After our recent Q&A with Scoliosis SOS founder Erika Maude, we asked our followers on Facebook and Instagram what questions they wanted to ask Erika. We received a lot of suggestions – scroll down to read Erika’s responses to some of your scoliosis questions!
What happens if you leave adult scoliosis untreated?
(Kail Mursili via Facebook)
That depends on a number of factors. Age, curve size, symptoms, lifestyle…the list is endless. The general medical opinion is that if you go into adult life with a curve greater than 40 degrees, it is likely to progress by 1-2 degrees per year for the rest of your life.
However, some people’s curvatures will progress quickly due to lifestyle or career choices. Scoliosis is also likely to progress quickly during pregnancy or menopause, because of changes to hormonal balance, weight distribution on the spine and an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Prevention is always better, so if your condition is starting to bother you because of how it looks or any pain you may be experiencing, we would always recommend getting it checked out as there are lots of ways to help adults with scoliosis.
Can scoliosis improve with exercise and massage?
(Nafizah Bholah via Facebook)
Definitely! We have helped over 3,500 patients from all over the world to improve their scoliosis through scoliosis-specific exercise therapy. Our ScolioGold method combines scientifically-proven therapies with scoliosis-specific massage techniques to readdress muscle imbalances and give patients improved body image, Cobb angle reductions, relief from pain and a host of other benefits.
The important thing when choosing a treatment programme is to ensure that it is scoliosis-specific and customised to you; otherwise, it is unlikely to be effective.
What’s the largest degree of spinal curvature that can be fixed using exercises?
(Kail Mursili via Facebook)
As there is no cure for scoliosis, it all depends on your definition of ‘fixed’, as this can vary from person to person. We have had patients who arrived in wheelchairs and were able to walk some distance after treatment.
Some people are able to reduce their Cobb angle and avoid surgery. Others seek relief from a life of constant pain. Because scoliosis can affect individuals in so many different ways, treatment goals are very unique to that person.
We have successfully treated patients with a range of curve sizes. The most memorable is a gentleman who visited us from India with a 120-degree curve – he grew by 5cm during his treatment course.
Can conditioning and dance help to straighten the spine?
(@summergraceslate via Instagram)
General core strengthening and flexibility are key to good spinal health, regardless of whether someone has a spinal curvature. However, there has been no scientific evidence that conditioning, dance or routine physiotherapy can straighten the spine. Only scoliosis-specific exercises have shown to be effective in targeting the muscle imbalance in a way to make it possible to straighten the spine.
What can I do if I have a painful trapped nerve because of scoliosis?
(@Lindsey_bowler via Instagram)
In the first instance, we would recommend seeking medical help from your GP, in case the symptoms are actually pointing to something else.
After that, it is important to ascertain whether the nerve pain is due to being trapped by your vertebrae or by your soft tissues due to the muscle imbalance caused by your scoliosis. If it is the first, then you may need to be referred to seek specialist help; if it’s the latter, this will often resolve with a good scoliosis-specific exercise programme and hands-on release work.
At what age does it become impossible to resolve the deterioration of the spine?
(@Mouad_elkahlani via Instagram)
The simple answer is: there isn’t one! We have treated lots of patients well into their 90s with our scoliosis-specific exercise programmes, and as long as the patient is still relatively active and mobile, there is plenty our therapists can do to help.
Alternatively, if someone has lost their mobility, there are orthotic manufacturers who supply and fit custom-made Lycra suits that can help support the patient in a seated position.
Do you plan to open a clinic in New York? (Or any other places?)
(@mima.vojnovic via Instagram)
We are in the process of developing regional clinics to make treatment more accessible to people across the UK. Our first locations in Birmingham and Bristol opened at the end of November 2019, and we’re planning to add further locations in 2020.
Several people have asked us if we would consider opening clinics overseas; however, at the moment our focus is on maintaining the brilliant treatment standards for which we are famous, and any future expansion cannot be at the expense of quality control. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that these satellite clinics will prove that, regardless of the location, patients can expect to receive the same high level of care and expertise as they have come to expect from our London clinic.
Does playing the guitar affect scoliosis? What exercises should I do to compensate?
(@louise_wils via Instagram)
Any one-sided activity or hobby can cause the symptoms and/or curvature of existing scoliosis to worsen. The guitar does involve an element of twisting and overload on one side of the body, and therefore it could be a contributing factor to the progression of the condition.
Ideally, you want to be doing stretches and muscle strengthening in the exact opposite of your guitar-playing posture to negate any unwanted effects. As part of our treatment programme, we incorporate advice and exercises to counteract any one-sided hobbies / sports to ensure that all of our patients can continue to do the things they enjoy, whether that means getting back out into the garden or playing national-level tennis.
Are there spinal treatments for failed spinal tethering?
(rideoordie444 via Instagram)
The short answer is yes. However, it will very much depend on the individual case and presentation of scoliosis, plus the circumstances surrounding why the spinal tethering failed in the first place. The conventional treatment would be to do a full spinal fusion surgery; however, there are some instances where it may be possible to treat the issue with a scoliosis-specific exercise programme to avoid further surgery. The best advice would be to contact us for advice and to arrange a consultation.
Get in touch with Scoliosis SOS >>
Scoliosis can be a painful and debilitating condition that makes even the simplest tasks uncomfortable.
Seeing a loved one go through such discomfort can be agonising to watch. However, you don’t have to stand idly by – here are five simple things you can do to help someone with scoliosis today.
1. Be Available
People with long-term illnesses, conditions and disabilities often find it hard to ask for help.
In fact, some may actively avoid seeking outside help, preferring to deal with the problem on their own.
But even in those cases, knowing that there’s a shoulder you can lean on when things get too much can make all the difference.
Being there as an emotional and physical crutch when your friend or loved one needs you is the ultimate sign of support, so don’t be afraid to let them know your door is always open.
2. Prepare for Change
Scoliosis can cause excruciating pain at inopportune times. This can cause plans to change at the drop of hat, with last-minute cancellations a natural by-product.
While this can be somewhat frustrating, try not to make a big deal out of it. Remember, the other person is probably just as disappointed as you are, and on top of that, they may well feel guilty for letting you down.
Be understanding and reassure them that whatever it was can be rearranged for another time.
3. Look Past the Condition
Helping someone deal with scoliosis doesn’t necessarily mean physically helping them with their daily tasks or providing them with pain relief.
In fact, helping someone with scoliosis can be as easy as helping them put it in the rear-view mirror and forget about the pain for a few hours.
Walking on eggshells and being overly aware of their ailment will only bring attention to it. Scoliosis doesn’t change the person they are, so why should it affect the way you act around them?
4. Accept Their Tiredness
Enduring a prolonged period of pain can be exhausting. For scoliosis sufferers, even simple everyday tasks can be taxing at times.
What’s more, a busy day of activities or a bad day involving a flare-up can leave them totally wiped out and feeling tired, lethargic, and generally less than 100%.
Dragging them out or pressuring them into taking part when the tank is empty can not only impact their enjoyment, but it can also impact their physical health after the fact.
Accept that when your friend or loved one says they’re too tired to do something, they really mean it. It’s nothing to do with you.
5. Mental Awareness
Like any physical ailment, scoliosis can have a negative effect on mental health, from impacting self-image to making the patient more introverted and withdrawn.
Infographic: How Does Scoliosis Affect Body Image?
Scoliosis can naturally exclude a person from taking part in things they love, such as sports and recreational activities.
Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, it can also prevent them from doing things they want to do and impact on plans made.
The result of this can have a knock-on effect on mental health, particularly if several setbacks occur in quick succession.
Be aware of mental health and, if there are signs that depression may be creeping in, don’t hesitate to step in and help.
Read More: Scoliosis & Depression Book a Scoliosis Consultation
Maintaining a healthy weight can be a tough task for people with scoliosis, especially those who find themselves in perpetual pain and discomfort as a result of their condition.
Chronic back pain can slam the brakes on physical activity – even when the mind is willing, you may feel physically unable to get up and exercise, and this can take its toll on your overall fitness.
But that doesn’t mean you have to throw the towel in and resign yourself to a life of inactivity. Luckily, there are a whole host of ways for scoliosis patients to stay healthy and keep weight gain at bay.
While it might seem like exercising with scoliosis is putting yourself on the fast track to a bad back, it can actually have the opposite effect – as long as you’re careful.
Staying active can be beneficial for your body in a number of ways, helping you stay slim and trim while also keeping your body limber and flexible.
Being smart about the exercises you choose can make a huge difference, so be sure to exercise caution before you exercise your body.
In the weight room, heavy deadlifts are obviously not a good choice for someone with spinal issues. The same goes for other back-heavy exercises, like good-mornings and power cleans. Meanwhile, lower-body exercises like squats and lunges can also put indirect pressure on your spine.
Exercises to Avoid If You Have Scoliosis >>
Even some yoga positions, such as the cobra pose, can cause your vertebrae to rotate beyond the point of comfort. Be smart and avoid exercises that are likely to put considerable strain on your spine.
Strengthening your core can be a great way to alleviate discomfort, while regular stretching can also help to reduce back pain.
Young at heart
Running can put a lot of stress on the spine, jarring the body every time your feet hit the ground. As such, going out for a jog or hitting the treadmill may be a bad idea – but that doesn’t mean cardio is completely off the table.
Most gyms have elliptical trainers (cross trainers) that allow you to exercise in a fluid motion without the jarring effect of running. Similarly, the stair climber is also a good way to get your cardio fix while reducing the impact on your spine.
Another great way to maintain and improve cardiovascular fitness with scoliosis is swimming. The buoyancy of the water minimises impact on the joints while still providing resistance, making it the ideal cardio exercise for scoliosis sufferers.
Swimming with Scoliosis >>
That being said, these exercises can be challenging for people with severe scoliosis, particularly those with reduced lung capacity. If you are unable to complete the above exercises, it may be worth considering less strenuous options, such as walking or aqua aerobics.
If you’re a smoker, another great way to stay in shape is to – you guessed it – give up smoking.
Quitting smoking can help improve lung capacity by as much as 10% within nine months, and this can help considerably when it comes to exercise. Qutting will also improve your circulation, providing additional energy and reducing fatigue.
However, quitting smoking isn’t without its challenges. In addition to being a notoriously hard habit to break, it can also lead to some initial weight gain.
This is due to the fact that smoking suppresses your appetite and speeds up your metabolism. Meanwhile, it can be tempting to use food as a replacement for cigarettes – many ex-smokers find themselves snacking to fill the void.
That being said, while you may gain weight at first, giving up smoking will pay dividends in the long run – both in the gym and from a pain standpoint. A 1999 study by the Division of Clinical Epidemiology at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal found that smoking can exacerbate back pain, particularly in scoliosis sufferers. All the more reason to bin the cigs!
You are what you eat
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, diet plays a huge role in weight management. Even with plenty of exercise, you can’t out-train a bad diet – so be sensible when it comes to junk food and unhealthy snacks.
If your scoliosis is severe and limits your ability to exercise, a healthy diet is vital in maintaining a healthy weight. Removing exercise from the equation puts you at a disadvantage to begin with, making a healthy diet all the more important.
What’s more, certain foods are beneficial for reducing scoliosis symptoms, while others can only amplify those symptoms. Food and drinks that are rich in salt, sugar or caffeine can have a negative effect on calcium absorption, while alcohol can also contribute to poor bone density.
Avoid foods rich in additives, such as ready meals and fast food. Meanwhile, try to limit your consumption of soft drinks, tea, coffee and alcohol. Eating organic meals and fresh fruit and veg will give your body a fighting chance of fat loss, while also giving you a simultaneous boost in the bone department.
Best Diet for Scoliosis >>
If you would like to explore the possibility of non-surgical treatment for your scoliosis, please contact the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to arrange a consultation.
At its most basic, ‘mindfulness’ refers to an individual’s conscious presence in the here and now, focusing on the moment and one’s current surroundings.
But mindfulness also extends to the way we react to situations, with a strong emphasis on maintaining a calm and calculated approach to what’s going on.
“What does that have to do with scoliosis?” we hear you ask. Well, potentially, quite a lot.
Mindfulness and Pain Relief
According to the Dalai Lama, “if a person’s basic state of mind is serene and calm, then it is possible for this inner peace to overwhelm a painful physical experience”.
In other words, practising mindfulness can help us to cope with physical pain and discomfort as well as being a useful stress management technique.
A Brief History of Mindfulness and Scoliosis
This holistic approach to long-term medical conditions is nothing new. In fact, way back in the 4th century BC, Hippocrates was believed to have stressed the healing power of nature and said to have encouraged self-healing methods.
Additionally, it’s well-documented that methods not unlike mindfulness have been in use for centuries, notably playing a big role in the ancient medical traditions of both India and China. Meanwhile, Buddhist monks have long been associated with this meditative approach to health and wellbeing.
Mindfulness Studies and Results
According to an article published on RelaxTheBack.com, a study conducted by the University of Montreal compared the pain tolerance of Zen monks well-versed in meditation to that of non-meditators.
The results showed that the monks’ pain sensitivity rate was 18% lower, while MRI results concluded that they also had a thicker orbitofrontal cortex, suggesting that this area of the brain was responsible for meditation-based pain relief.
A further study by the University of California, San Diego found that, after completing a 20-minute mindfulness meditation session each day for just 4 days, test subjects reduced their pain response by 44%. The same test was done on another group, replacing meditation with a dose of morphine. The morphine resulted in a pain reduction of just 20%.
Additional evidence was published in the April 2011 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, which reported that 80 minutes of mindfulness meditation could cut pain perception almost in half.
Mindfulness and Scoliosis
So let’s apply this theory to scoliosis. If the above figures are correct, theoretically, modern-day mindfulness techniques could help to decrease scoliosis pain.
What’s more, the mental benefits may also help scoliosis sufferers to cope with the condition psychologically, fending off the anxiety and depression that can accompany long-term ailments like scoliosis.
Practice Mindfulness with Scoliosis
Stereotypical meditation positioning requires you to be sat up straight, cross-legged on the floor. This may not be very comfortable for someone with scoliosis!
Luckily, mindfulness meditation can be modified to fit your body’s needs. Whether you need to use a chair, sit against a wall or lie down on your back, you’re free to find the position that’s most comfortable for you.
Daily meditation in a relaxed environment could be a great way to help combat the negative effects of scoliosis. At the very least, it’s definitely worth a shot.
Learn about our scoliosis treatment methods >
Lots of Scoliosis SOS patients ask us the same question:
What will I need to do after my treatment to continue seeing results?
The typical length of a ScolioGold treatment course is 4 weeks, and while our patients routinely see significant improvements within this short time, it is the long-term results that they (and we) are most concerned with!
During those 4 weeks of treatment, we teach every patient a set of exercises and stretches that will help them to continue their treatment independently when they get home. Each patient leaves our clinic with a daily exercise plan that’s tailored to their condition and long-term goals.
To give you a better idea of what those daily exercise routines contain, we spoke to Eleanor – who started ScolioGold treatment back in 2016 – and asked her a few questions about her daily exercise routine and how her scoliosis has been since she left the clinic.
Hi Eleanor! How did your initial ScolioGold treatment course help you?
I started treatment 3 years ago, when I was 12 years old. My consultant had told me that I needed to have surgery on my back because my curve was progressing, but my mum researched other options on the Internet and found the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. I did a 4-week course during my summer school holidays, and within a couple of days of starting treatment, my parents noticed that I was standing taller and straighter. By the time I finished treatment a month later, I had grown 3cm!
The main thing it has helped with is my self-confidence; I no longer feel ashamed of my back or have to hide under baggy jumpers. The best part was when we saw the consultant for a check-up appointment he said that I was no longer a candidate for surgery.
How often have you come back to the clinic since then?
I usually come back to see my therapist Charlie every 3 months, but once I have finished growing this will change to every 6 months. I grew a lot last year, so at Christmas, I did a refresher week where I learnt a few more advanced exercises and joined a couple of the group therapy sessions too.
What exercises do you do at home?
At my appointments, Charlie gives me a new exercise schedule that tells me what I have to do on each day. It’s nice to have a change, and it keeps me motivated when I go back home. Each day includes 3 specific exercises and a couple of stretches. My favourite is side-lying with a pole as I can really feel my muscles working when I do it and it always makes me feel straighter afterwards.
Some of the other things I do are: muscular cylinder, prone on stool, semi-hanging, PNF Pacquet and ASC.
How often do you do scoliosis exercises at home?
As I am still growing, I have to do 45 minutes of exercise each day.
Are the continued exercises helping you to manage your condition?
I have been discharged from the hospital, but the measurements and scans Charlie does at my check-ups show that my condition is stable and it improved a bit more after I did the refresher week.
If you’re suffering from scoliosis, we can provide an entirely exercise-based treatment course that will help you to manage your condition independently. To enquire about our treatment courses, give us a call on 0207 488 4428 or use the links below.
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