Last night (10 April 2019), 18-year-old Chloe Donhou from Essex underwent spinal fusion surgery to correct her 60+ degree scoliosis. This wouldn’t normally be headline news – scoliosis affects approximately 3% of the population, and countless spinal fusion procedures are carried out worldwide each year – but Chloe’s operation was noteworthy because it was televised.
Channel 5’s Operation Live is a groundbreaking television series that’s exactly what its title suggests: live TV broadcasts of surgical operations, interspersed with commentary from the medical professionals involved. At the centre of last night’s instalment was Chloe, who has spent much of the last 18 years in pain as a result of her spinal curvature.
Speaking to the Express ahead of her operation, Chloe said: “This is something I’ve been waiting for my whole life. It’s finally happened. It’s the little things people don’t understand…if I go bowling with friends, I’ll be in agony the next day.”
Chloe’s spinal fusion procedure was carried out by the orthopaedic team at The Royal London Hospital, and watched by viewers all over the UK.
Read some of the reactions to Chloe’s spinal fusion surgery on Twitter >
Is spinal fusion surgery the only answer for people with scoliosis?
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide exercise-based physical therapy that helps people with scoliosis to live better lives. We quite frequently hear from individuals who are looking for alternatives to spinal fusion surgery – as effective as the operation is, there’s always a risk associated with any surgical procedure, and many scoliosis patients prefer not to go through with it.
Over the last 12-13 years, we have helped many people with scoliosis to improve their condition and avoid spinal fusion surgery. Our internationally-renowned ScolioGold treatment method has proven capable of:
If you would like to find out more about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and the treatment we provide, please telephone 0207 488 4428 or fill out our online enquiry form.
- Reducing pain
- Making spinal curves smaller
- Improving muscle balance and flexibility
- Boosting overall quality of life
Before & After X-Rays > Book a Consultation >
Some time ago, we shared a series of stretches for scoliosis sufferers to perform in order to improve strength and balance while also relieving some of the aches and pains that a spinal curvature can cause.
While performing a few exercises at home is no substitute for attending a full ScolioGold treatment course here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we know that these stretches can be very beneficial in their own right, and so we’d like to share a few more suggestions today. As before, please note that performing these stretches does not mean you shouldn’t also seek professional treatment for your scoliosis. They are designed to complement, not replace, other treatment methods.
- Find a flat wall that you can stand against. (You can also use the floor if there’s no available wall space.)
- Stand with your back to the wall and your feet slightly in front of you.
- Press your head/shoulders back so they’re firmly against the wall.
- Push your lower back towards the wall. Try to touch the wall if you can (but don’t strain too hard).
- Hold this position while you take three deep breaths in and out.
- Relax and repeat five times.
Watch a Video of This Stretch >
- Stand in a doorway.
- Place one arm on the doorframe so that it’s pointing upwards (your elbow should be bent to a 90° angle, and your upper arm should be roughly in line with your shoulder).
- Step forward with one leg (on the same side as your raised arm).
- Keeping your arm pressed against the doorframe and lean forward slightly. You should feel the stretch in your pectoral (chest) area.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, then relax and repeat two more times.
- Finally, turn around and repeat steps 1-5 with the other side of your body.
Watch a Video of This Stretch >
Click here for more scoliosis exercises, or contact Scoliosis SOS today to arrange a consultation with Scoliosis SOS.
- Sit in a sturdy chair in front of a desk.
- Place your feet flat on the floor so that your knees are bent to a 90° angle.
- Place your arms under your desk with your palms down (so that the backs of your hands are touching the underside of the desk).
- Gently push upwards with your hands and forearms so that they’re pressed against the underside of the desk.
- At the same time, stretch your upper back and allow your pelvis to rock forward slightly.
- Tuck in your chin so that you feel the stretch in your neck as well as your upper back.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat twice.
Scoliosis is defined as any sideways spinal curvature that measures 10 degrees or more (see Cobb angle). That being said, any curve measuring less than around 25 degrees is considered quite mild and generally less likely to require immediate medical attention. For context, spinal fusion surgery is usually recommended only in cases where the curve measures at least 40-50 degrees.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that 15 degree scoliosis doesn’t need to be treated at all. For one thing, some symptoms of scoliosis can occur no matter how slight your spinal curvature may be. Many people with so-called ‘mild’ scoliosis still experience:
- Back pain
- Noticeably reduced mobility/flexibility
If these symptoms persist, it may be necessary to treat them in order to minimise their impact on the patient’s day-to-day life. Pain medication can help, and physical therapy can improve flexibility/mobility while also combating the source of any pain or stiffness.
15 degree scoliosis won’t necessarily stay that way!
Another thing to consider is that scoliosis often progresses (i.e. gets worse) as time goes by. A 15-degree curve may gradually grow into a 20-degree curve, then 25, and so on until eventually the patient has to go in for surgery.
For this reason, preventative treatments are sometimes required in order to stop that progression from happening. Young scoliosis patients often wear a back brace until the body has finished growing to stop the condition progressing. And while surgery is not recommended in milder cases of scoliosis, treatments like our own ScolioGold programme can reduce the Cobb angle, sometimes past the 10-degree threshold to the point where the patient’s condition is no longer classified as scoliosis at all. Click here for examples of this.
Would you like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses? Contact Scoliosis SOS now to arrange an initial consultation.