Can Scoliosis Get Better?

When you or someone in your family are diagnosed with scoliosis, it’s normal to wonder if the condition will simply get better on its own. No one wants to go through a potentially arduous treatment for an illness that will eventually resolve itself once things have taken their course.

Unfortunately, scoliosis does not usually get better on its own. Very minor spinal curves may improve with time, but this is very rare and only happens in the mildest cases of scoliosis. In fact, when left without treatment, large scoliosis curves tend to progress further, getting worse and worse until they’re causing potentially life-threatening problems. The most severe scoliosis curvatures can lead to restricted cardiovascular and respiratory movement.

What can I do to stop my scoliosis getting worse?

You can prevent your scoliosis from getting worse by seeking treatment from your GP. They will usually refer you to a hospital, and the medical professionals there may recommend bracing, physiotherapy, surgery, or any combination of these.

When you are diagnosed at a young age, it is typically recommended to wear a back brace until your body has finished growing. The brace will help to prevent the scoliosis curve from progressing any further as you grow.

When diagnosed with scoliosis as an adult, physiotherapy and surgery are the most commonly-recommended treatment routes. Only the most severe cases of scoliosis (40-50° and over) require surgical intervention. Typically, the procedure used is spinal fusion surgery, which involves attaching rods, hooks, wires or screws to the curved part of the spine in order to help straighten the spine over time. A bone graft is then used to ‘fuse’ the spine into the correct position.

How can physiotherapy help with scoliosis?

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer specialised physiotherapy courses for those with scoliosis and other spinal/postural problems. We find that many of our patients do not want to undergo the painful process of surgery and would prefer to follow a physiotherapy treatment plan to help improve their scoliosis.

There are a variety of different non-surgical methods that can be used to help reduce the curvature of the spine – here are just a few of the techniques we use to combat scoliosis:

  • Schroth method – This method, developed by Katharina Schroth, was introduced in 1921 and has been used ever since. It comprises a series of stretches and exercises that combat the symptoms of scoliosis.

  • FITS Method – With an individually-adjusted programme for each patient, this method uses posture patterns to help improve scoliosis.

  • Taping – Kinesio tape is sometimes used to help promote correct muscle movements, which can help reduce the pain caused by scoliosis.

  • Hydrotherapy – Hydrotherapy is a great way to treat certain symptoms of scoliosis without the strain of doing exercises on dry land.

Visit our ScolioGold method page to read about all the techniques we use to treat scoliosis here at the clinic.

Get in touch with Scoliosis SOS today to arrange a consultation and find out more about our treatment courses.

scoliosis chronic pain

Unless you yourself are living with chronic pain, it can be difficult to imagine how debilitating it can be to the sufferer.

‘Chronic pain’ means any persistent pain – it can last for weeks, months, or even longer. Chronic pain can occur as a result of scoliosis when your body tries to compensate for the curve in the spine.

Although some people with scoliosis feel only minimal discomfort, others suffer severe pain, including:

  • Muscles spasms
  • Trapped nerves
  • Leg and hip pain
  • Breathing / cardiovascular issues

All of these problems can make it incredibly difficult for someone with scoliosis to live a normal life. If your back pain is affecting your day-to-day activities, it may be a good idea to seek professional medical help in order to find out what can be done.

How to treat scoliosis-related chronic pain

Every case of scoliosis is different, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ cure for the associated pain. The level of pain doesn’t even necessarily correlate with the angle of one’s spinal curve; for example, someone with a 65-degree curve may feel little pain, whereas someone with a 20-degree curve may experience intense pain.

A scoliosis specialist will be able to help you determine the best method of treating the chronic pain caused by your scoliosis. In some cases, if the curve is particularly severe. a surgical operation may be required in order to correct your spinal curvature and relieve the pressure it is putting on your body.

However, there are several non-surgical methods for relieving scoliosis-related pain, including pain relief medication and physical therapy. Although pain relief medication can help to reduce the pain you feel, physical therapy programmes – such as our own ScolioGold method – can be more effective in the long run. ScolioGold combines a number of effective non-surgical treatment techniques and is tailored to the specific requirements that accompany a curvature of the spine.

We have helped countless scoliosis patients to overcome their chronic pain and achieve a significantly higher quality of life. If you want any advice about the pain caused by your scoliosis, we are more than happy to help – please contact us today to book a consultation with our friendly scoliosis specialists.

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.

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 sports to avoid
 
Physical mobility is a prominent issue for scoliosis sufferers, especially those who regularly participate in sports and other forms of physical activity. These activities play a significant role in many people’s everyday lives, providing them with a fulfilling sense of self that cannot easily be replaced. 
 
Whether your chosen activity is a dearly-loved hobby or a career aspiration, the prospect of being unable to participate as a result of your spinal condition can be devastating. In order to provide a greater insight into how scoliosis can impact your ability to perform certain physical activities, today we will look at sports and exercises that scoliosis sufferers are commonly told to avoid, discussing the possible risks involved and how to avoid them. 
 

Sports to avoid if you suffer from scoliosis

Individuals with scoliosis are commonly told to avoid the following sports and activities:

Weight lifting

When performed incorrectly, weight lifting can be problematic even for people with healthy spines. For scoliosis sufferers, the risk of discomfort and further deterioration increases due to the existing weaknesses caused by having an uneven spine. The abnormalities caused by scoliosis result in unnatural movements within the body, which can be placed under further pressure by repetitive motions and heavy loading.

Impact sports (rugby, hockey, American football)

It is often recommended that scoliosis sufferers avoid or reduce their participation in sports that could cause ‘impact injuries’, which occur due to high speed bumps and falls during matches (e.g. when a rugby player is tackled and lands on hard ground). This can cause spinal fractures and damage to the joints, which increases the risk of degenerative disorders and further progression for those who already suffer with scoliosis.

Dance, gymnastics and yoga

Activities that involve the bending and flexing of the spine are often discussed as being problematic for those who suffer with scoliosis due to the excessive stress that certain movements can place on your spine. For reasons that are not entirely known, instances of scoliosis are also higher amongst dancers and gymnasts, although there is no clear evidence that the movements themselves lead to scoliosis. It may simply be the case that the condition is more likely to be observed under these circumstances, or that those who are genetically predisposed to excel in these activities are at a higher risk of developing scoliosis.

One-sided sports (tennis, golf, skiing)

Certain sports run the risk of unevenly working the spine due to the fact that one side of the body is placed under increased stress or performs certain movements more than the other. For patients with scoliosis, this can lead to discomfort and further progression of their already uneven spine, causing the rotation of the spine to worsen.
 

Does scoliosis mean I have to give up these sports?

Despite the fact that certain movements performed in sports are risky for scoliosis sufferers, this does not mean that you should give up on your life passions as a result of your condition! The key to overcoming the obstacles posed by having an uneven spine is getting to know your individual restrictions and limitations, adjusting your approach to avoid injury, and building up your strength.
 
While certain sports may be more dangerous for scoliosis sufferers than others, even the activities mentioned above can be performed safely when the sufferer is provided with the right management and treatment programme. This will not only teach you which exercises to avoid, but will also allow you to build strength in weaker areas of your body and retrain your body to avoid movements that place undue stress on these areas.
 
In the past, we at Scoliosis SOS have treated a number of sportspeople and dancers suffering with scoliosis, many of whom thought that their condition would eventually prevent them from taking part in these activities. Using our ScolioGold treatment method, we delivered a programme that was individually tailored to each of their conditions, allowing them to successfully manage their symptoms and continue to take part.
 
If you’re an active individual with scoliosis and you’re worried about the impact of this condition on your ability to participate and compete in sports, please get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team to discuss how we may be able to help.