Wearing a scoliosis brace
 
The curvature of the spine can be treated in a number of different ways, but one of the most commonly-prescribed treatment methods of all is the scoliosis brace. Scoliosis patients will often wear a rigid plastic shell known as a ‘Boston brace’ for as much as 23 hours a day, removing the brace only to bathe or shower.

Is bracing an effective treatment for scoliosis?

Bracing is usually only recommended if the patient is still growing. The Boston brace is most commonly worn by children and teenagers who are still going through (or have yet to undergo) the adolescent growth spurt.
 
The aim of the scoliosis brace is not to reverse the patient’s spinal curvature or reduce their Cobb angle measurement. However, bracing can sometimes be an effective way to halt the progression of the curve; in other words, a scoliosis brace won’t make scoliosis get better, but it may stop it from getting any worse.
 
Scoliosis patients in the UK who exhibit a spinal curve of 40 degrees or more are often referred for spinal fusion surgery. If your spinal curve measures between 20 and 40 degrees and your body is not yet fully-grown, you may well have to wear a Boston brace to stop the curve progressing any further while you finish growing. Hopefully, the back brace will keep you from reaching the point of needing surgery.

Are scoliosis braces uncomfortable?

Of course, while most scoliosis patients are happy to wear a Boston brace if it means avoiding a surgical procedure, this treatment method does have its downsides. Some scoliosis brace wearers find the brace uncomfortable, especially during the summer months when the weather is hot and the extra insulation is unwelcome. It can also take a while to get used to sleeping with the brace on.
 
Furthermore, a scoliosis brace may somewhat limit the wearer’s ability to move around. While your brace probably won’t be restrictive enough to disrupt your daily routine, you may find that it affects your performance if you engage in sports or other very physical activities on a regular basis.

Will the scoliosis brace be visible through my clothes?

In addition to the discomfort associated with wearing a Boston brace, many young scoliosis sufferers worry about the aesthetic implications of wearing a rigid plastic shell under their clothes every day. Most brace wearers are school-aged, and the possibility that the brace will make them look strange can understandably be a source of much anxiety for these young people.
 
Fortunately, modern scoliosis braces are very well-designed – each one is moulded to fit the shape of the wearer’s body, and nowadays they tend to be very difficult to see when concealed by loose-fitting clothes.

How long will I have to wear my scoliosis brace?

In most cases, the patient will have to continue wearing their brace for as long as their spines continue to grow. For girls, this usually means 2 to 2.5 years post menarche; boys usually have to wear the brace until the age of 15-16. However, girls tend to stop growing a couple of years before boys.

Are there any alternatives to bracing?

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we use our own unique treatment method – ScolioGold therapy – to treat scoliosis patients and other individuals with curved spines. Unlike some braces, our approach has been shown to reduce the Cobb angle and effectively reverse the progression of scoliosis.
 
Mia, a 13-year-old girl from Bromley, came to our clinic a couple of years ago. Our ScolioGold treatment course decreased her spinal curve to the point that she was able to stop wearing her scoliosis brace during the day and only put it on at night.
 
 
Contact Scoliosis SOS below to find out more about our treatment courses and arrange an initial consultation with our scoliosis consultants.
 
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.
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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When you’re concentrating on work, it can be very easy to fall into bad posture habits – especially if you spend most of the working day sitting at a desk. Sitting still for long periods of time can be quite bad for your body to begin with, but when you’re sitting in a position that is putting pressure on certain parts of your musculoskeletal system, the effect is compounded, with potentially dire results.
A desk job can be particularly hazardous to your health if you already suffer from scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine) or hyper-kyphosis (an excessive forward curve in the spine). Poor desk posture can exacerbate back pain, a common symptom of scoliosis, and may even contribute to the continued progression of one’s existing spinal curve.

Therapeutic stretches to try at work

Whether you suffer from a spinal condition or not, you can perform the following stretches while seated at your desk in order to stave off the potential health consequences of bad posture:
Thoracic Extension at Desk

Stretch #1: Thoracic Extension at a Desk

  1. Sit forwards in your seat with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place the palms of your hands and your mid-forearms underneath your desk, with elbows bent to 90 degrees.
  3. Apply gentle pressure in an upwards direction with your hands and mid-forearms, while simultaneously extending your upper back and allowing your pelvis to rock forwards.
  4. Ensure that your chin is tucked in as your neck elongates upwards.
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 times for one set.
  6. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.
Levator Scapulae Stretch

Stretch #2: Levator Scapulae Stretch

  1. Sit comfortably in your chair with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet firmly on the floor.
  2. Place one hand behind your lower back to ensure a correct lumbar lordosis.
  3. With your head, look over to the right side and diagonally downwards towards your armpit.
  4. Place your right hand onto the occiput (the bony part of the base of your skull).
  5. Use the weight of your arm to stretch the neck in a downward and diagonal direction.
  6. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 times for one set.
  7. Swap sides and repeat.
  8. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.
Sitting Piriformis Stretch

Stretch #3: Sitting Piriformis Stretch

  1. Sit comfortably in your chair with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet firmly on the floor.
  2. With one leg at a time, place your ankle across your opposite knee, as though you are crossing your legs individually.
  3. Ensure that you maintain a small lumbar lordosis with a contracted core to optimise the position of your pelvis and lumbar spine.
  4. Push down gently on the crossed leg’s knee to stretch the piriformis muscle (located on the outside of the gluteal region).
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for one set.
  6. Swap sides and repeat.
  7. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.
If you suffer from scoliosis, or another spinal condition, and you are looking for an effective non-surgical treatment route, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to learn about our ScolioGold therapy courses.