I Have Scoliosis

Whatchya doin’ on your back?
You should be dancing


No, no, that’s not me in that picture. I’m tanner. Plus, my spine is a lot curvier. Which, when it comes to spines, is not desirable.

As a kid, I had bad posture. “Stand up straight!” still rings in my ears, and if anyone says it to me today, they’re likely to get a punch to the throat. When I was 12, I was examined by my pediatrician. He asked me to leave the room and then told my mom I had 6 months to live. Needless to say, he didn’t really know what he was talking about. The second doctor, an orthopedist, diagnosed me with idiopathic (“We don’t know what causes it!”) scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and slapped me into a Milwaukee back brace (scroll down to view this modern-day torture device) for four hellish years in an attempt to keep the curvature from getting worse. It worked, and had I remained 16 years old forever, I might still be in pretty good shape.

But I stubbornly got older. And with age, the curvature typically worsens. If it gets bad enough, it can interfere with breathing and lead to arthritis of the spine. Muscles are stretched on one side and cramped on the other. When your spine is out of whack, everything’s out of whack.

My current orthopedist measures my curvature to determine the Cobb angle, shown in the above picture. The two numbers designate the original curve and the compensatory curve that results in the spine’s effort to keep the body upright. The lady in the illustration has a 40 over 25 curve; mine is 50 over 35.

At 50°, doctors start to talk about spinal fusion surgery. Scary, but back surgery has come a long way since I was diagosed. At that time, spinal surgery meant a full body cast and a year on your back. My dad had scoliosis (it can be hereditary), and they took a freakin’ BONE out of his LEG and jammed it into his SPINE. These days, they screw some metal rods and pins into the vertebrae and basically yank the spine into relative straightness. No cast or brace. Full recovery in about 6 months. Most people don’t end up with a completely straight spine, but depending on age and severity, most can expect a 40% to 70% improvement.

The possibility of surgery is still waaaay on the backburner for me. But I’ve been thinking about it more and more lately, because, quite simply, my back is killing me. It hurts when I sleep on my side. It hurts when I exercise but also when I don’t. I can’t sit or stand for long periods of time. It wakes me up at night and keeps me from falling asleep. Wait, let me check . . . yes, it hurts right now!

But there are other options, right? Yup, and I’ve tried them all: chiropractic adjustments, stretching, acupuncture, healing touch, meditation, yoga, creative visualization, massage, ice, heat, OTC pain relievers, UTC pain relievers, and Gus therapy.

Once I understood that surgery wasn’t quite as big a deal as I’d thought, my back started bothering me a lot more. Funny. I think this is because I’d always considered surgery to be out of the question, so I’d have to deal with this—CHEERFULLY—for the rest of my life. But now that I know that there is a possible alternative, I’m finding it harder to deal with the pain.

I’m also finding it harder to deal with having to give up things I love, like beading, because it hurts to sit upright for too long. I was trying to teach myself how to play the fiddle, but now it hurts my neck too much. I no longer take cardio kickboxing classes, because I’d have to factor in 20-minute intervals with ice packs for the rest of the day. And now I’m faced with giving up Zumba, the funnest workout in the world that makes me happier than just about anything. In that hour of aerobic dancing, I am triumphing over my condition, kicking my spine’s ass. There is such joy and a sense of empowerment in the feeling that my body can do these things. But then the muscles cool down and the pain settles in. Is it worth it? For now, it is.

Should I start seriously considering surgery?

Reasons to have surgery
  • My spine will be straighter
  • I will hopefully have a lot less pain and fewer (no?) headaches
  • I will hopefully be more flexible
  • I can do the kinds of exercise I love
  • The money I save on massage therapy can go toward a second home in the Keys
  • I can kick my Vicodin habit
  • I’ll get morphine!
  • Kickass scar
Reasons to avoid surgery
  • It’s surgery! Avoid at all costs!
  • I may have the same amount of pain and different (worse?) headaches
  • I may be less flexible
  • Exercise is supposed to be painful . . . right?
  • I won’t be able to justify the cost of a massage anymore
  • Vicodin is useful for other kinds of pain
  • I probably shouldn’t be given morphine
  • Giant scar

I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, pass the Vicodin. I should be dancin’ right now.

If you want to learn about scoliosis:
  • Scoliosis 101
  • Scoliogirl! Scoliogirl’s straightforward account of her spinal fusion surgery is reason enough to vote no. She woke up from surgery with a paralyzed leg. Luckily, after a second surgery, she’s doing better. But not great.
  • Diary of a Milwaukee Brace Wearer This is a heartbreaking diary entry of a young girl getting fitted for a Milwaukee brace. No, your life is not over!
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53 Responses to “I Have Scoliosis”

  1. 1 fracas

    I’m so glad you have to make this decision so that I don’t have to JD. I have no idea how to choose so I’m going to just offer you hugs. Damn. I will never again complain about a backache without thinking of you and feeling like a stupid dweeb for complaining.

    More hugs.

    fracas’s last blog post..Just for tonight, let’s pretend that we’re married.

  2. 2 Lisa Lisa

    I feel the same way as “fracas” feels. I have knots in my neck and shoulders with an occasional cramp and BOY can I complain. Now I feel like a real wimp. I hope all goes well with either choice you make, but really it seems if you don’t make the choice to do the back surgery there is no chance for improvement. I too take pills for the pain – do you really want to let your little brown bottle of happiness go for good??? J/K I wish you all the luck!

    Love Lisa Lisa

  3. 3 Kathy

    Hugs here, too. JD, I’m sorry you’ve been dealt crappy spine cards and that we all can’t just snap our fingers and make your pain go away. Chronic pain really tests a person. My wish for you is that you can avoid surgery, but if you need it, I pray it gives you relief. Zumba needs you. We all know you’re the most awesome one in your class!

    Kathy’s last blog post..I Asked for Donuts and Got a Bag of Lard

  4. 4 Jeff

    I’m with these guys. I get “backaches” every now and then and after a few chiropractor visits I’m good to go. Now I’m gonna start calling them whimpaches. Good luck with your decision process. My guess is you’ll be forced to face the surgery eventually as this disease does not typically reverse itself. But then I’m sure you already know that.

  5. 5 JD

    Fracas: Hey, what wouldn’t I do for you guys, huh? Seriously, thank you for the hugs. I love them. And never feel like a stupid dweeb. It’s all relative, you know? There are zillions of people with WAY worse problems than me, and you better believe I’m still gonna complain!

    Lisa Lisa: Thanks for your good thoughts. And as I said to the Fraccy one above you, don’t ever feel like your own complaints are trivial. AND you make a good point. I do love my pills! What if I didn’t need them anymore? (also J/K!) Thanks again.

    Kathy: Well, I know if anyone had the power to snap her fingers and make pain go away, it would be you; after all, you have those magical powers to cancel meetings and bionic hearing—you must have other powers! Thanks for your good wishes. And, yeah: curvy or not, I will kick everyone’s ass in Zumba!

    Jeff: No, no, no! No such thing as “whimpaches!” Really. We’re all getting older and we’re all feeling it. And, I think you’re right, Jeff. The decision has probably been made somewhere deep in my brain, but it’s not yet time to make it happen. Thanks for your good wishes, my man!

  6. 6 Cindy Lietz, The Polymer Clay Girl

    I love your attitude JD! You have taken what some people would find debilitating and Zumba’d your way through it.

    I think back surgery has changed quite a bit. My Dad had been putting off back surgery for the last couple of years for some collapsed discs. His pain was getting so severe his hair started to fall out. He had the surgery a couple of months ago now and he has recovered very well. However because he had waited so long for the surgery, there was some nerve damage that was beyond repair. I wish the best of luck for you what ever you decide to do.

    I think I speak for everyone here, that it was a darn good thing for the world that the first Doctor was wrong!

    Cindy Lietz, The Polymer Clay Girl’s last blog post..Polymer Clay Image Transfers – Some Mistakes To Avoid

  7. 7 Elle

    Yow! You make impossible decisions so I don’t have to… Good thoughts and white light to ya. Hopefully you can get some relief.

    Elle’s last blog post..The Inner Life of My Dooney & Bourke

  8. 8 Canucklehead

    My question-mark-shaped spine stands with you in solidarity sister! I’m embarrassed to admit that mine is just from a lifetime of slouching. I know you will make the right choice and wish you all the best. I hope and trust that the B.I.L.F. shirt will be just what the doctor ordered. Cheers!

  9. 9 JD

    Cindy: Oh, I love how you put that: “Zumba my way through it” inDEED! That’s how I’m going to think of any tough situation from now on: I’m just gonna Zumba my way through it!

    I’m glad your dad had a good recovery, even if the results weren’t completely what you might have hoped for. It’s always encouraging to hear a “good” surgery story, so thanks for sharing that. And thanks for your very kind comments!

    Elle! Thanks for the good thoughts and white light. I feel it! Mmm…white light. Very nice. Yes, I will make this decision (so you don’t have to) eventually. I appreciate everyone chiming in with good wishes.

    Canucklehead: I’m pretty sure it’s been proven that wearing a B.I.L.F. T-shirt decreases spinal curvature by as much as 80 degrees! So I look forward to that. Try it yourself: Your question-mark-shaped spine will thank you!

  10. 10 Canucklehead

    I got my keychain (and tattoo) today – thanks so much. As a result, I also got your address – the shirt is on the way.

  11. 11 Carla @ WordPlay

    I’m sure the decision to have surgery is a tough one, but like Cindy, I know someone with a recent surgery experience — and it went much better than I would have expected.

    My boyfriend’s mom broke her hip about a month ago and because surgery and physical therapy are so advanced these days, she’s already walking around and is coming home from the rehab facility tomorrow. If this happened 10 or 20 years ago, she probably would have been in laid up in a huge cast for a l-o-n-g time.

    Not only was the surgery easy enough that she could be awake during it, but amazingly, they simply glued a new prosthetic ball-thingee on the top of her leg and stuck it back in the hip socket. She was up within a week and walking within two in a rehab facility that has live music four times a week, a bird aviary, visits from “therapy dogs” and lots of progressive physical therapy.

    Obviously, your surgery and situation would be different than hers. The point I’m making though is that everyone in our family expected it to be a nightmare, but because of the advanced way these things are handled these days, it’s been a relative breeze.

    If you make the decision to have surgery, I know you’d be smart enough to make sure you’re in good hands. When you combine that with the high-tech way things are done these days, it seems like it could actually a brighter picture than you might have expected in the past.

    It’s such a personal decision; no one can tell you what to do. But whatever you decide, just know we’re all in your corner! :-)

    Carla @ WordPlay’s last blog post..Zemanta Delivers Free Images, Keywords and More to Your Browser

  12. 12 cardiogirl

    Ouch-eee. It sounds like it’s pretty bad if you are seriously entertaining back surgery. Ouch. I’m surprised Gus therapy didn’t fix it, though. He’s very charming, at least he is via his photos.

    Very difficult decision, as everyone else has already noted, though I give you props for putting “kickass scar” on the pro side.

    Good luck.

    cardiogirl’s last blog post..I met a star — a fellow blogger — and it was fabulous!

  13. 13 JD

    Canucklehead: I’m glad you received your fabulous prize. No hogging the tattoo—that’s for Canucklehead Jr.!

    Carla: Wow, your boyfriend’s mom’s surgery sounds almost futuristic! I’m so glad everything turned out so well. That rehab place sounds fantastic! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. The more positive surgery stories I hear, the better I feel. And, yes, it’s my decision alone, but it’s sure nice to have friends for support.

    Cardiogirl: I know! Gus therapy is usually very reliable. He does his best, tho. I don’t know how he’ll feel about a kickass scar on my back, but I’m guessing he’ll love me the same as ever.

  14. 14 Canucklehead

    He is now wearing said tattoo – pictures to follow …

  15. 15 Simon

    Does anyone else feel the need to stretch and straighten their back after looking at that picture? :)

  16. 16 JD

    Simon: I do! Oh! But I can’t. ;-)

  17. 17 bebe

    I have kypho-scoliois and had surgery when I was twelve, more than 10 years ago. At that time, my breathing and heart were already affected. I have two rods to hold my spine together. In less than a week, I was released from hospital. I had a brace on which I wore for three months.

    I’m not as flexible as other people. I still have a hump though and my other breast is smaller than the other. I cannot wear normal bras. I have to wear sports bras because one of my shoulders is rounded. I’ve had a normal life so far until last year when I was diagnosed with muscle problems in the shoulder which is not hunched. I also have nerve problems on my right side, where the hump is. Sometimes I tires my hand easily when I write or brush my teeth.

    Hope this helps.

  18. 18 JD

    bebe: Hi there! Thanks so much for dropping by to share your experience. It sounds like you’ve had a tough time of it. I hope your doing better and aren’t suffering too much.

  19. 19 Wendy

    Hey, girl. I had spinal fusion surgery when I was 14. I had a curve about like the picture. Sorry I don’t remember exactly the degree, its been so long and I was young. I had no choice but to have surgery. The orthopedic surgeon monitored me closely until it got to the point that if I didn’t have it I would be doubled over in less than a year. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. You need to do this. It isn’t fun, but it is DEFINITELY worth it. I cannot stress this enough. I have a 12inch + scar that isn’t bad at all, more like a faint pen line down my back. I am now 23, I ride horses, go skiing, camping, running, workout etc. I am engaged to the most wonderful man in the world, who thinks I am the most beautiful girl in the world, and next year I will be moving to Dubai. I’m not sugar coating it at all, if you have any questions ask I will tell you the absolute truth.
    Love and Best Wishes,

  20. 20 Megan

    Hey, I had spinal fusion surgery when I was 11 and I’ll tell you I’m so glad I did! My spine was at a 52 degree curve when my doctor said that the brace wasn’t working and to consider surgery. I had worn a brace for about 3 years at that point. I was terrified let me tell you! But really it wasn’t that bad and you’re right when you said that it’s not as scary as it used to be. I had surgery in February and by July I was back playing sports just like before and to this day I have nearly no back pain. I would tell anyone who is debating whether to have the surgery to do it! I can’t imagine the amount of pain I’d be in today if I hadn’t of had the surgery way back when. Good luck and I hope you figure out what to do!


  21. 21 JD

    Megan: Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to comment. I’m still going back and forth on this. I’m seeing a new ortho after the first of the year to hear what he has to say. I’m in a lot of pain, and it’s discouraging. I’ve heard about people who’ve had “bad” results after the surgery, but I’ve heard just as many stories with “good” results, like yours. I’m really happy you’re doing so well. I hope you’ll keep in touch. For some reason I didn’t get your comment via my e-mail, so if you read this and wouldn’t mind getting in touch with me, my e-mail is idothing AT gmail.com. Thanks again, and Happy Holidays!

  22. 22 Anya

    Oh yes, me too. I was diagnose with scoliosis, it made me pain!!! :O! Last November I had operation on my spine, now straight! :). Im lucky now…I am still young. So now I still wear my brace. It is not bad for me.

    Best Wishes xxxx


    Anya’s last blog post..The List – May 2009

  23. 23 Nicolas

    Hi, sorry but I had to respond after reading only a paragraph or two. Yes, surgery has advanced leaps and bounds since your Dad’s days, but it doesn’t straighten your spine, it just prevents it from curving further. There is zero “yanking”. I thought it would be easy, like “Hey, while you’re in there, can’t you just pull it straight?”

    I’ve had two operations now, because the fusion didn’t “take” and the first rod broke. Since it’s permanently screwed into your friggin’ spine, they obviously cannot remove it. Not quite a leg bone, but one of my ribs was removed to become part of the mulch-like filling they would use in between the vertebrae.
    So, not 3 years later when for some unexplainable reason my leg would just fall asleep and incredible split seconds of white-hot pain would occur, another surgery was imminent. I wasn’t shocked to learn that 2 new rods would have to be installed around the original broken one. Needless to say, my X-Rays look awesome and Wolverine-like. My whole point is that this is something that is billed as a “Lady” thing, as in the only point of concern is the complications that can arise if you were able to produce life from your pelvic region. As a young man, with absolutely no family history, all internet support is geared towards women, as this affects the fairer sex at a rate of approximately 7 to 1. I actually came across this page while looking for a tattoo idea to decorate my 2 very long large scars (in different places). Sadly, I can’t find anything that doesn’t suggest a “vine with flowers” or a “string of butterflies”
    .-= Nicolas ´s last blog ..Eric Man-jobless =-.

  24. 24 JD

    Hi, Nicolas,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear your surgery wasn’t as successful as it might’ve been. Since I wrote this post, I’ve done lots of research that suggests surgery is probably WAY MORE on the back burner than I had thought. I don’t think I ever believed I’d elect to have it, but the day may come when I have to. I’ll deal with it then. For now, there’s Vicodin. I hope you’re able to find a good tattoo and enjoy your awesome X-rays . . . and a lot more. Thanks again.

  25. 25 jude_fakename

    I have scoliosis and I’m very young. 19 degrees. I have to wear a night brace. I wanted to talk to other young girls who felt the same way I felt. If anyone wants to visit, they can click my name.
    I can’t believe the doctor told you you had 6 months to live. Your mother must have gone psycho.
    .-= jude_fakename´s last blog ..Did you just say I have to wear a BRACE?!! =-.

  26. 26 Becky

    I just wrote this about my spinal fusion surgery, I live in England so I didn’t have the cost issue, but my surgery back in 2007 was extremely successful.

    I know I moan about having scoliosis, it sucks, but despite all the risks I would totally recommend the surgery. I’ve pretty much finished my road to recovery.

    And the scars are totally better than the sticking out shoulder blade I had before. =D
    .-= Becky´s last blog ..scoliosis =-.

  27. 27 sami

    ouch. i have it too. not fun.

  28. 28 samantha hern

    lots of people have had success with surgery, with the pain you are in it must be an agonising decision which only you can make. stay happy love and hugs samtattoos of butterflies
    .-= samantha hern´s last blog ..Tattoos Of Butterflies =-.

  29. 29 JD

    To those I haven’t responded to: I’m sorry: for some reason I’m not getting e-mail notifications about comments on this particular post. But I want to thank EVERYONE for sharing their story and advice. It really means a lot to me.

    Becky: I’m on my way to read your post. I’m so happy you had good results from your surgery.

    samantha hern: Thank you. You are a sweetie.

    jude_fakename: I hope other younger people find your site. Yeah, my mom went “a little” psycho. Luckily she got me to another doctor ASAP!

    Anya: Hurray! I’m so happy to hear your surgery went well. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  30. 30 Me!

    awww. I feel your pain. I have scoliosis too. (HATE IT) Luckil, they got too the curve in time so I just have to wear a brace. But it is soo embarassing and hurts really bad. Maybe someday no one will have to face this monster called: Scoliosis.
    Lots of hugs!

  31. 31 caroline

    Hi! My spine had a 40 degree curvature. I had my operation when I was 16 and it was the best I could do. I only had to use a brace for a week. I had a little pain after the surgery, yes (though I can’t say it was unbearable), but believe me, it’s so worth it!
    I’m 27 now and ever since a month after the surgery I haven’t had any pain at all and I didn’t have to give up anything.
    I think I have a 14 degree curvature now, but I don’t even notice it, unless a take a good look in the mirror. And the best thing is: I don’t ever think about it anymore! Best of luck ;)

  32. 32 JD

    Me! Aw, you’re so sweet. I’m sorry you have to wear a brace. I remember like it was yesterday the pain and embarrassment. You sound like an awesome person, tho, so focus on THAT. This brace time will be over before you know it, and you’ll be grateful for it. Hugs back to YOU!

    caroline: Thanks for sharing your success story! I really, really need to hear these (as do others contemplating surgery). I’m so glad you’ve had such good results. And I’m sure no one notices at all. How I would love not to think about this anymore! Thanks again for sharing.

  33. 33 Christina

    Dear JD, I have been engrossed in this post for a while; finding it when googling about different gym classes and my scoliosis. I have 34 over 49, and my Dr says he avoids surgury… he is head of the Dept and in the SRS, and thinks I will do fine EVEN if I progress the typical 1 degree/yr. I am 44 so not rushing in to surgery by any means. I have begun working out at the gym – core/muscle machines, and yoga, and I have a tens from my PT, and I have gone off pain med. and am pretty hopeful. Just wanted to share that!

  34. 34 JD

    Christina: Hey! Thanks so much for stopping by to comment. It’s really helpful to hear from different people about their different situations and experiences. This is the first I’ve heard of a “typical 1 degree/yr.” Hmmm. If I progress at that rate, I’ll be at around 60 in 10 years. Blah. But we’ll see. I believe exercise is soooo important, so good for you. And the TENS unit . . . bless mah soul, I’d die without it. Best of luck to you!!!

  35. 35 Christina

    Thanks, JD! Yes, we keep on keeping on. I will try to let you know how my x-ray turns out in May after a year of working out.

  36. 36 Christina

    Hi again– you know, I was wondering if the Dr. said “typicial” or just said, “even if it increases one degree a year” and maybe I read typical into it. Anyway, I hope I didn’t alarm you. That’s all; take care!

  37. 37 JD

    Christina: OH, ok! Well, either way, I won’t freak out. I’m pretty sure everyone’s different. Regardless, I’ll ask my doc about it the next time I see him. Thanks!

  38. 38 Vicki

    I appreciate you posting about your experience. My daughter is 16 and will be having spinal fusion surgery in the next few months. She’s going to have this done at a Shriners hospital, for which I am so very grateful. Her lower curve is 52 degrees, the upper only 25 and it’s just a compensation curve. Amazingly, it’s not real noticeable on her…her shoulders are straight so she appears to stand pretty straight. Only when she’s wearing very tight fitting clothing is it really noticeable.
    Can I ask how old you are now? I am so thankful for how far this type of surgery has come, and believe my daughter’s life will be better for years to come because of it. She will lose some flexibility, which is the hardest thing for her to face because right now she’s very flexible and athletic. I think this will help her in terms of surgery, she should do very well and since she’s young, heal quickly. But she is facing 4-6 months without being able to play basketball, which will be hard on her. I pray she will eventually be able to play as well after surgery as before.
    I think you should consider surgery with the pain you are in. I know a woman who is 69 years old and just had this type of surgery done…and she is doing just great!
    Wish you the very best and thanks again for sharing!

  39. 39 Vicki

    OH and on the subject of braces…my daughter wore one for a just a couple months this fall before we let her quit because the pain it cause was just terrible. She actually has very little pain with her scoliosis, but the brace was almost unbearable. They are indeed torture devices. I think people who prescribe them and fit them should have to wear them for a while to see how they feel. And from what I’ve learned through research, they don’t help people with the degree of curve she has. My daughter was not diagnosed until she was 15 years and 8 months old. Too late to do much through bracing anyway because she was pretty much done growing.

  40. 40 andrew Linial

    I am not an orthopedic surgeon but I am working for 6 years on producing a medical device which measure scoliosis without using the X ray. We have completed our research and we will start the production of the device which will be affordable to everyone because it will cost about $ 100.00.The concern parents should screen the children starting at grade 5 then grade 7 and 11
    If the child has scoliosis it would be detected in a youg age and there are many modalities for curing scoliosis without surgery.
    Please sedn me you comments


  41. 41 Christina

    Thanks for replying, Vicki. And thanks for the consideration of surgery. I am 44 years old. I guess if they can do surgery on a 69 year old, I always have that option. I will get a follow-up x-ray in May, and will see if I have progressed in the last year or held steady. I guess it is just a personal decision, as in your daughter’s case. When we saw my x-ray, my mother, whom I had invited, was upset we opted to not have the surgery when I was young (I wore a brace also, and yes, it was very painful). Then again, the risks scared me, and the hardware is quite large. I am doing ok at the moment and will look forward to the news in May. Again, thank you.

    And Andrew, that device sounds great. We patients need so many xrays!

  42. 42 Keena

    Hi everybody my name is Keena & im 16 years old i been diagnosed with scoliosis two years ago and that was the last time i went to the orthopedic doctor he said i had a 13 degree curve. I didnt feel it at all a while ago but now it hurts alot like i can barely wash my hair with out getting sharp pains in my back or shortness of breathe.. but im scared 2 go 2 the doctors! Im not a big fan of bad news i know no one is but i just hate the fatc that my back stops me from doing things i enjoy =[

  43. 43 Christina

    Hi Keena,

    I hope you have seen or made an appointment to see the Dr. by now. Fear can be worse than any news you might receive. Even if you find out your curve has progressed significantly, there are many exercises and stretches you can do to help. I just got the book Curves, Twists, and Bends– I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    Take care, Christina

  44. 44 Tom Lepps

    Good to see someone raising awareness about scoliosis.

  45. 45 pthealth

    i dont think this scoliosis dont need acupuncture treatment. This needs to be done by a general operation to fix the crooked spinal cords.

  46. 46 Heather

    You shouldn't put off seeing a doctor any longer. I had the same problem when I was 12. I was diagnosed, at 12, with about a 15 degree curve. The following year it had increased to 30 degrees and I was told to wear a brace. Being the hard-headed 12 year old I was, I refused to wear the brace or return to the doctor. Only a year later I began experiencing symptoms similar to yours. I couldn't sit up straight for more than a couple of minutes without severe pain and an almost complete loss of breath. When I returned to the doctor my curve was 69 degrees and my spine had began to twist my ribcage so severely I was losing lung capacity.

  47. 47 Kayla

    I am 14 with a 60 degree curve I am having the surgery in july I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that my neck and shoulders feel all knotted up haven’t told the parents sick of doctor appointments
    can’t wait for it all to be overwith. On the other hand this is real scarey I’ve never had any kind of surgery so its weird I’ve only told my closest friends haven’t even told my boyfriend yet I’m really concerned this is a major surgery I know my mother is worried about it but I trust the doctor we’ve chosen so I will post again before the surgery

  48. 48 Kim, Contemporary Chiropractor

    Why not try chiropractic therapy? It’s non-surgical and inexpensive. I’m sure it will help you with your scoliosis. Hope all is well with you.

    We have a chiropractic clinic in Vancouver, you may take an appointment and we’ll gladly explain to you every questions you’re interested in.

  49. 49 Christina

    My curve actually reduced 5 degrees in 18 mos… I did a lot of pilates and whatever seemed to work. I am off pain meds now at 45 degrees. Just wanted to give an update.

  50. 50 Rachel

    If you are here because you’re worried about getting a scoliosis brace or are having trouble adjusting to it, I wrote up some helpful hints from experience. This info is all on my blog called talkscoliosis.com.

  51. 51 Freya

    Hey, I’m 16, and have pretty bad scoliosis myself. I was diagnosed when I was 10, when my Mum realised that I couldn’t sit straight when playing the piano. We didn’t do much about it, but when I was about 14, I started growth spurting and it got worst. I was living in Cyprus at the time and it was only more noticable, as I was wearing strappy tops etc. all the time. I went to an orthapaedic surgeon, and after having x-rays etc. that showed a very prominent 4 C curvature of the spine, he decided I needed a brace. I wore a Boston Body Brace for two years, which you’re right is an absolute torture device. It was pretty bad for me though, as remember I was living in Cyprus and so therefore 40 degree heat. Plus I’m prone to fainting, and so the result of falling rigid, because of my brace has resulted in broken teeth, mouth surgery and stitches on both sides of my head!! I had to wear it for 20 hours a day, but I did get used to it. Nevertheless, in some ways it actually made my back worst, as I weakened the muscles surrounding my spine significantly, and I couldn’t support myself straight, for long periods of time, when I took it off. I had considered surgery, but desparately wanted to avoid it, and in my case I found a way to do just that. I flew back to England for a months worth of physio therapy, in London at the god send clinic SCOLIOSIS SOS. For seven hours a day for an entire month, you do specific exercises to strengthen the necessary muscles in your spine, so that they support your spine correctly. The difference in my posture, and appearance of my deformity is so much better. I’d reccomend the course to anyone! Seriously look into it before you go for the surgery!!! It’s an expensive course but worth every penny. I have to do physio for an hour every day, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay to avoid surgery. I hope this helps and good luck!

  52. 52 JD

    Freya! Wow. Thanks so much for stopping by to share your story. I’m sorry you had so much trouble with the brace (I never thought about it, but it makes perfect sense that the brace would allow the muscles to weaken), but am SO glad you found such a great program. And I’m sure you’ll get maximum benefit from it because you are young. YOU GO, GIRL!

  53. 53 BuckCronkite

    To quote an infamous former Prez, “I feel your pain.” But I also hear a great deal of humor and fortitude in your handling of the problem. As Lou Grant would say, “You got spunk.” Back in my day (…I’m 57) they didn’t adequately screen for the onset of scoliosis, and after a spurt of growth one summer I was wracked with pain and problems for the rest of my sketchy athletic career. I was a ranked junior tennis player, but the fatigue and uncertainty of scoliosis… the disappointing ups & downs… the fluctuations that can be brought on by weather, strain of competition, or simply bending over to tie your shoes, brought an end to my aspirations for tennis greatness before they began. I dropped out of a Big Ten school after being recruited and given a scholarship. Still in all, I’ve dealt with it over the years and found the best way to combat the malady was swimming. For me, it was a lifesaver. It has kept me in great shape. My brothers, all athletic in their youth, are fat and bloated from heavy beer drinking. Sometimes resistance, fighting against a problem like scoliosis for mere survival and a modicum of comfort, can produce in the long haul many benefits. I wish you well. And I enjoyed your blog. Would you be as entertaining were it not for the adversity?


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