Noonan syndrome and scoliosis

Noonan syndrome is a congenital disorder that can impact the formation and development of several areas of the body.

Characterised by a variety of distinctive features – including facial abnormalities, stunted height and heart defects – Noonan syndrome is caused by a mutation of one or more genes.

According to the NHS, it's estimated that the number of children born with Noonan syndrome is somewhere between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 2500. The condition affects all ethnicities and sexes equally.

Notably, children with Noonan syndrome are also more susceptible to spinal conditions such as scoliosis.

 

Scoliosis as a result of Noonan syndrome

In 2001, a Korean study carried out by the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in Seoul National University Hospital scientifically proved the correlation between scoliosis and Noonan syndrome.

Of the 60 patients with Noonan syndrome included in this study, 30% were found to have spinal deformities. Of those patients, two patients had congenital deformities, while the remaining 16 were diagnosed with scoliosis.

Based on the evidence provided, the study concluded that scoliosis with an associated thoracic lordosis occurs more frequently in Noonan syndrome than had been previously reported.

Today the relationship is well-documented, and early assessment of children with Noonan syndrome is recommended to ensure prompt detection and advanced treatment of scoliosis symptoms.

 

Treating scoliosis in Noonan syndrome patients

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic treat scoliosis in people of all ages and backgrounds. Our non-surgical treatment courses are ideal for all manner of individuals, including those with Noonan syndrome.

Combining the tried and tested Schroth method with an assortment of additional complementary techniques, our ScolioGold programme is designed to promote natural correction of asymmetric posture without invasive surgery. Our treatment method has an unrivalled level of success, providing significant relief to most patients within just a few weeks.

Better still, our methods are continuously evolving in line with medical breakthroughs and non-surgical development, allowing us to modify and improve our programme as the scientific study of scoliosis advances.

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We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are all about helping our patients to manage their scoliosis independently. When you attend one of our treatment courses, our therapists will teach you a range of corrective and strengthening exercises to combat your spinal curvature; you will then need to continue performing these exercises at home in order to keep your scoliosis under control.

Many of the exercises we recommend require particular pieces of equipment. These are, for the most part, relatively common, and may even be things that you already own. Read on to find out what you'll need to keep up your scoliosis exercises once you've left the clinic.

Please note: all exercise equipment can be purchased from the Scoliosis SOS Clinic directly. Please don't stop or avoid doing your scoliosis exercises if you can't find the equipment you need in shops.

 

Poles for scoliosis exercises

Poles and Chin-Up Bars

One of the main ways we are able to control our patients' elongation during treatment is by using poles and wall bars. They help to straighten the spine while giving the patient something to hold on to for guidance and stability. We recommend that our patients use a chin-up bar in place of wall bars and, because many chin-up bars are portable and relatively inexpensive, this can be a great investment for patients who are going on holiday.

 

Plastic tubes and wooden blocks

Wooden Blocks and Plastic Tubes

You will become very familiar with these plastic pipes and wooden blocks by the end of your ScolioGold course. Our physiotherapists use the blocks to correctly position you during exercises, and they use the pipes to help you stretch and elongate when prone.

Having these pieces of equipment at home will help you achieve the same results, although you may need to ask a friend or partner for some assistance.

 

Strap and belt exercises

Strap and Belt

These are definitely among the more unusual pieces of equipment that we use in our scoliosis exercise routines. The strap and belt are secured to the wall bars, and they help our physiotherapists to stabilise the patient's pelvis during different exercises.

This is a great piece of equipment for you to purchase if pelvis alignment is one of your key treatment goals.

 

Beanbags, wedges and resistance bands

Wedges, Beanbags and Resistance Bands

Besides being nice and comfortable, these beanbags and wedges help to de-align and rotate your spine. They will also come in very handy while you complete other exercises that require different parts of your body to be supported while you exercise.

We also recommend that you purchase a variety of resistance bands. These will help you to build up the strength of your muscles during FITS, PNF and stabilisation techniques.

 

Exercise mats and stability ball

Exercise Mats and Stability Balls

Suitable for most forms of floor-based exercise, an exercise mat can cushion you against hard and cold floor surfaces. If you plan to exercise on wood flooring (or even outside on the patio), investing in an exercise mat is a great idea!

The stability ball is a piece of equipment that we incorporate into many of our scoliosis exercises. It's an incredibly versatile apparatus that can help you to build strength and improve your balance. If you don't already have one at home, we recommend purchasing one - they're great fun and very useful!

 

Plastic stool and trigger point balls

Plastic Stools and Trigger Point Balls

Lightweight plastic stools are perfect for positioning yourself during exercises. We're sure you already have something like this at home, but if not, now might be the time to purchase some.

The colourful, spikey balls you see above are trigger point balls. They provide proprioceptive feedback and muscle stimulation.

 

Foam roller and stability disk in use

Foam Rollers and Stability Disks

Foam rollers (like the blue one pictured above) are specifically for hyperkyphosis patients. They help patients to work the deep tissue around the spine, and can also be used to relieve muscular aches and pains.

Stability disks are used by patients who have completed more advanced exercises during their treatment. By balancing on the stability disk while holding corrective poses, patients are able to improve their balance and strength.

Remember that you can purchase all of this scoliosis exercise equipment directly from the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, so don't worry if you're struggling to find something that you've enjoyed using during your treatment.

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Schroth Method Treatment for Scoliosis

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we've been successfully treating scoliosis patients for well over a decade. Our comprehensive ScolioGold treatment programme combines a variety of well-known therapeutic techniques, and the exercises that we teach our patients allow them to manage their symptoms and prevent progression from the comfort of their own home.

One of the techniques we use to treat our patients is the Schroth method, in which our therapists our expertly trained.

 

What is the Schroth method?

The Schroth method is an exercise-based physiotherapy programme that is used to treat scoliosis without surgical intervention. This world-renowned treatment method has helped countless people to improve their posture and overcome the symptoms of scoliosis.

The Schroth method is named after Katharina Schroth, the German physiotherapist who devised it. Schroth herself had a curved spine, and after making great progress with her own condition, she decided to open up a clinic to treat other people with scoliosis.

Katharina Schroth passed away in 1985, but her daughter Christa Lehnert-Schroth continued her work and the Schroth method is now used to treat scoliosis patients all over the world.

 

How does the Schroth method help people with scoliosis?

The Schroth method uses stretches and exercises to develop the inner muscles of the rib cage in order to correct spinal abnormalities in all three planes of the body. This treatment method also places emphasis on the conscious correction of posture during day-to-day life.

Schroth Method Exercises

The Schroth-based exercises that we use here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are customised to each patient's unique spinal curvature, as well as their age and physical ability. Our use of the Schroth method has allowed 88% of our patients to avoid the need for spinal fusion surgery. We also:

  • Use a specific rotational breathing technique to correct spinal rotation and increase the patient's lung capacity

  • Rebalance the patient's spinal position using pelvic corrections and isometric contractions

  • Make patients more aware of their posture on a daily basis, ensuring they have the correct equipment at home and at school/work to maintain their corrected position

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Examples of Schroth method exercises

Here are just a few of the stretches and exercises that make up the Schroth method:

1. Prone on stool

One of the core Schroth exercises, performed in a prone position facing towards the floor. Depending on the patient's classification, condition, previous medical history and symptoms, this exercise has the potential to correct:

  • A thoracic curve using shoulder traction, shoulder counter-traction and the de-rotation breathing technique
  • A lumbar curve via activation of the iliopsoas muscle

With a different setup, it can also be used to help thoracolumbar curves.

Prone on Stool Exercise

This exercise requires quite a few pieces of equipment including tubes, stools, belts, straps, beanbags and wedges. Watch our patient Isobel perform this exercise during a check-up appointment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic:

 

2. Semi-hanging

This primary Schroth exercise uses gravity to stretch out the spine and relieve pressure on vertebral joints. At the same time, the patient will be applying the rotational breathing technique to flatten the prominent areas of their back, activating their muscles on exhalation to train their body to remember the corrected position when they stop exercising.

Semi-Hanging Schroth Exercise

This is often used as a preparation exercise at the beginning of a treatment session. A set of wall bars (or equivalent) is necessary to perform this exercise effectively.

Watch our patient Nicole, who travelled from Ghana to the UK for scoliosis treatment, practise this exercise with her therapist:

 

3. Iliopsoas on a ball

This is a very patient-specific Schroth exercise that is only suitable for someone with a lumbar or thoracolumbar curve. It works by utilising the activation of the iliopsoas muscle to help de-rotate the affected portion of the patient's spine. This is one of the simpler Schroth method exercises, requiring only a gym ball and wall bars (or equivalent).

Iliopsoas Ball Exercise

Here at the clinic, patients often receive assistance from the therapists using myofascial release techniques to 'mobilise' the spine and help the patient to achieve a straight posture in standing.

Watch our patient Molly from Suffolk perform this exercise:

The Schroth component of our ScolioGold therapy course places huge emphasis on conscious correction of posture throughout daily life, not just during exercise therapy. Education is paramount - throughout your 4-week course, our therapists will help you to learn about scoliosis and your body to ensure that you can recognise an abnormal posture and correct it accordingly.

More Scoliosis Exercises >

 

What is the Rigo-Schroth method?

The Rigo-Schroth method is a modification of the Schroth method. Devised in the 1980s by a Spanish practitioner named Dr Manuel Rigo, it is based on much the same regime of stretches as the Schroth method itself; however, the Rigo-Schroth method is structured differently, with significantly more emphasis on the role of the therapist.

 

Combining Schroth method exercises with other treatment techniques

Back when we first opened our clinic, our treatment courses were entirely based on the Schroth method, but over the years, we noticed that some aspects of scoliosis were not addressed through use of the Schroth method alone. So, to ensure that all aspects of each patient's condition are fully treated, we've combined the Schroth and Rigo-Schroth methods with a number of other exercise-based / non-surgical treatment to help provide our patients with a fully comprehensive treatment package.

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This approach has yielded superb results: our treatment courses have proved capable of preventing progression, improving posture and cosmetic appearance, reducing pain, improving quality of life, and reducing the patient's Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees.

To enrol on one of our Schroth-based scoliosis treatment courses, contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

 

Further reading

What is Compensatory Scoliosis?

Compensatory scoliosis is slightly different from other types of scoliosis as the spinal curve seems to disappear when the patient is sat down. This is because compensatory scoliosis is usually caused by a pelvic tilt caused by the contracture of the hip, or because one of the patient's legs is shorter than the other. As there may be no structural abnormality in the spine itself, the apparent curve is significantly changed depending on the patient's position at any given moment.

The curve serves to maintain normal body alignment, which is why a patient with compensatory scoliosis will appear to straighten significantly on side bending. If left untreated, this will lead to the development of scoliosis over time - this is why you should see a medical professional if you think you may have this condition. The first course of treatment for a case of compensatory scoliosis often requires the patient to wear orthopaedic insoles (or similar), which correct the height difference and align the axis of the spine. The condition also has to be monitored to make sure that the spine isn't deteriorating over time.

To learn more about the other types of scoliosis, see our comprehensive list here.

How can we help?

If your spine's condition does deteriorate to the point where you require scoliosis treatment, we at Scoliosis SOS can help. We've combined a number of well-known non-surgical treatments (including the Schroth and FITS methods) to create a highly effective treatment programme called the ScolioGold method.

If you'd like to arrange a consultation with one of our specialists, please feel free to contact us today. We will work with you to determine the best treatment for your condition.

Hydrotherapy

Derived from the Greek words hudōr (water) and therapeia (healing), hydrotherapy (also known as aquatic therapy) is a method that is used to treat a variety of different bodily ailments. We recently began incorporating hydrotherapy into our ScolioGold method for scoliosis treatment, and today we'd like to take some time to tell you a little more about it.

If you suffer from back pain due to scoliosis - but you’re worried that your reduced flexibility and mobility might hinder you in an exercise-based treatment setting - hydrotherapy is a great solution. Being immersed in water provides support for your body and creates a feeling of well-being without the intensity of land-based exercise.

 

How does hydrotherapy work?

Hydrotherapy combines physical rehabilitation treatments with the natural benefits of water-based exercise. The result is a gentle but efficient scoliosis treatment method.

Water has five key properties that play a large part in the effectiveness of hydrotherapy treatment:

  • Buoyancy – The upward pressure in the water eases stress on muscles and joints, soothing the aches and pains that scoliosis can cause.

  • Temperature – Warm water is known for soothing and relaxing the body.

  • Viscosity – The 'thickness' of water prompts gentle resistance from the muscles.

  • Turbulence – When placed in moving water, the body naturally moves to maintain balance, exercising the muscles.

  • Hydrostatic Pressure – Hydrostatic pressure provides a natural relief for joint swelling.

 

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis?

The main benefit of hydrotherapy is that flexibility and mobility are no longer an issue. As mentioned above, the gentle pressure and buoyancy provided by water naturally soothe pain and allow the patient to exercise while at ease.

Pain is often dramatically reduced by hydrotherapy, and as a result of this, patients with limited mobility are able to achieve fantastic results through stretching in the water. These stretches strengthen the muscles in the back and can help improve the degree of the curvature. If patients choose, they can also combine hydrotherapy with land-based therapy on one of our ScolioGold courses.

Another benefit of hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis is that it offers more stability and protection from falls for those who struggle with balance. This is a great confidence boost for many patients.

There are many other benefits of using hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis, including:

  • Pain relief from muscle spasms
  • Ease of movement
  • Increased joint range and flexibility
  • Improved strength and endurance
  • Reduction of oedema (excess watery fluid in cavities or tissue in the body)
  • Improved circulation
  • Better cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased level of relaxation

 

Who can participate in hydrotherapy treatment?

Hydrotherapy is suitable for scoliosis sufferers of all ages. The healing and support provided make it an ideal method of treatment for those who lack confidence when it comes to more traditional forms of exercise. As mentioned above, stability is not an issue for elderly or less mobile patients, as the water allows them to exercise without fear of falling.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have had fantastic feedback from our hydrotherapy treatment sessions to date. We have found that it has offered hope to those patients who thought they would have to deal with their pain for the rest of their lives. Many of these patients did not think they would be able to improve their condition through exercise, but hydrotherapy treatment has provided them with that opportunity. 

If you think hydrotherapy treatment might be beneficial for you, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to book an initial consultation.