Surgical team at work

Being diagnosed with scoliosis is a life-changing experience. It can then be even more life-changing when you are told that your curved spine can only be corrected with spinal fusion surgery.

What Happens During Scoliosis Surgery?

If you've never had surgery before and you're hearing about how the operation is performed for the first time, it's perfectly natural to feel a little worried. Whether you're considering the possibility of surgery or you've already had the operation, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help you.

 

Pre-spinal fusion treatment

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we provide scoliosis patients with physiotherapy-based treatment that aims to reduce their Cobb angle measurement. Our ScolioGold treatment programme combines the Schroth method with an assortment of other well-established therapeutic techniques from around the world, including:

  • FITS Method
  • PNF Technique
  • SEAS Method
  • Taping
  • Myofascial Release
  • Osteopathy
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Medical Acupuncture

This ensures that all aspects of the patient's condition are addressed.

By increasing the range of motion in the back and strengthening the muscles around your spine, our pre-spinal fusion treatment aims to reduce the severity of your spinal curve, often meaning that surgery is no longer required at all.

 

Post-spinal fusion treatment

If you have already undergone spinal fusion surgery, our exercise-based therapy can still benefit you. Common problems after spinal fusion surgery include infection, pseudarthrosis and failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), all of which can result in continued episodes of pain and discomfort as well as reduced mobility. If you are experiencing any of these issues in the wake of your spinal fusion surgery, our treatment courses may help to alleviate your symptoms.

But even if the operation went perfectly, it often takes a long time to fully recover from spinal fusion surgery. ScolioGold treatment can help to speed up this process whilst limiting several other post-op issues you may have. Our treatment plan is great for:

  • Reducing back pain
  • Improving mobility
  • Speeding up the correction of your spinal curve
  • Correct any secondary curvatures that may have progressed or developed above/below the fusion

Watch the video below to hear from one of our past patients, Rachel, who had surgery for her scoliosis and unfortunately experienced post-surgery complications. A number of years after her first operation, Rachel was told that another curve was developing in a different part of her spine and would require further surgery. Hoping to avoid having to go through this again, Rachel began to look for alternatives.

Rachel's story is a great example of how our treatment can be utilised by post-surgery patients to address various issues they may encounter. Thanks to her 4-week ScolioGold treatment course, Rachel was able to avoid a second appointment with the surgeon.

If you would like to learn more about how our scoliosis treatment course can help you either pre- or post-spinal fusion surgery, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

Yoga poses for scoliosis

We've previously talked about the relationship between yoga and scoliosis and how yoga is sometimes used as a form of scoliosis treatment due to its ability to create proper alignment within the body whilst reducing pain. This is achieved by placing focus on a number of key parts of the body, including:

  • Strengthening the feet and legs (to relieve the burden placed on the spine)
  • Straightening / lengthening the spine
  • Aligning the lower limbs with the torso for improved function
  • Addressing the rounding of the back
  • Strengthening core muscles to prevent the back from tightening
  • Incorporation of breathing awareness to improve structural alignment

However, despite all of the benefits associated with yoga, scoliosis patients who wish to take up yoga need to be cautious of the potential dangers that also exist. This is particularly the case for yoga classes that do not cater to the demands of scoliosis sufferers, as scoliotic spines do not always behave in the same manner as straight, healthy spines.

In order to ensure that your condition is improved rather than worsened, take a look at our recommended best (and worst) yoga poses for people with scoliosis.

 

The best yoga poses for scoliosis

Cat/Cow Pose

At the beginning of a yoga session, it's important to focus on loosening the spine with breathing. The cat pose is a great exercise to help with this. To perform it, kneel with the hands below the shoulders and the knees below the hips. Whilst inhaling, lift the head and tailbone, making the lower back concave. Exhale and tuck the tailbone, rounding and releasing the neck. Repeat this for a total of ten times.

Warrior Pose

This pose strengthens and stretches the legs, psoas and back muscles and should be performed with the support of a door jamb or pillar in order to keep the torso upright and balanced. To perform the warrior pose:

  • Bring your back to the edge of the door jamb with the front heel about two feet ahead and the front leg hugging the side of the wall.

  • Place the back toes around two feet behind the left hip. Square the two hips so they are parallel to each other and point the tailbone to the floor, lengthening the sacrum.

  • Inhale and bring the arms overhead parallel to the shoulders (with palms facing each other) and lift from the upper back, lengthening the ribs and spine out of the pelvis.

  • Exhale and bend the right leg, creating a right angle, with the thigh parallel to the floor and the shinbone perpendicular to the floor. The right knee should be placed directly over the right heel, with the left leg fully extended and the left heel descending to the floor.

  • Continue to lift the spine, and at the same time, press into the floor with the back leg.

If you have trouble bringing the back heel to the floor, place a sandbag under the heel for balance. Pressing it back and down to the floor helps to penetrate the deep psoas muscle.

 

Inversions

In a healthy spine, the continual pull of gravity can compress the intervertebral disc and eventually cause nerve damage or disc herniation. If you have scoliosis, this issue is even more pronounced. Scoliosis sufferers will tend to feel the uneven pressure of gravity constantly but have no understanding of how to create alignment to alleviate it.

Inversions are a perfect way to create freedom in your body to experience alignment without the usual distortions caused by gravity. As a result, it is often easier - particularly if you have been diagnosed with scoliosis - to feel what alignment is upside down than while standing on your feet. Inversions are also a great way to develop strength in the back and arms, increasing circulation to the vertebrae, brain and other major organs as well as encouraging lymphatic circulation and venous blood return.

 

The worst yoga poses for scoliosis

Back-bending poses

Bending a scoliotic spine backwards will reduce the normal front-to-back thoracic shape, also known as kyphosis. This 'regular' part of the spine works to limit the progression of scoliosis, so emphasis should be placed on encouraging this shape rather than reducing it. Back-bending positions flatten the thoracic spine which can lead to destabilisation, making scoliosis worse.

Back-bending poses include:

  • Cobra
  • Half-moon
  • Bow pose
  • Camel
  • Wheel
  • Locust

 

Torso-twisting poses

Unless you're certain it will not aggravate the rib arching, scoliosis patients should avoid twisting the torso against the pelvis. The rib arch is increased as it rotates backwards into the existing curvature, regardless of whether the rotation is to the left or right side. Some forms of scoliosis can accommodate these types of twists in a yoga programme, but only to one side.

It's important to communicate with your practitioner before incorporating these poses into your yoga routine:

  • Spinal twist
  • Triangle
  • Seated twist
  • Sage twist

 

Bending the rib cage

Bending the rib cage backwards, forwards or sideways should be avoided at all costs. Trying to open up the main scoliotic curve between the thoracic (upper) and lumbar (lower) spine may improve the major thoracic curve, but you will risk worsening any curvatures above or below that curve.

The poses to avoid are:

  • Side bend
  • Triangle
  • Seated twist
  • Sage twist

 

These are the best and worst yoga poses for people with scoliosis. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide award-winning, exercise-based scoliosis treatment courses that aim to strengthen the muscles and increase the range of motion in the back, frequently eliminating any need for surgical intervention. We have treated patients of all ages from all over the world.

Treatment FAQs   Book a Consultation

Spine segment

What is a spinal osteotomy?

A spinal osteotomy is a surgical procedure used to correct deformities in the spine. Here, bone is removed from the back of the vertebral arch to correct long, gradual curves of kyphosis like those produced by Scheuermann's kyphosis or ankylosing spondylitis.

The majority of procedures that treat spinal deformities are types of osteotomy. These include posterior column osteotomy (PCO), pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO) and vertebral column resection (VCR).

 

When is a spinal osteotomy performed?

Proper spinal alignment is important for pain-free functioning of the spine. The slight lordosis of the neck and lumbar (lower) spine are balanced by a slight kyphosis of the thoracic (upper) spine. These curves work in harmony to keep the body's centre of gravity aligned over the pelvis.

A reduction in lordosis in the lower region of the spine (also known as flatback syndrome) or an excess in kyphosis in the upper region of the spine (known as hyperkyphosis) results in spinal misalignment. This is called sagittal imbalance and can cause fatigue, pain and compression of organs such as the heart and lungs.

During a spinal osteotomy, the surgeon removes a wedge-shaped section of bone from the back of the spine. Closing this wedge either adds lordosis or reduces kyphosis. This disc in front of the removed bone must accommodate the new position of the bones, so a spinal osteotomy requires a flexible disc between the target vertebrae. A surgeon assesses spinal flexibility during the creation of a treatment plan. If the discs cannot support a spinal osteotomy, other surgical options may be considered instead.

A PCO usually provides a patient with 10-20 degrees of correction, but this procedure is often performed at multiple spinal levels. Depending on where and how much correction is needed, a series of PCOs can 'add up' to the desired correction.

 

How is a spinal osteotomy performed?

A spinal osteotomy is conducted under general anaesthetic, meaning the patient is unconscious. They are placed face-down on the operating table, where the surgeon makes an incision over the spine to expose the bones in the spinal column. The surgeon then places screws into the vertebrae above and below the area from which the bone is to be removed. The heads of the screws are designed to hold rods. At the end of the surgery, the surgeon will insert rods that immobilise the spine while it heals in its new position.

Next, the surgeon removes bony projections that extend from the back of the vertebrae. The surgeon then removes sections of bone called the lamina at the back of the vertebrae and portions of facet joints between the vertebrae that will be realigned.

It is then time to realign the vertebrae. Here, the surgeon manipulates the patient's spine into a new position, using implants to obtain the desired correction. Once alignment has been achieved, the surgeon inserts rods into the screws that were placed at the beginning of the surgery. The role of the rods is to hold the bones of the spine in the position achieved during the surgery while they heal. After this, the surgeon will apply bone graft or transplanted bone over the vertebrae. The bone graft will fuse with the vertebrae, forming one solid bone. Achieving good bone fusion is vital for long-term stability.

 

What to expect after a spinal osteotomy

Once the spinal osteotomy procedure has been successfully completed, you may have a number of questions. Let's answer several common post-osteotomy questions right now:

How long will I have to stay in the hospital?

Patients typically stay in the hospital for 5-7 days after their spinal osteotomy procedure.

Will I need to wear a brace or collar?

Sometimes surgeons may prescribe a brace or collar if the osteotomy was performed in the neck. If performed on the spine, this is less common.

Will I have to take any medication?

If any discomfort is experienced after the spinal osteotomy, pain relief medication may be prescribed.

How long before I can exercise again?

You can begin to walk as soon as you're comfortable to do so. More rigorous forms of exercise will have to wait until later on in the healing process.

Will I require any form of rehab or physical therapy?

Yes, physical therapy will be a part of your recovery process.

Will spinal osteotomy cause any long-term limitations?

As a result of your fusion, you may experience some decreased mobility; however, this all depends on your particular procedure.

 

How can Scoliosis SOS help?

If you have undergone a spinal osteotomy procedure and your doctor recommends participating in physical therapy as part of your recovery plan, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help!

We offer world-renowned physical therapy that helps to increase the spine's range of motion and strengthen the muscles in your back, helping you to resume regular activities as soon as possible. Our ScolioGold method combines the well-known Schroth method with other proven therapy techniques to help speed up your spinal osteotomy recovery.

About ScolioGold Treatment   Book an Initial Consultation

Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Today is Shropshire Day - a day to celebrate the feast day of St Milburga, who founded a nunnery in Shropshire. St Milburga is said to have had the amazing gifts of healing, sight restoration and even a mysterious power over birds!

She is believed to have died on the 23rd of February, which is why this date is celebrated as her feast day. There are many festivities taking place to mark the occasion, including the Shropshire County Show - will you be celebrating?

Over the years, we've treated a number of scoliosis patients from Shropshire, so we thought we'd have a little celebration of our own and share with you some of their incredible scoliosis stories.

Tilly from Ludlow

Tilly from Ludlow

Tilly was diagnosed with a curve that was almost double that of most scoliosis patients! She had spinal fusion surgery to straighten her spine, but following the operation, she developed an infection. This infection became so bad that medical staff recommended she have the rods in her spine removed, leaving Tilly devastated. She came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic for a 4-week treatment, which dramatically improved her posture and gave her back her independence.

"I feel like I have been through so much, but it is all in the past now, and with my back feeling stronger than ever I really do have so much to look forward to."

Read Tilly's Story >

 

Tyler from Ludlow

Tyler from Ludlow

At just 5 years of age, Tyler was told he needed a gruelling 12-hour spinal fusion surgery to fuse his vertebrae and would likely never have full flexibility in his spine again. Tyler's mother decided to pursue alternative, exercise-based therapy options at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London because she couldn't bear to tell her son that he'd never be able to climb trees again. Tyler came for a 4-week treatment course and saw improvements in his symmetry, reduced pain and was even breathing easier. Tyler's mother Susan said:

"I feel like I have my little boy back. I really am so lucky that I found the clinic when I did."

Read Tyler's Story >

 

Tracey from Welshampton

Tracey from Welshampton

Tracey, a teacher from Shropshire, was born with spina bifida but had corrective surgery as a young child to prevent the condition worsening. This was successful, but at the age of 29, Tracey developed uneven shoulders as a result of her underlying scoliosis. Tracey was told she was an unsuccessful candidate for surgery due to her spina bifida. Instead, she came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic for exercise-based treatment.

"The treatment was successful, helping to improve my posture and reduce my pain."

Read Tracey's Story >

 

Sophie from Condover

Sophie from Condover

Sophie was diagnosed with scoliosis at 13 years old. The condition was holding her back from her favourite sports - trampolining, roller-skating and BMX. She was experiencing severe pain and found it hard to go to school. Sophie and her family decided to give our exercise-based treatment programme a try instead of opting for the standard scoliosis brace. As the Shropshire Star reported:

"Since her treatment, Sophie has been able to take up running as well as restarting her roller-skating hobby."

Read Sophie's Story >

 

Sarah from Ludlow

Sarah from Ludlow

At the age of 15, keen tennis player Sarah was told that her spine was so contorted, she'd never stand up straight again. Due to the risks associated with the operation, Sarah's mother wanted to pursue other treatments before settling for invasive spinal fusion surgery. Sarah didn't fully understand her condition to begin with, but we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic were able to explain exactly what was going on to help put her at ease. Thanks to our ScolioGold treatment programme, Sarah has since been given the all-clear to play tennis again.

"I cannot wait to get back to playing tennis. I am also so excited to watch Wimbledon on television. Maybe one day I will be as good as some of the professional players."

Read Sarah's Story >

 

Milly from Ludlow

Milly from Ludlow

Milly, aged 14, was told she would need to undergo intensive 9-hour surgery to correct the curvature in her spine. Devastated, Milly thought she would be affected by her condition for the rest of her life. Luckily, her parents sought out an alternative means of treatment and came across the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. During her month-long course of exercise-based therapy, Milly saw a major improvement in her posture and physical appearance.

"Since coming for treatment, I am relatively pain-free, something I am ecstatic about. My posture has improved immensely and I can now play hockey for hours with no discomfort."

Read Milly's Story >

If you've been diagnosed with scoliosis and it's causing you distress, be sure to explore our exercise-based scoliosis treatment courses.

Scoliosis screening for a child

Detecting scoliosis in its early stages is important if you want to halt its progression and minimise the severity of the symptoms. This raises the question: should we be screening for scoliosis in schools?

School screenings aim to detect the minor deformities that often go unnoticed by general practitioners but which can point to a possible curvature of the spine.

Family doctors don't tend to carry out routine checks for scoliosis, so symptoms are often left untreated until the curvature becomes more prominent or the patient starts to experience pain - an outcome that could potentially have been avoided with early detection. Unfortunately, if the patient's spinal curve is allowed to develop to 40 degrees (or more), treatment options become very limited.

 

Why Should We Screen in Schools?

It's estimated that 3 or 4 children out of every 1,000 in the UK need to be treated for scoliosis - and with over 8.7 million pupils in schools across the UK as of 2018, you can imagine how prevalent this condition really is. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis tends to develop while children are aged between 10 and 15, so screening at this time could well help to reduce the number of adults suffering with severe scoliosis in this country.

If it's caught early, exercise-based therapies like our ScolioGold treatment programme can be used to prevent scoliosis from getting worse (even helping some patients to avoid invasive spinal surgery).

Interestingly, in the past, the UK did screen for scoliosis in schools. This was a fairly common practice up until the 1990s, but it was eventually abandoned.

Researchers Muhammad Ali Fazal and Michael Edgar from the University College Hospital and the London Clinic conducted a study called The Detection of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis and were able to ascertain that:

"In the year 2000, only 8% of patients with scoliosis had been identified by school screenings compared to 32% in 1985. Similarly, the number of patients presenting with curves over 40° increased to 70%, showing that untrained eyes are only capable of identifying spinal deformities at a later stage."

These findings highlight the important role school screenings can play in preventing debilitating cases of scoliosis. So why aren't we employing a national scoliosis screening strategy now?

 

Concerns About Screening

There have been a number of petitions to bring scoliosis screenings back to UK schools. Unfortunately, none have yet been successful.

The government's response to such petitions has been largely influenced by the advice offered by the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) who, after a three-month consultation, decided that screenings for scoliosis should not be offered. There were several reasons for this decision:

  • Firstly, the UK NSC found that there was no standardised or agreed cut-off for the Adams forward bending test where doctors agreed that the child needed treatment. This meant that some children would go on to have further scoliosis tests even though they'd likely have gotten better on their own, while others would miss out on further tests and treatments even as their curvature became worse over time.

  • Secondly, the UK NSC expressed a concern that school children might be exposed to harmful x-rays unnecessarily if the Adams forward bending test was not capable of determining the severity of the child's condition.

  • Thirdly (as with everything) cost played a role in the final decision. The UK NSC expressed concern that the likelihood of false-positive diagnosis in relation to the cost of nationwide screening was not justifiable.

These recommendations against school screenings are based largely on outdated and limited data. In our opinion, based on the current data we have, it's reasonable to recommend that children and in particular adolescents participate in school screenings where both the Adams forward bending test and scoliometry are used.

 

Does My Child Have Scoliosis? What Should I Do?

If you think your child has scoliosis, or if your doctor has confirmed that your child has a curved spine, we can help you test and treat your child's scoliosis.

First of all, if you'd like to check your child for scoliosis at home, you can use the Adams forward bending test to check the alignment of your child's spine. We have a video showing you exactly what to do - you can watch it below.

Remember, no one's body is perfectly straight and symmetrical, but if you do notice an unevenness that's out of the ordinary, you should get in touch with your GP right away.

If your child is suffering from scoliosis, there are things you can do to help your child cope with scoliosis while they're at school. You can read our helpful tips by clicking the button below.

Coping with Scoliosis in School >

We've helped hundreds of school children with scoliosis to improve their curved spines. Give us a call on 0207 488 4428 if you'd like to speak to one of our therapists about your child's condition and potential treatment options.

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