Scoliosis (and its symptoms, such as chronic pain and reduced mobility) can have a huge impact on the lives of those affected by it. However, as many scoliosis sufferers will no doubt agree, it can make a huge difference simply to speak to other people who are suffering from the same condition.

 
Scoliosis Support
 
With that in mind, here is a list of scoliosis support groups (both online and offline) around the world. We will be updating this list periodically, so if you run or know of a scoliosis support group in your territory, please let us know via Twitter (@ScoliosisSOS) and we will consider expanding our list accordingly.

Scoliosis Association (UK)

SAUK is a nationwide support organisation for scoliosis sufferers in the United Kingdom (and their families). They provide advice and information on the condition, and aim to raise awareness both within the healthcare industry and amongst the general public. Their helpline (see number above) is manned from 9am to 5.30pm every weekday, and it allows people to phone up and receive friendly guidance and support instantly.
 

National Scoliosis Foundation

Headquarterered in Massachusetts, the NSF is a nonprofit organisation that aims to help "children, parents, adults, and healthcare providers to understand the complexities of spinal deformities such as scoliosis." They offer numerous different types of support, including early screening programmes, advocacy / awareness initiatives, and numerous informative resources for scoliosis sufferers and their loved ones.
 

Curvy Girls

 
Curvy Girls was founded in 2006 by a young scoliosis sufferer named Leah. It began as a small support group specifically aimed at children and young people with scoliosis, and it has now grown into an international success, with groups currently meeting in a dozen different countries on six continents across the globe (see list above). 
 

Vereniging van scoliosepatiënten

This Dutch-language website (roughly translated, the name means 'Association of Scoliosis Patients') hosts a wide array of informative resources for scoliosis sufferers, as well as a forum where Dutch-speaking scoliosis patients can interact with and support each other.
 

Beyond A Curved Spine

Beyond A Curved Spine is a "scoliosis awareness hub" based in Lagos, Nigeria. They aim to raise awareness of the condition while also providing financial and emotional support to scoliosis patients who need it.
 

SupportGroups.com

SupportGroups.com is a website that houses online support groups (forums) for a wide range of different conditions and life events, from depression and eating disorders to divorce, alcoholism, PTSD and more. Their dedicated scoliosis group is 17,800 members strong at time of writing, and the forum's open style encourages users to share their feelings and offer support and a friendly ear to fellow scoliotics.
 
This list is curated by the Scoliosis SOS Clinic - click here to find out more about us and what we do.

Scoliosis surgery risks

In many mild cases of scoliosis (i.e. where the patient's spinal curve is unlikely to progress to an extent that will cause major changes in their appearance or respiratory health), spinal fusion surgery will not be recommended. For those with a severe curve (45-50 degrees or more), surgery is usually recommended - particularly if the patient is a child, as their scoliosis will likely increase as they grow. Scoliosis surgery is also recommended to those whose curves have progressed rapidly over a period of monitoring their condition, as it can prevent further progression and health complications.

While spinal fusion surgery is an effective treatment for some patients - and may be the only viable option for those with severe scoliosis - it is important to consider your full range of options before undergoing this procedure. You should also take time to consider any possible risks or complications of undergoing scoliosis surgery, as is advised before any major operation.

 

Risks to consider before undergoing spinal fusion surgery

  • Back Pain - In some cases, patients will continue to experience back pain even after undergoing spinal fusion surgery, due to what is sometimes referred to as 'failed back surgery syndrome'. While the surgery itself may have been a success, this does not necessarily mean that the patient will experience a full resolution of their pre-op symptoms.

  • Failure of Fusion - This occurs when the bone grafts used to complete the operation fail to fuse into solid bone, which can be caused by excessive movement, poor placement of screws and rods, or even the use of anti-inflammatory medication. This can sometimes lead to failure of implants, which can cause breaks, pullouts and chronic pain. If there is no pain and the curve seems to be stable, a broken rod may not be removed.

  • Neurological Complications - Some complaints which may occur soon after surgery include a loss of skin sensation, loss of strength in feet and legs, loss of bowel and bladder control, and in very severe cases, paralysis. These changes can be temporary or permanent and only occur in a very small number of cases, particularly in their most serious form.

The paper Neurological complications in adult spinal deformity surgery states: "Surgery of the lumbar spine for ASD has a neurologic complication rate between 0.5 and 17% and is dependent upon approach (anterior, lateral, or posterior), number of fusion levels [and] case complexity."

This means that the more severe or complex your scoliosis curvature is, the higher the chance that you will experience some neurological complications following spinal fusion surgery.

Other possible surgery risks include:

  • Infection
  • Self-image (due to scarring)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Limited range of motion/flexibility

 

Is it possible to avoid these risks and complications?

If you are particularly concerned about the potential risks and limitations posed by surgery, it may be possible to eliminate the need for this procedure by reducing your spinal curvature through non-surgical techniques. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have treated a huge number of spinal surgery candidates who came to us in an effort to avoid spinal fusion.

Using our ScolioGold treatment programme (which combines a selection of established non-surgical techniques), we have managed to not only reduce the Cobb angle of our patients, but also provide them with a lasting method to manage the symptoms of their scoliosis.

 

Post-spinal fusion surgery

We also treat many patients who have already undergone spinal fusion surgery and are seeking help to recover from the procedure more quickly. For many of our post-op patients, the primary complaint is the level of pain experienced after surgery, which can be successfully reduced using our therapeutic techniques. Another key issue for post-surgery patients is mobility, which can also be improved with the guidance and supervision of our experienced physiotherapists.

Contact Scoliosis SOS to Book a Consultation >>

Bracing vs Scoliosis Surgery

If you suffer from scoliosis and the curve in your spine is becoming more severe, your doctor may recommend that you wear a back brace. A back brace won't directly correct your spinal curve, but it can help with preventing the curve from progressing any further.

If the curve in your spine is quite severe, your doctor may recommend that you undergo spinal fusion surgery for your scoliosis. If successful, surgery will ensure that your curve doesn't progress any further; however, there are risks involved in this procedure.

Both treatment options - bracing and surgery - have their pros and cons. Let's weigh them up and compare the two:

Using a Back Brace to Treat Scoliosis

If you require a back brace for your spinal curve, the first step is to have a cast taken of your back; this will be done at an outpatient appointment, so an overnight stay at the hospital is not required. Scoliosis braces are often made from rigid plastic, although more flexible materials are sometimes used for milder curves. Most modern scoliosis braces are designed to be difficult to see under loose-fitting clothing, so there is no need to be worried about them being seen through clothing.

If you require a brace, you'll usually need to wear it for 23 hours a day, taking it off only for showers and baths; however, in some cases, the patient is only required to wear the brace at night. 

Whilst you are wearing your brace, it is vital that you maintain the strength of your back muscles and not allow them to atrophy; a lack of back muscle strength can result in the benefits of this treatment being lost at the end of the bracing period, leading to an increase in spinal curve severity.

About Scoliosis Surgery

If your spinal curve is particularly pronounced, you may decide to undergo scoliosis surgery.  The operation is performed under general anaesthetic, so you'll be completely unconscious for the duration of the procedure.

During the surgery, your surgeon will attach a series of rods to your spine. These rods will reduce the angle of your spinal curve and serve as a splint to hold your spine in place. The surgeon will then apply a bone graft to your spine - this bone will eventually fuse with your spine, preventing your curve from increasing any further. The rods are not a permanent measure; they're only used to hold the spine in place until the fusion process is complete. However, the rods are usually not removed, as to do so would require another large (and potentially risky) surgical operation.

In theory, surgery should mean that your scoliosis cannot progress any further and that your curved spine does not impact your everyday life to the same degree. However, like most surgical procedures, there are a number of risks associated with scoliosis surgery, such as the possibility of nerve damage, infection, implants coming loose or breaking, and / or the development of a secondary curve. In some rare cases, patients can even find themselves in more pain post-op than prior to the surgery. 

Is There a 3rd Option?

If you would rather not treat your spinal curve with surgery or a back brace, you will be happy to know that we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic offer a non-surgical alternative to these scoliosis treatments.

Our chartered physiotherapists treat scoliosis sufferers using the Clinic's own ScolioGold method; this treatment programme combines proven non-surgical techniques from around the world, including the Schroth Method, the FITS Method, the PNF method, and several others. We're constantly monitoring and developing our methods to reflect the latest advancements, and because of this, our non-surgical method continues to deliver gold-standard results.

To find out if we can help you treat your scoliosis without surgical intervention or the use of a back brace, please contact us now and arrange an initial consultation.

Scoliosis & Cerebral Palsy

While the majority of scoliosis cases occur without any prominent connection to the sufferer's overall health and lifestyle, there are several medical conditions which can lead to what is commonly known as neuromuscular scoliosis, or myopathic scoliosis. This is caused by abnormalities of the myoneural pathways of the body, and often leads to a more rapid progression of the spinal condition, due to existing weaknesses.

One of the most commonly-associated conditions which can lead to myopathic scoliosis, is cerebral palsy: a neurological disorder which causes muscle weakness, uncontrolled body movements, and poor co-ordination, among other issues. Due to the neurological impact of cerebral palsy on an individual's spinal muscles, the chances of developing myopathic scoliosis are increased by around 20% in these cases. Depending on the severity of the cerebral palsy, the chances of developing scoliosis can increase further still, with the rate increasing to almost 100% in bedridden children.

The type of scoliosis caused by cerebral palsy differs from the more common idiopathic form in various ways, including:

  • The rate of progression  - As previously mentioned, the neurological impact of cerebral palsy can cause the severity of the spinal curve to progress far more rapidly, even once the patient has reached skeletal maturity.

  • The age of development - Patients with cerebral palsy will often develop scoliosis at a younger age.

  • Treatment - While bracing is commonly used to treat scoliosis, for both correction and prevention of progression, this is often deemed to be less effective in patients with cerebral palsy.

 

How is Scoliosis Treated in Patients With Cerebral Palsy?

As mentioned above, bracing is often deemed to be ineffectual in scoliosis sufferers with neurological disorders, which means that this treatment approach is usually ruled out straight away. Due to the progression of the curve, spinal surgery is often recommended as the primary form of treatment, although the goal is to delay this until the patient reaches an older age.

Due to the additional complications posed by cerebral palsy, however, the planning and execution of this surgical procedure is often made far more difficult, due to the number of additional factors which must be taken into consideration before attempting surgery.

 

Can Scoliosis SOS Help?

While each individual case is completely unique, we aim to provide the best treatment possible to each of our patients, and have worked with countless individuals suffering from additional medical conditions in the past. When it comes to all forms of scoliosis, the prevention of progression is key, and is particularly important in those who show signs of scoliosis from a very young age. Over the years, we have treated patients from ages as young as 4, in order to provide these children with the ability to manage their condition and prevent deterioration at an early stage. For those who have already undergone spinal fusion due to the severity of their condition, we have also provided treatment to aid recovery and mobility, while reducing the levels of pain which are often experienced by post-op candidates.

If you would like to find out more about the treatment options offered by Scoliosis SOS, then please feel free to get in touch with us today for more information. You can do so by filling in our contact form here, or by calling us on 0207 488 4428, to discuss your condition or to arrange an appointment.

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are very lucky to be based right in the centre of London. Not only does our location make it easy for people to visit us from all over the world, it also means that we've got some amazing attractions and landmarks right on our doorstep.
 
If you're thinking of attending a ScolioGold treatment course and staying at our self-catering accommodation in the heart of London, here are 10 things you might want to squeeze in while you're here:
 
London Eye
Photo by Yoga Balaji (view original here)

1. London Eye

Cost: £21.20 (standard entry ticket)
Nearest Tube Station: Waterloo
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: 3 miles
 
Constructed just prior to the turn of the millennium, the London Eye has become one of the city's most iconic and instantly-recognisable landmarks. One ride lasts 30 minutes, giving you plenty of time to drink in the stunning view as you rise more than 400 feet above the ground.
 
More amazing views of London:
Harrods

2. Harrods Department Store

Cost: Free (but bring some spending money!)
Nearest Tube Station: Knightsbridge
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: 5 miles
 
Harrods is right up there with Macy's in New York City as one of the most famous department stores in the world. They pride themselves on offering a 'luxurious shopping experience', and with 330 departments spread over seven sprawling floors, you're sure to find something you like!
 
More famous shops:
Science Museum
Photo by Christine Matthews (view original here)

3. Science Museum

Cost: Free (donations welcome)
Nearest Tube Station: South Kensington
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: 6 miles
 
The Science Museum boasts a world-leading collection of scientific exhibits and interactive installations. Even if you're not particularly enthusiastic about science, you're sure to have a great time as you make your way around the museum and discover all it has to offer.
 
More museums:
Tower of London
Photo by Peter Pikous (view original here)

4. Tower of London

Cost: £25 (gate price for an adult ticket)
Nearest Tube Station: Tower Hill
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: <1 mile
 
See the Crown Jewels, spot the ravens, and learn all about this infamous London landmark and the people who have dwelled within in its walls down the centuries. The Tower plays host to lots of different activities and events at different times of the year, so be sure to check their website to find out what's happening during your stay in London!
 
More historical hotspots:
Les Misérables

5. Les Misérables

Cost: Ticket Prices Vary
Nearest Tube Station: Leicester Square
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: 3 miles
 
The West End's longest-running musical is well worth catching if you can get your hands on a ticket! Currently running at the Queen's Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, Les Misérables is the epic show that gave the world songs like I Dreamed a Dream, Do You Hear the People Sing? and Bring Him Home. You may have seen the movie starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, but there's no substitute for seeing 'Les Mis' live on stage.
 
More West End musicals:
James Bond Wax Work
Photo by Aashish Rao (view original here)

6. Madame Tussauds

Cost: From £29
Nearest Tube Station: Baker Street
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: 5 miles
 
This world-famous wax museum gives visitors the chance to meet movie stars, stand next to famous fictional characters, and even pose with members of the British Royal Family. Recent additions to the Madame Tussauds collection include Benedict Cumberbatch, Adele, Justin Bieber, and a number of famous faces from of the Star Wars films.
 
More top tourist attractions:
 
Rough Trade East
Photo by Steve Bowbrick (view original here)

7. Rough Trade East

Cost: Free (but bring some spending money!)
Nearest Tube Station: Aldgate East
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: <1 mile
 
If you're a music fan, this shop's name may ring a bell - not only is Rough Trade one of the UK's most successful independent record stores, it's also the record label that released classic albums by bands like The Smiths and (more recently) The Strokes and The Libertines. Rough Trade East is a must-visit for music fans in London - the shop boasts a wide range of CDs and vinyl records, plus it frequently hosts in-store gigs and signing events. It's only a stone's throw from the well-known Brick Lane Market, too.
 
More record shops:
Buckingham Palace
Photo by David Iliff (view original here)

8. Buckingham Palace

Cost: £80 (guided tour of the State Rooms, 16 Dec 2016 - 5 Feb 2017)
Nearest Tube Station: Green Park
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: 3 miles
 
The Royal Family are of course a big draw for many foreign visitors to the United Kingdom, and if you're interested in catching a glimpse of the Royal lifestyle then Buckingham Palace (the Queen's London residence) is the attraction for you. Various guided tours are available at different times of the year, but if you're short on cash you can still go and see the palace and its magnificent grounds free of charge.
 
More royal attractions:
 

9. The Sherlock Holmes Museum

Cost: £15 (discount for under 16s)
Nearest Tube Station: Baker Street
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: 5 miles
 
London is, of course, the home of fabled detective extraordinaire Sherlock Holmes. This exhibition can be found on Baker Street (where Holmes supposedly lived), and it's a must-see for any fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's books and the many movies and TV shows they inspired.
 
More suggestions for Sherlock fans:
 
 
Brixton Academy
Photo by Ewan Munro (view original here)

10. O2 Academy Brixton

Cost: Ticket Prices Vary
Nearest Tube Station: Brixton
Approximate Distance from Scoliosis SOS Clinic: 5 miles
 
London is a big city, and if you like going to concerts, there are always plenty to choose from. The O2 Academy in Brixton is one very popular spot with a consistently impressive and diverse programme: upcoming gigs at time of writing include All Time Low, PJ Harvey, Ne-Yo and Tom Odell.
 
More gig venues:
Scoliosis SOS provide effective, non-surgical treatment for scoliosis and other spinal conditions. Click here to find out more about our internationally-renowned clinic in London, or contact us now to arrange an initial consultation (this can be carried out via Skype or over the phone).