Parents’ Roles in Helping Their Children with Scoliosis

Parents can find it overwhelming if their child is diagnosed with scoliosis. Both Mom and Dad may experience stress. And, they may have a hard time coping with emotional and financial problems. If you have a child with scoliosis, it is important to handle the situation with care.

What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. It often occurs during the growth spurt during the puberty period. In some cases, severe scoliosis can reduce the amount of space in one’s chest. As a result, the lungs don’t have enough space to function properly. Causes of scoliosis can be hereditary factors, birth defects, injuries of the spine or muscular dystrophy.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Research the Subject
  • If your adolescent or child has scoliosis, you need to be completely supportive. You should do your research. You can start to familiarize yourself with the symptoms, treatments, severity, and side-effects of the disorder. Even if you have feelings of uncertainty, don’t be afraid to ask the professionals for advice.

  • Understand your Child’s Emotional State and Situation
  • After initial feelings of shock, children might feel fear. When they learn that they have scoliosis, they might worry about how the disease will affect their social life. It might be scary for children to receive a different treatment because of scoliosis. As a parent, it is important to make them feel loved.

    Always remind your child that they are not different from other people. Make sure that you don’t let them feel isolated. Bring their closest friends to your house. You can also organize a family gathering. Encourage your child to interact with his or her cousins, uncles, aunts and other members of the family.

    If your child has a prominent spinal curve, he might worry about being seen in public. It is your duty as a parent to make your child comfortable in his own skin.

  • Be Decisive and Start Treatment as Early as Possible
  • Scoliosis needs treatment as soon as possible. About 70% of scoliosis progression occurs during the 3 years of puberty growth spurt. Doctors do not recommend watching and waiting when your child has scoliosis. A small curve can grow into a more chronic and bigger curve in a in less than 3 weeks! Look for early signs and symptoms of scoliosis. Make arrangements to see your doctor right away.

    If you suspect that your child has scoliosis, look for imbalances in the eyes, hips, or shoulders. It is very important to detect scoliosis early, especially if the disease runs as a hereditary factor in your family.

  • Look for Alternative Treatments
  • If you want safer and more effective treatment, don’t be afraid to look into alternative medicine. Many hospitals and medical practitioners apply invasive surgeries that are risky and once done your affected lifelong. You might want to look for better answers and make sure that your child receives the best non-invasive treatments first.

    What Makes Dr. Lau Different?
    Doctor Lau has known that he would dedicate his life to studying scoliosis since his brother was diagnosed with it and he saw how much pain he suffered. After receiving his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, he received a Master of Science Degree in Holistic Nutrition from the Clayton College of Natural Health in Birmingham, Alabama, and his thesis connected the importance of diet to the healing process of scoliosis. He practiced as a chiropractor and nutritionist in Singapore for many years before becoming the Clinic Director, Chiropractor and Nutritionist at the Scoliosis & Spine Correction Clinic in Singapore. He is a worldwide expert and has patients who come to him from all over the world. To date, he has treated millions of patients who are suffering from scoliosis as of this date.

    Dr. Lau has studied the causes of scoliosis around the world. He also studied the treatments administered to patients with the disease including:

    1. The scoliosis protocol, which does not involve drugs, injections, use of a brace, surgery or maneuvers that twist or turn the patient’s head. It includes specific physical therapy exercises, specialized chiropractic adjustments and balance training exercises. Radiographic measurements are taken, and the patient undergoes a detailed, scoliosis-specific physical exam.

    2. Pilates, a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements and emphasizes proper posture alignment, core strength and muscle balance.

    3. Yoga, a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines to develop a non-surgical approach to scoliosis.

    4. The Schroth method, which is a treatment using conservative scoliosis exercise in a three-dimensional approach to elongate the trunk and correct imbalances of the spine.

    5. Bracing, using the Gensingen Brace, which is the only brace in the world that allows for the maximum amount of in-brace correction and works by addressing the problem area from three dimensions.

    6. Nutrition and diet to address the root causes of growth factors which could contribute to scoliosis.

    The ScolioLife System
    Doctor Kevin Lau can help you combat scoliosis through his holistic approach. Most doctors generally wait and see when it comes to the development of scoliosis. Dr. Lau is different. He believes that parents and children should be proactive when it comes to the treatment of this disease. Dr. Lau involves both parents and child in the decision of doing interventions and treatments to decrease the spine curves and significantly reduce the physical symptoms of scoliosis. This empowers the child and his parents and can make a big impact on the child’s life.

    Dr. Lau incorporates the best of the ideas he has studied and used into one program that he calls the ScolioLife System. The focus of his program is not only on the spine curve. The program encompasses the whole spine as well as the child’s entire nervous system, as well as bracing, nutrition and diet. ScolioLife fixes the root cause of the diseases directly. This can bring long-lasting results as well as less pain.

    You may expect setbacks and difficulties along the way, but his approach will produce results in the long run.

    Conclusion
    No one wishes to have a diagnosis of scoliosis, or any diseases, for that matter. But, if your child is diagnosed with it, do your research, read the studies, and seek a consult with professional specialized in scoliosis. Talk to your doctor and don’t be afraid to seek alternative treatments apart from a conventional brace or surgery. With your support and love, this diagnosis should not prevent your child from being the best person that he or she can be.

5 Surprising Facts About Adult Scoliosis

You may have more options and control than you think
You may have more power over adult scoliosis than you think. Doctors can offer you various treatment options, and there are things you can do to help yourself. Here are five things you might be surprised to hear about adult scoliosis.

Surprise #1: If you are diagnosed with scoliosis, you probably won’t need surgery

When diagnosed with scoliosis, many people fear the only course of action will be major surgery.

“Only a small portion of people with scoliosis require major reconstructive surgery,” says chiropractor, Dr. Kevin Lau. “Many people with scoliosis can manage their scoliosis and symptoms just fine without any type of surgery.”

In many cases, treatment for scoliosis is aimed at relieving symptoms rather than fixing the curve in the spine.

“Adult scoliosis patients are initially treated as we would treat a patient with a straight spine who has back pain,” Dr. Lau says. Treatment might include physical therapy or spinal decompression to strengthen and stabilize the spine. It might also include using a newer scoliosis brace called a Gensingen Brace which can help with the aesthetic or look of the deformity.

People who can’t get pain relief from medications or physical therapy might need spinal decompression surgery.

Surprise #2: The size or the location of your spine’s curve doesn’t predict whether or not you will have symptoms

As you age, your spine begins to deteriorate. As it weakens, it may also begin to curve. Some people may never have any symptoms. Others might experience leg pain, numbness or tingling when walking and/or back pain.

“If you look at a person from the side, you can see that the spine has three natural curves; one in the lower back, one in the middle of the back, and one at the neck. We tend to lose the curve in the lower back as we age. That’s what creates problems and causes symptoms,” says Dr. Lau.

Surprise #3: Adults can have one of two types of scoliosis
Doctors see two types of scoliosis in adults. One is the type of scoliosis doctors also see in teenagers. This is called idiopathic scoliosis. In some cases, the curve progresses and begins to cause symptoms in adulthood. In other cases, it is not diagnosed until adulthood.

The second common type of scoliosis seen in adults is degenerative scoliosis. In this type, the normal wear and tear on the lower back during the aging process leads to the development of a curve in the spine.

Surprise #4: Smoking causes back and neck problems

In addition to seeking treatment for scoliosis, there are things you can do at home to reduce your symptoms. “The most important thing you can do is not smoke,” says Dr. Lau. “Smoking is the leading preventable cause of back and neck problems.”

Surprise #5: You can still exercise with scoliosis

Although many people who have scoliosis have been told to limit their activities, Dr. Lau disagrees. “The more physically active people with scoliosis are, the less likely they are to be symptomatic,” he says. If you are overweight, weight loss can also help to reduce scoliosis symptoms. It’s also important to monitor your bone density and seek treatment if you have osteoporosis.

A Prospective Cohort Study of Scoliosis Patients with 40° and More Treated with a Gensingen Brace (GBW): Preliminary Results.

Abstract
INTRODUCTION:
There is a growing resistance from patients and their families to spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis. Due to inconclusive evidence that surgery has a long-term effect on scoliosis and/or improves the quality of life for patients with scoliosis, there is a need to extend the conservative perspective of treatment to patients with curvatures greater than 40 degrees. For that reason, a prospective cohort study was initiated to determine the effectiveness of the Gensingen brace (a Cheneau-style TLSO) in preventing progression in skeletally immature patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Since 2011, fifty-five patients have been enrolled in this prospective cohort study. This report includes the mid-term results of twenty-five of these patients, who have a minimum follow-up of 18 months and an average follow-up of 30.4 months (SD 9.2). The twenty-five patients had the following characteristics at the start of treatment: Cobb angle: 49° (SD 8.4; 40º-71º); 12.4 years old (SD 0.82); Risser: 0.84 (SD 0.94; 0-2). A z-test was used to compare the success rate in this cohort to the success rate in the prospective braced cohort from BrAIST.

RESULTS:
After follow-up, the average Cobb angle was 44.2° (SD 12.9). Two patients progressed, 12 patients were able to achieve halted progression, and eleven patients improved. Angle of trunk rotation (ATR) decreased from 12.2 to 10.1 degrees in the thoracic spine (p = 0.11) while the ATR decreased from 4.7 to 3.6 degrees in the lumbar spine (p = 0.0074). When comparing the success rate of the BrAIST cohort with the success rate of patients in this cohort, the difference was statistically significant (z = -3.041; p = 0.01).

CONCLUSION:
Conservative brace treatment using the Gensingen brace was successful in 92% of cases of patients with AIS of 40 degrees and higher. This is a significant improvement compared to the results attained in the BrAIST study (72%). Reduction of the ATR shows that postural improvement is also possible.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29399229

Choosing the Right Exercises for Scoliosis

Carefully tailored exercise program can improve strength, function, and endurance.

I work with many clients and some of them are suffering from scoliosis which is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. If you look at the back of a person having scoliosis, you’ll notice that their spine curves to one side. The angle of the curve can be either be barely noticeable or otherwise, it could be quite pronounced. Typically, the shape of the curve will look either like a “C” or an “S.” If scoliosis is suspected upon examination, further investigation (including X-rays or other diagnostic imaging) will be ordered by a medical professional to confirm the diagnosis.

Once a person has been diagnosed with scoliosis, he is presented with options on how to best manage his condition and the symptoms that come with it. Typically, these will include uneven musculature and strength, difficulty in breathing and mild to moderate back pain. Exercise is usually included as a treatment option and, from my perspective, a client with scoliosis who has been cleared to work out should be the most concerned with improving his/her level of function and building strength and endurance in a way that isn’t causing more pain or dysfunction. It is also important to recognize that while strength and conditioning exercises can help to improve daily life and overall fitness, it is not intended to be a cure for the condition.

I approach designing a functional fitness program for someone with scoliosis as I would any other client. I choose exercises based on the different types of human movement — upper body pushing and pulling, lower body “level changes,” core rotation and locomotion (movement from one point to another). Rather than following the bodybuilding model of working on isolated muscles, I would rather have the clients engage in movements that involve many muscles and also move them in ways that mimic what they would do in everyday life. Think of the way you move when you shovel snow, carry groceries or even place a baby in a car seat and you’ll have an idea of the kinds of movements I am referring to.

The point is that physical activity should not be avoided; it should be planned in a thoughtful, meaningful way. Some types of exercise and some movements should be avoided, some should be emphasized, and some should be considered as “proceed with caution” after some trial and error.

“Scoliosis specific” exercises are corrective movements designed specifically to reduce or stabilize scoliosis curvatures. They should only be done when prescribed and supervised by a qualified rehabilitation specialist such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor. Fitness trainers and medical exercise specialists are not qualified to administer these corrective exercises.
There are a few rules I would apply to the workout program for a client with scoliosis who has been cleared to exercise:

• avoid loading the spine with a weighted bar across the shoulders, as in barbell squats;
• avoid backward bending movements like you would do in yoga lying on your stomach;
• avoid extreme twisting or rotating at the waist.

Here are the movements I would add to a program for someone with scoliosis:

• body balancing stretches to maintain flexibility in the spine
• core stabilization moves like planking;
• body alignment exercises to ensure equal strength building on both sides of the body;

To customize your own exercise program and learn over 50 scoliosis specific exercises then read my book: “Your plan for natural scoliosis prevention and correction” or DVD, “Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction”.

Scientists Identify First Gene Linked to Scoliosis

Physicians have recognized scoliosis, the abnormal curvature of the spine, since the time of Hippocrates, but its causes have remained a mystery — until now. For the first time, researchers have discovered a gene that underlies the condition, which affects about 3 percent of all children.

The new finding lays the groundwork for determining how a defect in the gene — known as CHD7 — leads to the C- and S-shaped curves that characterize scoliosis. The gene’s link to scoliosis was identified by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, working in collaboration with investigators at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, both in Dallas, Rutgers State University of New Jersey and the University of Iowa. The group published its results in May in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

“Hopefully, we can now begin to understand the steps by which the gene affects spinal development,” says Anne Bowcock, Ph.D., professor of genetics, of medicine and of pediatrics. “If we understand the genetic basis of the condition, we can theoretically predict who is going to develop scoliosis and develop treatments to intervene before the deformity sets in. It may take many years to accomplish these goals, but I think it will eventually happen.”

The researchers have traced a defect in CHD7 to idiopathic scoliosis, the form of the condition for which there is no apparent cause. It is the most common type of scoliosis, occurs in otherwise healthy children and is typically detected during the growth spurt that accompanies adolescence.

Although scientists have known for years that scoliosis runs in families, its pattern of inheritance has remained unclear. That’s because the condition is likely caused by several different genes that work in concert with one another — and the environment — to cause scoliosis. Bowcock predicts that scientists will soon find other genes involved in the disease.

The CHD7 gene is thought to play a critical role in many basic functions in the cell. The researchers zeroed in on the gene after finding that it is missing or profoundly disrupted in a rare syndrome called CHARGE. Babies born with the syndrome often die in infancy. Those that survive have heart defects, mental retardation, genital and urinary problems, ear abnormalities and deafness, among other problems. They also develop late-onset scoliosis.

“This led us to consider that milder variations of CHD7 may be involved in other types of scoliosis,” Bowcock said.
The researchers, led by Carol Wise, Ph.D., at Scottish Rite Hospital, collected data on 52 families with a history of scoliosis in at least two members — the one who sought treatment and another from earlier generation. The patients had an average spinal curvature of 40 degrees and did not have any illnesses, such as Marfan syndrome or cerebral palsy, which can also involve scoliosis. The researchers performed genome-wide scans that spelled out the 6 billion letters of genetic code in the affected family members and analyzed the data.

They found that patients with scoliosis very often had a defect in the gene’s non-coding region, meaning that the error did not disrupt production of the CHD7 protein. The researchers speculate that this particular mutation alters the binding of a molecule that controls whether the gene is turned on. In this case, they think the gene is turned off more often than it should be, which reduces the amount of CHD7 protein produced.

“The change in the amount of the protein produced is subtle, which correlates with the onset of scoliosis, which typically happens very gradually,” explains Michael Lovett, Ph.D., professor of genetics and pediatrics. “This particular defect was so highly associated with scoliosis that it is either the real McCoy or is very closely linked to the defect that causes the condition.”

The researchers will continue to look for genetic variations involved in scoliosis by studying additional families with the condition.

Severe scoliosis is typically treated by surgery or by wearing an orthopedic brace, which straightens the curvature over time. Most minor spinal curves can be monitored by a doctor and do not progress to the point where treatment is necessary.

Learn More About Thoracic Hyperkyphosis

Thoracic hyperkyphosis or hunchback is a condition that makes the upper or the thoracic spine of a person to curve forward. It causes the patient to slouch unusually and it may affect people of all ages. The reasons for thoracic hyperkyphosis however may vary from person to person.

hyperkyphosis

We all have some curvature in our upper spine. But when this curve exceeds 45 degrees the person is said to have hyperkyphosis.

Thoracic hyperkyphosis symptoms:
• Stiffness
• Back pain
• Upper section of the back looks hunched or curved

Though cannot be generalised, some patients of thoracic hyperkyphosis complain of fatigue because of their condition. The unusual hunchback causes the patients to suffer from low self-esteem that gets intensified with emotional and social stresses.

Causes of Thoracic Hyperkyphosis

The most common causes of thoracic hyperkyphosis are:

• Wrong posture – A person who fails to sit straight on a chair and often slouch may develop hyperkyphosis after some years.
• Scheuermann’s disease – It is a condition that mostly affects young people when their vertebrae do not grow properly. This results in a curved hyperkyphotic spine.
• Congenital issues – This happens when the spine of a baby does not develop properly in the womb. It may cause hyperkyphosis in the newly born child and the condition worsens as the child grows up.

Vertebral trauma, nutritional deficiencies and some other factors can also cause thoracic hyperkyphosis.

Treatment of Thoracic Hyperkyphosis

The treatment of thoracic hyperkyphosis varies depending on the cause of the condition. Some of the most common methods are:

• Physical therapy
• Brace
• Spinal surgery

We at Scoliosis & Spine Correction Clinic treat our patients suffering from thoracic hyperkyphosis with abovementioned methods. The treatment can reduce the angle and improve the visual appearance of the spine. The treatment also reduces their suffering from pain and stiffness. We also have customized exercise-based treatments that help our patients avoid surgical intervention and correct their spinal curvature to a great extent.

To know more about Dr Kevin Lau’s therapy call us today and schedule an appointment at Scoliosis & Spine Correction Clinic.

Diagnosis of Scoliosis in Children

Scoliosis, which is a common spinal deformity, generally affects the normal spinal development in a child. Every year, nearly 3 million new cases of Scoliosis are diagnosed. This biomechanical deformity is usually observed in children when they are 10 to 15 years old. Most have unknown causes, involving hereditary factors. Other triggers include birth defects, spinal injury or infection and neuromuscular conditions.

According to Dr Kevin Lau of Scoliosis & Spine Correction Clinic in Singapore, the curvature of the spine becomes a ‘C’ or ‘S’ shape bending sideways from the middle and not as it should be, which is a straight line down the middle. Usually, it does not cause a long-term problem. However, an early diagnosis ensures a timely corrective therapy, while the spine is still in its growth period.

Unless the cases are severe, scoliosis does not require a surgery. Bracing has been proven effective in controlling the angle of the curve and preventing it from increasing over a period of time.

Detection of scoliosis
While a mild curve does not interfere with normal routine, left unchecked it may cause severe breathing problem. A slight bend in the curve is likely to be noticed at school or by friends, during physical activities. So, observation is the only way to detect scoliosis at early stages.

The curve increases with age and worsens more in girls than in boys. In case doctors do not find this abnormality at birth, if present, it will definitely show itself during teen years. After visual detection, a thorough physical check up and spinal X-Ray is required to determine the extent of the deformity. The angle of the curve will be 10 degrees or above, depending on the severity of the deformity.

As Dr Lau points out that the child (10 to 15 years old) should be screened several times by either a doctor or a nurse in order to keep an observant eye over the development of scoliosis. This, of course, aids in treatment and rehabilitation.

Scoliosis – Types and Causes
Idiopathic scoliosis: Under this category we have cases of unknown origin. Doctors are unsure about the exact cause of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, seen commonly in children between 10 to 15 years old. However, it is believed to be partially genetic and accounts for around 80 per cent of the cases diagnosed. According to a report published by the Scoliosis Research Society, if one or both the parents have this deformity, then 1 in 3 children will inherit this condition.

Congenital scoliosis: A subcategory of idiopathic scoliosis is congenital scoliosis in which a baby is born with the condition. It affects the spinal development of the unborn child when it is still in the uterus.

Neuromuscular scoliosis: Also known as secondary scoliosis, this condition is caused by spinal cord trauma or any neuromuscular condition which results in loss of support to the spinal cord. Common causes are cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Children during growth spurts, till they reach puberty, are most likely to develop this type of scoliosis.

Other factors: Health issues like heart and kidney diseases, tumours in nervous system, environmental factors and inequality in the length of limbs are also believed to trigger scoliosis in children. Unless they are born with this condition, only proper diagnosis can ascertain the cause of scoliosis in a particular child.

Is your child at risk?
What can be identified as a risk factor is for children with a possibility for inheriting the idiopathic scoliosis. Dr. Lau dismisses certain misconceptions about risks of getting affected with this spinal abnormality like lack of calcium or incorrect posture or heavy backpacks, or physical activities. Children with no family history of scoliosis can also inherit this condition due to other factors, as discussed above.

A Common scoliosis test for school children
It’s called the Adam’s Forward Bend test. In this, a child is asked to bend forward after standing straight. The waist should be completely stretched downwards, with arms down straight. Both elbows and knees should be straight. The child will take a diving posture.

If a child has any spinal deformity, the rib cage will appear higher in one side.

The usefulness of this test is that it helps in detection of scoliosis in upper and mid-spine curves, the most common location for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.

Some common signs
Visually recognizable signs of a child having scoliosis include:

• Body tilting on one side
• Unequal or asymmetrical legs
• Head does not appear to be centred on the pelvis
• One shoulder/shoulder blade/hip bone is higher than the other
• The waist has an uneven curve in it

Thus we can see that recognizing the symptoms at an early stage, before the body reaches skeletal maturity, can give doctors the time to treat scoliosis without using surgical methods.

Scoliosis and What to Look for In Your Child

Scoliosis, a condition you don’t often hear about is the reason behind your child’s doctor is checking their back.

Scoliosis and What You Need to Know

• Scoliosis is a spinal deformity, a sideways curvature that can occur in both males and females. The curve may be an S curve or a C curve.
• This curvature may be mild, but in severe cases can be disabling and can reduce the amount of space in the chest, making it difficult to breathe.
• It typically begins to appear between ages 10 and 15, during the growth spurt just before puberty. However, it can appear in people younger and older.
• In most cases, there is no known cause.
• Some schools perform tests, but many do not, which is why your doctor should examine your child’s back during regular visits.
• What to watch for: uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade that appears more prominent than the other, an uneven waist, or one hip higher than the other.
• Treatments include braces or surgery typically however Dr Kevin Lau offers non-surgical solutions to treat scoliosis. These all depend on the severity and type of scoliosis. Treatments are more effective the sooner they begin.

If you believe your child may have this curvature, contact us right away for a checkup with Dr. Kevin Lau.

Does Ballet Increase Your Risk of Scoliosis?

As a dancer, you probably know someone with scoliosis or, if you’re like me, you might even have it yourself.

What you may not know is that certain lifestyle factors can increase your likelihood of developing the condition, and according to a recent study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, classical ballet training is one of them. When ballet is combined with a low body mass index, that risk increases even more.

“Scoliosis develops amongst females at precisely the time that girls begin seriously training in ballet,” says Dr. Leon Scott, an assistant professor of Clinical Orthopedics & Rehabilitation for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a former team physician for Boston Ballet. “In my experience, how ballet students are taught to hold their spines in class is opposite of the spine’s natural curves. Starting ballet at a younger age, increased frequency of ballet training and increased duration of ballet are associated with an increased risk for developing the abnormal curvature seen in scoliosis.”

I was classically trained in ballet when I was I was young, and diagnosed with scoliosis when I was a teenager. I went on to dance with the Radio City Rockettes until the pain caused by my scoliosis became too much to bear, and am now a certified Pilates teacher who specializes in working with scoliotic clients. Dr. Scott and I came up with five tips to help decrease your risk:

1. Proactively monitor any changes in your body, especially if you’re between 10 to 18 years old. Is one shoulder higher than the other? Does one side of your ribcage protrude forward? Does one hip stick out more to the side than the other? These misalignments could indicate scoliosis, so make an appointment with your doctor ASAP if you notice them. Ballet teachers: Make note of consistent body misalignments that students have trouble correcting.

2. Ask for a scoliosis screening during your annual medical exams.

3. Build up the core strength to support the spinal positions needed for ballet. Exercises with props, such as an overball or a foam roller, work well because they force you to find a neutral balance point for your spine and pelvis.

4. Watch your body mass index (BMI). Dancers with a low BMI, particularly pre-teens and teenagers, can inadvertently delay their first menstruation. This makes the body more susceptible to scoliosis, which is a hormonal and neurological condition.

5. If a family member has scoliosis, be diligent about looking for changes in your body. Scoliosis can often be passed down genetically.

And if you are diagnosed with scoliosis, don’t panic! It doesn’t have to mean the end of your dancing career. There are many ways to successfully manage scoliosis that don’t involve surgery.

What Life is Like Wearing a Scoliosis Brace

Imagine feeling restricted, all day and all night, and not being able bend down. That is what wearing a scoliosis brace feels like.
Scoliosis is the abnormal curving of the spine. It not only affects your spine, but it also puts a physical strain on your body. This can include your lungs, heart, nerves and joints and also can cause chronic pain throughout many areas of the body.

Since I was young, my mother had always noticed a curve in my back. After examining my X-rays the doctor diagnosed my condition as scoliosis at 29 degrees. He informed us I had a moderate curve that without treatment could develop into a severe curve and require surgery.

The treatment was a large piece of plastic molded to my body that I had to wear day and night. At the time I was only 9, and had many mixed emotions about the situation. The brace went from my tailbone all the way up to below my shoulders. Wearing it to school at first was a challenge, but I had more than enough support from all of my friends. Instead of making fun of it, they became curious, and even wanted to try it on. It was hysterical when kids tried to knock on my brace and ended up hurting their knuckles. Still, sometimes wearing the brace was unbearable, especially when living in Florida with the hot weather.

The second summer I had my brace, I ended up moving to New York, meaning that not only did I have to make new friends, but I also had to introduce them to my brace. My new friends gave me both moral and physical support. Time passed, and I grew taller, and had to get rid of my old brace because it was too small, much like crabs when they grow out of their shell.

It was not until last summer that my curve really increased. My curve went up a stunning 12 degrees in a matter of three months due to a growth spurt, leaving me with a 41-degree curvature. My doctor warned me that if it went up 5 degrees more, I could face surgery in the foreseeable future.

I still wear my brace and have avoided surgery for the moment. My brace can be both my best friend and my arch-nemesis. It has not only taught me independence and self-confidence, it has also taught me to embrace my condition and it gives me the courage to talk about it with many kids and adults. Though having scoliosis can sometimes be a struggle, it does not define me, it only makes me stronger. After all, I’m bent, not broken!