Ireland's health service is notorious for its long waiting lists. While the HSE (Health Service Executive) offers free healthcare to everyone resident in the Republic of Ireland - much as the NHS does for people in Britain - the system has been frequently criticised for keeping patients waiting for crucial treatment.

Last month, Irish Minister of State for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy became the latest person to confront her country's waiting list problem, specifically singling out the long waiting lists for children who require scoliosis surgery. On the 17th of November, 2016The Irish Times reported that Ms Corcoran Kennedy had called the current waiting times "unacceptable", and that Ireland's Department of Health were "working closely with the HSE to address pressures on the service".

The problem with waiting for scoliosis treatment

If you're not familiar with scoliosis and how the condition progresses, you might not realise why Ireland's long waiting lists are so harmful for people with curved spines. Curvature of the spine isn't generally regarded as a life-threatening illness, so what difference does it make if scoliosis patients have to wait a little longer to be seen?

The problem is that a spinal curve tends to get worse if left untreated, and this progression can happen extremely rapidly for some people. In an ideal world, every case of scoliosis would be diagnosed at an early stage and treated immediately so as to minimise the condition's impact on each patient's life; in reality, though, many a case goes undiagnosed and untreated until the symptoms (e.g. back pain, reduced mobility, muscular imbalance) become more pronounced and begin to take a significant toll on the patient's quality of life.

And even when a diagnosis is made in a timely fashion, factors such as the waiting lists in Ireland can delay treatment and allow the curve to progress unchecked. The aforementioned Irish Times article mentions a young girl named Mary, who was diagnosed with a 40 degree spinal curve but didn't undergo surgery until 17 months later, by which time her curve had progressed to an angle of more than 100 degrees.

Getting treated at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London

With waiting times in Ireland being what they are, numerous scoliosis sufferers have sought alternative treatment routes in order to get their condition under control ASAP. We have welcomed many Irish patients through the doors of the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London, where scoliosis sufferers undertake intensive exercise-based treatment courses in order to combat the symptoms of scoliosis without surgery or bracing.

One of our Irish patients is Molly Garvey from Dublin. Molly completed her ScolioGold course in 2010 and has since returned several times for check-ups - watch the video below to find out what she thinks of us.


If you would like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses, please contact us today.

Further Reading:
Dextroscoliosis vs. Levoscoliosis
 
Scoliosis - a sideways curvature of the spine - comes in many different forms. The cause, location and severity of the curve can vary hugely from one patient to the next: for example, a 12-year-old girl with idiopathic scoliosis and an older woman whose spine is curved due to the degeneration of her intervertebral discs could both be said to suffer from scoliosis even though their conditions are very, very different.
 
One of the most obvious defining characteristics of any spinal curve is its direction - does the patient's spine curve to the left, or to the right?

What do the words 'dextroscoliosis' and 'levoscoliosis' mean?

'Dextroscoliosis' and 'levoscoliosis' look like two intimidatingly dense pieces of medical jargon, but they actually just refer to the direction in which a scoliosis patient's spine curves
  • Levoscoliosis curves towards the left side of the body
  • Dextroscoliosis curves towards the right side of the body
Unlike the word 'scoliosis', which is Ancient Greek vocabulary, these terms are derived from Latin. It's relatively easy to remember which is which, because 'levoscoliosis' and 'left' both begin with the same sound (and the average person is more dexterous with their right hand, although admittedly that mnemonic may be a little counter-intuitive if you yourself are left-handed).

Is it better to have dextroscoliosis than levoscoliosis?

At this point, you may be wondering which set of scoliosis sufferers has it worse. Is it more painful to have a spine that curves to the left than one that curves right? Or is it the other way around? Or does it not really make any difference?
 
First of all, it should be reiterated that every scoliosis sufferer has a different experience, and that applies to both dextro- and levoscoliosis sufferers. The direction of your curve is not a reliable indicator of how much pain you will experience, how far the curve will progress, or the extent to which your condition might impair your ability to move around.
 
That being said, some people have suggested that levoscoliosis is more dangerous than dextroscoliosis because (among other reasons) the heart is on the left side of the body. While a right-leaning spinal curve can indisputably have a hugely detrimental impact on a person's quality of life, there is some evidence that a left-leaning curve is more likely to be accompanied by other health conditions and diseases. A study entitled Left thoracic curve patterns and their associations with disease (Goldberg et al, 1999) noted that there was some correlation between levoscoliosis and disease; however, the authors of that study concluded that the correlation wasn't especially strong, and that several other factors were more reliably associated with disease in scoliosis patients.
 
More details on the link (or lack thereof) between levoscoliosis and disease can be found here.

Treating dextroscoliosis and levoscoliosis

Both levo- and dextroscoliosis are traditionally treated using the same methods:
  • Bracing
  • Spinal fusion surgery
However, here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have achieved excellent results through treating both levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis using an exercise-based physiotherapy regime called ScolioGold therapy. Our intensive treatment courses have helped many scoliosis sufferers to combat the symptoms of their condition, achieve a higher quality of life, and avoid undergoing surgery.
 
Click here to see what our patients have said about their ScolioGold treatment courses, or contact us today to book a consultation.
20 degree scoliosis resultsperson-19person-19person-19
 
Scoliosis isn't always easy to identify, but if a patient suspects that they may be experiencing symptoms associated with the condition, they will usually be given a physical examination before being sent for an X-ray to confirm the presence of an abnormal spinal curvature. This curve is measured using a metric that is commonly referred to as the Cobb angle, which is used to identify the degree of scoliosis present in each sufferer's spine.
 
cobb angle x-ray
 
If the Cobb angle is less than 10°, this is usually an indication of a perfectly normal spine (since the human spine always has a certain degree of deviation - nobody's back is totally straight). 10° is usually used as the threshold for diagnosing scoliosis; if the Cobb angle is identified as exceeding 20°, treatment is routinely recommended so as to prevent further curve progression, which can cause an increasing number of health problems if the Cobb angle is left to worsen. In some cases, treatment is also advised for those who have a curve between 10 and 20°, depending on a variety of different factors in each individual case.
 

What is 20 degree scoliosis?

In simple terms, the severity of an individual's scoliosis is assessed on a scale ranging from mild (Cobb angle of 10-25°) to moderate (26-40°) to severe (40°+). This means a curve that measures around 20 degrees would be classed as mild scoliosis, which is obviously the least debilitating form of the condition.
 
However, while the word 'mild' may suggest that this form of scoliosis is fairly harmless, it does carry a significant risk of progression. This risk can increase up to 100% for a diagnosis in very young children once the curve exceeds the 20° mark. In cases of mild scoliosis, it is beneficial to undertake preventative measures in order to reduce the curve at an early stage and give yourself the best chance at limiting progression.
 
 

What are the symptoms?

Patients with 20 degree scoliosis usually suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Uneven shoulders and hips
  • Forward or tilted head posture
  • Legs appearing to be uneven
  • Mild pain 
  • Clothes hanging unevenly 
This form of scoliosis is most commonly found in adolescent females, although it can affect individuals of both genders, ranging from young people to fully-grown adults.
 

Treating 20 degree scoliosis

Young patients with mild scoliosis will usually be recommended to wear a specially-fitted back brace -  read about bracing here.
 
scoliosis treatment
 
At the Scoliosis SOS clinic in London, we practice an alternative form of scoliosis treatment called ScolioGold therapy. It is suitable for brace-wearers as well as those who opt to pursue a less restrictive form of curve prevention.
 
Our treatment programmes combine a variety of proven, non-surgical techniques, which are used to address multiple aspects of the condition and provide long-term results. Over the years, we have successfully treated patients with curves ranging from mild to severe, leading to Cobb angle reduction along with the improvement of pain, mobility, and visible symptoms.
 

Case Study: Lottie, aged 12

Lottie is a young dancer who was diagnosed with a 19° scoliosis curvature. She came to us for treatment to help prevent her scoliosis curvature getting worse as she grew. She really enjoyed her treatment with us and knows that she will be able to prevent her condition worsening by continuing to practice her exercises at home.

See our full interview with Lottie here:

 
Here at Scoliosis SOS, we are very proud of the fact that we have helped scoliosis sufferers from every corner of the globe. If you're familiar with our Overseas Patients page, you'll know that people have travelled to our clinic from all over Europe, from North America, and even from Oceania and Asia.

One patient from that latter group is Amy, who travelled all the way to London from Taiwan to receive treatment for her scoliosis last year.

Scoliosis Treatment for Amy from Taiwan

Amy is a nurse, and she has been living with a curved spine for roughly 15 years! She wore a brace for 4-5 of those years, but was unhappy with this treatment - her back brace was uncomfortable to wear in the hot weather, and she noticed that her muscles were shrinking and she was becoming weaker as time went by.

Amy visited the Scoliosis SOS Clinic after reading about us online and being impressed with the results she saw on our website - photos of other patients who had received treatment here and were now living a higher quality of life as a result. 

To find out more about Amy's treatment here, you can watch this short video interview we conducted with her:

Why travel to the UK from Taiwan for scoliosis treatment?

The distance between Taiwan and England is pretty immense (about 6,000 miles). However, as Amy says in the video above, the benefits you gain from receiving treatment here are well worth the long journey. Non-surgical treatment can be hard to find in Taiwan, and finding an alternative to surgery has proven a difficult task for many Taiwanese scoliosis sufferers. 

Our treatment method, ScolioGold, is a proven non-surgical treatment for scoliosis; as our research has shown, it can visibly reduce a patient's spinal curve in addition to providing relief from pain and improving flexibility and self image.

If you live in Taiwan (or anywhere else in the world for that matter) and you would like to find out more about our scoliosis treatment courses, please contact us today. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and we can even carry out a full consultation with you via Skype or telephone call.
Scoliosis is a disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterised by an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine, and it comes in various forms; the most common form is idiopathic scoliosis, which commonly develops during adolescence and has no known cause (although researchers are getting closer to solving this mystery).
However, many other forms of scoliosis do have a traceable cause. For example, thoracolumbar scoliosis can be detected at birth, and often arises as the result of an underlying condition such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy. 

What is thoracolumbar scoliosis?

Thoracolumbar scoliosis is an abnormal curvature that resides in lower thoracic (mid-back) and the upper lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine. In cases of thoracolumbar scoliosis, the spine usually curves to the right; it mostly affects women, although men can suffer from this condition as well.
 
Thoracolumbar Scoliosis
 
Thoracolumbar scoliosis can be caused by a number of different factors. The condition can be congenital, in which case the curve will form in the womb (at around the third to sixth week in utero) and be visible at birth. Alternatively, as mentioned above, this particular form of scoliosis can sometimes occur as a secondary result of conditions like spina bifida or cerebral palsy. It can also be caused by poor muscle control and muscle weakness.

How can it be treated?

Treating thoracolumbar scoliosis is dependent on a number of different factors. A patient with only a mild curve might not require treatment - just regular monitoring to ensure that the curve is not progressing. If the curve is especially severe then spinal fusion surgery may be required, but many patients are put off by the thought of undergoing surgery and instead resort to other methods to treat their spinal curve.
 
If the curve in your spine is caused by weak muscle control, then exercise-based physiotherapy may be suggested as a possible treatment option. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we treat spinal curves of varying severities using our ScolioGold methodThis treatment programme is based around the Schroth method and a mixture of scientifically proven non-surgical techniques from around the world, and it is designed to ensure that all aspects of each patient's condition are fully treated.
 
Thoracolumbar Scoliosis - Before & After Treatment
 
We can treat spinal curves measuring anywhere from 10 to 120 degrees - please contact us today to book an initial consultation or to find out more about our non-surgical treatment method.