International Day of the Girl

Celebrated annually on 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child is a globally-recognised date that marks the achievements of young women all over the world and promotes female empowerment while also highlighting the challenges that girls face.

 

Scoliosis in Girls

There are many different types of scoliosis, but overall, the condition is significantly more common in females than it is males. This is particularly true of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

According to the Scoliosis Association (UK), roughly 5 out of 6 AIS patients are female - that's over 80% of recorded cases.

 

Scoliosis Women Worldwide

While scoliosis does affect a disproportionate number of females in relation to men, women globally have managed to overcome their spinal curves and live healthy, normal lives. We know because we've seen it first-hand!

Women from all over the world have come to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to benefit from our non-invasive treatment methods.

Take mother and daughter Pia and Lova, who travelled all the way from Sweden to our clinic in London, UK. Despite a 33-year age gap, both Pia (47) and Lova (14) both returned to Sweden with dramatic improvements, proving that you can always improve your quality of life, regardless of age.

 

Active Women Worldwide

Our non-surgical treatment courses haven't just helped our female patients to live more comfortably. We've also helped women across the UK to hang onto their sporting passions and live a more active lifestyle.

From footballers and rugby players to jockeys and kickboxers, Scoliosis SOS has helped all sorts of young sportswomen to overcome their condition and stay active.

 

Live a Better Life

But you don't need to be an athlete to feel the benefits of our ScolioGold treatment programme. Many girls and women have come through our doors simply looking to better their health and improve their quality of life.

Sara Capacchione came to our clinic when she was 9 years old. Her older brother had already been diagnosed with scoliosis, and when Sara's spine started to develop a curve, her family were keen to nip it in the bud. Here's her story:

 

By actively battling back against the negative effects of scoliosis, young women across the world have been able to live their best lives in spite of their spinal curvatures.

If you'd like to find out more about ScolioGold treatment, please call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428.

More Success Stories   Book a Consultation

Hyperkyphosis

Hyperkyphosis (often just called kyphosis) is a curvature of the spine that occurs in the upper back, resulting in a hunched or stooped appearance.

It affects approximately 8% of the general population, and while it is most common in older people, it can affect men and women of all ages.

Watch our video to learn everything you need to know about hyperkyphosis:

Kyphosis is sometimes known as 'dowager's hump', particularly if the patient is getting on in years. 'Hunchback' is a somewhat derogatory term for a person with kyphosis.

 

Hyperkyphosis vs Scoliosis: What's the Difference?

Hyperkyphosis and scoliosis are two different curvatures of the spine.

We treat both conditions here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and they can occur together (see kyphoscoliosis). But they're not the same thing.

Kyphosis vs scoliosis

The difference lies in the direction of the curvature:

  • Hyperkyphosis: Causes the upper* region of the spine to curve forwards, making the patient's upper back look unusually rounded or hunched.

  • Scoliosis: Causes the spine to curve sideways, forming a 'C' or 'S' shape.

*Excessive forward curvature of the lower spine is known as hyperlordosis. Read our Curvatures of the Spine guide for more information.

 

How Does Hyperkyphosis Affect the Body?

Kyphosis patients can usually be recognised by their visibly hunched backs, but this is just one of the many ways in which hyperkyphosis can affect one's body.

Kyphosis patients

Other symptoms of kyphosis include:

  • Back pain
  • Stiffness and discomfort
  • Reduced mobility / flexibility
  • Fatigue
  • Poor body image

But that's not all. A severe kyphotic spinal curve can even interfere with the body's most fundamental inner workings, such as the respiratory and digestive systems.

> How does hyperkyphosis affect breathing?

If hyperkyphosis is not treated and the spinal curve continues to get worse over time, there is a risk that it may eventually begin to adversely affect the patient's ability to breathe. This happens because especially severe spinal deformities inevitably end up warping other parts of the skeleton, including the rib cage; this leaves the lungs with less room to inflate, resulting in compromised breathing.

> How does hyperkyphosis affect the digestive system?

Severe hyperkyphosis can also impact on the patient's ability to digest food normally. Again, this is due to the knock-on effect that a pronounced spinal curve can have on other parts of the body. In the case of the digestive system, problems may arise because the patient's internal organs are being squashed together, potentially obstructing the passage of food through the intestines. Acid reflux is also fairly common among people with advanced hyperkyphosis.

> How does hyperkyphosis affect the nervous system?

In some cases, the distortion of the body due to hyperkyphosis can end up impinging on a nerve. Depending on where in the body this happens, nerve compression can lead to:

  • Persistent aches/pains
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Certain body parts feeling weak
  • Loss of bladder/bowel control

The good news is that all of these consequences are relatively rare and do not arise in the majority of mild to moderate cases of hyperkyphosis.

 

What Causes Hyperkyphosis?

Kyphosis can develop for a number of different reasons, and some forms of this condition are more preventable than others.

Here are some of the most common causes of hyperkyphosis (and who they're most likely to affect):

  • Bad Posture - If you persistently slouch forward or lean back when seated, you may notice that your spine starts to develop a visible curvature over time. Desk workers are particularly prone to the sort of postural problems that can lead to hyperkyphosis.

  • Scheuermann's Disease - Scheuermann's disease typically occurs during the growth spurt that accompanies puberty. If you have this condition, it means that your vertebrae (the bones that make up your spine) develop into a wedge shape, creating a forward spinal curve. Learn more about Scheuermann's disease here.

  • Congenital Issues - While rare, it is sometimes the case that a baby's spine will develop incorrectly in the womb, and this can mean that hyperkyphosis is present from birth. This is called congenital kyphosis, and when it does occur, it usually begins within the first 6-8 weeks of embyronic development.

  • Osteoporosis - Human beings (especially women) often lose bone density as they get older, a condition known as osteoporosis. The resulting bone weakness can lead to a range of different problems, including curvature of the spine. Learn more about osteoporosis here.

  • Spinal Injury - Certain accidents and injuries can impact the spine, resulting in hyperkyphosis in some cases.

 

How to Prevent Hyperkyphosis

While hyperkyphosis can be treated, it is often impossible to prevent it from developing altogether.

Scheuermann's kyphosis and congenital kyphosis cannot be prevented with lifestyle changes. Good posture will reduce your risk of developing postural kyphosis, and a healthy diet and weight-bearing exercises can help to prevent kyphosis from developing as a result of osteoporosis.

If you want to prevent hyperkyphosis, here's what we recommend:

  • Avoid rounding your shoulders and make an effort to observe your posture when sitting, walking or standing.

  • Perform exercises which increase bone mass - rebounding on a trampoline is very effective for this, and is even used by astronauts preparing for space travel.

  • Eat a diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin D, such as spinach, fatty fish and fortified foods.

  • Perform exercises to improve your posture at home, especially if you work in a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time or lift heavy objects. Here are some exercises to get you started.

  • Seek physical therapy from a qualified professional who will be able to identify the cause of your poor posture.

 

Hyperkyphosis Treatment

As with scoliosis, there are a number of different hyperkyphosis treatment methods in use, including both surgical and non-surgical options.

Congenital Kyphosis Treatment

The most prevalent treatment methods are:

  • Bracing - During adolescence, bracing may be required to stunt the progression of the patient's kyphosis in moderate to severe cases. Bracing aims to ensure that the degree of the curvature does not develop any further than it already has. The patient may be required to continue wearing the brace until their spine stops growing at around 16 years of age. Learn more about how a hyperkyphosis brace works here.

  • Pain Management - As is the case for many health problems, pain management is often a central part of hyperkyphosis treatment. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can help to relieve the aches and pains that derive from having a curvature of the spine. If the patient is in a lot of pain, stronger pain relief medications may be prescribed.

  • Physical Therapy - Though it does require some work on the patient’s part, physiotherapy is a great way to treat hyperkyphosis. Physical therapy programmes such as our own ScolioGold method can straighten the back, reduce pain, and improve the patient's quality of life in general - see before and after photos here.

  • Surgery - If the curvature becomes so severe that the patient is having difficulty going about their day, surgery may be recommended. Spinal fusion is the standard surgical procedure for hyperkyphosis - this involves fusing the vertebrae together to correct the spine's curvature. Method rods, screws, hooks and bone grafts are used during the operation to fuse the bones together. The operation takes 4-8 hours, and a back brace may need to be worn for up to 9 months while your spine heals.

 

Matthew from Exeter: A Kyphosis Case Study

Matthew Ellison came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in 2018. Our treatment course helped to reduce his back pain, and he actually grew by 3.8cm during his time here!

Read Matthew's story in full here. Matthew is just one of the many hyperkyphosis patients we've helped - if you'd like to find out more about our physical therapy courses, please give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

Learn Some Hyperkyphosis Exercises   Book Your Initial Consultation

Lower back pain

When a person develops scoliosis in the lower part of their spine, it is known as lumbar scoliosis. While spinal curves can arise as the result of an underlying condition, lumbar scoliosis is usually idiopathic, meaning that the cause is not known.

 

A real pain in the back!

One of the most common symptoms of lumbar scoliosis is lower back pain. While this pain may not be too severe during the patient's childhood and teenage years, it often gets worse over time, and many adult scoliotics suffer from chronic back pain.

What causes this pain? Well, when you have a curve in your spine, the surrounding muscles sometimes have to work harder to make up for the curvature. This can result in muscle strain, which is what leads to back pain.

For more information on why this happens, read our blog post on scoliosis and muscular imbalance.

 

Treating lower back pain in people with scoliosis

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have treated thousands of people with scoliosis, many of whom were experiencing lower back pain as a result of their condition.

One recent patient was 47-year-old Pia from Sweden, who was diagnosed with 33-degree and 28-degree curves in her thoracic and lumbar spine. These curves caused Pia a lot of lower back pain, and after trying several treatment methods and wearing a brace for a number of years without success, she visited our clinic (along with her daughter) in the hope of finally getting her pain under control.

In order to overcome her lower back pain, Pia undertook a 4-week ScolioGold therapy course consisting of both group and one-to-one treatment sessions. As a result, Pia's Cobb angle measurement reduced by 50% in her cervical rotation and 20% in her thoracic rotation, and we also helped to reduce her back pain.

Watch this video to hear Pia talk about her experience with Scoliosis SOS:

If you're suffering from lower back pain as a result of your scoliosis, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Pain Treatment   Book a Consultation

Spinal fusion hardware versus VBT

The USA's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it had approved its very first spinal tethering device for correcting idiopathic scoliosis in children and adolescents.

The Tether™ vertebral body tethering system is designed to help correct spinal curvatures in young patients whose bones have yet to fully mature.

Made up of titanium anchors, bone screws and set screws, along with a flexible polymer cord, the device aims to prevent further curve progression, theoretically eliminating the need for spinal fusion surgery.

 

What does this mean for young scoliosis patients in the USA?

Manufactured by Zimmer Biomet, the spinal tether device has been presented as something of a breakthrough in paediatric scoliosis management. It is an innovative treatment option that aims to improve quality of life for young patients with idiopathic scoliosis.

Dr Baron Lonner, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, applauded the FDA's decision, noting that vertebral body tethering (VBT) could become a "mainstream option for scoliosis treatment" in due course.

The Tether™ VBT system is designed to help young scoliosis patients with a Cobb angle of 30-65 degrees.

 

Idiopathic scoliosis in children

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis. The causes of idiopathic scoliosis are unknown (this is what the word 'idiopathic' means). It is typically diagnosed in children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18.

The most commonly-prescribed medical treatment for idiopathic scoliosis is bracing. If the brace does not successfully halt the progression of the patient's spinal curve, surgery may be recommended.

Though often effective, the spinal fusion procedure can lead to problems of its own, with patients sometimes facing such issues as restricted motion and arthritis down the line.

The FDA's decision to approve this new tethering device could give young scoliosis sufferers a new hope in tackling their spinal issues.

 

Is vertebral body tethering effective?

In June 2018, NHS England published a report titled Evidence Review: Vertebral Body Tethering for Treatment of Idiopathic Scoliosis.

This review examined the effectiveness of VBT and the complication rates associated with this treatment method.

Here are two key findings from NHS England's report...

  • 5 out of 25 patients required repeat surgery: "At skeletal maturity, Ames, Samdami et al reported 5 patients from the cohort of 25 requiring repeat surgery to loosen the tether in order to treat or prevent overcorrection (Ames, Samdani, & Betz, 2016)."

  • In total, 44% of patients experienced some complications. In addition to the 5 patients who required repeat surgery (see above), another 5 experienced "transient thigh pain or numbness", and there was 1 patient with "unresolved intercostal neuralgia".
  • There's not yet enough evidence of VBT's effectiveness: "It is not possible at present, given the lack of experimental studies, to confirm that this treatment is relatively effective, safe and acceptable when compared to standard care."

 

Scoliosis treatment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic

While the FDA's decision may be welcome news to young scoliosis sufferers in the USA, vertebral body tethering still has a long way to go as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery, and it remains to be seen just how effective the Tether™ will be in the long term. Note also that this treatment method still requires the patient to undergo an operation.

If you're seeking a less invasive option for yourself or a loved one with scoliosis, you may be interested in the treatment courses that we deliver here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London, England. Our ScolioGold programme combines a variety of non-surgical methods to create a unique approach that is unlike anything offered elsewhere.

Better still, the ScolioGold method is constantly evolving in line with advances in the field of non-surgical treatment, ensuring that our therapeutic programme continues to deliver the best possible results.

Contact Scoliosis SOS to book a ScolioGold consultation >>

FURTHER READING:

Woman jogging in the sunset

Celebrating the benefits of an active lifestyle, National Fitness Day takes place annually to help promote the benefits of physical fitness.

National Fitness Day 2019 falls on Wednesday 25 September. People across the UK will be encouraged to get active and commit to get fit in pursuit of healthier lives.

Organised by UK Active, this event aims to highlight the importance of keeping fit and staying active, regardless of your age and ability.

 

Staying fit with scoliosis

People with scoliosis sometimes find it difficult to take part in sports and other forms of strenuous exercise.

But scoliosis doesn’t have to dictate how you live your life, and it needn't stop you from participating in activities you enjoy.

It's a somewhat common misconception that sporting activity can make scoliosis worse. This myth has been debunked by medical professionals.

In fact, some sports can actually help to boost your flexibility and strengthen your core - particularly swimming, cycling and even football.

 

Usain Bolt has scoliosis!

For proof that people with scoliosis can achieve sporting glory, look no further than Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt.

Despite being born with scoliosis, the Jamaican youngster with the spinal curve never let it hamper his dreams, defying the odds to become one of the most celebrated Olympians in history.

Bolt overcame his spinal curvature and became known as the fastest man on Earth, shattering records in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay (and winning countless medals along the way).

 

Success stories from Scoliosis SOS

But Usain Bolt isn't the only scoliosis sufferer who's made his sporting dreams a reality. In fact, many of the patients we've treated here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have managed to triumph over adversity and remain active despite their spinal issues.

Through their dedication and hard work, these people have been able to overcome the pain of scoliosis with the help of our non-surgical treatment courses, allowing them to continue to participate in the activities they love.

View some of our sporty success stories >

If you're struggling with scoliosis and you'd like to book a consultation with the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please contact us today.