Scoliosis Improvement

Mia Aston from Bromley was diagnosed with scoliosis in March 2014. She sought medical advice and was prescribed a back brace by her local hospital to help prevent her spinal curve from progressing.

After some further research, however, Mia came across the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and decided to undertake a full 4-week treatment course to help correct and alleviate her scoliosis.

Mia found the course difficult at first, but soon became comfortable and grew accustomed to the exercises we were teaching her. Some time after the end of her 4-week course, Mia returned to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic for a refresher week, during which she sat down to let us know how she'd been getting on:

Mia explains that, with our help, her scoliosis improved from 24 degrees to 20 degrees. Subsequently, she was only required to wear her back brace at night - a great outcome!

During Mia's refresher week at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we recommended some changes to her programme of exercises to reflect her reduced Cobb angle measurement and the fact that the exercises have become 'more natural' for her, helping her with ongoing pain relief.

If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis and think you could benefit from a scoliosis improvement course here at the clinic, please get in touch today!

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.

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Darren Lui with Scoliosis SOS team

On Thursday 7th February 2019, we were privileged to welcome Mr Darren Lui into the Scoliosis SOS Clinic along with Kate Robertson, a physiotherapist who works alongside him in South West London. Mr Lui specialises in orthopaedics and has a particular interest in vertebral body tethering.

Mr Lui gave a very interesting presentation to our ScolioGold therapists and patient care co-ordinators about sagittal balance and the importance of assessing and treating each patient individually based on their presentation. He also discussed the ways in which he feels having an effective pre- and post-surgery physiotherapy structure in place could help to decrease scoliotic patients' pain and improve many patients' quality of life.

As a team, we discussed the significance of having a 'pretty x-ray' showing a straighter spine, and how this is often the sole goal of young girls undergoing spinal fusion surgery. Although this is the outcome for some patients, in a lot of cases this is far from a realistic outcome for the patient and the more important outcomes should be measured against patient flexibility, quality of life and pain reduction.

Mr Lui explained that if he is able to stabilise a curvature and prevent further progression, the procedure is still classed as a success. This initially shocked our team of ScolioGold therapists who had been so used to hearing about the significance of Cobb angle reduction within the orthopaedic world. In fact, many of our patients contact the clinic specifically to find out by how much they can expect to reduce their Cobb angle.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we have seen patients reduce their Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees through exercise. However, this is never something we guarantee, and patients are specifically advised that the aim of our treatment is to prevent further progression and improve quality of life.

Up until very recently, most orthopaedic surgeons have failed to acknowledge that scoliosis can cause a patient a significant amount of pain. However, times are now changing, and more orthopaedic consultants are identifying that imbalances around the spine due to scoliosis can cause pain in patients. It has also been recognised that surgery would not necessarily be able to decrease pain levels in a patient with scoliosis.

Mr Lui was very keen to see the work our ScolioGold therapists do with our patients during a 4-week treatment course. The aim of ScolioGold treatment is to rebalance the muscles surrounding the spine, allowing patients to stand in a symmetrical upright position, improving their cosmetic appearance, reducing pain, and preventing further progression.

Patients on the NHS are currently offered very little opportunity to learn specific scoliosis exercises. These exercises are proven to be successful, and not only in preventing progression - they have also been shown to improve a patient's quality of life significantly.

Pre- and post-surgery physiotherapy is almost non-existent on the NHS, but allowing patients to take part in such activity could both prevent the need for surgery and improve the outcome for patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

We hope to work closely with Mr Lui over the next few months to make the dream of being able to offer ScolioGold treatment to more patients throughout the UK a reality.

For more information on the treatment we offer, please contact us online or call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428.

Ugne is a 24-year-old woman who recently completed a 4-week treatment course at Scoliosis SOS. She is originally from Lithuania, but currently lives in London. This is her scoliosis story.

Scoliosis Treatment - Ugne from Lithuania

Ugne was about 13 years old when a family friend noticed that her spine was uneven. Her parents took her to a chiropractor, and before long, she had been diagnosed with scoliosis.

Ugne went for an X-ray scan at the age of 14, and following this, she attended numerous 15-minute sessions where her back was cracked and she was taught mobility exercises. She noticed that this helped with the pain she was experiencing, but when she started university, she stopped attending these appointments.

Some time later, Ugne decided to pursue scoliosis treatment because she was unhappy with the way her curved spine was making her look. She came across Scoliosis SOS while she was researching different treatments and exercises online.

Ugne's Scoliosis SOS Experience

Ugne came for a consultation with one of our consultants, Ben. This consultation session was very thorough, and she felt confident in enrolling on a treatment course after seeing other patients' results.

Ugne felt that our approach to treatment is unique because it is not a 'one size fits all' method - instead, each person's treatment programme is tailored to their condition and the results they want to achieve. She was also delighted that the treatment was carried out in group sessions so that there was always somebody around to answer her questions and offer moral support where needed.

Ugne came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic because she wanted to improve her physical appearance, and she feels that her treatment course has definitely helped with this. She has taken away a heightened awareness of her posture that will continue to improve her condition in the future. Ugne highlights that anyone who is on the fence about coming to us for treatment should take the positive reviews and results of others on board as an indication of what to expect.

To see Ugne talking about her experience at Scoliosis SOS, watch the video below.

If you'd like to find out more about the treatment courses we provide here at Scoliosis SOS, or if you'd like to book a consultation with us, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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When treating a child or teen with a curvature of the spine, doctors will often recommend bracing as a way of halting the curve's progression.

Back braces come in a variety of forms, each designed to prevent/minimise curvature development while the patient grows. Here, we look at two of the most well-known brace types: the Milwaukee brace and the Boston brace.

Milwaukee brace for scoliosis

Milwaukee brace

The Milwaukee brace may be prescribed to individuals who possess high thoracic (upper back) curves. It has an unusual design that is intended to manipulate the patient's full upper body: the brace extends from the pelvis all the way up to the neck, and it's manufactured with a contoured plastic pelvic girdle and neck ring, connected by a metal bar in both the front and back of the brace.

These metal bars play an important role, helping the torso extend while the neck ring keeps the head in a central position over the pelvis. Pressure pads are strategically attached to the metal bars with straps in accordance with the shape of the patient's spinal curvature.

The Milwuakee brace (first developed in 1945 by Dr Albert Schmidt and Dr Walter Blount of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Milwaukee's Children's Hospital) is viewed by many as the first modern brace designed for the treatment of scoliosis. It has undergone a number of tweaks over the years, although the current design has been in use since 1975.

The Milwaukee brace is far less common now that form-fitting plastic braces are available. However, it is still prescribed for some scoliosis patients with curves located very high in the spine.

Boston brace for scoliosis

Boston brace

The Boston brace was first developed in the early 1970s by Mr William Miller and Dr John Hall of The Boston Children's Hospital. It is a a type of thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO), and it's one of the most commonly-used brace options when it comes to treating scoliosis.

TLSO braces are commonly referred to as 'underarm' or 'low-profile' braces. The Boston brace is much smaller and far less bulky than the Milwaukee brace, with plastic components custom-made to fit the patient's body exactly. The Boston brace covers most of the torso; at the front, it starts below the breast and extends all the way to the beginning of the pelvic area, while at the back, it starts below the shoulder blades all the way down to the tail bone of the spine.

This type of brace works by applying three-point pressure to the curve pattern in order to prevent further progression. This forces the lumbar areas to 'flex', pushing in the abdomen and flattening the posterior lumbar curve.

ScolioGold therapy and other treatments

If you've been diagnosed with scoliosis (or another curvature of the spine) and wear a back brace to help halt the progression of your curve, it is a good idea to undergo specialised physiotherapy as well. The sole purpose of a back brace is to stop the curve in your spine worsening during periods of growth; it does very little to assist in the building of the muscles needed for stability once the brace has been removed. To learn more about the specialised treatment courses for brace wearers that we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please click here.

In some cases, the treatment courses that we deliver can eliminate the need to wear a brace altogether! Please use the links below to find out more and book your Scoliosis SOS consultation.

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