indeed, the newly-developed Sforzesco and Gensingen braces are specifically designed to be worn in conjunction with exercise-based therapy.

In short: it’s good to receive physiotherapy for your scoliosis even if it’s also being treated with a brace. Integrating scoliosis-specific exercises with a bracing treatment helps to provide a more complete rehabilitation programme for growing patients with idiopathic scoliosis.

Our Treatment Methods >   Book a Consultation >

Links & References

  • ScolioGold Therapy – The Scoliosis SOS Clinic’s own combination of proven exercise-based scoliosis treatment techniques
  • Contact Scoliosis SOS – Arrange an initial consultation (to be conducted at our clinic in London or via Skype / telephone)

 1. Negrini S, Aulisa AG, Aulisa L, Circo AB, de Mauroy JC, Durmala J,  Grivas TB, Knott P, Kotwicki T, Maruyama T, Minozzi S, O’Brien JP, Papadopoulos D, Rigo M, Rivard CH, Romano M, Wynne JH, Villagrasa M, Weiss HR, Zaina F: 2011 SOSORT guidelines: Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation treatment of idiopathic scoliosis during growth. Scoliosis 2012, 7:3

2. Zaina F, Negrini S, Atanasio S, Fusco C, Romano M, Negrini A: Specific exercises performed in the period of brace weaning can avoid loss of correction in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) patients: Winner of SOSORT’s 2008 Award for Best Clinical Paper. Scoliosis 2009, 4(1):8.

Back pain isn’t generally associated with being young, but scoliosis (a curvature of the spine that often leads to back pain) very often develops quite early in life – usually during adolescence. If your spinal curve went unnoticed and/or untreated during teenage years, you may well find yourself seeking scoliosis treatment as you enter your early 20s. Don’t worry – no age is ‘too late’ to start treatment, and the many 20-year-old patients we’ve treated here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have seen fantastic results. 

scoliosis treatment for a 20 year old

A person who is suffering from scoliosis may suffer from pain, stiffness, postural problems, and self-esteem issues. Common symptoms include back pain (as mentioned above), muscular imbalance, uneven shoulders/legs/hips, and a visibly curved back.

However, even when weighed against all the problems that scoliosis can cause, spinal fusion surgery (the most common treatment for spinal curves that have progressed past a certain point) is still an incredibly daunting procedure that some young scoliosis patients would prefer to avoid. At Scoliosis SOS we use a range of non-surgical treatment techniques to reduce spinal curvature and improve patient quality of life without surgical intervention.

Case study: Ornela, a 21-year-old scoliosis patient from Albania

Ornela was diagnosed with scoliosis at 19 years old. Seeking treatment, she travelled from Albania to our clinic to undergo a 4-week non-surgical treatment course. Watch the video below to find out what she had to say about her experience with Scoliosis SOS:

ScolioGold therapy combines a number of non-surgical techniques to give scoliosis sufferers a non-invasive option for combating their condition. As Ornela experienced, our non-surgical treatments have proven extremely effective for patients of all ages – click here for more ‘before and after’ examples of patients aged 20-39.

No matter how old you are, we are more than happy to review your individual case and recommend the most suitable course of action for you. Contact Scoliosis SOS now to arrange an initial consultation.

If you have recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, you may know that bracing is a method that’s commonly used to treat curvatures of the spine. As you research which bracing options are available to you, you may come across the Gensingen brace for scoliosis. Here’s all the information you may need about this option:

What is a Gensingen brace?

A Gensingen brace works differently to more traditional ‘hard’ braces such as the Boston brace, the Charleston brace, the Milwaukee race and the Wilmington brace. The Gensingen brace for scoliosis works to improve scoliosis through corrective movement instead of through immobilising the patient like the hard brace alternatives. Although the Gensingen brace is a hard brace, it is less restrictive and provides more flexibility for patients. 

The creator of the Gensingen scoliosis brace is Dr. Hans-Rudolf Weiss. After working on brace development since the 1990s, Weiss was inspired to create this new bracing method when he realised that other scoliosis treatment methods were simply not serving the patients as well as they could. The Gensingen brace was created to ease the symptoms of scoliosis and to provide real, long-term improvement.

How does a Gensingen brace work?

The Gensingen brace works by positioning the patient’s back in the opposite position to the curvature, creating a sort of mirror image. This means that the patient is placed in an exaggerated corrected position that effectively works to realign the spine. Each Gensingen brace is designed for the individual patient by Dr Hans-Rudolf Weiss himself and then created by orthopedists to ensure that it fits the patient correctly. Gensingen braces have been shown to halt the progression of spinal curvature and improve long-term quality of life without the need for surgery.

Gensingen braces form part of the Schroth Best Practice Academy, a complete treatment package of bracing and physiotherapy. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we can provide Schroth physiotherapy to complement a Gensingen brace. Prior to brace fitting, this involves increasing trunk flexibility and correction to enable the best in-brace correction result. Then, during brace wear and after the patient ceases to wear their Gensingen brace, Schroth physiotherapy can aid in maintaining trunk strength to ensure that positive results are sustained in the long term.

How long should a Gensingen brace be worn?

A Gensingen brace for scoliosis needs to be worn 22 hours a day to be effective. It may also need to be worn for as long as the patient continues to grow, so in the case of young children or adolescents, this could be a number of years. As the curve improves, the 22 hours a day may be reduced to 12-16 hours per day.

The Gensingen brace for scoliosis is a great method of combating spinal curvature, but while it isn’t quite as uncomfortable as other scoliosis braces, it can still be a little restrictive, especially when you can only take it off to bathe/shower. Additionally, if you’re looking for an alternative to bracing, our ScolioGold course can help improve your scoliosis through physical therapy alone. We treat scoliosis patients using exercise methods that help to realign the spine and reduce the Cobb angle. Our 4-week course provides an effective method of improving the Cobb angle significantly – you can see the results here.

If you think our ScolioGold course might be for you, please get in touch with us today to book an initial consultation.

The Scoliosis Life (@scolilife) is a Twitter account with more than 3,000 followers. The account’s anonymous owner has lived with scoliosis for the past 8 years, and they use Twitter to share their experiences along with a plethora of useful life tips for people with curved spines.

The person behind @scolilife very kindly agreed to answer a few questions for the Scoliosis SOS blog – read on to find out all about their condition, their journey, and their advice for fellow scoliosis patients:

Scolilife

First of all, please tell us a little about yourself – where in the world do you live, and when were you diagnosed with scoliosis?

I am from Canada! I was diagnosed by my family doctor at my yearly physical when I was 12 years old. My doctor knew to check for scoliosis because it’s genetic and it runs in my family.

How severe was your spinal curvature?

My curves progressed rather quickly. I was diagnosed with an ‘S’ curve, and both curves initially measured in the mid 30s. By the time I had surgery 5 years later, the curves had reached the high 80s.

What symptoms did you experience, and how much did they impact your day-to-day life?

Before surgery, I was experiencing shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and chronic pain. My ribs became constricted due to my curves, and my organs were so out of place that I could literally push them around. Even walking up a flight of stairs would leave me out of breath. I was hesitant to go out with friends because I never knew when a symptom would strike. There were many times in school where I would lose my breath because a slight turn caused my ribs to hit my lungs.

What treatments have you undergone since you were diagnosed?

When first diagnosed, I wore the SpineCor brace, but my curves continued to progress rapidly and I was put on the waiting list for surgery. To ensure my curves did not increase by huge increments, I was put into a Chêneau brace for the last year before surgery. I underwent spinal fusion surgery in March 2014.

How well did these treatments work for you?

For me personally, the SpineCor brace was not effective. Still, while I do have some regrets about this treatment option, the psychical and mental struggles I experienced while in this brace allowed me to grow and learn more about myself and my inner strength.

I found the Chêneau to be much more comfortable and I was pretty satisfied with it. This brace was not meant to stop my curves – by that point in my journey, my family and my doctors knew that my curves were going to increase and that surgery was inevitable. This brace was intended to keep my curves from increasing at extremely large increments while I waited for surgery, and to keep me as comfortable as possible in the meantime.

I am very open on my Twitter account about my surgery experience. My recovery was unusually long and difficult, but it has made me much stronger. Despite my long recovery, I am extremely pleased with my results. My scar looks amazing and has faded a lot since the operation. I am now much more active and ultimately more positive when it comes to my body image.

You refer to yourself in your Twitter bio as a ‘spoonie’ – have you found Christine Miserandino’s spoon theory useful when describing to other people what it’s like to live with a condition like scoliosis?

For a long time, I struggled with communicating to friends and family just how much my scoliosis affected me. Sometimes my scoliosis presents itself like an invisible illness, and people do not always understand how much a curved spine can impact one’s life. The spoon theory gave me something physical for friends and family to engage with in order to truly understand my life. This theory is adaptable, people of all ages can understand it, and it doesn’t matter if the person you’re talking to doesn’t have any knowledge of chronic illness.

It also allowed me to connect to a much larger population. I felt alone before, and even now my issues sometimes transcend those of the scoliosis community. The spoon theory and calling myself a ‘spoonie’ allowed me to find connections in a greater community and to help others who may have felt lost themselves.

Are there any under-publicised effects of scoliosis that you wish people spoke about more often?

I think the mental health issues that come with surgery are a large area of concern. Since my surgery, I suffer from anxiety and PTSD, and that’s been hard to discuss. I am still not open about it with friends and family. I think it’s important to let others know that feeling this way is normal, and that it’s okay to feel like that. But it is also important to let people know that there is no shame in getting help, and no matter how small you may feel your mental health is, someone wants to listen and help you. This is a lesson I am still trying to live by and follow.

I would also like to see more discussion on pain. Too often, surgeons write off pain as something that’s all in your head. My own surgeon referred me to a psychiatrist because he thought I was making up my chronic pain. I was 3 weeks post-op at the time. I think if more people shared their stories about pain, and if we increased the amount of research in this field, more medical professionals would change their views and increase and improve patient care. I think it also ties into mental health – by saying, ‘yes, scoliosis can cause pain’, we make people feel like their experiences are valid and let them know that they can get the treatment they need. 

I think there is a lot of room for growth, and I hope my Twitter account and my transparent views on pain and mental health help my followers feel accepted and validated.

How have your family helped you to deal with your spinal curve?

I am so lucky to come from a family that values emotions and talking about things openly. My mom has come to every appointment and is always there to debrief and talk with me openly about how I am feeling. My parents helped me stay grounded – when I was overwhelmed with emotions, they helped me sort everything out. They were not afraid to voice their opinions on treatment options, but they also let me know that it was my body and therefore I had the final say on everything.

My older sister played by far the most influential role. She was away at university on the other side of the country while I was in the midst of my scoliosis journey. She was there for me after every appointment and could always cheer me up. To my sister, who is probably reading this, thank you!

What advice would you give to people – parents, siblings, partners, friends, housemates – who are close to a scoliosis patient and want to support them?

The best advice I can give is to talk about it openly. Sometimes, we want to talk about our scoliosis and our experiences, but we might not be sure how. If you know we were at an appointment, or if you notice that we have maybe been acting a bit different than normal, it is okay to ask us how things went or if we need to talk. It shows that you’ve paid attention and you are trying your best to understand our journey.

It is also important to be understanding of our journey. Sometimes, we might have to say an activity causes us pain or discomfort, or maybe you said something that hurt our feelings or belittled our experiences. By telling you this, we don’t mean to blame you or to make you feel bad for your actions, but to simply enlighten you so we can avoid this issue in the future. If someone you know with scoliosis says, ‘I don’t like going on roller coasters because it hurts my back, maybe we can try going to the movies more often’, see this as an opportunity to do something new together. It takes a lot of courage for us to feel comfortable to voice these concerns with friends and family, and we do so because we genuinely love spending time with you, but we sometimes need to understand each other’s needs to minimise discomfort.

Finally, what’s the first thing you would say to a young person who has just been diagnosed with scoliosis?

As cheesy as it sounds, things get better. When I was diagnosed, I thought my life was over. It was the biggest deal and no matter what, everything seemed like bad news or just another complication to add to my growing list. But soon enough, you adjust to the brace. The X-rays become fun. The appointments become bonding time with your family and a great excuse to miss that class you’ve been dreading. Your scoliosis becomes a point of pride rather than disappointment, and you become stronger and more independent because of it.

And soon enough, you will forget what the brace felt like. Your scar will fade, the IV marks will disappear. The pain will ease and experiences will become memories. No journey is the same, and that’s the most amazing and precious thing about this condition – you are unique and special and that curved spine or titanium spine can become your greatest weakness or your greatest accomplishment. Only you can decide how you will let it affect you.

Be sure to follow @scolilife on Twitter for more scoliosis advice and experiences.

Further reading:

Scoliosis prevention

If you’ve been reading about scoliosis – perhaps here on the Scoliosis SOS blog, perhaps elsewhere – you may now find yourself wondering if there’s a way to prevent your own spine from curving; anything you can do to reduce your own chance of developing this condition and the many symptoms that tend to accompany it.

That’s the question we’d like to address today: is it possible to prevent scoliosis?

No, scoliosis cannot generally be prevented…

It is not currently possible to prevent the onset of scoliosis. Most cases of scoliosis (around 80%) are idiopathic, which means that the cause is not known. Idiopathic scoliosis usually develops during puberty, so if your teenage or pre-teen child has recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, there’s a good chance it’s idiopathic. Since the cause of the curvature is unknown in these cases, it cannot be anticipated and no preventative action can be taken.

Scoliosis can also occur as a symptom of numerous other conditions, including:

Some of these underlying conditions can sometimes be prevented – for instance, exercise and a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium can help to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis – but others are passed on genetically, making it difficult to prevent these conditions and the spinal curvatures that they often cause.

If you’re researching the subject online, you may come across some common myths related to scoliosis prevention. One particularly persistent myth is that bad posture can cause scoliosis. We debunked this myth in a previous blog post; although bad posture can adversely affect your overall health in a number of ways, it cannot lead to a sideways curvature of the spine. Likewise, carrying a heavy backpack has never been clinically proven to cause scoliosis, yet this is another commonly-quoted myth.

So just to be clear: scoliosis cannot be prevented by sitting up straight or carrying fewer books!

…but it can be treated!

Though there is no effective way to prevent scoliosis entirely, it is possible to slow, halt, and even reverse the progression of the curvature before it starts to cause other health issues. Bracing, for instance, is a method that doctors frequently use to halt the progression of scoliosis in young people who are still growing.

Physical therapy is also a proven method of slowing the progression of scoliosis. Treatment regimes such as our own ScolioGold method work to retrain the muscles in your back through a diverse course of stretches and techniques to help improve flexibility and strength in the back. Of course, surgery is another commonly-used scoliosis treatment method, but many scoliosis sufferers would understandably prefer to avoid this route!

To find out how the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help with your scoliosis symptoms, please contact us today to arrange a consultation.

Chest pain scoliosis

Nobody’s spine is perfectly straight – every spine has a slight curve to it. But if the angle of the curve is 10 degrees or more, the patient is diagnosed with scoliosis.

Scoliosis can affect any part of the spine, and if the curve occurs in the upper (thoracic) region of the patient’s back, it can have a significant knock-on effect on that person’s chest. If left untreated, thoracic scoliosis can cause your chest to deform; as the spine becomes more and more twisted, so does the chest. This may even cause a hump to appear as the ribs on one side of your back begin to stick out when bending.

Scoliosis patients may also experience chest pains and muscle spasms, and in very severe cases the patient’s lungs and heart may be affected, leading to respiratory problems. These symptoms are caused by the spine curving, which results in the rib cage twisting and changing shape (thereby reducing the space available for the lungs to fully inflate).

Thankfully, these severe symptoms are fairly uncommon, and if your spinal condition is treated in time, they can easily be avoided.

How can Scoliosis SOS help?

If you are concerned that your scoliosis is getting worse (progressing), we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help. We are very proud of the excellent results that we achieve without any invasive procedures or side-effects. We treat our patients using the ScolioGold method, a combination of effective non-surgical treatments from around the world, and by using all these different treatments together we’re able to ensure that all aspects of the condition are treated. 

Our ScolioGold treatment programmes are tailored to the unique needs of each patient. Treatment aims to help you adopt a more central, balanced posture, whilst reducing any pain/stiffness and reversing the progression of your spinal curve. 

If you suffer from scoliosis and you wish to undergo treatment here at the Scoliosis SOS clinic, please do not hesitate to contact us to book an initial consultation.