"Traditionally, scoliosis has been considered to be a disease affecting bone, cartilage, or neuromuscular activities. We were surprised to find an immune response associated with idiopathic scoliosis."
Idiopathic scoliosis is a condition that affects people all over the world, yet the underlying cause is still unknown. Researchers have made great progress in recent years, however - we've explained previously on this blog that zebrafish can be very useful when researching scoliosis and other congenital defects that occur in humans, and scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children have been examining zebrafish to try to identify factors that contribute to the onset of idiopathic scoliosis.
While looking for abnormal genes or genetic pathways that could be responsible for idiopathic scoliosis, the researchers instead noticed that immune cells liked to inflammatory conditions had accumulated around the area where the spinal curvature occurred. Using genetic tools, they found that stimulating pro-inflammatory signals in the spines of zebrafish could induce idiopathic scoliosis.
Interestingly, the team were also able to demonstrate that blocking these signals using NAC (an over-the-counter supplement that has anti-inflammatory properties) reduced the severity of scoliosis in the zebrafish. If these findings can be applied successfully to humans, then these Toronto-based scientists may have discovered a treatment that is less invasive than some of the treatments currently available to people with scoliosis.
Image source: advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/12/eaav1781
The research team are now planning to explore the genetic causes of idiopathic scoliosis in human patients and attempt to determine whether inflammatory signals like those found in the zebrafish can be identified and proven to accelerate the onset or progression of spinal curvature.
Read the Research Article > How We Treat Scoliosis >
In the physiotherapy world, the word mobility refers to the freedom of movement that exists in a muscle or group of muscles. People with scoliosis often experience reduced mobility in their backs (frequently accompanied by pain).
Regularly performing lower back mobilisation exercises can help to:
- Strengthen muscles in the lower back
- Improve posture
- Relieve lower back pain
- Increase mobility
- Reduce the likelihood of injury
There are lots of different mobility exercises that you can try. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we try to tailor all of our corrective exercises to each patient's specific condition - the exercise, how often you should do it, and the other exercises we recommend incorporating into your routine are largely dependant on the severity of your scoliosis, and on your end goal. If you are someone who wants to run a marathon, you may need to perform lower back mobilisation exercises more frequently than someone with no such aspirations.
Watch the video below for a lower back mobilisation exercise that has helped many of our scoliosis patients.
This exercise uses a flat surface (e.g. the wall or the floor) to straighten your spine while you stretch your lower back muscles. Over time, repetition of this exercise will not only improve mobility and posture, it will also help to relieve tension and pain in the lower back.
If you suffer from scoliosis and think you may benefit from one of our exercise-based treatment courses, please get in touch today. We're happy to answer any questions you might have.
Contact Scoliosis SOS > More Scoliosis Exercises >
In January of this year, we treated 13-year-old Isabella from Leeds, a keen runner and rugby player who had been experiencing back pains.
Back in 2016, a friend of Isabella's mum whose own daughter had scoliosis suggested that Isabella might have a curved spine as well. This friend instructed Isabella to bend forward and touch her toes, and she was able to identify the signs of scoliosis (this is called the Adams forward bending test).
Isabella had an X-ray and an MRI scan, which confirmed that she did indeed have idiopathic scoliosis. The scans revealed that Isabella had an 'S'-shaped curve with a Cobb angle of 30° at the top of her spine and 15° at the base of her spine. At this point, Isabella was given two options: wear a brace, or have surgery. She didn’t want to do either of these things, and so she and her family started looking for alternative treatments online. That’s how she came across the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.
Isabella completed a 4-week course with Scoliosis SOS. She initially thought that it would be hard work, but found that the corrective stretches and exercises got easier as she went along. Isabella met lots of people at our clinic who could relate to her condition and helped her learn a lot about her own spine. When we asked Isabella if she was still experiencing pain after playing sports following her Scoliosis SOS treatment, she said that "the pain has gone now" – an amazing result!
You can see an interview with Isabella about her treatment experience here:
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Individuals with idiopathic scoliosis don't always experience pain as a result of this condition, but there may be a loss of back strength depending on the severity of the spinal curvature. With the right exercises, however, this can be overcome - for instance, it may be beneficial to place greater emphasis on enhancing the strength, range of motion, and length-tension relationship of the working muscles on either side of the vertebral column.
Range of Motion
Defined as the 'measurement of movement around a specific joint in the body', range of motion simply refers to how freely a particular part of your body can move. In the case of idiopathic scoliosis, an 'S' or 'C' curve can result in shortened musculature on the concave working muscles of the spine. These differences can dramatically decrease the unilateral range of motion at different joints in the spine, leading to reduced mobility and irregularities in one's posture.
Back strength is essential for balance, posture and the transmission of power throughout the body. Each of these factors can make a big difference to everyday activities such as going up and down stairs, picking up objects, and standing up from a sitting position. Incorporating back strengthening exercises into a corrective scoliosis treatment programme can significantly improve functional strength and postural symmetry.
Defined as the 'ability of a joint to move freely through its range of motion', flexibility is an important consideration for scoliosis therapists as it plays a vital role in restoring a regular length-tension relationship in the patient's tightened skeletal muscles. Improved flexibility can result in enhanced postural symmetry, improved performance, reduced pain, and minimised risk of further injuries.
The video below showcases an effective back strengthening exercise that you can try at home:
Regular exercise is vital when attempting to correct and alleviate the symptoms of scoliosis. The exercise in the video above is just one of many that can aid in improving the strength, flexibility and range of motion in your spine.
More Scoliosis Exercises > Contact Scoliosis SOS >
Earlier this year, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic helped 16-year-old Ian from Ghana to overcome his 50-degree scoliosis.
Ian's spine began to develop a curve when he was 12 years old. As he grew, the curvature got bigger and bigger; when Ian's mother noticed the condition of his spine, she became worried and sent Ian for some X-rays, which led to a scoliosis diagnosis.
This came as a shock to Ian, who hadn't even heard of scoliosis before, but he did some research and began to learn more about his condition and the treatments available. Unfortunately for Ian, the treatment options in Ghana were limited, but a friend of his mother recommended the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London. Soon after, Ian left Ghana for the first time and came to the UK for a 4-week treatment course to help correct the curve in his spine.
Ian faced some difficulties at the start of his treatment programme due to him being shy and sensitive about his condition. As time went by, however, Ian became much more comfortable, and by the end of the course he felt a lot more confident when showing his back and spine. Ian found our corrective exercises quite challenging at first, but as time passed, he became used to the exercises and was soon able to perform them without any problems. Throughout this whole process, Ian became more confident not just in the way he felt about his body, but also in a social sense, making lots of new friends from different parts of the world.
Ian described the Scoliosis SOS therapists as "really encouraging" throughout his treatment course, helping him to get to know his body better and gain a greater understanding of his condition. To anybody else suffering from scoliosis, Ian recommends visiting the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to receive the same guidance and treatment that he had.
Watch the video below for a full account of Ian’s story and to see how Scoliosis SOS were able to help him.
If you have any questions about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, or if you would like to book an initial consultation with us, please click the link below!
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