Previously on the Scoliosis SOS blog, we have talked about some of the exercises that scoliosis sufferers can perform at home in order to combat their condition. But while these exercises work well on a sideways spinal curve, they may not be so effective if you suffer from hyperkyphosis - a forward curve of the upper (thoracic) spine.

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic treat each patient using a combination of non-surgical spinal techniques to ensure that all aspects of their condition are fully treated, without the use of a brace or spinal fusion surgery. To help you overcome your hyperkyphosis, we're going to run through a few exercises you can do at home that will help relieve some of your symptoms.

Please note that these stretches should not be used as a substitute for a full treatment course delivered by a chartered physiotherapist.

Superman Stretch

Superman Stretch

  1. Lie on your stomach and extend your hands in front of your head.
  2. Keeping your head in a neutral position, look towards the floor, and lift your legs and arms up towards the ceiling.
  3. Reach away from your body with your hands and feet.
  4. Hold this position for 3 seconds, and repeat 10 times.

 

Happy Cat Sad Cat Stretch

Happy Cat, Sad Cat Stretch

The goal of this stretch is to increase the mobility of your spine.

  1. On all fours, place your knees hip-width apart, with your hands under your shoulders. Keep your spine in a neutral position.
  2. Round your back, tuck your bottom under, and drop your head between your arms.
  3. Holding this position, inhale and try to curve your back even further to increase the stretch.
  4. Then, during exhalation, arch your back, stick your bottom out, and look up towards the ceiling.
  5. Repeat this cycle 10 times, using your breathing to help you slowly transition between the two positions.

 

Head Retraction Stretch

Head Retraction Stretch 

The goal of this exercise is to stretch and exercise weakened neck muscles.

  1. Lie down on the floor, and pull your chin in as if you were trying to make a double chin.
  2. Hold this for 15 seconds, and repeat five to ten times.

 

Chin Retraction Stretch

Chin Retraction Stretch

This exercise stretches your deep neck extensors.

  1. Stand up as straight as you can - you can do this against a wall if it helps. 
  2. Tuck your chin slightly, and bring your head back directly over your shoulders. 
  3. Bring own, and hold this position for 30 seconds - take a break if you begin to feel pain.

If you suffer from hyperkyphosis, please do not be afraid to contact us - we'd be overjoyed to help you overcome your condition with our non-surgical treatment regime.

Disclaimer: The above information should not be treated as medical advice and the scoliosis exercises described may not be suitable or beneficial for everyone. You should not begin any exercise routine without consulting a qualified health practitioner, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or if you have any chronic or recurring conditions. Any application of scoliosis exercises suggested is at the reader's sole discretion and risk. Scoliosis SOS accepts no responsibility or liability for any loss or injuries caused directly or indirectly through the performing of any exercises described. If you feel any discomfort or pain during exercise, stop immediately. Always consult your own GP if you are in any way concerned about your health or anything associated with it.

Before and After Scoliosis Treatment

Scoliosis is defined as any sideways spinal curvature that measures 10 degrees or more (see Cobb angle). That being said, any curve measuring less than around 25 degrees is considered quite mild and generally less likely to require immediate medical attention. For context, spinal fusion surgery is usually recommended only in cases where the curve measures at least 40-50 degrees.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that 15 degree scoliosis doesn't need to be treated at all. For one thing, some symptoms of scoliosis can occur no matter how slight your spinal curvature may be. Many people with so-called 'mild' scoliosis still experience:

  • Back pain
  • Stiffness
  • Noticeably reduced mobility/flexibility

If these symptoms persist, it may be necessary to treat them in order to minimise their impact on the patient's day-to-day life. Pain medication can help, and physical therapy can improve flexibility/mobility while also combating the source of any pain or stiffness.

15 degree scoliosis won't necessarily stay that way!

Another thing to consider is that scoliosis often progresses (i.e. gets worse) as time goes by. A 15-degree curve may gradually grow into a 20-degree curve, then 25, and so on until eventually the patient has to go in for surgery.

Scoliosis Intervention Stages

For this reason, preventative treatments are sometimes required in order to stop that progression from happening. Young scoliosis patients often wear a back brace until the body has finished growing to stop the condition progressing. And while surgery is not recommended in milder cases of scoliosis, treatments like our own ScolioGold programme can reduce the Cobb angle, sometimes past the 10-degree threshold to the point where the patient's condition is no longer classified as scoliosis at all. Click here for examples of this.

Would you like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses? Contact Scoliosis SOS now to arrange an initial consultation.

"Traditionally, scoliosis has been considered to be a disease affecting bone, cartilage, or neuromuscular activities. We were surprised to find an immune response associated with idiopathic scoliosis."

Idiopathic scoliosis is a condition that affects people all over the world, yet the underlying cause is still unknown. Researchers have made great progress in recent years, however - we've explained previously on this blog that zebrafish can be very useful when researching scoliosis and other congenital defects that occur in humans, and scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children have been examining zebrafish to try to identify factors that contribute to the onset of idiopathic scoliosis.

While looking for abnormal genes or genetic pathways that could be responsible for idiopathic scoliosis, the researchers instead noticed that immune cells liked to inflammatory conditions had accumulated around the area where the spinal curvature occurred. Using genetic tools, they found that stimulating pro-inflammatory signals in the spines of zebrafish could induce idiopathic scoliosis.

Interestingly, the team were also able to demonstrate that blocking these signals using NAC (an over-the-counter supplement that has anti-inflammatory properties) reduced the severity of scoliosis in the zebrafish. If these findings can be applied successfully to humans, then these Toronto-based scientists may have discovered a treatment that is less invasive than some of the treatments currently available to people with scoliosis.

Scoliosis Research Results

Image source: advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/12/eaav1781

The research team are now planning to explore the genetic causes of idiopathic scoliosis in human patients and attempt to determine whether inflammatory signals like those found in the zebrafish can be identified and proven to accelerate the onset or progression of spinal curvature.

Read the Research Article >   How We Treat Scoliosis >

A curvature of the spine (such as scoliosis or hyperkyphosis) can affect anyone, regardless of their age, sex or general fitness. The effect that these conditions have on the patient's day-to-day life can vary massively between one case and the next, so there isn't one single treatment that's universally effective.

The best form of treatment for any given patient depends on how severe their spinal curve is, along with some other variables. If the angle of the curve progresses past the threshold of 40-50 degrees, surgery is often recommended; however, this certainly isn't the only method used to treat scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine.

Here is an overview of the main treatment options that are available for individuals with curved spines:

 

Bracing

If the patient is a child or teenager, a brace may be used to prevent the spinal curvature from progressing as the body grows. Braces commonly have to be worn for 23 hours a day, and can only be taken off to bathe/shower. The brace is worn until the patient has finished growing. Bracing does not treat the spinal curve as such; it is simply used to prevent the patient's condition from getting any worse. 

Back braces are usually made from rigid plastic, so they aren't very flexible (although some more comfortable designs have been introduced in recent years).

Further reading: What's it like wearing a brace?

 

Surgery

If the patient's spinal curve is severe enough, spinal fusion surgery is often recommended. This procedure is performed under general anaesthetic, and it involves anchoring a series of rods to the patient's spine using tiny hooks and screws. These rods reduce the angle of patient's spinal curve as well as serving as a splint to keep it in place. A bone graft is then applied to the spine and eventually fuses to it, preventing the spinal curve from progressing any further. The rods are only a temporary measure, holding the spine together until the fusion process has finished; however, these rods are not usually removed, as to do so would require another large, potentially risky surgical procedure. 

Spinal fusion surgery is usually followed by a lengthy recovery period, during which some pain, discomfort and a loss of mobility are to be expected.

Further reading: What to expect from surgery

 

Physical Therapy

Many people look to physical therapy as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery, and there is increasing evidence that exercise-based programmes can be very effective for treating curvatures of the spine. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we use our own ScolioGold therapy programme to help patients who are seeking an effective, low-risk treatment method for their spinal condition. 

The ScolioGold method is a combination of non-surgical spinal techniques from around the world, specifically chosen to ensure that all aspects of each patient's condition are properly addressed. By using our own unique combination of methods, we're able to offer an unrivalled treatment success that is not available anywhere else.

To book an initial consultation, or to find out more about our treatment methods, please get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS Clinic today!

More Information: Curvatures of the Spine >

S-Curve vs C-Curve Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine rotates and curves to an abnormal degree. A spine afflicted by scoliosis usually looks like a letter 'C' (or a reverse letter 'C' depending on the direction of the curve), but some patients have two curves, resulting in an S-shaped spine.

Treatment methods sometimes differ slightly for S curves versus C curves.

What is C-Curve Scoliosis?

C-curve scoliosis is when the curvature bends in one direction, resulting in a C-shaped spinal curve. This type of scoliosis can manifest itself in a number of different ways:

  • Lumbar Curve
    This type of curvature occurs in the lower (lumbar) back.

  • Thoracolumbar Curve
    This type of C curve begins in the upper back and ends in the lower back.

  • Thoracic Curve
    This type of C-curve scoliosis bend occurs in the upper (thoracic) back.

Treating C-Curve Scoliosis

C-curve scoliosis, where the spine bends in just one direction, is more common than S-curve scoliosis. C-curve scoliosis can be treated through a variety of different methods, including:

  • Bracing
    Bracing is a commonly-used scoliosis treatment method in young patients who are still growing. This method can halt the progression of the curvature and stabilise it until further action can be taken once the patient reaches adulthood. Soft and hard braces can be used to treat C-curve scoliosis.

  • Physiotherapy
    Physiotherapy is a popular C-curve scoliosis treatment method, especially when offered as an alternative to surgery (see below). Using exercise-based techniques like the Schroth method, physical therapists can help to reduce spinal curvature while boosting the patient's overall quality of life.

  • Surgery
    Spinal fusion surgery is often used to address severe curvatures. If the curvature is so severe that it risks causing respiratory and cardiovascular issues, surgery may be suggested by a medical professional.

What is S-Curve Scoliosis?

S-curve scoliosis is when the spine contains two curves, one in the upper and one in the lower back. When these curves go in opposite directions, they make the spine look similar to a letter 'S'. This type of scoliosis is less common than C-curve scoliosis, but it isn't necessarily accompanied by more severe symptoms.

An S curve is also known as a double major curve as it involves both a thoracic (upper back) curve and a lumbar (lower back) curve. As the curves tend to balance one another out at times, this type of scoliosis can often be harder to spot at first.

Treating S-Curve Scoliosis

As with C-curve scoliosis, S-curve scoliosis can be treated in a variety of ways:

  • Bracing
    Bracing can also be used for S-curve scoliosis to help halt the progression of the curvature. However, different types of braces may be needed to treat a severe S-shaped curve. A specialist brace such as the Gensingen brace may be needed, as these are individually made for each patient.

  • Surgery

    In the most severe cases, surgery may be recommended to help halt and rectify the spinal curvature(s). However, this is typically only recommended when the patient's scoliosis is threatening to cause other health issues.

  • Physiotherapy
    Physiotherapy can also be used to treat S-curve scoliosis through a variety of exercises, stretches, and massages. This method is preferred amongst many patients, especially those suffering from a mild to moderate spinal curvature. Physiotherapy is a great method for improving the patient's curvature(s) without the need for an operation and long recovery times. 

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have been treating patients with C- and S-curve scoliosis for over 12 years. Our 4-week long ScolioGold course provides a tailored treatment regime to help improve the degree of your curvature. Through a series of exercises, stretches and massages, we are able to help improve the degree of C- and S-shaped scoliosis and improve your quality of life. Click here to see the fantastic results we're capable of achieving.

To book an initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS, please get in touch today.