Scoliosis X-Rays

Since scoliosis cannot be 'cured' in the true sense of that word, treatment efforts tend instead to focus on managing the condition. The key aims of scoliosis management are as follows:
  • Stop the patient's spinal curve from progressing any further
  • Reduce the Cobb angle (i.e. the severity of the curve) if possible
  • Treat symptoms such as back pain, reduced flexibility, etc.
In this post, we will describe some of the most commonly-used scoliosis management strategies to give you an idea of how this condition can be dealt with.

Observation

When diagnosing a patient with scoliosis, a doctor may initially recommend that no treatment be undertaken at all. This is particularly common when the patient is a child (and thus still growing) and when the angle of the curvature is quite mild. In lieu of immediate treatment, the patient's spine will be observed over time so as to find out whether the curve is getting better, getting worse, or staying where it is. This will then allow the medical practitioner to select the best course of corrective action, if any.

Treating the Symptoms

Even if the patient's spinal curve is not being directly treated, it may still be necessary to treat certain symptoms that may be negatively affecting their quality of life. Common treatments include:
  • Pain medication - Painkillers of various strengths may be prescribed to help the patient cope with any pain they are experiencing as a result of their scoliosis.

  • Physical therapy - Physiotherapy and exercise can help scoliosis sufferers to retain their flexibility and mobility. Physiotherapy-based programmes can also constitute an effective treatment for the scoliosis itself (see below).

Bracing

Scoliosis patients sometimes have to wear a rigid plastic brace in order to help manage the condition. This brace doesn't reverse the progression of the spinal curvature, but it can arrest progression so that the curve doesn't get any worse.

Scoliosis braces are typically worn for 23 hours per day and should only be removed when bathing/showering. Click here for more information on bracing.

Surgery

If the patient's spinal curve has progressed beyond a certain point (usually 40-50 degrees, also the threshold is different in different parts of the world), they may have to go in for spinal fusion surgery. During this procedure, general anaesthetic is used to keep the patient unconscious while the surgical team uses small hooks/screws to correct the curve and effectively fix the spine in place. Click here to learn more about spinal fusion surgery.

Physical Therapy

As noted above, physiotherapy can help to minimise the impact of scoliosis on the patient's flexibility/mobility. However, exercise-based treatment programmes have also been shown to:
There are many different exercise-based treatment routes available to scoliosis patients, some of which are more effective than others. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat patients via a regime called the ScolioGold method, which combines a number of proven non-surgical techniques into one programme that addresses every different aspect of the condition in question.

Curvy Girls is an international support group for young girls with scoliosis. Leah Stoltz from New York started the group after sitting in on a meeting of adult scoliosis sufferers and deciding that there ought to be a similar support network exclusively for under-18s. Leah very kindly agreed to answer some questions from the Scoliosis SOS team - scroll down to read the interview in full.

Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group

So, Leah - for those who may not know, what kind of support does Curvy Girls provide for scoliosis sufferers?

Curvy Girls provides peer support to young girls dealing with scoliosis. What's awesome about our meetings - and the reason our organisation is so successful - is that we're entirely teen-run. When girls hold their groups, it's only girls in the meetings, so it's a safe and comfortable environment.

What treatment(s) have you undergone for your own spinal curve?

I wore a Boston brace for two and a half years, and then had spinal fusion surgery (T5-L4).

Were you pleased with the results?

I was very pleased with the outcome of my surgery and I try to talk about it as much as possible. Something I've noticed a lot is that you really only hear (and see on social media) scary or worrisome stories of surgeries not going well. For the innumerable number of cases that go well, they don't necessarily need to talk about it as much because it was easier to manage. That's one of the reasons I try to talk about my story so much: to make surgery less scary for those who are about to undergo it.

You live in the USA - how challenging is it to access effective scoliosis treatment in America today?

I grew up and still reside in New York, so for me it was very easy to get access to bracing and surgery, as well as to surgeons who specialise in scoliosis. On the other hand, curvy girls who live in more remote areas of the US might have to travel great distances to receive care. 

When doing research for our book, Straight Talk with the Curvy Girls, we found out that Europe is way ahead of the US when it comes to conservative care - scoliosis-specific exercises and 3D bracing. In 2012, there was only one place in the whole of the US that offered this treatment, and for most of us it was hours away by plane. I am proud to say that, through the advocacy of Curvy Girls, families in the US now have greater access to these conservative care options.

What is the single most important piece of advice you'd give a young person who's just been diagnosed with scoliosis?

Talk about how you're feeling! Don't keep it bundled inside. Find support - a trusted friend, a parent, a Curvy Girl. Curvy Girls has support groups all over the world, as well as an online forum, Instagram page, Facebook group, book...there are so many ways to feel supported and to talk with other girls who are going through what you are going through (or who have already been through the same things).

For the benefit of the friends and families of scoliosis sufferers, could you shine a little bit of light on the thoughts and emotions of someone who's going through scoliosis?

A scoliosis diagnosis is something that just happens to us; we feel like we don't have control over it, and sometimes it can feel like there's no end in sight. We're told to wear the brace, which is a very passive activity, and on top of that we're not even sure it will definitely help! And then sometimes we're told to wear the brace under the threat of surgery, which is a terrifying idea. I wasn't fortunate enough to know about the Schroth method prior to my surgery, but what I love about it is that it gives us a bit more control over a situation that can feel like it's out of our hands.

We understand you're looking for a new UK representative - what does this role entail, and what sort of person are you looking for?

Yes we are! The best Curvy Girls leader is one who has the desire to help others as well as themselves. She should not only want to give support, but be open to asking for and receiving it when she needs it as well. Girls with scoliosis between the ages of 11 and 18 are eligible. We provide all the support necessary to become a CG leader. If you're open to learning, we're open to teaching! Application details here.

What's next for Curvy Girls? What are the Foundation's aims for the future?

World domination! In all seriousness, we just want to make sure there's support for girls wherever they are. My personal goal is that support should be offered in tandem with any diagnosis, brace, or surgery consultation. It's easy to just focus on treating the physical symptoms of scoliosis, but there's also an emotional component that's far too frequently ignored. Curvy Girls is the emotional brace for scoliosis!

Visit www.curvygirlsscoliosis.com for more information about the Curvy Girls Scoliosis Foundation, or click here to learn about the exercise-based scoliosis treatment courses we provide here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London, England.
Scoliosis sufferer in the British army

If it is your ambition to join the British Army, you may be concerned about whether your curved spine will scupper your chances of achieving this goal. Today, we'd like to put your fears to rest.

Army Entry Requirements

The British Army's entry requirements state that all would-be soldiers looking to join a UOTC (University Officers' Training Corps) must satisfy the Army's medical requirements. Certain conditions - such as deafness, blindness, and the absence of one or more limbs - are deemed 'immediate barriers', meaning that anyone with these conditions is automatically disqualified from entry into a UOTC. The rules are more flexible for other conditions; for example, if you have ever suffered from diseases like malaria, pneumonia, heart disease, or tuberculosis, this may disqualify you from signing up, but the final decision will depend on the details of your specific case.

Back pain, in addition to being a common symptom of scoliosis, is one of the factors that can potentially disqualify a person from entering the British Army. However, it's worth noting that none of the effects of scoliosis are immediate barriers, and generally speaking, your spinal curve should only keep you from joining the Army if it has a significant effect on your mobility and/or your overall health.

Matthew's Story

24-year-old Matthew Gilson from Somerset wanted to join the British Armed Forces, but he feared that this ambition would have to be laid to rest when he was diagnosed with scoliosis. He found himself suffering from intense back pain, and this forced him to put his demanding training regime on hold for a while.

Scoliosis sufferer Matthew from Wells

However, after completing a 4-week ScolioGold treatment course here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, Matthew's pain levels had receded massively, and his posture was better as well. This improvement allowed him to re-apply for the Army and continue following his dream of serving in the military.

If you require scoliosis treatment, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to find out how our non-surgical treatment courses may be able to help you.
When you're concentrating on work, it can be very easy to fall into bad posture habits - especially if you spend most of the working day sitting at a desk. Sitting still for long periods of time can be quite bad for your body to begin with, but when you're sitting in a position that is putting pressure on certain parts of your musculoskeletal system, the effect is compounded, with potentially dire results.

A desk job can be particularly hazardous to your health if you already suffer from scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine) or hyper-kyphosis (an excessive forward curve in the spine). Poor desk posture can exacerbate back pain, a common symptom of scoliosis, and may even contribute to the continued progression of one's existing spinal curve.

Therapeutic stretches to try at work

Whether you suffer from a spinal condition or not, you can perform the following stretches while seated at your desk in order to stave off the potential health consequences of bad posture:

Thoracic Extension at Desk

Stretch #1: Thoracic Extension at a Desk

  1. Sit forwards in your seat with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Place the palms of your hands and your mid-forearms underneath your desk, with elbows bent to 90 degrees.

  3. Apply gentle pressure in an upwards direction with your hands and mid-forearms, while simultaneously extending your upper back and allowing your pelvis to rock forwards.

  4. Ensure that your chin is tucked in as your neck elongates upwards.

  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 times for one set.

  6. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.

Levator Scapulae Stretch

Stretch #2: Levator Scapulae Stretch

  1. Sit comfortably in your chair with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet firmly on the floor.

  2. Place one hand behind your lower back to ensure a correct lumbar lordosis.

  3. With your head, look over to the right side and diagonally downwards towards your armpit.

  4. Place your right hand onto the occiput (the bony part of the base of your skull).

  5. Use the weight of your arm to stretch the neck in a downward and diagonal direction.

  6. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 times for one set.

  7. Swap sides and repeat.

  8. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.

Sitting Piriformis Stretch

Stretch #3: Sitting Piriformis Stretch

  1. Sit comfortably in your chair with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet firmly on the floor.

  2. With one leg at a time, place your ankle across your opposite knee, as though you are crossing your legs individually.

  3. Ensure that you maintain a small lumbar lordosis with a contracted core to optimise the position of your pelvis and lumbar spine.

  4. Push down gently on the crossed leg's knee to stretch the piriformis muscle (located on the outside of the gluteal region).

  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for one set.

  6. Swap sides and repeat.

  7. Complete this stretch again after 30 minutes of sitting.
If you suffer from scoliosis, or another spinal condition, and you are looking for an effective non-surgical treatment route, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to learn about our ScolioGold therapy courses.
Scoliosis Clothing
 
Anyone can develop scoliosis, although it affects girls more often than boys, and idiopathic scoliosis - the condition's most common form - almost always develops during adolescence. Due to the visible symptoms of scoliosis, people with curved spines (especially teenagers) often feel insecure and uncomfortable, which can lead to them avoiding certain clothing if they feel it is likely to draw attention to the spinal curve.
 
Finding clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable can be difficult when you're a scoliosis sufferer, so we thought that it would be a good idea to share a few tips:

Layering

Layering is the perfect way to hide your uneven joints or the outline of your scoliosis brace (if you wear one). Denim jackets, cardigans and button-downs are always in fashion, and they're great for adding a little extra coverage. Some scoliosis sufferers also use shoulder pads to balance out their uneven shoulders.

Asymmetrical Lines & Eye-Catching Features

Clothing with asymmetrical lines is a great way to make a statement whilst also drawing attention away from uneven shoulders or hips. Fabric that drapes unconventionally gives you a relaxed look that will always be in style, while garments with eye-catching features will also help to draw attention away from your curved spine.

Peplum Tops

The peplum top has been on the high street for quite some time now, and is especially ideal for those who have lumbar spinal curves. Peplum tops are a great way to look fashionable and add extra dimension to our outfit whilst also concealing your spinal curvature.

Swing and Skater Dresses

Dressing up can be difficult when you suffer with scoliosis, and trying to find a dress that complements or hides the shape of your back can be difficult. Swing or skater dresses are ideal if you're looking to dress up for those special events, as they provide a flattering fit without clinging to your curve.

Don't Forget to Accessorise!

Accessories are very useful if you suffer from scoliosis. They're a great way to express your sense of style and draw attention away from areas that you want to play down. A large bag can help balance out your hips, whilst a scarf is a great way to hide your uneven shoulders and draw attention to your face. 
 
If you're a scoliosis sufferer and you're looking for a treatment method other than bracing or surgery, you may be interested in our ScolioGold treatment courses. If you wish to book an initial consultation, or if you have any questions, please contact us today!