Scoliosis and Depression

It's not uncommon for people with scoliosis to feel depressed from time to time. Scoliosis is a lifelong condition, and it can be hard to come to terms with this, but that doesn't mean that scoliosis patients can't live physically and emotionally fulfilling lives.

In this blog post, we'd like to discuss the connection between scoliosis and depression and what can be done about it.

Why might scoliosis lead to depression?

The link between scoliosis and depression is reasonably well-established; this population-based study, for example, concluded that "patients with scoliosis may have an increased risk of depression" and that "health care professionals should consider designing and planning effective psychological prevention and treatment for scoliosis patients".

There are several possible explanations for this connection. The visible symptoms of scoliosis (e.g. leaning to one side, shoulders sitting at different heights) can result in low self-esteem and negative body image (especially in young people) and this can be compounded by the limited range of treatment options available in some territories. Braces can be uncomfortable and unflattering, and recovering from spinal fusion surgery can be physically and mentally draining and may make the patient feel isolated. Whether or not these factors can cause depression, they may well exacerbate it if it already exists.

Many people with scoliosis will feel depressed about their condition at some point, but the severity and persistence of that depression can vary drastically depending on the patient's age, their recovery prospects, the size of their spinal curvature(s), and any number of other factors.

How can you tell if someone is depressed?

If you know someone with scoliosis, look out for the following symptoms of depression:

  • Loss of interest in things they previously enjoyed
  • Noticeably lower energy levels
  • Unusual, out-of-character and/or reckless behaviour (e.g. drug use, excessive drinking)
  • Expression of suicidal thoughts (even if they seem to be joking - talking about suicide in any manner can be a cry for help)

What should I do if I feel depressed?

IMPORTANT: If you are feeling suicidal, please consider calling a suicide crisis line. If you're in the UK, you can call Samaritans now on 116 123. For other countries, see this list of suicide crisis lines.

  • Talk to someone. Whether you are reaching out to a friend, a family member, or a professional counsellor, simply talking about your depression can be a large step towards overcoming it. If you are suffering because of your scoliosis, it may be beneficial to speak to other people with this condition, as they will be able to empathise with you in a way that others can't. Look at our list of scoliosis support groups to see if there's a group in your area.

  • Visit your doctor. Your GP may be able to help you deal with your depression and can prescribe antidepressants / refer you for additional therapy if necessary.

  • Treat your scoliosis. If you think that your depression is linked to your scoliosis, you may wish to look into different treatment methods that could help you to reduce the angle of your curvature and feel better both physically and mentally.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we use a combination of non-invasive treatment techniques to help people with scoliosis and other spinal conditions. If you're interested in attending a consultation session to discuss treatment options, please click the button below to get in touch.

Enquire About Scoliosis Treatment >

Did you know that our therapists can provide ScolioGold therapy in your own home?

Scoliosis Treatment at Home

ScolioGold treatment is a non-invasive, exercise-based alternative for patients who are suffering from scoliosis and other spinal problems. The therapy course is specifically tailored to the size and shape of the individual's curve, and it helps to:

  • Prevent further progression
  • Improve cosmetic appearance
  • Reduce pain
  • Give patients the opportunity to avoid spinal fusion surgery

The Scoliosis SOS Clinic is located in central London, and although patients do travel from all over the world to receive treatment here, we understand that it is not always possible for patients to travel to London.

In these cases, our staff will travel to you.

 

Home treatment with your ScolioGold therapist

Our highly-experienced therapists have travelled all over the world to treat patients in their own homes. The USA and East Asia are just two of the locations they have visited for this purpose.

Although we encourage our patients to attend the clinic where possible, intensive one-to-one treatment on location has proven to be just as successful. Our ScolioGold consultants give the patient a full medical assessment over the telephone to confirm their suitability, and a personalised course of treatment is prescribed.

If a patient decides that they would like to be treated in their own home, we then discuss suitable dates and make accommodation and travel arrangements. Patients are required to have some equipment sent to their home address in order to get the most out of their treatment.

 

Who is eligible for home treatment?

Treatment on location is available to patients of all ages as long as they are able to follow instructions and have enough mobility to get up off the floor unaided. Our therapists will travel to most countries to treat patients, and have also travelled to other parts of the United Kingdom to treat patients who were unable to travel to London.

ScolioGold treatment isn't just for patients with scoliosis and hyperkyphosis - it is also suitable for patients with postural problems, as well as for those who suffer from chronic back pain.

 

What level of treatment will be provided?

The amount of 1:1 treatment required will depend on the patient's age and the severity of their spinal curve. This will be discussed prior to booking. On-location treatment means that our therapists can work around your school/work commitments.

To discuss treatment options and arrange an initial telephone consultation, please contact us online or call 0207 488 4428.

Playing the violin with scoliosis

Standing for long periods and holding bulky musical instruments can cause problems for musicians with scoliosis.

Heavy instruments, such as the cello and the tuba, can be especially difficult to play (not to mention carry around!) if you suffer from back problems. Playing the violin, meanwhile, has a tendency to place asymmetrical stress on the muscles down one side of the spine.

But don't be alarmed - your scoliosis doesn't mean you have to give up your musical activities. Many people with scoliosis worry about having to give up the hobbies they enjoy, but here at Scoliosis SOS, we help patients to manage their symptoms and keep doing whatever they enjoy most. Your therapist will ensure that you are given adequate education in addition to your tailored exercise programme, and you should continue to see improvements even after you have left the clinic.

Book an Initial Consultation >

 

How ScolioGold therapy can help musicians

ScolioGold therapy is our own highly effective combination of non-invasive scoliosis treatment techniques. Among other things, this programme is designed to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, bringing the patient into a more central upright position while also decreasing pain and preventing further progression.

We use a range of different methods to help our patients, including the Schroth technique, which has been used to successfully treat scoliosis patients for decades. Exercise and appropriate education gives our musically-inclined patients the tools and knowledge they need to manage their condition at home and avoid invasive operations that can rob them of the flexibility their instrument requires.

 

Case Study: Jasmine from Northwood

One of our patients, 12-year-old violinist Jasmine Turner, feared that she would have to give up music because of her scoliosis. Violinists often have to twist into awkward positions while playing, and Jasmine's rapidly-progressing spinal curve made this challenging.

However, following a four-week treatment course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, she has managed to avoid spinal fusion surgery and get back to playing the violin. Read Jasmine's story at getwestlondon.co.uk.

If you're interested in attending a ScolioGold treatment course, please call us on +44 (0)207 488 4428 or contact us online.

Travelling with Scoliosis

If you have scoliosis, you have probably suffered from back and/or shoulder pain in some form over the course of your life.

People with scoliosis often experience increased discomfort when they have to sit down for long periods of time. This means that long-haul flights and even long car journeys can become logistical nightmares - scoliosis-related pain can occur at any age, and even a mild spinal curve can cause a lot of pain.

Preparation is key!

When you book your flight, try to plan a schedule that will minimise your stress:

  • Consider taking a flight where there will be fewer people on board (and thus more room for you to lie across the seats if necessary).

  • Contact the airline prior to booking your flight and let them know that you suffer from back pain. They may be able to provide you with more information on which flights are least crowded.

  • If possible, try to limit your down time between in-flight connections or layovers.

  • If you can help it, don't schedule a flight that will require you to wake up extremely early.

During the journey

Once you've done some preparation, you can start thinking about how you will keep pain at bay during the flight itself:

  • Some kind of lower back support - e.g. a back roll or a couple of pillows from the flight attendant - can be a good way to prevent slouching and keep your spine straight, minimising lower back pain.

  • Bring a pillow to support your neck. Travel pillows can often be purchased at the airport if you forget to bring your own.

  • If you are unable to position your legs at a right angle while seated on the plane, ask for something (pillows, blankets) to prop your feet up and keep your knees at a right angle. Doing so keeps stress off the lower back.

  • If you have long legs, request an exit row or bulkhead seat, as these generally offer more leg room.

  • Ask for an upgrade! Occasionally, airlines will have additional seats with extra leg room available in first / business class, and if you explain your situation, they may upgrade you free of charge.

  • Move around during the flight. Staying still for prolonged periods stresses the spine and can make back pain much worse.

  • See if there is room at the back of the plane to do some quick stretches - these can improve flexibility and ease stiffness. Just make sure you stay in your seat during turbulence!

If you are a Scoliosis SOS patient and you're planning to go on a long car journey or flight, make sure you speak to your ScolioGold therapist and get some advice on what you can do to make your journey as comfortable as possible.

Contact Scoliosis SOS >

After being diagnosed with scoliosis aged 14, Louise Laurie wanted to help others in a similar situation. This inspired the creation of her blog, helpformyscoliosis.com, which works to raise scoliosis awareness and inspire those living with it.

Louise kindly agreed to answer a few questions from us at Scoliosis SOS - read on to find out more about the origin of helpformyscoliosis.com and how Louise has achieved many things she thought she would never be able to do after scoliosis surgery. 

Help for My Scoliosis


Firstly, we’d love to hear a little bit about you. When were you diagnosed with scoliosis and what motivated you to start helpformyscoliosis.com?
I was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis at 14. When I was first diagnosed with scoliosis it was a huge shock. I had never even heard of scoliosis and had never had any medical conditions up to that point. Upon diagnosis, my scoliosis was very advanced and way past the point of needing surgery so at the time I was very upset - I remember thinking my life was over. I decided to start my blog helpformyscoliosis.com following my surgery to raise awareness of scoliosis, but also to inspire others with the condition. I wanted to show that having scoliosis does not mean that your life is over, far from it, and there is so much that you can achieve.

 

How did scoliosis impact your day-to-day life prior to any treatment?
Having scoliosis has had a huge impact on my life. Prior to treatment, I was in a lot of pain, caused mostly by muscle spasms due to the pressure of the curvature. The main impact scoliosis has had on me though is emotional and I think the impact of this, especially on teenage girls, is often overlooked. My scoliosis wasn’t hugely noticeable to the untrained eye, but I used to hate how I looked and hated being different. This had a huge impact on my body confidence and self-esteem growing up and this still affects me to some extent today.


What treatments have you had for your spinal curvature?
Over the years I have had countless treatments including physio, acupuncture, massages. At age 24, I finally decided to have spinal fusion surgery to correct my scoliosis. This was a hugely difficult decision for me and not one to make lightly. My scoliosis was severe though (I had two curvatures of over 80 degrees) and they usually recommend surgery if the curve is over 50 degrees. I was also in a lot of pain and was told that without surgery my scoliosis would progress and get even worse over time.

 

How did you find recovery and are you happy with the results of your treatment?
Recovery was one of the toughest and most painful experiences of my life. It took me years to fully recover as your back affects everything you do. I couldn’t bend, lift or twist for about 6 months and I had to re-learn simple things that you take for granted, like how to walk again, sit up and get out of bed.


We can see you completed a trek across the Great Wall of China last year (congratulations, by the way!). What inspired you to do this and how did you find it?
Thank you! I wanted to do something big not only to challenge myself and prove what I was capable of following my scoliosis surgery, but also to raise awareness of scoliosis and inspire others with the condition. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I met some truly amazing and inspiring people.


Many people facing the prospect of spinal fusion surgery may think they’d never be able to complete something so intense post-surgery. Could you shed a little light on how you managed to get back into exercise?
I believe you can achieve anything you put your mind to. It has taken me years following surgery to build up to the level I’m at now fitness wise. It’s definitely a slow process which can be frustrating but it’s important not to rush these things and to listen to your body. I used to go to the gym regularly before surgery and I do think that being fit helped in my recovery immensely.

I think that regular exercise is crucial if you have scoliosis, it’s important to keep the core and back muscles strong. I went back to the gym about 9 months following my surgery but all I could do at the time was walk very slowly on the treadmill. Now, I regularly run 10K races under an hour, lift weights and am completing a half marathon in May.

 

Do you have any similar goals for 2018?
I would love to climb Machu Picchu so watch this space! Other goals I have are to complete a half marathon and I’ve just signed up to a Tough Mudder, which is a muddy obstacle race. I just love to push myself and always have to have something in the pipeline to keep me motivated.

 

Finally, what advice would you give someone suffering from scoliosis at the moment?
Every case is different but I would say, mindset is everything. I used to feel so down about my back but I’ve realised that having scoliosis does not have to hold you back, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

Be sure to follow Louise on Twitter or subscribe to her blog for regular updates.

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