When I was messaged by Dr. Clayton Stitzel and asked if I would be interested in sharing my scoliosis story for a new online magazine about everything scoliosis, I immediately said “Yes”. My intent is to share the things I have learned about scoliosis, way too late in my life. I hope this will inform others that there ARE measures that can be taken to decrease pain, and stabilize or decrease curvature. The earlier the intervention, the better!
I am almost 68 yrs. old, semi-retired, and lead a fairly active life. Until age 16 when a friend asked me why my hips were uneven, I had no clue what scoliosis was, or that I even had it! My Mom took me to a very well-known surgeon in our area to be examined. I remember being so embarrassed. The surgeon took x-rays and said since my bones were already fused, “Nothing could be done or should be done”. I don’t remember him mentioning surgery, or even bracing. I don’t know if a cobb angle was calculated, so I have no idea what my degree was at that time. All I know is that I wanted out of that office and did not want to think about scoliosis! For decades, I ignored my scoliosis thinking “nothing could be done, or should be done”. I was not in any pain, and my curve was not too noticeable, so it was easy to ignore. I worked in a hospital laboratory for almost 40 years, I have had 3 children, and was fine.
Fast forward to my late 50’s, when I did start to having pain. I have never been to a chiropractor before until I experienced the excruciating pain of a bulging disc. I was sent to a surgeon, but luckily after a round of steroids, I was improving. He gave me the choice of seeing a chiropractor or a physical therapist. I chose to go to a chiropractor and so happy I did. I had continued to go to my chiropractor over the last 10 years for various reasons such as disc trouble, sciatica, SI joint pain, and TFL muscle pain. A couple years ago I experienced pain I have never had before, muscle spasms if the back. The pain was so intense, it brought me to tears, and went on for days. My PCP prescribed a steroid and I went to my chiropractor who helped me work through it. He mentioned 3D therapy to me. I took a good look at myself using two mirrors and was horrified how much my scoliosis had progresses over the past few years. That is when I decided I must do something, but had no idea what.
I started looking online for information about scoliosis, and found the Facebook support group “Scoliosis Warriors”, and joined the group. I was surprised to find that there are so many of us who have scoliosis! Some Warriors have similar stories to mine, other have very different stories. I read about the Scoliosis Activity Suit that many have had success with. After much deliberation, I decided to order one. Even though it was pricey, I thought it was worth the try. I needed an x-ray to send in to the treatingscoliosis.com, where I was going to purchase the SAS. My curve read at 77 degrees, which is considered severe. That was two years ago. Another thing I kept reading about on Scoliosis Warriors was a scoliosis specific physical therapy called Schroth. It is taught by therapists who are trained and certified in Schroth. I was at my chiropractor and showed him my SAS. He said he has a patient who also has one, and that she went for Schroth physical therapy! He hooked me up with her and I learned that she had gone to a hospital for her Schroth PT. I decided to do the same. So, in addition to wearing my SAS for 5 hours most days, and walking on my treadmill for ½ hr. most days, I practiced my Schroth PT.
After 1 year of wearing the ScoliSMART Activity Suit (SAS) and intermittently doing my Schroth exercises, I asked my PCP for a script for a repeat x-ray to see if there was any change in my curve. I was amazed that my curve had decreased by almost 5 degrees! Down to 72.5 degrees. I continued to wear my SAS for the next year, but rarely did my Schroth exercises. I had only seen my chiropractor once this past year, as I had reduced pain. I just had my x-ray repeated in January, which was the two-year mark of wearing my SAS.
My curve had remained the same as the previous year’s x-ray, but I take that as a win! No progression is good news. I am going to get back to doing my Schroth exercise this year, and maybe get a repeat x-ray next January.
A couple other things I have learned from the Scoliosis Warriors site, and by researching is how menopause can cause an increase in your curve because of declining estrogen levels. That is what I am guessing caused my rapid increase in my curve. I also have osteoporosis which is another contributing factor. I have been putting off going on medication to treat the osteoporosis and am trying weight bearing exercise, and I added vitamin K2 to my D3 vitamin. K2 helps direct the calcium to the bone. I also learned that scoliosis is hereditary, so if you have children, keep an eye on their backs! Both my daughters have it. One has a very slight curve that stabilized on its own at a young age. My younger daughter has progressing scoliosis.
I don’t know what my future has in store for me with my scoliosis, but I feel that what I have learned, and continue to learn from others, will help me fight this disease.