Scoliosis Symptoms
 

Scoliosis is a debilitating condition that often has a very adverse impact on the lives of those it affects, which is why it is important that the scoliosis symptoms are spotted early. Many scoliotics suffer from chronic pain, limited flexibility, and muscular imbalance, and more severe cases of spinal curvature can even lead to even harsher scoliosis symptoms, such as compromised breathing. Furthermore, the medical treatments that some scoliosis sufferers undergo in order to correct their curved spines frequently make for rather unpleasant experiences; back braces can be uncomfortable and restrictive, while spinal fusion surgery is a daunting prospect that carries several risks and tends to necessitate a long recovery period even when it goes perfectly.

 
However, it is possible to avoid all of this hardship, and your chances of doing so are greatly increased if your scoliosis symptoms are spotted, diagnosed, and treated as early as possible - that is, before the curve has a chance to progress too far. In order to spot spinal problems early and nip them in the bud (so to speak), you need to know the early scoliosis symptoms and act as soon as you notice them developing. Here are some of the main scoliosis symptoms to look out for:
  • Shoulders sitting at different heights
  • One shoulder blade being noticeably more prominent than the other
  • Body leaning to one side
  • Uneven hips, legs, waist, and/or rib cage
Many people worry that they have scoliosis because they experience chronic back pain. However, as discussed here, back pain alone is not a reliable indicator that scoliosis is present (although it is certainly worth seeking treatment for back pain, regardless!).

What should I do if I notice these scoliosis symptoms?

If you or your child display any of the scoliosis symptoms listed above, you would be well advised to attend a scoliosis screening as soon as possible. It may be nothing to worry about, but if these symptoms are traced back to scoliosis or a similar spinal condition, early detection will give you (or your child) the best possible chance of beating the condition with minimal difficulty.
 

Case Study: Sara from Hertfordshire

Sara is a nine-year-old girl from Hitchin who came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic shortly after being diagnosed with scoliosis. Sara’s family had a history of scoliosis, including her brother who needed scoliosis surgery. Due to this, Sara’s mother was on the lookout for scoliosis symptoms in Sara and as soon as she noticed the symptoms in her daughters back, she took her for a consultation. Sara was then diagnosed with a 17-degree curvature in her spine.

Even though 17 degrees is not the most debilitating case of scoliosis, Sara’s mother recognised the need to improve her daughter's condition before the curvature had the chance to progress even further and cause more severe scoliosis symptoms. Eager to avoid the same path Sara's brother had taken with scoliosis surgery, Sara's mother decided to bring her to our Scoliosis SOS clinic for physical therapy.

They decided to split up the course into two-week bouts at different times to fit around Sara’s schooling. Sara found she was a bit nervous at first but became accustomed to the course after the first couple of days. After the first two weeks, Sara and her mother continued practicing the exercises at home which made it easier for Sara when she returned for another 2 weeks.

After the completion of the course, they had some incredible results and found that the Cobbs angle had been reduced from 17 degrees to just 7.
 
 
"The therapists are nice and friendly, and really help you get on the way to straightening your back."
- Sara, 9 years old
Sara's story proves that keeping an eye out for the early symptoms of scoliosis can prove incredibly beneficial in the long run. The sooner you spot the spinal condition, the quicker and more efficiently it can be treated. 
 
If you would like to book a scoliosis consultation for yourself or a loved one, please call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428 or get in touch here. Consultations can be conducted via Skype or over the phone if you are unable to attend our clinic in person.
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis and other spinal conditions not through surgery or bracing but with a purely exercise-based programme called the ScolioGold method. We have found that stretches and exercises can be extremely effective in the treatment of a curved spine, and our research backs this finding up: ScolioGold consistently helps patients to achieve a better quality of life. Our treatment courses reduce pain, improve flexibility, and can dramatically reverse the progress of a scoliotic curve (see results here).

The stretches below will not halt the progression of your scoliosis, but they can help to improve your strength and balance while relieving some symptoms of the condition. Please note that these stretches should not be construed as a substitute for a full treatment course delivered by a chartered physiotherapist.

Chest Stretch

Chest Stretch

  1. Stand upright with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend your arms out behind your back.
  3. Push your arms back and press your shoulder blades together.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax and repeat several times.

Back Stretch

Back Stretch 1

  1. Stand upright with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend your arms out in front of your chest.
  3. Lace your fingers together and push until you feel a stretch in your upper back.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax and repeat several times.

Back Stretch 2

  1. Stand facing a wall with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lean forward until your upper body is almost at a right-angle to your legs.
  3. Extend your arms out in front of you and press your palms against the wall.
  4. Try to straighten your back so that it is parallel to the floor.
  5. Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax and repeat several times.
If you would like to attend a full 4-week scoliosis treatment course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please click here to contact us and arrange an initial consultation.

More scoliosis exercises to try:
Disclaimer: The above information should not be treated as medical advice and the scoliosis exercises described may not be suitable or beneficial for everyone. You should not begin any exercise routine without consulting a qualified health practitioner, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or if you have any chronic or recurring conditions. Any application of scoliosis exercises suggested is at the reader's sole discretion and risk. Scoliosis SOS accepts no responsibility or liability for any loss or injuries caused directly or indirectly through the performing of any exercises described. If you feel any discomfort or pain during exercise, stop immediately. Always consult your own GP if you are in any way concerned about your health or anything associated with it.
One question that's often asked about scoliosis is whether or not it counts as a disability. Many scoliosis sufferers are themselves uncertain about this, so today we'd like to try and provide some concrete information on the subject.
 
A 'disability' can be defined in a number of different ways, making this question a difficult one to answer simply. We've approached it from a few different angles below; please note that all information given here is based on UK legislation, so the facts of the issue may differ if you live elsewhere in the world.

Are children with scoliosis eligible for DLA?

If you have a child under the age of 16 who suffers from a disability, you may be able to claim some money from the government to help you look after them. This is known as the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and claimants can receive anywhere from £21.80 to £139.75 per week depending on the severity of the child's disability.
 
So does scoliosis qualify as a disability in this instance? According to www.gov.uk, your child must meet at least one of the following criteria in order to claim DLA payments:
  • They need more looking after than a non-disabled child of the same age
  • They have difficulty getting about
Scoliosis affects a lot of people under the age of 16, but relatively few of these cases are so severe as to necessitate special care or impair the child's ability to get around. You will not be able to claim DLA for your child's scoliosis unless at least one of the above points applies to them.

Can adults with scoliosis claim disability payments?

Under the current rules, there are two forms of financial assistance available to disabled adults in the UK: Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is for people aged 16 to 64, while people aged 65 and over can claim Attendance Allowance. PIP, like DLA, pays out anywhere from £21.80 to £139.75 a week; Attendance Allowance claimants receive either £55.10 or £82.30 a week.
 
Eligibility for these two schemes is dependent on a variety of factors, but for now we're just going to focus on the question of whether a curved spine is enough of a disability to qualify for PIP / Attendance Allowance. According to the UK government's website, the requirements are as follows...

PIP (for adults aged 16-64):

To claim PIP, you must have a long-term health condition or disability that affects your 'daily living' and/or makes it hard for you to get around. You can only claim if you have been experiencing these difficulties for at least 3 months and expect them to continue for at least another 9 months (though that last part doesn't apply to terminally ill claimants).
 
There are two types of PIP: the daily living component and the mobility component. Some people receive both, while others receive just one. You may be able to claim the daily living component if your scoliosis makes it difficult for you to carry out routine tasks such as bathing, getting dressed, and preparing meals; the mobility component could be available to you if your curved spine prevents you from getting around easily.

Attendance Allowance (for adults aged 65 and over):

The Attendance Allowance scheme is designed to help older people pay for any care they require as a result of health conditions and/or disabilities. Payments are made according to a two-tier system: the lower rate (£55.10 per week) is given to people who need help/supervision during the day OR during the night, while the higher rate (£82.30 per week) is reserved for terminally ill people and individuals who require help/supervision around the clock.
 
In order to qualify for Attendance Allowance, you must meet both of the following criteria:
  • You have a physical disability and/or a mental disability
  • Your disability is severe enough that you require supervision and/or help caring for yourself
You may be able to claim an Attendance Allowance if your scoliosis means that you require the care or supervision of another person.

Can scoliosis sufferers park in disabled bays?

Financial aid aside, another benefit afforded to disabled people in the UK is the Blue Badge, which allows the holder to park in spaces that are reserved for disabled people.
 
 
There are a number of things that can qualify you for a Blue Badge - in particular, people who claim the mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment (see above) are almost always eligible. There is a Blue Badge eligibility tool on the government's website that will help you to determine whether or not you qualify for a Blue Badge in minutes.
 
So let's come back to the big question: is scoliosis a disability? No matter how you define disability, the answer - at least here in the UK - is almost always no, unless it limits your ability to get around and perform daily tasks.
 
In other words, it tends to depend almost entirely on the severity of your spinal curve. Scoliosis doesn't automatically count as a disability; each case has to be assessed individually.
 
If you are suffering from scoliosis - no matter how mild or how severe - we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help you to overcome your symptoms and achieve a better quality of life.
 
How we helped a woman with tricuspid atresia to manage her spinal curve

Katrina

Congenital heart disease (CHD) can manifest itself in a number of different ways. For example, people born with tricuspid atresia - an absence of the heart's tricuspid valve - frequently experience fatigue, shortness of breath, and cyanosis (where the skin assumes a bluish tinge due to poor circulation).

Pertinently for us here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, tricuspid atresia can also be accompanied by curvature of the spine. Some years ago (when our clinic was still located in Suffolk), we treated a woman named Katrina - pictured above - who suffered from both tricuspid atresia and scoliosis. Katrina, who was in her twenties at the time, had undergone spinal fusion surgery as a teenager in the hope that this would correct her spinal curve; however, she received no further treatment or physiotherapy after the operation, and her curve subsequently began to progress once again. By 2007, she was experiencing constant pain and difficulty walking. Her scoliosis was even affecting her lung capacity - particularly problematic when you've already got a heart condition.

Katrina had all but abandoned hope of overcoming her scoliosis, but our ScolioGold treatment programme proved to be an effective solution, succeeding where spinal fusion surgery had failed her. Our exercise-based course helped Katrina to manage her spinal condition and dramatically improve her quality of life - here's what she herself said in an article for GUCH News (issue 58, published spring 2009):

"The course taught me how to manage my condition and to maintain my corrected posture without the help of a therapist...I now visit the clinic every 12 weeks for a refresher and to learn new exercises. I am able to speak to the therapists at any time if I need advice or have any problems.

"I am very lucky to have the clinic so close to me, however I advise anyone who has scoliosis and may be looking for further advice to ring the clinic and see what they can offer you...if you live far enough away they can provide self-catering accommodation nearby."
- Katrina Clarke, 'My Experience at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic'

Scoliosis can be caused by any number of different factors; in fact, very often, the cause is not even clear (this is known as idiopathic scoliosis). Scoliosis sufferers with congenital heart defects are just one subset of our diverse patient base, and we are capable of providing effective non-surgical treatment for a wide variety of different spinal conditions at any time of life.

To learn more about our ScolioGold treatment courses and book an initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS, please contact us today.
Spinal Treatment

When seeking out non-surgical treatments for scoliosis, it's easy to feel somewhat overwhelmed and confused by the number of approaches which exist, particularly when their aims appear to be so similar. Physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths...what do all of these practitioners actually do? How do their methods differ from one another? Are these titles all just different names for the same thing? These are common questions among scoliosis sufferers and other individuals seeking out physical therapy.

In order to clear up some confusion, we thought we'd outline the details of each approach and highlight their similarities and differences. To begin, it's probably easiest to discuss the aims and practices of each treatment method individually:

Physiotherapy

The primary aim of physiotherapy is to enable function and movement in the body, often after an accident, illness, or other form of trauma. A combination of massage, exercise and movement is used to restore the body of the patient, improving their physical ability and preventing further damage/progression. Physiotherapy is often used to treat and aid recovery from several conditions, from injuries impacting the joints and soft tissues to those affecting the brain, heart and lungs.

Chiropractic

The chiropractic profession specialises in diagnosing and treating conditions which affect the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves,  always focusing on the spine. In its most basic form, treatment involves the gentle manipulation of specific areas in order to free joints in the spine, although alternative treatments such as acupuncture are sometimes integrated into the therapy. While most chiropractors specifically treat conditions related to the spine and neck, they do provide treatment for a number of related conditions as well.

Osteopathy

Osteopaths work to ensure that the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues in the body are able to function smoothly together in order to treat conditions which affect these areas of the body, particularly the spine. A combination of physical manipulation, massage and stretching is used to increase patient mobility while also restoring balance and optimal function within the body. This works to relieve muscle tension, improve blood supply, and promote healing, providing the patient with improved health and relief from pain.

As you can see from these descriptions, these treatment methods have many things in common, primarily their holistic approach to improving overall bodily function alongside the treatment of a specific concern. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we use some elements of osteopathy alongside specialised physiotherapy as part of our ScolioGold treatment programme, which combines the principles of several proven non-surgical treatment methods in order to fully treat various issues experienced by our patients.

Our reason for including some components of osteopathy in our successful therapy, exercise and treatment programme is to improve joint mobility while also providing relief from the pain experienced by many scoliosis sufferers. It has allowed us to provide lasting results for our patients, improving their posture and enhancing their ease of movement - aspects of scoliosis which are often not properly addressed by surgical treatment.

If you would like to find out more about our treatment programme and how it may be able to help you with your condition, please get in touch here.