Showing posts with label scoliosis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scoliosis. Show all posts

22 March 2007

Scoliosis surgery

Via the web address below you’ll be able to see an hour-long webcast (broadcast live in September 2006) showing surgeons from Akron Children’s Hospital in the US correcting a scoliosis spinal deformity in a young man. It’s quite graphic so only look if you can handle blood and gore! If you can bear to watch it it provides a great opportunity to understand more about scoliosis surgery.

19 March 2007

Yoga for scoliosis

Since my operations I've tried just that little bit harder to look after myself and my back. I've tried so many alternative therapies and forms of exercise: from acupuncture, accupressure, and alexander technique, to massage, reiki and swimming. It's been a bit of a mission, not only to help with back pain but also help keep as supple as possible.

Overall yoga has been the most beneficial - it's helped so much over such a long period of time. For anyone wanting to either start out (with no understanding of yoga at all) or someone wanting to tailor their yoga practice to their back condition, I really really recommend Elise Browning Miller's Yoga For Scoliosis DVD. It deals with all the different forms of scoliosis and gives specific exercises and ways of changing all the typical yoga poses to suit your particular scoliosis type. Miller has scoliosis herself and actually went through her system of poses with Iyengar himself (one of the world's most renowned yoga teachers), so you have complete confidence in her teachings. Definitely check with your surgeon or GP that you are ready for this sort of exercise before starting though! You can order the DVD through Miller's website

For information on yoga workshops for people with spinal fusions (these are based in the US only at the moment) see

16 March 2007

Weird connections

As if it isn’t strange enough to have a neighbour living in the same road as me with scoliosis (who has also had surgery), a few years after my operations another neighbour in my road was diagnosed with scoliosis and had an operation. My brother also has scoliosis and had an operation when he was 19. This I will talk about in another posting! Is there something in the water in the area? Does anyone else have any strange coincidences like this? (the family/genetic thing is another matter I think).

Faye up the road

I was extremely lucky to know a girl who lived up the road from my parents’ house called Faye who had scoliosis and had already had an operation for it (both under Mr Edgar at The Royal National Orthopedic Hospital). Faye and I had a chat about it once I had been diagnosed and I can recall asking her if she could feel the rod in her back (it seems such a silly question now!). She replied that she didn’t (of course). Anyway, it certainly helped a little to know another person with scoliosis prior to my op though I don’t think I quizzed her particularly on the details of it - I was possibly too shy at the time. Faye kindly gave me a lovely set of nail varnishes as a ‘get better soon’ present after my op - I was hoping to stop biting my nails as a result of the surgery/recovery! Thanks Faye but sadly it didn’t work!

15 March 2007

First things first ... What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine.

There are two main types - idiopathic (no known cause) and syndromic (the curvature is part of a recognised disease pattern, such as Marfan's syndrome).

Idiopathic scoliosis accounts for most spinal curvatures - it may either be of early onset (before age seven years), or late onset (after age seven and usually in adolescence). 80% of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis arises in girls.

The spine can bend towards either side of the body at any place:
In the chest area - thoracic scoliosis
In the lower part of the back - lumbar
Above and below these areas - thoracolumbar
In two places - S-shaped curve (double curvature)

How common is scoliosis?
More common than you think. About three or four children per thousand will need specialist supervision for scoliosis, and about one child in every thousand will need hospital treatment (usually major corrective surgery, the insertion of a metal rod, and sometimes a period of time in a plaster cast or brace).

When does scoliosis happen?
Scoliosis is most common in early teenage years. At the start of the adolescent growth spurt it can progress rapidly and treatment in this instance is often corrective surgery.

Research and causes
Orthopaedic surgeons and scientists specialising in scoliosis continue to research the cause, or causes, of the condition, which is still unknown. There is a definite genetic connection since around 25% of those with a scoliosis have a direct relative with a curvature.

Scoliosis can be disfiguring because when the spine bends to the side it causes the vertebrae to twist. This pulls the ribs round with them and forms a bulge on the back causing the shoulder blade to protrude.

14 March 2007

When I was 13 my world changed

Well here goes ... my first posting!

When I was 13 my world changed. It shattered and with it went my self-image, my security, my innocence and perhaps most importantly, my confidence. Things that mattered to other 13 year old girls - clothes, boys, make-up, growing up, having best-friends - suddenly pailed into insignificance. There just wasn't the space in my head to see them as important, and dealing with the years that followed changed me entirely as a person. I know (I remember and I've been told by my family and friends) that I was a rather sulky, surly child. I don't think I smiled very much and I was very prone to bouts of moodiness, going for days without speaking to anyone when I didn't get my own way. What I became (hopefully) was a better person - not much but a little better. Because being told you need two or maybe even three major operations, followed by weeks in hospital and a six month period (possibly a year) in a back brace is enough to change anyone. It's a big deal for anyone, let alone for a 13 year old girl.

Prior to my world changing, I'd has back ache for a few weeks and when my mother suggested I do an exercise known in yoga as the cat (arching your back while on all fours on the floor), she was shocked to notice my ribs were protruding to form a large hump on the right of my spine. To cut a longish story short I was taken to the local GP who thought I would probably 'be given some exercises to do' and sent me to see Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Edgar at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, Middlesex, for an expert opinion. Having waited a few months to see Mr Edgar on the NHS I was x-rayed, prodded and ummed and ahhed at by a team of scarily serious doctors (all this while standing in my knickers!), and my parents and I were informed I had scoliosis that would require surgery as soon as possible. My S-shaped curve was pretty bad in scoliosis terms: a 75 degree curve at the top and a 55 degree curve at the bottom. We all went home in shock trying to take what we'd been told in (even though we hadn't really been told much at all). I'm pretty sure I cried myself to sleep that night and even though my family were all incredibly supportive I'd never felt so alone or scared.