A common question amongst scoliosis
sufferers, as well as those who suspect that they may be displaying signs of developing the condition, is "Is scoliosis hereditary?
As many of you will already be aware, most cases of scoliosis are defined as idiopathic, which means that the cause of the spinal curvature is unknown in the majority of patients. Despite this, research into the development of scoliosis has shown that there is a possible genetic link between family members, in cases where there is a family history of scoliosis.
Although it may not manifest itself as straightforwardly as other hereditary conditions, it is estimated that around 1 in 4 sufferers will have at least one other family member who also shows signs of scoliosis, and that first-degree relatives of scoliosis patients will have an 11 percent chance of developing the condition themselves.
Although the examination of inheritance patterns has helped to determine that scoliosis is a genetic as well as hereditary condition, it remains unclear which genes are responsible for the curvature itself. It is fairly certain, however, the condition is more likely to affect female family members, due to the prominence of the condition in females over males. For this reason, many believe scoliosis is hereditary but there is still plenty of research that needs to be completed to prove this.
At Scoliosis SOS we have treated instances of hereditary scoliosis in the past, in cases such as that of Tina Barlow, who travelled from Florida to receive treatment with us. Just days before her decision to enrol on one of our treatment courses, Tina’s daughter was also diagnosed with scoliosis, which came as an unwelcome revelation to Tina, who had struggled to manage her condition from the age of twelve. Knowing that this would give her daughter a chance at preventing her condition from deteriorating, Tina decided that they would both travel to Scoliosis SOS in order to receive treatment, and we are happy to report that they are both now living pain-free. To read Tina and her daughter’s full story, click here
Tina’s case is a great example of how non-surgical treatment can benefit family cases of scoliosis, as well as sufferers who are concerned about the future health of their children. Thanks to the integration of exercises which can be performed by the patients themselves, our ScolioGold treatment programme provides a lasting method of treatment that can be maintained by scoliosis sufferers, providing patients with the ability and knowledge to treat their symptoms.
We hope that has helped to answer the question of whether scoliosis is hereditary! If you have any questions about how we can help to treat family cases of scoliosis, or if you are a sufferer who is concerned that their child may require treatment for the condition, please feel free to get in touch via our contact page, to arrange a consultation.
Idiopathic scoliosis is by far the most common type of scoliosis, mostly affecting young people between the ages of 10 and 18. It usually develops during puberty, when the body is growing rapidly, although this type of scoliosis isn't exclusive to teenagers - it can potentially affect anyone at any time of life. This makes idiopathic scoliosis treatment common amongst all age groups, depending on the severity of the curvature.
While idiopathic scoliosis has – by definition – no known cause, we do know that it does NOT arise due to specific behaviours/activities like carrying heavy loads or sitting with poor posture for prolonged periods.
Idiopathic scoliosis varies in severity, but milder curves are more common than extreme angles. People of all genders can be affected by the condition; however, it is more common in women than in men
, and female patients are more likely to develop large spinal curves that require medical treatment.
Idiopathic scoliosis treatment methods
Idiopathic scoliosis treatment will depend on the severity of the curve, and in children, it can be difficult to judge whether or not treatment is required at all. If the patient is young enough to still be growing, there is a chance that the spine will straighten out over time; however, the patient will still be monitored closely (with regular X-rays) to observe whether or not the curve is progressing. It is crucial to know whether the angle of the curve is decreasing, increasing, or staying the same, as this will determine the best cause of action to treat the curve.
Common idiopathic scoliosis treatment methods include:
- Surgery (although this is only recommended for severe cases)
If idiopathic scoliosis treatment is deemed necessary, we at Scoliosis SOS can help. The idiopathic scoliosis treatment courses we deliver are slightly different for younger scoliosis sufferers, but the main principles are the same for everyone: instead of correcting the spine using a back brace or surgical methods, we use an exercise-based treatment programme to achieve improvements. Our highly-qualified physiotherapists use a range of techniques (listed here) to reduce the patient’s Cobb angle, improve posture, boost mobility and muscle strength, relieve pain, and enhance the patient's overall quality of life.
Our ScolioGold courses are hugely popular among scoliosis sufferers of all ages, and the treatment we offer is safe and hugely effective, as these X-rays demonstrate.
If you’d like to find out more about our idiopathic scoliosis treatment courses, please get in touch to arrange an initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS.
Learning that you may need surgery is a very scary experience. Every surgical procedure comes with a certain level of risk, and no matter how experienced the surgeons are, it takes a great deal of bravery to place your life in their hands.
Every year, countless scoliosis
sufferers around the world are told that they require surgery to correct their condition. Naturally, a lot of those people would rather avoid surgical intervention if at all possible, but before we explore potential alternatives to scoliosis surgery, let's take a closer look at what the operation actually involves.
What does scoliosis surgery involve?
The surgical operation that's commonly used to correct scoliosis is known as spinal fusion surgery. It is performed under general anaesthetic, so you'll be completely unconscious throughout the operation.
During the procedure, your surgeon will anchor a series of rods to your spine using tiny hooks and screws. These rods will reduce the angle of your scoliotic curve and serve as a splint to hold the spine in place. The surgeon will then apply a bone graft to your spine - this bone will eventually fuse with your spine, the aim being to prevent your curve from progressing any further. (The rods are a temporary measure, holding 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.)
A spinal fusion operation tends to be followed by a lengthy recovery period, during which some pain, discomfort, and loss of mobility are to be expected. However, in the long term, the surgery should mean that your scoliosis doesn't progress any further, and that your spinal curve has a smaller impact on your overall quality of life.
What risks are associated with scoliosis surgery?
As we mentioned earlier, all surgical procedures come with certain risks, and scoliosis surgery is no different. The risks/complications associated with spinal fusion surgery include:
- Implants coming loose or breaking
- Nerve damage
- Blood clots
- Development of a secondary curve
Furthermore, the Internet is littered with sad stories of scoliosis operations that simply didn't have the intended effect. Some patients (including two contributors to this painsupport.co.uk thread
) even find themselves in more pain post-op than prior to the spinal fusion procedure.
Is it possible to treat scoliosis without surgery?
While scoliosis surgery can be - and very often is - an effective means of combating scoliosis, it is easy to see why many scoliotics would rather not go under the knife if possible. Fortunately for these people, there is an alternative.
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic
, we specialise in providing non-surgical treatment for scoliosis (as well as for other spinal conditions such as hyperkyphosis
). Our ScolioGold
treatment courses utilise a variety of therapeutic techniques to achieve great results for scoliosis sufferers, including:
- Reduced Cobb angle
- Relief from pain
- Improved mobility/flexibility
Life can be very difficult for scoliosis sufferers in the Republic of Ireland. Everyone in the country is entitled to free healthcare courtesy of the Health Service Executive (HSE), a body that's roughly equivalent to the NHS here in Britain; however, the Irish healthcare system is notorious for its extremely long waiting lists, which often force patients to wait months or even years for all kinds of different treatments, up to and including critical operations such as heart surgery. For this reason, many Irish residents choose to pay for private health insurance, but countless others simply have to wait and hope that their illnesses don't get too much worse in the meantime.
This can be disastrous for people with curved spines. Scoliosis is one of those conditions that tends to get worse the longer it goes untreated, and when you're already in a great deal of pain and discomfort to begin with, a long wait for treatment is really the last thing you want. Earlier this year, The Irish Times published an article on the long waiting lists for scoliosis treatment in Ireland; the piece focused on a woman from Galway named Marie Cunningham.
Speaking to the Times, Ms. Cunningham (58) stated that her condition made her feel like a 90-year-old: "walking is really bad as I am so bent over and I have to use crutches to help hold me up...They want me to wait [for treatment], but as far as I am concerned I have gone through enough pain, disability, mental depression in the past 5 years".
There are many people like Marie Cunningham in the Republic of Ireland today: scoliosis sufferers whose conditions have been allowed to progress greatly because effective treatment is not immediately available through the HSE. This, of course, is where we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic come in, and numerous patients and their families have travelled from their homes in Ireland to our clinic in London because they wanted to get access to specialist care and treatment right away instead of waiting months for the HSE to get around to them.
Scoliosis Treatment for Patients from Ireland >
One such patient was Jack Gaffney, the 18-year-old from County Wicklow whose story we told in our recent blog post about Klippel-Feil syndrome; another was 23-year-old Molly Garvey from Dublin. Watch the video below to find out how we helped her with her scoliosis.
If you live in the Republic of Ireland and you'd like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses, please contact us to arrange an initial consultation or visit the links below for further information.
Scoliosis Treatment for Patients from Ireland - Useful Links: