A curvature of the spine (such as scoliosis or hyperkyphosis) can affect anyone, regardless of their age, sex or general fitness. The effect that these conditions have on the patient's day-to-day life can vary massively between one case and the next, so there isn't one single treatment that's universally effective.

The best form of treatment for any given patient depends on how severe their spinal curve is, along with some other variables. If the angle of the curve progresses past the threshold of 40-50 degrees, surgery is often recommended; however, this certainly isn't the only method used to treat scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine.

Here is an overview of the main treatment options that are available for individuals with curved spines:

 

Bracing

If the patient is a child or teenager, a brace may be used to prevent the spinal curvature from progressing as the body grows. Braces commonly have to be worn for 23 hours a day, and can only be taken off to bathe/shower. The brace is worn until the patient has finished growing. Bracing does not treat the spinal curve as such; it is simply used to prevent the patient's condition from getting any worse. 

Back braces are usually made from rigid plastic, so they aren't very flexible (although some more comfortable designs have been introduced in recent years).

Further reading: What's it like wearing a brace?

 

Surgery

If the patient's spinal curve is severe enough, spinal fusion surgery is often recommended. This procedure is performed under general anaesthetic, and it involves anchoring a series of rods to the patient's spine using tiny hooks and screws. These rods reduce the angle of patient's spinal curve as well as serving as a splint to keep it in place. A bone graft is then applied to the spine and eventually fuses to it, preventing the spinal curve from progressing any further. The rods are only a temporary measure, holding the spine together until the fusion process has finished; however, these rods are not usually removed, as to do so would require another large, potentially risky surgical procedure. 

Spinal fusion surgery is usually followed by a lengthy recovery period, during which some pain, discomfort and a loss of mobility are to be expected.

Further reading: What to expect from surgery

 

Physical Therapy

Many people look to physical therapy as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery, and there is increasing evidence that exercise-based programmes can be very effective for treating curvatures of the spine. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we use our own ScolioGold therapy programme to help patients who are seeking an effective, low-risk treatment method for their spinal condition. 

The ScolioGold method is a combination of non-surgical spinal techniques from around the world, specifically chosen to ensure that all aspects of each patient's condition are properly addressed. By using our own unique combination of methods, we're able to offer an unrivalled treatment success that is not available anywhere else.

To book an initial consultation, or to find out more about our treatment methods, please get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS Clinic today!

More Information: Curvatures of the Spine >

Spine Straightening Exercises

The effects of scoliosis can be very detrimental to one's life. While some patients suffer only minor discomfort, others suffer from chronic pain. The curve of the spine is often the cause of this discomfort, leading to problems with the neck, shoulders, hips, and the back itself.

In order to combat this pain and discomfort, our own ScolioGold treatment method includes a wide variety of spine-straightening exercises. ScolioGold therapy has repeatedly proven capable of reducing the curve in the spine - see our results here.

If you do not want to undergo surgery for whatever reason, there are many exercises we can teach you to help with the effects of scoliosis. Here are some spine-straightening exercises that you can try at home:

Standing against the wall to straighten spine

Standing against a wall

The simple exercise can actually help improve your posture and build strength! All you need is a flat wall to stand against - here's what to do once you've found one:

  1. Stand with your head and shoulders pressed firmly against the wall behind you and place your feet approximately 20cm in front of you.
  2. Push your lower back towards the wall and hold this position for a few seconds.
  3. Take a few deep breaths and then breathe out as you relax. Repeat.

 

Planking exercise

Planking

Planking is a helpful spine-straightening exercise as it strengthens your core muscles whilst also targeting your lower back to help improve posture. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Lie on the floor on your front (use a mat to avoid slipping, as shown in the photo above).
  2. Hold yourself up using your forearms and toes and raise your whole body off the floor.
  3. Keeping your legs straight and your hips raised, place your shoulders directly above your elbows to create a straight line from head to toe.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then relax and repeat again several times.

 

Bird Dog Stretch

'Bird dog' stretches (leg/arm extensions)

This is another strengthening exercise. It is often performed with a gym ball (as shown in the photo above), but you can still do this exercise if you don't have one handy.

  1. Firstly, lie face-down on the ball and gradually extend your right arm whilst using your left arm to support you (same technique without the ball).
  2. While holding this position, gradually extend your left leg up behind you as shown below.

Spine straightening exercise on gym ball

3. Hold for a couple of seconds, then alternate to the opposite limbs. Repeat this alternating movement back and forth between right and left.

Interested in completing a full treatment course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic? To book your consultation or request more information, please contact us today.

S-Curve vs C-Curve Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine rotates and curves to an abnormal degree. A spine afflicted by scoliosis usually looks like a letter 'C' (or a reverse letter 'C' depending on the direction of the curve), but some patients have two curves, resulting in an S-shaped spine.

Treatment methods sometimes differ slightly for S curves versus C curves.

What is C-Curve Scoliosis?

C-curve scoliosis is when the curvature bends in one direction, resulting in a C-shaped spinal curve. This type of scoliosis can manifest itself in a number of different ways:

  • Lumbar Curve
    This type of curvature occurs in the lower (lumbar) back.

  • Thoracolumbar Curve
    This type of C curve begins in the upper back and ends in the lower back.

  • Thoracic Curve
    This type of C-curve scoliosis bend occurs in the upper (thoracic) back.

Treating C-Curve Scoliosis

C-curve scoliosis, where the spine bends in just one direction, is more common than S-curve scoliosis. C-curve scoliosis can be treated through a variety of different methods, including:

  • Bracing
    Bracing is a commonly-used scoliosis treatment method in young patients who are still growing. This method can halt the progression of the curvature and stabilise it until further action can be taken once the patient reaches adulthood. Soft and hard braces can be used to treat C-curve scoliosis.

  • Physiotherapy
    Physiotherapy is a popular C-curve scoliosis treatment method, especially when offered as an alternative to surgery (see below). Using exercise-based techniques like the Schroth method, physical therapists can help to reduce spinal curvature while boosting the patient's overall quality of life.

  • Surgery
    Spinal fusion surgery is often used to address severe curvatures. If the curvature is so severe that it risks causing respiratory and cardiovascular issues, surgery may be suggested by a medical professional.

What is S-Curve Scoliosis?

S-curve scoliosis is when the spine contains two curves, one in the upper and one in the lower back. When these curves go in opposite directions, they make the spine look similar to a letter 'S'. This type of scoliosis is less common than C-curve scoliosis, but it isn't necessarily accompanied by more severe symptoms.

An S curve is also known as a double major curve as it involves both a thoracic (upper back) curve and a lumbar (lower back) curve. As the curves tend to balance one another out at times, this type of scoliosis can often be harder to spot at first.

Treating S-Curve Scoliosis

As with C-curve scoliosis, S-curve scoliosis can be treated in a variety of ways:

  • Bracing
    Bracing can also be used for S-curve scoliosis to help halt the progression of the curvature. However, different types of braces may be needed to treat a severe S-shaped curve. A specialist brace such as the Gensingen brace may be needed, as these are individually made for each patient.

  • Surgery

    In the most severe cases, surgery may be recommended to help halt and rectify the spinal curvature(s). However, this is typically only recommended when the patient's scoliosis is threatening to cause other health issues.

  • Physiotherapy
    Physiotherapy can also be used to treat S-curve scoliosis through a variety of exercises, stretches, and massages. This method is preferred amongst many patients, especially those suffering from a mild to moderate spinal curvature. Physiotherapy is a great method for improving the patient's curvature(s) without the need for an operation and long recovery times. 

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have been treating patients with C- and S-curve scoliosis for over 12 years. Our 4-week long ScolioGold course provides a tailored treatment regime to help improve the degree of your curvature. Through a series of exercises, stretches and massages, we are able to help improve the degree of C- and S-shaped scoliosis and improve your quality of life. Click here to see the fantastic results we're capable of achieving.

To book an initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS, please get in touch today.

Scoliosis Body Image Infographic

Dancer from Los Angeles with Scoliosis

Faye Warren, now aged 29, was just 8 years old when she was diagnosed with scoliosis. Following her diagnosis, she wore a brace between the ages of 10 and 16, and she suffered from daily pain as a result of her spinal curvature.

Faye was unable to continue with gymnastics, but fought hard to continue with her love of dancing. At school, carrying books and sitting down for long periods caused her great discomfort, and no form of chiropractic treatment or acupuncture seemed to make any difference.

Faye was adamant that she wanted to avoid undergoing scoliosis surgery at all costs, and she was determined to find a treatment option that would allow her to continue dancing professionally.

When Faye came across the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, she knew that our non-surgical treatment programme was exactly what she had been looking for. The small matter of our location - London is more than 5,000 miles from Los Angeles - didn't deter Faye, and after making all the necessary arrangements, she booked herself in for a 4-week treatment course.

 

How we help people with scoliosis

The exercises we teach here at Scoliosis SOS are designed to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, bringing the patient into a more central upright position. This prevents progression, improves cosmetic appearance, decreases pain, and gives our patients the best possible chance of avoiding spinal fusion surgery.

 

Feedback from Faye

Here's what Faye had to say at the end of her treatment course:

"I am so glad I found the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. Other treatments would help to temporarily decrease my pain, but it would always return. I knew I needed to find a permanent solution, and it was going to be a complete change of lifestyle.

"I have learnt a great deal about my back and how I can help myself. My pain has been dramatically reduced and I have gained so much confidence.

"My advice to other scoliosis patients looking to travel from overseas is not to hesitate - it is the best decision you will ever make. I cannot put into words how much better I feel."

Book your Scoliosis SOS consultation today - we can provide remote consultations via Skype or telephone call if you can't come to our clinic for an appointment.

 

Further reading