Scoliosis Awareness Month is designed to shine a spotlight on the need for awareness, education and early detection of scoliosis. It also helps to educate about the diversity of individuals affected by scoliosis from children to adults, and highlight how to recognize the warning signs, and what options there are for help.
Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. It is most often diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence but can also be diagnosed in adulthood either existing since adolescence or as the development of a new scoliosis, usually as a result of spinal degeneration which is known as Degenerative De-Novo Scoliosis (DDS).
The First scary look at my own x’ray
In my case, I have known for some time that I had some scoliosis and attributed it to a leg length discrepancy identified in my 30’s when I was first fit for orthotics during a brief running stint. It never gave me too much trouble, and even when I occasionally suffered from some low back pain over the years, no one really mentioned scoliosis as the cause or recommended any specific treatments. Over the last 10 years or so, I began to notice more asymmetry in my hips and shoulders, which, again, I attributed to a leg length discrepancy and thought it inevitable as no one had ever recommended treatment specific to scoliosis.
Suddenly, this year, however, it seems, everyone including me was noticing my scoliosis including my new primary care physician and a new massage therapist. But it was only when I experienced an episode of some unrelenting lower back pain did some serendipitous events begin to occur. I made a 911 call to a local chiropractor I had seen occasionally in the past, and along with treatment he recommended thoracic and lumbar spine x’rays. When I saw my x’rays and the significant curvature of my lower spine I was horrified. By this time I had read enough about scoliosis to know that it is a progressive condition and in fact low back pain is often a common symptoms associated with scoliosis in adults and yet treatment approaches are often symptomatic without addressing the root cause.
Around the same time that I was having my back pain and x’rays, a patient with Parkinson’s who I had first seen approximately 6 years ago returned for treatment. She is a seasonal resident of Florida, and somehow over the last 6 years she failed to return or be re-referred for treatment and we lost touch. As she stood outside my office door, I could hardly recognize who she was. The woman I had met 6 years prior with a bubbly personality was now hunched over to the side, so much so, I had to bend down myself to see her face and communicate with her. Her own scoliosis and severe kyphosis coupled with neuromuscular changes from Parkinson’s had placed her in an untenable posture which not only increased her fall risk and limited her ability to perform ADLs, but it also made communication nearly impossible with her hard of hearing husband. When I asked her about her condition, she told me she was told “there is nothing they can do about it.” Is it true, I wondered, with my own situation in the back of my mind, that once spinal changes occur in adults there is nothing more that can be done?
Well, more reading and investigating scoliosis led me to Scoliocare, a clinic right here in Naples, Florida. Dr. T Foster Bryant is the head Clinician of this clinic, and clearly is passionate about the care he provides to patients. He treats patients of all ages including children, but also has a special interest in taking care of older individuals with spinal deformities and collapsing postures, usually they are the patients who have been told by other providers that their only options are surgery or that “there is nothing more that can be done.”
In my case, I am lucky, because as bad as my x-rays appeared to me, Dr. Bryant feels confident that a combination of special bracing (Scoliobrace) and specialized exercise can slow the progression of my own scoliosis and reduce future episodes of low back pain.
I am now in the same position as most of my patients. Following a prescribed treatment plan that includes daily exercises in the hopes that they will reduce the symptoms of a progressive condition and let me continue to engage in the activities I enjoy for as many years as possible. I am hoping that my “old muscles” can indeed be taught new tricks. I often tell patients that most of us, if we live long enough, will have something to deal with. But education is power, and the more you know about your disease or condition, the more you can self-advocate and continue to obtain the help you need.
Exercises and a ScolioBrace to help with muscle re-education and spine strengthening.
Have you been diagnosed with scoliosis or kyphosis worsened by the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease? If so, please consider being evaluated by someone who specializes in spinal disease and function. If you would like to learn more visit: https://scolicare.com/
My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice