Boys and girls running towards ball

My Child Has Scoliosis. Now What?

ke many gawky, flourishing teens, 13-year-old Martha Hunt felt uncertain about her body. As an determined model, too, she was quite vicious of what she saw as flaws – one shoulder blade jutting out, one side of her waist dipping in serve than a other. “At that age, we only wish to feel normal,” says Hunt, now a 26-year-old Victoria’s Secret model.

But Hunt was anything but. She sealed a displaying agreement in center propagandize and by high propagandize was roving frequently from North Carolina to New York City for casting calls. All a while, her physique became increasingly off-kilter, ensuing in back pain and deeper insecurities.

“Clients were indicating it out to my organisation during print shoots,” Hunt says. “I remember feeling like we had my possess tip plea detached from other teens.”

That plea was youth idiopathic scoliosis, a condition that causes a spine to form like a “C” or an “S” shape instead of a true line. In Hunt’s and some other cases, a spinal skeleton turn disfigured too. The condition affects adult to 5 percent of a race and is some-more prevalent and expected to worsen over time among girls, according to a 2013 study in a Journal of Children’s Orthopaedics.

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After high school, Martha Hunt underwent medicine to provide her scoliosis. Now a Victoria’s Secret model, she stays committed about stretching and strengthening her core to cope with pain.

While adults and infants can have scoliosis, it customarily manifests during puberty. “If you’re not growing, your bend isn’t growing, typically,” says Dr. Lori Karol, a highbrow in a University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery who studies and treats a condition.

Doctors don’t know what causes this form of scoliosis (hence a tenure “idiopathic”), though they do know what doesn’t: slouching, wearing a complicated backpack, playing sports and other behavioral factors, Karol says. Rather, it seems to be partially genetic.

If scoliosis isn’t treated or monitored via a child’s expansion spurt, it can wear and lead to behind pain and respiratory problems. “If we consider about it, your spine is related to your ribs and your ribs strengthen your lungs,” Karol explains.

Fortunately, a condition customarily doesn’t become that serious. “You hear ‘scoliosis,’ and a evident thing we do is panic, and really, it’s sincerely common,” Karol says. “And amiable to assuage curves have unequivocally small impact on a teenager’s life.”

Diagnosing Scoliosis

While many states used to need schools to shade students for scoliosis, that altered in 2004 when a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force endorsed opposite unchanging screenings, final that there wasn’t adequate good evidence that such screenings helped detect a condition early. The charge force also resolved that cases critical adequate to need treatment were expected to be rescued though screenings, and that mild cases found during routine screenings could lead to nonessential alloy visits and prop use.

However, the Scoliosis Research Society thinks the group’s recommendation was “a bad move,” given it’s formidable to control the form of high-quality investigate – namely through randomized tranquil trials – a charge force values, says Dr. David Polly Jr., a organization’s president and a highbrow of orthopaedic medicine during a University of Minnesota Medical School. Plus, a screening is low-risk and low-cost, according to a position statement from 4 medical organizations.

Since a charge force’s recommendation, one vital study, published in 2013 in a New England Journal of Medicine, has shown that braces can be effective in preventing a need for surgery. “Now there’s a outrageous pierce stirring … to get a United States Preventive Services Task Force to recur their recommendations on screening for scoliosis, and there’s a large pierce stirring to get primary specialties to make certain they know when to inspect for scoliosis,” says investigate author Dr. Stuart L. Weinstein, chair and highbrow of orthopaedic medicine and pediatrics during a University of Iowa.

In a meantime, relatives can keep their eyes out for a condition during their children’s expansion spurts by looking during their ribs while they reach toward their toes. “If one side is aloft than a other, that’s what we sight people to demeanour for to say, ‘Hmm, this ought to be checked out,’” says Polly, who recommends acid a Scoliosis Research Society’s database to find a internal alloy who is competent to diagnose and provide a condition.

Choosing a Treatment

The diagnosis that’s best for your child depends on a astringency of a curve, a child’s lifestyle, theatre of expansion and other considerations. “Each child is a small different,” Karol says. Here’s what to know about some of a options before relocating forward:

Watch and wait. “There are many children who don’t need anything some-more than observation,” Karol says. For example, if a 13-year-old lady seems to have stopped growing, has had her periods for a few years and has a amiable curve, it’s doubtful a condition will get worse or extent her life in a poignant way. “The children aren’t fragile,” says Karol, who tells relatives that kids with scoliosis can still play sports, wear backpacks and differently be kids. “The spines have curves, though a skeleton themselves are strong.”

But being too pacifist can means problems. The initial dilettante Hunt visited, for example, didn’t suggest a brace. “There was no indicate in suggesting a prop since there was no approach to know it could help, and it would be irritating to wear each day,” she remembers him revelation her. But 3 years later, Hunt wound adult in medicine since a condition had progressed so severely. ”Be wakeful of all a diagnosis options and how most they can urge your peculiarity of living,” she suggests.

Brace. For some-more assuage curves, a prop is a standard, noninvasive, mostly effective, option. “It doesn’t work for everybody though … a some-more they wear it, a improved it works,” Polly says. Weinstein’s study, for example, showed that kids had to wear a prop for during slightest 13 hours a day to be effective. Doctors can assistance urge correspondence by monitoring kids’ use with a sensor in their prop and giving them feedback about their habits, according to a study published this year and led by Karol.

But braces have their downsides, too. “It’s not just, ‘Take two [pills] and call me in a morning,’” Weinstein says. “It’s a several-year process.” They can also be a amicable and psychological burden, says Leah Stoltz, a 23-year-old promotion veteran in New York City who wore a prop that looked like “a large cosmetic corset” religiously for dual and a half years before undergoing surgery during age 13. “If someone bumped into me, we said, ‘Please don’t tell anyone – please, please, please.’ we was unequivocally ashamed of it,” says Stolz, who went on to found Curvy Girls, an general counterpart support organisation for girls with scoliosis. “One of a best treatments in scoliosis is carrying support to give we tips along a way,” she says.

Surgery.  Spinal alloy medicine is typically a last resort, though an effective choice for serious curves. The procession involves rods, screws or other collection to straighten a spine, that is afterwards lonesome with small pieces of bone (from a cadaver, the studious or a combination) that compound a spine together into a some-more honest position. While it’s a vital surgery, “we have unequivocally good information that we get good bend correction, we have …  relatively low snarl rates and that the alloy works to stop bend progression,” says Polly, observant that success depends in part on where on a spine a medicine is conducted.

For Stoltz, a medicine corrected her curves and authorised her to get behind to ballet after 9 months. Hunt was on a Paris runway within a few months, nonetheless she was still in pain from a surgery. “It was not fun walking in sky-high heels,” she admits. On a upside, she became 2 inches taller. “My scoliosis prevents me from using and doing behind flips, though other than that, we can do roughly anything,” she says, observant that core- and back-strengthening exercises continue to be critical ways to cope with pain.

Exercise therapy. Stoltz wishes a Schroth method – an rising form of nonsurgical diagnosis grown by a earthy therapist who treats scoliosis that involves stretching, strengthening and respirating techniques – had been around when she was diagnosed. According to patients she meets by her nonprofit, “girls feel some-more empowered, like they have some-more control over their bodies, that we really did not feel when we was diagnosed,” Stoltz says. While some formula are promising, exercise-based treatments are still gaining traction in a medical community, Polly cautions. “I don’t consider there’s any mistreat to a practice strategy, though it’s not proven to work yet,” he says.

Genetic interventions. At a University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, researchers are study a genes related to scoliosis. If they can figure out why such genes lead to a condition, that might inform future therapies, Karol says. “This might lead to treatments … we can’t even consider of right now,” she says. “The destiny is unequivocally bright.”



The Beauty I See When I Look at My Scoliosis

Life is tough, and there are constant obstacles that block our paths. But the outcome is all in how you see things. Having scoliosis makes things much harder for me but I choose to see things from a different perspective. It’s much easier to cry all day, stay in bed and live off of medications. But that is not the life I want, nor have. I have yet to have a full 24-hour day that I don’t experience pain.

gelcys castaneda featured image with scar

Anyone who has scoliosis can tell you the smallest tasks can be difficult to manage. Getting out of bed is tough. So is sitting, standing and forget about bending over. I just had a conversation with a friend, explaining to her that eating has become pretty challenging for me. Sometimes just raising the fork up to my mouth is a lot of work on my troubled back muscles. I sometimes get in what I call a “locked” positive. It’s where I get stuck and can’t move because it’s too painful.

I can go on and on about the things that cause me pain, but you know what? I try my best to see the positive and humorous side to the dark days. I believe that to survive life, you have to learn how to smile, laugh and be positive. Laughter is my go-to medicine and fixes almost everything.

This is how I see things in my scoliosis war…

I am not ashamed of my crooked scar. It looks cool because it looks like I won a fight against a dinosaur. I am not embarrassed about my hip that sticks out, because I look better with curves. My shorter leg is getting shorter and I have to stand on my right leg to balance out. It’s just jealous it isn’t as muscular as my right leg. My swollen muscles make it easier to find the problem without touching it. My rotating ribs are too cool to stay in the same place, so they decided to go on a little journey. My hump that has been with me for years is getting bigger because it loves me so much more now and it’s trying to give my heart a big hug!

Not being able to raise my arms straight up is a reminder that sky is not the limit, since there are people in space. There are no limits when you are chasing a dream. Having numbness in my legs more often now is just their way of telling me they want to go for a run. The chronic headaches are there to remind me I’m alive.

I am not embarrassed about all the imperfections I was given. They are what make me special and strong. I don’t regret the medical decisions I have taken in the past, because had I not, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength. It wouldn’t have given me courage to chase my dreams. When I started running in races five years ago, I never imagined I would be training for the New York City Marathon. I said I will do whatever it takes to get there. It took me close to year to run one mile successfully. After that year, it took me two years to run my first half marathon. Now I am actually training for New York, and it has turned out to be an unforgettable, incredible journey. I have become a faster, stronger, better runner over the years. I have learned from mistakes, and have grown from obstacles in my way. I have to put in triple the work than a healthy runner, but I do it smiling through tears until I find something that works.

I don’t run for speed, I don’t run to prove anyone wrong. I do it because I can. I do it because it lifts my spirits and it makes me feel powerful. I run because it’s the toughest task I have taken on. I run because it’s hard. I run because it makes me smile and it makes me sweat. I run because nothing else can compare to the feeling of crossing the finish line when I have spent the last 15 years in my life stuck in bed or on crutches. I run because I am unstoppable.

I am now and will forever proudly be the Scoliosis Runner.



What I Can Control as a Person With Scoliosis

Scoliosis film x-ray

I was 11 years old, and my school did a scoliosis screening. I was singled out as possibly having one leg longer than the other, and referred to the scoliosis clinic. We were entirely unfazed as my sister and mother both have mild curves, and we assumed I would get a lift in my shoe like my sister and go about my business.

The visit was scheduled for the better part of an afternoon in order to facilitate X-rays and a reading as well as a visit with the surgeon.

I had been goofing around in the room, bored and tired of the rigmarole, but then when the doctor entered our room he was grim and serious. The whole atmosphere changed and I intuitively sat still to listen, not really grasping what he was saying. He wrapped up his speech in which he broke the news that I would need a brace, and asked me if I hated him. I had only half listened after his first few lines, and the only reference I had for a brace was an ankle brace, so I just smiled and shook my head.

We made some more appointments and left the office. My mom was as grim as the doctor had been, which worried me.

The next appointment was to get fitted for the brace. I don’t remember it clearly, but they made a cast of my body and measured me all over. It was awkward and embarrassing to have strangers handling my pubescent body in such intimate fashion, and I figured now I knew why that doctor made it all sound so serious. That day was no fun at all. We spent prolonged periods awaiting more X-rays and different hoops to jump through. I was frazzled to the point of tears when my mom told me, “When you’re at the hospital you need to have patience.” And we giggled away some of the tension at her unintended pun.

A couple of weeks later we returned again for the fitting of the actual brace, and suddenly everything was clear. The Boston style brace I was squeezed into was miserable. Stiff and heavy with none of the contemporary lightweight materials, cutouts or styling, I felt like I was suffocating with the hard material wrapped around my whole rib cage. Then I was sent up to a room, and introduced to a nurse who was the epitome of the old battle ax. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, visiting hours ended, and in early 80’s fashion, my mom was told to leave.

Thankfully much has improved since then.

My own daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 14, and it was only then that I realized how traumatic the experience had been. Her scoliosis is a lesser degree than mine, so she doesn’t require bracing, but upon seeing her X-rays I nearly vomited.

I worried that she, too, would have to go through bracing, and I knew that the fitting process was only the beginning. I couldn’t bear to imagine her peers knocking on her brace as mine did, and her having to respond with the expected laugh, all while feeling as hollow as the knock sounded.

I’m aware that I got off easy; at least I didn’t require surgery, which many people do.

I still live with the challenge of scoliosis. I start physical therapy again this week; I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve gone. When I graduated from the scoliosis clinic I was assured that my scoliosis was a closed chapter and it would plague me no more, but 21 years later, I live with chronic pain, and several bulging discs that I try to keep in line enough not to require surgery.

But I don’t let it stop me. Someday maybe it will, but until I am physically incapacitated, I will keep moving. My philosophy is that I would hurt whether on the couch or out running trails or hoeing my garden, so for as long as possible I choose the latter, which actually eases the pain and helps me cope.

I don’t talk about it much; even my husband can only estimate my discomfort by how often I ask him to crack my back, which usually doesn’t work anyway because the muscles are locked up.

I am convinced that out of all of this, the only thing I can control is my attitude. So I focus almost entirely on that; it’s remarkable how much it helps.



What can one do to straighten scoliosis?

Kaleem Mohd, physiotherapist

Several research studies show that bracing for scoliosis can keep your spinal curve from growing large enough to require surgery.

Your curve will most likely get smaller as it is being held in the brace. When your spine is fully grown and you stop wearing the brace, your scoliosis curve will eventually go back to its original size. In some cases, the curve stays smaller after bracing treatment.

Research confirms that the more time the brace is actually worn, the more effective it is. Wearing the brace just six hours a day is nearly useless, while those wearing a brace over 16 hours a day will be less likely to need surgery. There are some cases, however, where the curve continues to grow even though a brace is worn.

What kind of a brace will I need and why?

Your doctor will work with an orthotist (a professional who makes assistive devices like braces) to recommend the best type of brace for you.

The kind of brace you need depends upon several factors, such as:

Where your curve is located on your spine

How flexible your curve is

The number of curves you have

The position and rotation of some of the vertebrae in your spine

Any other medical conditions you may have


Different physical therapy methods have been designed to offset the effects of scoliosis, and improve the shape and look of your body. There is some scientific evidence to show that physical therapy may help you to look straighter and improve your breathing. However, there is little evidence at present to show that physical therapy alone is effective in stopping the curve from getting worse during growth.

If you have spinal problems such as back pain in addition to your scoliosis, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to address your specific needs



4 Ways To Relieve Back Pain From Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a spinal affliction that causes the spine to curve sideways. While this can certainly cause pain, people with scoliosis often experience back pain because they strain their muscles to compensate for the lateral curve of their spine. If you are experiencing back pain caused by muscle strain or other side effects of scoliosis, there are steps you can take to eliminate that pain and feel like yourself again


Finding Immediate Relief

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Take over-the-counter pain relievers. Over-the-counter medicine is that which can be purchased without a prescription from a doctor. In particular, you should try non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs come in tablet, capsule, and spray form and help to relieve pain as quickly as possible. This sort of medicine works to block prostaglandins — involved in the inflammatory process, which can cause pain. When they become blocked, inflammation is reduced, relieving pain. However, keep in mind that you should never go over the dosage directions written on the bottle of the medication. The main NSAIDs are:[2]

  • Ibuprofen: This is a regular NSAID — it reduces prostaglandin production and reduces muscle aches. The most common form of ibuprofen is Advil and Motrin.
  • Naproxen: This works to reduce inflammation caused by bone and muscle strain. It is also an effective pain reliever. The most common form of naproxen is Aleve.
  • Aspirin: This works to reduce inflammation. Common forms of aspirin include Bayer and Excedrin. Children and teenagers should not be given aspirin without doctor’s approval, as it can increase their risk of Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.[3]
  • Acetaminophen: This drug is not an NSAID, but it helps to block pain centers in the brain and control the central nervous system. The most common form of Acetaminophen is Tylenol.

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Use a hot pack. If you are experiencing muscle spasms that are causing pain, use a hot pack. The heat will work to soothe the pain, calm the muscle spasms, and reduce joint stiffness.[4]

  • Wrap the hot pack in a towel and then gently place the hot pack on the affected spot. Leave the hot pack on for 20 to 30 minutes.

Use a cold compress. Cold compresses can be used on strained muscles. Ice is generally more useful to reduce swelling and inflammation.[5] In the case of a cold compress, you should cover the affected area for 20 minute increments over the course of 24 hours.[6]

  • If you don’t have a cold compress, you can make your own by wrapping an unopened bag of frozen vegetables in a cloth.

Allow yourself to rest. If you are experiencing extreme back pain, it may be your back telling you it needs to rest. Stop doing whatever activity was causing the pain and lie down or do something that is not physically demanding. Keep in mind that movement is a part of pain relief as well — you should resume doing some undemanding physical activities after the intense pain has subsided.


Relieving Back Pain with Physical Therapy

Stretch often. One of the best ways to regain flexibility and muscle strength is by stretching. In fact, stretching can be an excellent way to reduce back pain, you just have to be cautious not to over-stretch or you could accidentally inflict more pain on yourself.[7]

  • Stretch your arms above your head while standing. If you begin to feel pain creeping into your back, stand up as straight as you can and reach your arms above your head with your hands pointing up to the sky. This stretch will help to release pressure on your nerves caused by distorted vertebrae.
  • Try a split stance stretch. Step forward with the leg that appears longer. Keep your torso as upright as possible. Shift your weight to your forward knee as you bend it. As you shift, raise the arm on the opposite side from your forward leg as high as you can. Reach back with the other arm, keeping your palm up. Hold this pose for a few seconds. Do two to three sets of five to 10 reps each.

Stop any activity that causes pain. Pain is a sign that you are doing the activity incorrectly, or that it is not good for your body right now. Any sharp pain or discomfort, tenderness, or swelling is a sign you should stop your activity immediately.[8]

  • Mild soreness may be common after physical activity. Soreness usually occurs after you have finished the activity, not during it, and it should be temporary.[9]
  • If you are not sure how to do your exercises properly, consider seeing a physical therapist. A PT can help you learn to exercise in the correct way.
  • If you continue to experience pain, see a doctor right away.

Seeking Alternative Professional Treatments

Speak with your doctor before seeking alternative therapies. It’s important that your doctor be kept informed of everything you do to treat your scoliosis and back pain. Letting your doctor know about alternative treatments you’re investigating will help all of your care providers work together effectively.[17]

  • Your doctor may also be able to give you referrals to credible licensed professionals in your area.

Correcting Scoliosis for Pain Relief

Talk to your doctor. The following treatments will have to be confirmed by a doctor before they can be employed. Some types of scoliosis do not have to be treated at all as they are caused by another ailment in the body that needs to be corrected. Consult with your doctor about the steps you can take to treat your scoliosis

Wear a brace. Braces cannot treat scoliosis, but they can slow down the progression of the effects of scoliosis. When you first start using the brace, you will need to wear the brace each day and night. However, as your time with the braces progresses, you may be able to wear it less. Braces are particularly important because they can reduce the need for surgery.[32]

  • If you begin wearing a brace soon after being diagnosed with scoliosis, it may keep your back from curving further. If the curve of your back stays at 25 to 40 degrees, you will not need surgery



Schroth Method: A non-surgical alternative for treating scoliosis

Schroth Method was pioneered by a lay woman named Katharina Schroth, a teacher from Germany. Katharina had an abnormal spinal curvature and spent countless hours trying to minimise her deformity using a very simple, yet effective technique. She combined breathing technique, to expand the spine, and positioning of her torso, so that her deformity is minimized. In such position, she added basically strengthening exercises, to build the muscle for the corrected position. With time and discipline, Katharina managed to correct her scoliosis, and, as an adult, lived without her spinal deformity.

One of the exercises of Schroth Method

After the method is further developed, it was then introduced to the public, first, of course, in Germany. The Asklepios Katharina-Schroth-Klinik in Bad Sobernheim, Germany, is the clinic for intensive Schroth Method therapy, ran by Katharina’s grandson. Since then, similar clinics appear in different parts of the world, including the United States (the Scoliosis Rehab Inc.)

My Personal Experience

I came across Schroth Method, while I was living in Germany. In one of my visits to the orthopedists there for my back pain, I was recommended to see a physiotherapist who was a licensed Schroth Method therapist. The training required blood, sweat, and tears…

After the first session, I came home (still) with my back pain and sore muscle! And that was all for the simple exercises of inhaling deeply, positioning my posture to minimize my apparent deformity – I was to hold two poles to help achieve the correct posture, and then to hold that position for 2 to 3 minutes. I had to repeat this set for four to five more repeats, before getting a relaxing massage at the end.

Two days thereafter: same exercise and a homework, that I got to do the exercise myself every day. We met again the next week after the initial therapy and did the same exercise, but with a twist. This time, we did muscle strengthening exercises, while holding the correct posture. Mind you, I went home that day with even more sore muscle, but amazingly enough, no back pain!

I went through this therapy for a good 2 months. Unfortunately, that was not enough to transform my curved spine- something I’ve always dream of – back to normal (see photo below). What I should have done is to spend two weeks or more in the clinic. But being a self-supporting student back then, my bank account wasn’t exactly the kind that would support such a therapy…

Yet with the limited therapy that I did back then, I must say, it was worth the pain and ache. In comparison to the usual physiotherapy and muscle strengthening trainings, Schroth Method is most logical because it challenges my body to first be in the position that it should have been, before commencing any other muscle exercises or trainings. I would definitely recommend this training to anyone wishing to correct her or his spinal deformity.



What You Need to Know About Scoliosis

Scoliosis - Dr. Axe

Despite the fact that it’s a fairly common problem — affecting about 5 percent of children and adolescents and about 2 percent to 3 percent of the general population — the causes of scoliosis still aren’t well-understood. It’s a lifelong spinal condition that results from the spine becoming “off center” and growing sideways, so it winds up curving in the shape of an “S” or “C” and causing a lot of back pain.

Unfortunately, when many patients get a diagnosis of scoliosis from their doctors, they’re told it’s “idiopathic,” meaning the cause isn’t entirely known and therefore treatment can be very difficult. (1)

For decades, it was somewhat of a mysterious disease and thought of as a difficult problem to help treat. While there’s no definitive cure for scoliosis, what we’ve learned in recent years is that the way best to reduce symptoms and stop it from progressing is to address its underlying cause, eradicating the spinal problem that’s formed at its root. Bracing techniques, anti-inflammatory prescription medications and spinal fusion surgerymight be the norm still today and can help ease pain and symptoms, but unfortunately they come with risks and don’t fully address what’s happening below the surface.

While there still isn’t a complete cure for scoliosis even with natural treatments, some people can see improvements from 10 percent to 30 percent within just several months when undergoing certain chiropractic adjustments and using targeted spinal exercises. Most importantly, these treatments can also help stop the spinal curvature from further progressing and therefore prevent unnecessary surgeries that cannot be reversed once performed.

Signs and Symptoms of Scoliosis

Symptoms commonly appear during adolescent years, especially during the growth spurt around the time of puberty, but older adults with back pains can be diagnosed with scoliosis for the first time too.

What does scoliosis look like and feel like in the body? Some of the most common signs and symptoms include: (2)

  • Pain in the back (up to 90 percent of scoliosis patients report feeling pain, which is the most primary concern for many patients)
  • A leaning of the entire body toward one side
  • One shoulder blade is higher than the other
  • One hip seems to be raised compared to the other
  • An uneven waistline
  • The head is off-center above the shoulders and might not appear directly above the pelvis or midline
  • The spine appears to be growing sideways and developing into an “S” shape or a “C” shape (research shows that S-shaped curves tend to worsen more often than do C-shaped curves, and curves located in the center thoracic section of the spine worsen more often than do curves in the upper or lower sections) (3)
  • Tingling sensations or acute numbness in the limbs, finger or toes
  • Loss of balance
  • Accelerated aging of spinal discs
  • Decreased lung volume
  • Psychological distress and anxiety (especially in children or teens if they need to wear a back brace, which can feel embarrassing)

Facts About Scoliosis: Prevalence, Risk Facts and Complications

  • Scoliosis is the No. 1 spinal problem affecting school-aged children. The primary age of onset and diagnoses is between 10–15 years old. (4)
  • Reports show that around 80 percent of scoliosis patients receive an idiopathic diagnoses, meaning there is no definitive cause or “cure” for their condition. This leaves many patients and their families feeling uncertain and frustrated about the outcome, although there’s hope that natural treatments can make a big impact.
  • The exact causes still aren’t known, but contributing factors include: birth defects (congenital scoliosis, which means the scoliosis has a hereditary origin), spinal cord injuries, and problems with muscle and nerve functions, such as muscular dystrophy. (5)
  • Many patients and their concerned families are given one of three treatment options: either “wait and watch” the spine for progression, use bracing, or undergo surgery — all of which come with drawbacks.
  • Each year scoliosis patients make more than 600,000 visits to private physician offices. An estimated 30,000 children are put into spinal braces to help treat the condition, while 38,000 patients undergo spinal fusion surgery.
  • Complications can occur when muscles and tissues of the body become deformed by months or even years of the body compensating for abnormal twisting and bending of the spine. These complications can continue even after bracing or surgery.
  • During the “watch and wait” period, many cases continue to progress, even past the point of skeletal maturity. Some studies have found a mean progression of 2.4 degrees per year over the course of five years, and in adolescents scoliosis on average progresses more than 10 degrees after 22 years.
  • Aside from affecting good posture, scoliosis can negatively impact quality of life, cause pain, impair normal lung functions, disturb sleep, and reduce the ability to exercise and live normally. Poor body image is also common, and repeated X-rays might also raise the risk for serious problems due to radiation exposure.

How Does Scoliosis Develop?

Scoliosis is essentially one symptom of a deeper biological problem. It results in mechanical dysfunction of the spine, although the degree to which this occurs and exactly how it impacts the spine’s curvature and alignment differs from one patient to another. While scoliosis treatment approaches work best when they’re customized and take into account the patient’s unique history, there are several things that seem to work well for the majority of patients:

  • improving diet
  • receiving chiropractic care
  • practicing targeted spinal exercises

Scoliosis patients can experience a wide range of symptoms and severity depending on how much the disease has progressed; basically no two patients have the exact same spinal alignment, degree of damage, bone density or spine curvature. Many people show some signs of abnormal spinal alignment, but doctors don’t usually worry about this unless the curvature of the spine is off by more than 10 degrees.

For some people, what starts out as minor spinal curvature worsens when the spine twists on its center, which causes the rib cage to be pulled away from its normal alignment. When someone has a spinal curve greater than 30 degrees, the condition is more likely to progress, sometimes going all the way to a 60-degree curvature, which can cause complications such as respiratory problems and trouble breathing normally.

On average, people with scoliosis suffer a 14-year reduction in their life expectancy, due to strain on the heart and reduced amount of oxygen supplied to the body. (6) Scoliosis is also associated with lung impairments, headaches, shortness of breath, digestive problems, chronic disease, and hip, knee and leg pains.



Scoliosis was my big secret

Coming from a small township in Kwa-Nobuhle, Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, modelling did not appear like a stable career choice. It was hard to get recognition as opportunities were very little. I appeared as the awkward skinny girl with long legs and arms. People always told me I should try modelling with my unique look. In 2014 I heard about a model search on Facebook, I decided to enter the competition. My sister drove me to Port Elizabeth where I met all the scouts and I received call-backs from Boss Models and Scouts fishing school (SFS), I then later did a few shoots with SFS and the manager suggested that I consider moving to cape Town so in 2015 I did just that. I moved to Cape Town to study Public Relations at Cape Peninsula University of Technology while pursuing my modelling career on the side. I recently signed with one of the top modelling agency in Cape Town, Twenty Model Management.

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Growing up it has been a journey and struggle, around the age of twelve (12), I noticed that my body felt uneven. I shared this with my family and they didn’t see anything wrong with me. By the age of fourteen, it was even more visible. My waist came in much more on one side than the other and my spine curved to the right and was also slightly twisted. I convinced my mother to take me to a doctor, though it was a waste of time and money because they wouldn’t do anything to help me. The doctor told me it was very common among young women, nothing to worry about and I must just forget about my modelling career because I won’t make it to the industry with the kind of body I have. I felt so confused and demotivate, thinking how awful and mean that doctor was.

The condition was so bad, I became ashamed and embarrassed about my deformity. I then started to wear big clothes to hide the structure of my body. I bought most of my clothes from the man’s department and people used to think I was a tomboy. In 2009 when I was doing grade ten, we were given a research assignment by our Life Science teacher. As I was doing my research and reading case studies about the human body, I came across a picture of women with the right side of her sternum sticking out more than the left. All I learned from that case study was that I had scoliosis and there was nothing I could do about it. Little did I know at that time, that a medical scoliosis brace could have been an effective option.

By that time I was seventeen (17) and as my body reached puberty. The changes were further noticeable. My body leaned to my left side and my waist curved on my right side, my balance was uneven. I felt that my body had betrayed me and I would cry every time I looked at my reflection in the mirror.  It is important for all people living with scoliosis to know their options.  There is information available about all methods and treatments like bracing, surgery, and exercising for Scoliosis. If I could have an operation to fix it I would, but I cannot afford to do a surgery.

I know living with the pain can make you feel very isolated at times, but don’t let it keep you from living your life to the fullest.  Before I started going to castings, I was always frightened that I would appear different than the other models on the runway.  I got tired of entertaining these insecurities and I knew I had to put myself out there. Eventually, I ended up signing with one of the top modelling agencies in Cape Town. I proved to myself that I could overcome any obstacle with perseverance

Looking back and  reflecting on my own life, Scoliosis made me realised that one of the things I was able to take out of this whole situation was that it made me stronger instead of letting me down, it made me push boundaries most probably I wouldn’t have pushed if I didn’t have scoliosis.  Significantly it made me understand that no matter how big the obstacle when one feel passionate about something and push hard enough, it can be done. I, later on, developed the confidence to speak comfortably about my condition and health. I think a lot of people with scoliosis hold back, they don’t share their own views or ideas because they’re scared of what other people would think. We need to create a culture in disadvantaged communities where people are given a platform to speak about how to deal with and overcome their difficulties, a platform where everyone facing a challenge, sickness, not only scoliosis but all diseases



Scoliosis Nutrition: Vitamins, Diet & Nutritional Supplements

Correcting Hormone Imbalances and Poor Diet Helps Stop Progression

Improved nutrition and supplements can help if your child has idiopathic scoliosis. Several studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies definitely have an influence on scoliosis, but nutrition’s impact is poorly understood.

An unhealthy diet, low levels of specific minerals in the body, and hormone imbalances can all contribute to scoliosis progression. Poor nutrition doesn’t cause idiopathic scoliosis, however. Children either have the gene or they don’t. But, studies link the advancement of the condition to nutrition deficiencies.

Scoliosis is a genetic neuromuscular condition that may or may not progress. Typically, your child’s brain would send messages to the muscles, telling them to straighten the spine as it grows. But when your child has scoliosis, the brain doesn’t realize that the body’s posture is not aligned, so it doesn’t send these messages. This miscommunication — coupled with environmental factors like poor nutrition or certain sports — can trigger scoliosis progression.

Correcting Hormone Deficiencies Enhances Treatment

European studies link scoliosis progression with hormone deficiencies and the brain’s lack of response to these hormones. These hormones include serotonin, melatonin, calmodulin, leptin, and growth hormones. The brain communicates with the body via neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters have several functions in the brain, including controlling the flow of messages from the brain to the body. This flow of communication can be accelerated, delayed or blocked if your child’s neurotransmitters are deficient.

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We use scoliosis nutritional testing to find and correct hormone imbalances in your child. Since neurotransmitters are usually amino acids and specific B vitamins, supplements can fix most imbalances such as serotonin deficiencies. Serotonin is crucial for the body’s proper dynamic postural control. Plus, the body converts serotonin into melatonin, which is another deficiency linked to scoliosis. Amino acids can correct both of these hormone imbalances. This enhances neuromuscular retraining that stops scoliosis progression. The ScoliSMART™ Auto Response Training program uses specific exercises to create new subconscious muscle memory. Nutritional support improves the results and endurance of this program.

Many Over-the-Counter Supplements Help Scoliosis

One study published by Wiley InterScience finds that many idiopathic scoliosis patients also have lower selenium levels than normal. Tests have also shown that scoliosis patients have high levels of a cytokine (a type of small protein) called Osteopontin (OPN), which regulates bone growth. If your child has a selenium deficiency, it may be causing high OPN levels and abnormal bone growth. Therapeutic doses of 200 micrograms of selenium (L-selenomethionine to be exact) can naturally decrease OPN levels and may slow or eliminate the risk of rapid scoliosis progression.

Other supplements to consider after nutritional screening include:

  • Inflavonoids. These herbal pain relievers combine Ayurvedic herbs such as ginger and turmeric with lemon bioflavonoids and vitamin C. The anti-inflammatory herbs help keep the body’s stress response down, while the vitamin C helps support the muscles and connective tissue that hold the spine in place.
  • Digestive aids. A digestive enzyme formula such as Metagest (or Metaxyme for those who prefer a vegetarian supplement) can help counteract the digestive problems that often accompany scoliosis. A probiotic that promotes healthy bacteria in the intestine is also useful for supporting digestive health.
  • EPA-DHA Complex. These omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in helping the brain function and build gray matter. Since scoliosis is caused by a breakdown in communication between the brain and muscles, effective treatment requires retraining the brain to correct postural defects — and omega-3s help support this process.
  • Probioplex. This probiotic and protein blend promotes healthy bacteria in the intestine, which ultimately promotes bone health. Some types of gut bacteria affect the way the body metabolizes sex hormones, leading to a loss of bone density.
  • Collagenics. This unique combination of free-form amino acids, key minerals and other nutrients helps support healthy connective tissue, which aids in the development of postural strength.
  • Vitamin D3. Vitamin D plays an essential role in helping the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for increasing bone density. It also supports the metabolism as well as neurological functions.
  • Multigenics. This blend of vitamins, calcium and amino acids improves liver health and adrenal function. A healthy liver allows the absorption of bone-building vitamins D, E, K and A — plus it produces key enzymes that help transport nutrients.With the right diet and nutritional supplements, patients with scoliosis can boost the effectiveness of treatment while eliminating some of the factors that spur the condition’s progression.
     Improving Overall Diet is Also Key for Scoliosis SupportIn addition to correcting your child’s hormone and nutritional imbalances, you can also improve your family’s diet to support your child and reduce the risk of scoliosis progression. These diet suggestions are good for anyone, with or without scoliosis.

    Eating foods that are low in nutrients or loaded with chemical additives and preservatives can result in nutritional deficiencies and cause chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a stress response that causes the body to release cytokines, which cause bone loss. Its toll on your bones is so high that people with high indicators for inflammation suffer 73 percent more hip fractures. It also depletes your muscles — and weak muscles have a much harder time holding the spine in position.

    Additionally, many of these foods deprive the bones and muscles of nutrients necessary for the effective treatment of scoliosis. For example, salt causes excessive calcium excretion through the kidneys, while sugar and soda inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Alcohol contributes to low bone mass and limits bone formation, while caffeine actually leaches calcium from bones at the rate of 6 milligrams of lost calcium for every 100 milligrams of caffeine ingested.

    Doctors also recommend limiting citrus fruits and juices (including tomato juice), whose citric acid can cause the body to move calcium from the bones to the blood, causing the skeletal structure to weaken.

    It may seem overwhelming to eliminate all of the foods and additives linked to both poor health and scoliosis progression. Start by reading labels. You may not realize where salt, sugar and additives are hiding in your food. Then, look for healthier substitutes, such as whole-grain flours instead of white flour. Buy organic fruits and vegetables as often as possible. Non-organic foods often have pesticides, carcinogens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and developmental toxins linked to health problems and disease.

    Foods to limit:

    • Citrus fruits
    • Citrus juices — including tomato juice

    Foods to enjoy:

    • Fresh fruits
    • Fresh vegetables
    • Organic meats

    Early intervention is crucial to stopping scoliosis progression. This includes genetic testing that shows the probability of scoliosis progression in your child, neuromuscular retraining, and nutritional testing.

    Foods to avoid:

    • Pork
    • Alcohol
    • White flour
    • Soda — both regular and diet
    • Soy — including soy milk and all soy products
    • Coffee and tea — herbal teas are okay
    • Sugar — Stevia is a great substitute
    • Salt — moderate amounts of sea salt are okay
    • Chocolate — small amounts of dark chocolate are okay
    • Greasy and fried foods — especially from fast food restaurants
    • Corn syrup — also high fructose corn syrup, crystallized corn syrup and agave
    • Packaged luncheon meats — they contain many food additives and preservatives
    • Artificial sweeteners — including NutraSweet, Splenda, Equal, Aspartame, Saccharin, Neotame, Acesulfame and Sucralose
    • MSG and other additives — gelatin, calcium caseinate, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), textured protein, monopotassium glutamate, hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), yeast extract, glutamate, autolyzed plant protein, yeast food or nutrient, glutamic acid, sodium caseinate and autolyzed yeast