The Scoliosis SOS Clinic has now been open for over 10 years, and in that time we've treated a number of people who suffer from Klippel-Feil syndrome. Today, we'd like to look at this rare disorder in detail - read on to find out what Klippel-Feil syndrome is and how our physiotherapists can help those who have it.
 

What is Klippel-Feil syndrome?

Kilppel-Feil syndrome (KFS) is a rare congenital disorder that is thought to affect roughly 0.0025% of newborn babies. The human neck has 7 cervical vertebrae, but people who suffer from KFS are born with two or more of those cervical vertebrae fused together. This results in limited neck/head movement and - in most cases - a visible shortening of the neck.
 
Klippel-Feil syndrome
 
People with Klippel-Feil syndrome also commonly suffer from a variety of associated issues, such as heart defects, respiratory problems, and scoliosis.
 

How can we help KFS patients?

As previously mentioned, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have treated numerous KFS sufferers over the years, including Jack Gaffney, an 18-year-old from the Republic of Ireland. Three of Jack's cervical vertebrae were fused together, and he had also suffered from curvature of the spine since birth. Jack was told that he would need a spinal fusion operation, but he and his family were acutely conscious of the risks associated with surgery, and so they were desperate to find an alternative treatment option.
 
An internet search led the Gaffneys to our website, and they decided that - given what was at stake - it was worth travelling to England and spending 4 weeks in London while Jack attended a ScolioGold treatment course.
 
The results were astounding. Jack's condition improved to the point that it could no longer be classified as scoliosis, and our treatments helped his mobility to the point that he was able to start skateboarding again.
 
Before and after Klippel-Feil syndrome treatment
Jack Gaffney (18 years old), before and after his 4-week ScolioGold course.
 
Here's what Jack had to say at the end of his time with us:
 
"My life was such a whirlwind...every consultant I saw told me something different and I was terrified of surgery. I had no confidence and my self-esteem was badly affected. Now I can say, with all honesty, that I feel 100% better. My spine is improving every day."
 
Our exercise-based treatment courses can drastically reduce spinal curvature and boost KFS sufferers' mobility, self-confidence, and overall quality of life. If you'd like to find out more, contact us now to arrange a consultation for yourself or a loved one.

The first signs of scoliosis commonly appear during adolescence, although with that being said the condition can affect an individual at any point in their lifetime. Some people develop scoliosis as they approach old age, whereas others may notice the symptoms far earlier in life; there have even been cases of babies born with scoliosis.

Sadly, there isn't a true 'cure' for scoliosis at present. In around 80% of cases, it's not even clear what has caused the spine to curve in the first place - this is referred to as idiopathic scoliosis, and it is the condition's most common form by far. Some researchers in Japan are believed to have found the gene that kick-starts the "genetic chain reaction" that eventually leads to idiopathic scoliosis, but while this is undeniably a huge step forward, a lot more research is needed before we can use these findings to prevent scoliosis from developing.

But while curing scoliosis is currently not possible, there several different methods for treating scoliosis and helping those affected by the condition to enjoy a higher quality of life. One common method is to correct the curve via spinal fusion surgery, but this is a major operation and it may take up to a year for the patient to fully recover from the surgery. Like any surgical procedure, the spinal fusion operation also carries the risk of potentially serious complications, such as infection, blood clots and damage to the nerves.

With this in mind, it's easy to see why many scoliosis sufferers turn to exercise-based therapy in order to avoid undergoing surgery.  Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we deliver scoliosis treatment courses that are based around our own proven ScolioGold method. You may have heard of the Schroth method, and this programme forms a large part of our own methodology, but where some clinics solely utilise Schroth exercises, we complement them with a large range of other non-surgical spinal treatment techniques, resulting in a far more well-rounded treatment regime that our patients find exceptionally effective.

If you suffer from scoliosis, please contact Scoliosis SOS and book an initial consultation with one of our scoliosis consultants, who will be happy to recommend the best course of action for you.
Scheuermann's kyphosis is a condition that causes an excessive curvature of the spine, usually in the cervical, thoracic and sacral regions, resulting in a visible back hump. Hyperkyphosis, much like scoliosis, can be caused by a number of different factors. In many cases, the exact cause is not known, whereas in others it can be traced back to conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
 
One of the most common causes of hyperkyphosis in juvenile and adolescent patients is a disorder known as Scheuermann's disease, which is why it is known as Scheuermann's kyphosis. This is when the spinal vertebrae don't develop properly and assume a wedge shape, as shown here:
 
 
As you can see above, these wedge-shaped vertebrae end up giving the spine a pronounced hyperkyphotic curve. This, in turn, causes the back to take on a hunched/rounded appearance.

Scheuermann's Kyphosis Treatment Methods

When hyperkyphosis arises as a result of Scheuermann's disease, it can be treated via a number of different methods, many of which are also used to treat scoliosis. Back braces can help to correct Scheuermann's kyphotic spinal curvature, although in more severe cases, spinal fusion surgery may be recommended instead of/as well as a brace.
 
Quite often, however, neither a brace nor a surgical procedure is necessary. The Schroth method, a type of physiotherapy that forms the basis for our own ScolioGold treatment courses, is another very effective treatment for Scheuermann's kyphosis; the technique has been shown to reduce pain in Scheuermann's patients while also significantly decreasing the angle of their spinal curvature.
 
We have treated a number of Scheuermann's disease patients here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and our unique spinal-specific therapy courses help these people to combat their condition and greatly improve their quality of life. You can see the results of our physiotherapy courses on patients who have Scheuermann's kyphosis here
 
If you suffer from Scheuermann's kyphosis and are looking for treatment, please contact us today to arrange an initial consultation and find out whether the Scoliosis SOS Clinic could help you.
Type 1 Chiari Malformation

Despite the fact that there is no underlying cause for the development of scoliosis in 8 out of 10 cases, there are a number of medical conditions that can lead to a curvature of the spine.  We've discussed some of these conditions - including Marfan syndrome -  in the past, and today we'd like to talk about another: Chiari malformations.

What is a Chiari malformation?

A Chiari malfomation is a structural defect in the human brain that causes part of the cerebellum to sit below the foramen magnum. When the bony space at the lower rear of the skull is smaller than usual, the cerebellum and brain stem can be pushed downwards, affecting the function of this part of the brain. This can cause reduced muscle strength, balance problems, neck pain and dizziness, along with several other symptoms and medical issues.

How are Chiari malformations linked with scoliosis?

Spinal curvature is common among people with a type 1 Chiari malformation (CM), the most common form of the condition. In this form of CM, the lower part of the cerebellum extends into the foramen magnum without the brain stem, an opening that only the spinal cord passes through in normal circumstances. This form of CM is often left unnoticed until adolescence or adulthood, and is usually diagnosed during an examination for another condition. This means that you may already have identified your scoliosis without realising that CM is an underlying cause. 

Both a sideways (scoliosis) and forward (kyphosis) curvature of the spine can be caused by a type 1 Chiari malformation, and both of these conditions are often present in children due to the fact that their skeletons have not yet fully matured. As is the case with scoliosis itself, CMs are more commonly found in women than in men.

What treatment is available?

For sufferers of CM type 1, symptoms can usually be managed with medication. In more serious cases, skull and spinal surgery may be considered as an option to relieve pressure on the brain, or to correct a tethered spinal cord in children. To help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by spinal curvature, treatment options such as our ScoliGold method can provide lasting results without the need for surgical intervention. As with all of our patients, CM sufferers who attend a course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic will receive a range of therapies tailored to their exact needs, relieving the symptoms of their spinal curvature while keeping their underlying medical issues in mind at all times.

For more information on how we can help to treat the symptoms of CM, please feel free to contact Scoliosis SOS today.
People who suffer from Marfan syndrome experience problems with the connective tissues within their bodies; this affects the structure of their form and the support of their internal organs. In most cases, the sufferer will have inherited the condition from their mother or father, as the gene responsible for Marfan syndrome has a very high chance of being passed from parent to child.

Diagnosing this condition can be particularly difficult for medical professionals, as the symptoms often vary from person to person. While in many cases the symptoms are visible in childhood, the condition often remains unidentified until the patient's teenage years, the process of diagnosis being made even more difficult by the rarity of the condition. 

Due to its effect on the body's tissues, Marfan syndrome can often cause problems with the body's growth and development. One common side-effect of Marfan syndrome is scoliosis, as it can cause the spine to curve to the sides abnormally. Statistics have shown that more than 6 out of 10 Marfan syndrome sufferers will develop scoliosis, causing them to experience back pain, and even leading to breathing problems in severe cases.

What can Scoliosis SOS do to help?

As there is currently no cure for Marfan syndrome, it is important that the syndrome's symptoms are managed in the best way possible in order to provide relief from pain and to reduce the risk of further complications. Although surgery is sometimes suggested as a solution for the symptoms of scoliosis, this is a fairly drastic form of treatment that comes with many risks to the patient. It also comes with a long healing time, which is an added inconvenience, particularly for younger patients.

At Scoliosis SOS, we take a different approach to treatment, using a variety of non-surgical therapies to deliver long-lasting results. Combining specially-devised exercises with osteopathic principals and other methods of treatment, the ScolioGold programmes delivered at our clinic are able to provide substantial reductions in spinal curvature. They also allow our patients to continue their progress at home, allowing them to see continued progress and experience ongoing relief from pain.

If you're a Marfan sufferer who has trouble dealing with the symptoms of scoliosis, please don't hesitate to get in touch! You can find more details of our treatment courses here.