Scoliosis sufferers in the Republic of Ireland have faced significant difficulties in recent years. While treatment is freely available through the Health Service Executive (HSE), many scoliosis patients have been forced to wait months or even years for crucial procedures such as spinal fusion surgery. This situation has been dubbed 'unacceptable' by figures within the Irish government, and some people with curved spines have found themselves struggling with pain, depression and reduced mobility as a result of the long wait times.

However, the HSE recently announced that overall health funding would increase by more than €600 million in 2018, with €9 million earmarked specifically for "the expansion of paediatric/adolescent orthopaedic services, including scoliosis". Minister for Health Simon Harris (pictured below) welcomed the increased investment, adding that 2018 would be "the fourth year in a row where significant additional resources have been allocated" to Ireland's health service.

Minister for Health Simon Harris

Simon Harris, Ireland's Minister for Health (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

HSE director general Tony O'Brien had a more cautious response to the news, warning (according to The Irish Times) that the HSE still faces "a very significant financial challenge in 2018" due to the increasing cost of delivering treatment and other services.

Scoliosis treatment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic

We've treated countless patients from other countries here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and perhaps as a result of the aforementioned long waiting lists, a significant number of those patients have come to us from the Republic of Ireland.

We provide specialist non-surgical treatment for scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine. Our unique ScolioGold treatment programme incorporates a wide variety of effective exercise-based techniques from all over the world, and has proven extremely effective at reducing curve angle, improving mobility and muscle balance, and boosting overall quality of life.

Molly Garvey is one scoliosis patient who came from Ireland to our clinic in England - watch the video below to hear her story.

If you'd like to arrange a consultation with the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please click here to get in touch.

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves sideways. Everyone's spine is at least a little curved – nobody has a perfectly straight backbone – but if the angle of the curve measures 10 degrees or more, the patient is said to have scoliosis.

Scoliosis affects roughly 3% of the population, and it can contribute to a number of health issues, including:

  • Back pain
  • Muscle imbalance
  • Visible prominences
  • Compromised breathing

The condition usually develops during adolescence, and the majority of scoliosis sufferers are female. However, scoliosis can occur at any time of life for a wide variety of different reasons.

To learn more about scoliosis, watch our video:

 

Causes of Scoliosis

In approximately 80% of cases, scoliosis is idiopathic, meaning that it has no known cause. Idiopathic scoliosis usually develops when the patient is between 10 and 15 years old, roughly coinciding with the onset of puberty. It is thought that this form of scoliosis occurs due to genetic factors, although research into the exact cause of idiopathic scoliosis is still ongoing.

Scoliosis can also arise as a result of underlying medical conditions such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and Marfan syndrome. Sometimes, a baby will be born with scoliosis because of the way their spine developed in the womb; conversely, some types of scoliosis don't develop until old age.

Learn more about the causes of scoliosis >

 

Scoliosis Curved Spine

 

Symptoms of Scoliosis

When diagnosing a patient with suspected scoliosis, a medical professional will usually look for the following symptoms:

  • Leaning to one side
  • Shoulders not the same height
  • One shoulder blade more prominent than the other
  • Uneven hips, waist, legs and/or rib cage

While curvature of the spine often results in back pain, it is important to remember that back pain alone is not necessarily an indicator of spinal curvature – there are all sorts of things besides scoliosis that might be making your back hurt!

Book a consultation at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic >

 

ScolioGold Treatment for Scoliosis

 

How is Scoliosis Treated?

The recommended treatment for scoliosis varies depending on a number of different factors, including:

  • The patient's age
  • The severity of their spinal curve
  • The location of the curve
  • How quickly the curve is progressing (getting worse)
  • Whether or not the patient is still growing

Common scoliosis treatment methods include bracing, where the patient wears a rigid plastic shell to prevent the curve progressing further, and spinal fusion, a surgical procedure that uses metal rods to fix the spine in place. Surgery is usually only recommended if the patient's curve has progressed to an angle of 40 degrees or more.

There is another option, however. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide non-surgical treatment courses for scoliosis sufferers, using specialised physiotherapy techniques to combat the effects of this condition. The Schroth method, which forms the basis of our treatment programme, has proven effective in reducing the angle of spinal curves, but this is just one of the techniques that we use to achieve the best possible results for our patients.

Download PDF: An Introduction to Scoliosis

 

The ScolioGold Method

We at Scoliosis SOS are proud of our unsurpassed track record of consistently excellent results with no side effects or invasive, risky procedures. Our ScolioGold method comprises a variety of non-surgical spinal treatments from around the world. Using these methods, our therapists are able to help scoliosis patients to overcome their symptoms without the need for surgery.

Our scoliosis treatment programmes are tailored to the unique needs of the patient. The ScolioGold method is designed to help the patient adopt a more central, balanced posture while also reducing pain/stiffness and reversing the curve's progression. This treatment regime also enables patients to learn a specific, individualised exercise programme which can be performed on a daily basis at home to maintain and further their spinal correction.

Upcoming ScolioGold Course Dates

All of our patients, regardless of their age or type of spinal deformity, have noticed a dramatic improvement in their overall fitness, wellbeing and appearance. Patients and their families often start to notice the physical and emotional improvement only a few days into the course.

If you suffer from scoliosis (or another curvature of the spine, such as hyperkyphosis), please get in touch to learn more about Scoliosis SOS and what we can do to help you.

 

Other Conditions We Treat:

  • Hyperkyphosis (an excessive outward curvature in the upper spine)
  • Hyperlordosis (an excessive inward curvature in the lower spine)

Pilates is a system of exercises devised by a German physical trainer named Joseph Pilates. It has become incredibly popular in the Western world, with countless Pilates classes available throughout the UK.

But is Pilates beneficial for scoliosis sufferers? It certainly can be - there is evidence that Pilates can help to improve balance and muscle conditioning, and some scoliosis patients also find that Pilates helps to relieve tension, improve posture and increase joint mobility.

This method of exercising is usually very safe, and while it's no substitute for an intensive ScolioGold treatment course, you may find that Pilates goes some way towards helping you cope with your spinal curvature. Today we will be looking at some helpful Pilates techniques for scoliosis sufferers and how you can perform them at home.

Pilates for Scoliosis - Seated Pelvic Tilt

Seated Pelvic Tilt on a Stability Ball

To perform this exercise:

  • Sit up straight on a stability ball with your feet flat on the floor and hold a support in front of you.

  • Slowly tuck your tailbone under, curving your pelvis beneath you. You should feel the ball roll forward slightly.

  • Release, then start again.

 

Pilates for Scoliosis - Side Bend

Side Bend

The side bend exercise focuses on the upper half of your back. Here's how to do it:

  • Raise one hand up over your head, towards the ceiling, then bend your knees.

  • Once you're in a bending position, take your other hand and rest it on the side of your hip.

  • Lengthen your body to one side, rest, and then bend to the other side. Repeat.

 

Pilates for Scoliosis - Neutral Pelvis

Core Activation

This exercise is very gentle and can be conducted by patients of all ages. Lie flat on your back on a soft mat to begin with, then follows these steps:

  • With your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (hip-width apart), find your 'neutral pelvis' as shown in the photos above. First, move your lower back as far as you can away from the mat...

  • ...and then press it as far as you can towards the mat. The midpoint between these two positions is your 'neutral pelvis'.
  • To engage your core, place your finger tips on the inside of your hip bone. Try to tighten your stomach muscles in towards the spine - your tummy should move away from your fingers.

  • Hold for six seconds, and then repeat.

Pilates for Scoliosis - Core Activation

These are just a few gentle Pilates exercises that can be completed every morning. Regularly completing this routine can help relieve tension and other symptoms of scoliosis, but if you're looking for a more specialised exercise routine to prevent long-term progression of your condition, we can provide this here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.

Contact us today for details, or click here to learn more about our ScolioGold treatment method.

Scoliosis leg length

It is fairly common for a person with scoliosis to also suffer from uneven legs and/or flat feet. Indeed, one of the key symptoms to look out for when attempting to spot a case of scoliosis is whether the patient has uneven hips and/or legs.

There are two different types of limb length discrepancy (LLD), which are as follows:

  • Functional Leg Length Discrepancy - Functional LLD is caused by scoliosis. A curved spine may cause the pelvis to become uneven, making one leg appear to be longer than the other (even though both legs are actually the same length).

  • Anatomical Leg Length Discrepancy - This is when the structural length of the two legs is actually different (i.e. there is a genuine length difference between one leg and the other).

Anatomical limb length discrepancy can actually lead to scoliosis, since the body tries to compensate for the difference in leg length. This means that scoliosis can both cause and be caused by a difference in leg length.

Luckily, there are some ways to address leg length discrepancy without resorting to corrective surgery.

Treating a scoliosis-related leg length discrepancy

One way to reduce LLD is by using orthotics and/or insoles that are designed to compensate for the difference in leg length. These insoles help to slow down the progression of the spinal curve and relieve some of the discomfort that scoliosis can cause. To learn more about how orthotics and insoles can help with scoliosis-related leg length discrepancies, read our blog on the subject here.

There's also the option to undergo a specialised physical therapy course such as those delivered here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. Using our own ScolioGold method (a combination of proven non-surgical treatment techniques), we work with each individual patient to determine the best way to improve their scoliosis and leg length discrepancies (if present). After an initial consultation, a specialist will recommend the best course of treatment for your case.

The ScolioGold treatment method has been extremely effective with our patients - see some of the results here. Our treatment programme has helped to reduce pain, improve posture and boost confidence while also reducing the Cobb angle (spinal curve) of our patients.

If you are hoping that we can help you with your scoliosis leg length discrepancies, please get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team today.

Cervicothoracic Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine is curved sideways. There are many different types of scoliosis; it can occur for a wide variety of reasons and affect different parts of the spine.

One of the more unusual forms of scoliosis is cervicothoracic scoliosis, where the curve occurs in the vicinity of the patient's neck and upper back. Cervicothoracic scoliosis is often present as a part of a larger curve of the spine, but scoliosis has been known to occur in the neck alone (see cervical scoliosis).

Cervicothoracic scoliosis can cause more pain and discomfort than other forms of the condition. As the curve spans both the neck and the upper spine, it presents an increased risk of:

  • Neck injury
  • Nerve roots getting trapped between vertebrae
  • Weight imbalance (where one side of your neck is carrying more weight than the other)

As it is one of the rarer forms of scoliosis, research on cervicothoracic scoliosis is still relatively thin on the ground. It's understood that the curvature of the spine can form with no clear cause (idiopathic scoliosis) at any time between infancy and adolescence; in adult cases, it appears that cervicothoracic scoliosis is more commonly caused by spinal injuries or the deterioration of the spine over time.

Other medical conditions such as Klippel-Feil syndrome have also been known to lead to cervicothoracic scoliosis.

Treating Cervicothoracic Scoliosis

There are several treatment methods that have proven very effective in relieving the pain caused by this particular type of scoliosis. The right course of treatment for a case of scoliosis is dependent on the patient's presentation; particularly their age and the cause and severity of the curvature. Typically recommended treatments include:

  • Physical Therapy - Exercise-based treatment programmes can help to strengthen the neck muscles. This often helps with neck discomfort and allows for freer movement.

  • Pain Management - In addition to over-the-counter pain medications such as paracetamol, methods such as epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks and radiofrequency nerve ablation can help to combat the pain that can arise from cervicothoracic scoliosis.

  • Bracing - A brace may be used in early cases of cervicothoracic scoliosis to stop the curvature from progressing until the patient is able to undergo surgery or other more intensive treatments.

Our Treatment Courses

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have developed an effective scoliosis treatment regime for those who do not wish to undergo surgery. Our ScolioGold method has helped countless scoliosis sufferers to overcome the condition and achieve a better quality of life.

If you are suffering from any form of scoliosis, please get in touch with Scoliosis SOS to find out how we can help you with your condition. Contact us today to set up an initial consultation.