Scoliosis Improvement

Mia Aston from Bromley was diagnosed with scoliosis in March 2014. She sought medical advice and was prescribed a back brace by her local hospital to help prevent her spinal curve from progressing.

After some further research, however, Mia came across the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and decided to undertake a full 4-week treatment course to help correct and alleviate her scoliosis.

Mia found the course difficult at first, but soon became comfortable and grew accustomed to the exercises we were teaching her. Some time after the end of her 4-week course, Mia returned to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic for a refresher week, during which she sat down to let us know how she'd been getting on:

Mia explains that, with our help, her scoliosis improved from 24 degrees to 20 degrees. Subsequently, she was only required to wear her back brace at night - a great outcome!

During Mia's refresher week at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we recommended some changes to her programme of exercises to reflect her reduced Cobb angle measurement and the fact that the exercises have become 'more natural' for her, helping her with ongoing pain relief.

If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis and think you could benefit from a scoliosis improvement course here at the clinic, please get in touch today!

Scoliosis and Depression

It's not uncommon for people with scoliosis to feel depressed from time to time. Scoliosis is a lifelong condition, and it can be hard to come to terms with this, but that doesn't mean that scoliosis patients can't live physically and emotionally fulfilling lives.

In this blog post, we'd like to discuss the connection between scoliosis and depression and what can be done about it.

Why might scoliosis lead to depression?

The link between scoliosis and depression is reasonably well-established; this population-based study, for example, concluded that "patients with scoliosis may have an increased risk of depression" and that "health care professionals should consider designing and planning effective psychological prevention and treatment for scoliosis patients".

There are several possible explanations for this connection. The visible symptoms of scoliosis (e.g. leaning to one side, shoulders sitting at different heights) can result in low self-esteem and negative body image (especially in young people) and this can be compounded by the limited range of treatment options available in some territories. Braces can be uncomfortable and unflattering, and recovering from spinal fusion surgery can be physically and mentally draining and may make the patient feel isolated. Whether or not these factors can cause depression, they may well exacerbate it if it already exists.

Many people with scoliosis will feel depressed about their condition at some point, but the severity and persistence of that depression can vary drastically depending on the patient's age, their recovery prospects, the size of their spinal curvature(s), and any number of other factors.

How can you tell if someone is depressed?

If you know someone with scoliosis, look out for the following symptoms of depression:

  • Loss of interest in things they previously enjoyed
  • Noticeably lower energy levels
  • Unusual, out-of-character and/or reckless behaviour (e.g. drug use, excessive drinking)
  • Expression of suicidal thoughts (even if they seem to be joking - talking about suicide in any manner can be a cry for help)

What should I do if I feel depressed?

IMPORTANT: If you are feeling suicidal, please consider calling a suicide crisis line. If you're in the UK, you can call Samaritans now on 116 123. For other countries, see this list of suicide crisis lines.

  • Talk to someone. Whether you are reaching out to a friend, a family member, or a professional counsellor, simply talking about your depression can be a large step towards overcoming it. If you are suffering because of your scoliosis, it may be beneficial to speak to other people with this condition, as they will be able to empathise with you in a way that others can't. Look at our list of scoliosis support groups to see if there's a group in your area.

  • Visit your doctor. Your GP may be able to help you deal with your depression and can prescribe antidepressants / refer you for additional therapy if necessary.

  • Treat your scoliosis. If you think that your depression is linked to your scoliosis, you may wish to look into different treatment methods that could help you to reduce the angle of your curvature and feel better both physically and mentally.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we use a combination of non-invasive treatment techniques to help people with scoliosis and other spinal conditions. If you're interested in attending a consultation session to discuss treatment options, please click the button below to get in touch.

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Schroth Method Treatment for Scoliosis

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we've been successfully treating scoliosis patients for well over a decade. Our comprehensive ScolioGold treatment programme combines a variety of well-known therapeutic techniques, and the exercises that we teach our patients allow them to manage their symptoms and prevent progression from the comfort of their own home.

One of the techniques we use to treat our patients is the Schroth method, in which our therapists our expertly trained.

 

What is the Schroth method?

The Schroth method is an exercise-based physiotherapy programme that is used to treat scoliosis without surgical intervention. This world-renowned treatment method has helped countless people to improve their posture and overcome the symptoms of scoliosis.

The Schroth method is named after Katharina Schroth, the German physiotherapist who devised it. Schroth herself had a curved spine, and after making great progress with her own condition, she decided to open up a clinic to treat other people with scoliosis.

Katharina Schroth passed away in 1985, but her daughter Christa Lehnert-Schroth continued her work and the Schroth method is now used to treat scoliosis patients all over the world.

 

How does the Schroth method help people with scoliosis?

The Schroth method uses stretches and exercises to develop the inner muscles of the rib cage in order to correct spinal abnormalities in all three planes of the body. This treatment method also places emphasis on the conscious correction of posture during day-to-day life.

Schroth Method Exercises

The Schroth-based exercises that we use here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are customised to each patient's unique spinal curvature, as well as their age and physical ability. Our use of the Schroth method has allowed 88% of our patients to avoid the need for spinal fusion surgery. We also:

  • Use a specific rotational breathing technique to correct spinal rotation and increase the patient's lung capacity

  • Rebalance the patient's spinal position using pelvic corrections and isometric contractions

  • Make patients more aware of their posture on a daily basis, ensuring they have the correct equipment at home and at school/work to maintain their corrected position

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Examples of Schroth method exercises

Here are just a few of the stretches and exercises that make up the Schroth method:

1. Prone on stool

One of the core Schroth exercises, performed in a prone position facing towards the floor. Depending on the patient's classification, condition, previous medical history and symptoms, this exercise has the potential to correct:

  • A thoracic curve using shoulder traction, shoulder counter-traction and the de-rotation breathing technique
  • A lumbar curve via activation of the iliopsoas muscle

With a different setup, it can also be used to help thoracolumbar curves.

Prone on Stool Exercise

This exercise requires quite a few pieces of equipment including tubes, stools, belts, straps, beanbags and wedges. Watch our patient Isobel perform this exercise during a check-up appointment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic:

 

2. Semi-hanging

This primary Schroth exercise uses gravity to stretch out the spine and relieve pressure on vertebral joints. At the same time, the patient will be applying the rotational breathing technique to flatten the prominent areas of their back, activating their muscles on exhalation to train their body to remember the corrected position when they stop exercising.

Semi-Hanging Schroth Exercise

This is often used as a preparation exercise at the beginning of a treatment session. A set of wall bars (or equivalent) is necessary to perform this exercise effectively.

Watch our patient Nicole, who travelled from Ghana to the UK for scoliosis treatment, practise this exercise with her therapist:

 

3. Iliopsoas on a ball

This is a very patient-specific Schroth exercise that is only suitable for someone with a lumbar or thoracolumbar curve. It works by utilising the activation of the iliopsoas muscle to help de-rotate the affected portion of the patient's spine. This is one of the simpler Schroth method exercises, requiring only a gym ball and wall bars (or equivalent).

Iliopsoas Ball Exercise

Here at the clinic, patients often receive assistance from the therapists using myofascial release techniques to 'mobilise' the spine and help the patient to achieve a straight posture in standing.

Watch our patient Molly from Suffolk perform this exercise:

The Schroth component of our ScolioGold therapy course places huge emphasis on conscious correction of posture throughout daily life, not just during exercise therapy. Education is paramount - throughout your 4-week course, our therapists will help you to learn about scoliosis and your body to ensure that you can recognise an abnormal posture and correct it accordingly.

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What is the Rigo-Schroth method?

The Rigo-Schroth method is a modification of the Schroth method. Devised in the 1980s by a Spanish practitioner named Dr Manuel Rigo, it is based on much the same regime of stretches as the Schroth method itself; however, the Rigo-Schroth method is structured differently, with significantly more emphasis on the role of the therapist.

 

Combining Schroth method exercises with other treatment techniques

Back when we first opened our clinic, our treatment courses were entirely based on the Schroth method, but over the years, we noticed that some aspects of scoliosis were not addressed through use of the Schroth method alone. So, to ensure that all aspects of each patient's condition are fully treated, we've combined the Schroth and Rigo-Schroth methods with a number of other exercise-based / non-surgical treatment to help provide our patients with a fully comprehensive treatment package.

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This approach has yielded superb results: our treatment courses have proved capable of preventing progression, improving posture and cosmetic appearance, reducing pain, improving quality of life, and reducing the patient's Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees.

To enrol on one of our Schroth-based scoliosis treatment courses, contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

 

Further reading

Darren Lui with Scoliosis SOS team

On Thursday 7th February 2019, we were privileged to welcome Mr Darren Lui into the Scoliosis SOS Clinic along with Kate Robertson, a physiotherapist who works alongside him in South West London. Mr Lui specialises in orthopaedics and has a particular interest in vertebral body tethering.

Mr Lui gave a very interesting presentation to our ScolioGold therapists and patient care co-ordinators about sagittal balance and the importance of assessing and treating each patient individually based on their presentation. He also discussed the ways in which he feels having an effective pre- and post-surgery physiotherapy structure in place could help to decrease scoliotic patients' pain and improve many patients' quality of life.

As a team, we discussed the significance of having a 'pretty x-ray' showing a straighter spine, and how this is often the sole goal of young girls undergoing spinal fusion surgery. Although this is the outcome for some patients, in a lot of cases this is far from a realistic outcome for the patient and the more important outcomes should be measured against patient flexibility, quality of life and pain reduction.

Mr Lui explained that if he is able to stabilise a curvature and prevent further progression, the procedure is still classed as a success. This initially shocked our team of ScolioGold therapists who had been so used to hearing about the significance of Cobb angle reduction within the orthopaedic world. In fact, many of our patients contact the clinic specifically to find out by how much they can expect to reduce their Cobb angle.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we have seen patients reduce their Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees through exercise. However, this is never something we guarantee, and patients are specifically advised that the aim of our treatment is to prevent further progression and improve quality of life.

Up until very recently, most orthopaedic surgeons have failed to acknowledge that scoliosis can cause a patient a significant amount of pain. However, times are now changing, and more orthopaedic consultants are identifying that imbalances around the spine due to scoliosis can cause pain in patients. It has also been recognised that surgery would not necessarily be able to decrease pain levels in a patient with scoliosis.

Mr Lui was very keen to see the work our ScolioGold therapists do with our patients during a 4-week treatment course. The aim of ScolioGold treatment is to rebalance the muscles surrounding the spine, allowing patients to stand in a symmetrical upright position, improving their cosmetic appearance, reducing pain, and preventing further progression.

Patients on the NHS are currently offered very little opportunity to learn specific scoliosis exercises. These exercises are proven to be successful, and not only in preventing progression - they have also been shown to improve a patient's quality of life significantly.

Pre- and post-surgery physiotherapy is almost non-existent on the NHS, but allowing patients to take part in such activity could both prevent the need for surgery and improve the outcome for patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

We hope to work closely with Mr Lui over the next few months to make the dream of being able to offer ScolioGold treatment to more patients throughout the UK a reality.

For more information on the treatment we offer, please contact us online or call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428.

Ugne is a 24-year-old woman who recently completed a 4-week treatment course at Scoliosis SOS. She is originally from Lithuania, but currently lives in London. This is her scoliosis story.

Scoliosis Treatment - Ugne from Lithuania

Ugne was about 13 years old when a family friend noticed that her spine was uneven. Her parents took her to a chiropractor, and before long, she had been diagnosed with scoliosis.

Ugne went for an X-ray scan at the age of 14, and following this, she attended numerous 15-minute sessions where her back was cracked and she was taught mobility exercises. She noticed that this helped with the pain she was experiencing, but when she started university, she stopped attending these appointments.

Some time later, Ugne decided to pursue scoliosis treatment because she was unhappy with the way her curved spine was making her look. She came across Scoliosis SOS while she was researching different treatments and exercises online.

Ugne's Scoliosis SOS Experience

Ugne came for a consultation with one of our consultants, Ben. This consultation session was very thorough, and she felt confident in enrolling on a treatment course after seeing other patients' results.

Ugne felt that our approach to treatment is unique because it is not a 'one size fits all' method - instead, each person's treatment programme is tailored to their condition and the results they want to achieve. She was also delighted that the treatment was carried out in group sessions so that there was always somebody around to answer her questions and offer moral support where needed.

Ugne came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic because she wanted to improve her physical appearance, and she feels that her treatment course has definitely helped with this. She has taken away a heightened awareness of her posture that will continue to improve her condition in the future. Ugne highlights that anyone who is on the fence about coming to us for treatment should take the positive reviews and results of others on board as an indication of what to expect.

To see Ugne talking about her experience at Scoliosis SOS, watch the video below.

If you'd like to find out more about the treatment courses we provide here at Scoliosis SOS, or if you'd like to book a consultation with us, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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