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.


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).


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.


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.
How Fast Does Scoliosis Progress?
One of the worst things about scoliosis (sideways curvature of the spine) is the fact that, very often, the condition becomes more and more pronounced as time goes by. A curve that is barely noticeable to begin with can become seriously problematic and disfiguring if left untreated for long enough.
But how long does it take for a spinal curve to reach that point? How quickly does scoliosis progress, and how long can you safely go without treatment?

As usual, every case is different.

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer to either of the above questions. Some spinal curves don’t progress at all after a certain point, while others progress very rapidly and continue to do so until action is taken.
Let’s take a look at the most common form of scoliosis – idiopathic scoliosis. In most cases of idiopathic scoliosis, the curve develops around the time the patient hits puberty, then continues to progress throughout their adolescence until their spine has finished growing (usually at age 16-18). However, the rate of progression can vary greatly from one person to the next, and there’s no guarantee that the progression will cease as soon as the patient stops growing. No two cases are alike!
Things get even more complicated when you take into account all the other different forms of scoliosis. While most cases of scoliosis are idiopathic (i.e. lacking a clear underlying cause), the condition can also be triggered by any number of other factors, from neuromuscular diseases to the human body’s natural ageing process. The type of scoliosis you have makes a huge difference to the speed at which your condition progresses (if indeed it progresses at all).

How to stop a spinal curve from progressing

Once scoliosis has been diagnosed, there are a number of different ways to prevent it from progressing any further. For some patients – particularly young children with very mild scoliosis – medical practitioners may simply recommend observation (closely monitoring the spinal curve and watching for changes) as the best way forward. However, in most cases, one or more of the following treatment methods will be used:
  • Bracing – The patient wears a rigid plastic back brace to effectively hold their spine in place and prevent it from becoming any more curved than it already is.
  • Spinal Fusion Surgery – A surgical procedure where metal rods are used to anchor the spine in place.
  • Physical Therapy – A non-invasive approach that uses stretches and exercises to correct the curvature and prevent further progression.
ScolioGold therapy, which we use to treat curved spines here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, is an example of the third treatment method. To read more about ScolioGold and the use of physical therapy to treat scoliosis, please click here.