Felixstowe & District Flyer – ISSUE 167 – November 2011
Scoliosis (from Greek “crooked”) refers to an abnormal curvature of the spine. In the UK, idiopathic (otherwise unexplainable) scoliosis affects three to four children out of every 1,000 and can develop at any time during childhood and adolescence, tending to be more common in girls than boys.
The debate about treatment is still fairly polite but it should be much more openly discussed. When curvature is noticed, the most usual route is for referral to an orthopaedic surgeon who will consider the options of watchful waiting, bracing or surgical treatment. If the curvature is over 50 degrees, surgical treatment to obtain curve correction and to prevent curve progression might be recommended, placing metal implants onto the spine which are then attached to rods which correct the spine curvature and hold it in position until fusion, or knitting of the spine elements occurs. Surgery can be performed from the back or through the front of the spine.
However further surgery may be needed in 5% as early as five years later, and it is estimated that 5% of all patients have complications such as haemorrhage and infection. Because spinal surgeons have not always audited their work in a way to address international criteria. The “ScoliRisk Study”, organised by the Scoliosis Research Society, will now thoroughly evaluate neurological and all complications associated with complex adult spinal deformity surgery to provide this data for risk assessment.
Some orthopaedic surgeons believe that although their three “treatment” methods are well accepted and well studied, alternative treatments to prevent curve progression or prevent further curve progression such as chiropractic medicines, physical therapy, yoga, etc “have not demonstrated any scientific value”. Nevertheless those who have scoliosis and who have wanted to do something themselves to correct it, have developed scientifically proven, well-established, non-surgical techniques that work.
We are very fortunate in Suffolk to have Erika Maude who, herself a sufferer of scoliosis, was able to correct her deformity during her own search for effective postural training. In 2006 she opened the scoliosis treatment centre in Martlesham (now called Scoliosis SOS Clinic). Which uses a variety of techniques (“The ScolioGold method”).
With scoliosis, it seems that postural habits ‘feed’ into the curvature – amplifying it to a large degree. By improving postural habits, the teenager can learn to lengthen out the curve rather than making it worse by pulling down into it. Braces, even though design-aided by computer, are more likely to worn with resentfulness and passivity. Surely as we expect people to take more control over their bodies, offering a way of “working” out their tensions and constrictions must be an alternative therapy to the use of corsets and rigid rods.
Dr Janet M. Massey