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Advice about Scoliosis

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Health & Medical > Advice about Scoliosis


Questions

2013 Discussions


Rolfing for scoliosis?

June 2013

I have scoliosis (s-curve with slightly twisted vertebrae) and it affects my posture, muscle tensions, etc., and rolfing has been suggested. however, it's expensive and I don't know if it's quackery or not. Has anyone had experience with that? Chiropractic treatment hasn't really worked. thanks! all twisted up


Although I don't know how if it can help scoliosis, I am a FIRM believer in Rolfing. I completed 10 sessions and felt a noticable difference in the way I walked, sat, and just moved in my environment. I went primarily to improve my posture and definelty felt it was worth the money. Rolfing is no joke. Its painful, but I think that is why it works. I recomend Greg Brynelson. He is not only a rolfer but an RN with an acute awareness of the body and physiology. www.cityrolfer.com Good luck! Walking taller
I have scoliosis and did a series of Rolfing (10 sessions) about 10 years ago. I highly recommend it and foundit helpful to rearrange connective tissue and reduce muscle strain. It's a real therapy which has many applications, just realize it is gonna be painful..it's not relaxing and nothing like a massage. I was able to get some of the cost covered by insurance as the provider was also a PT and billed as such. If you can swing the time and cost, and endure the likely pain,it is very worthwhile. big A

Scoliosis/Kyphosis in 13 year old

Jan 2013

Hello, My 13 year old daughter was just diagnosed with 10 degree scoliosis (so very mild) and kyphosis. In addition her shoulders are not level -- her right is a little higher than her left. The orthopedist, Dr. James Policy, just recommended a recheck in a year, but I'd like to explore gentle ways of improving her spinal health and posture. (Her father has the same kyphosis-type poor posture and I don't want to see her end up looking like him). I'm thinking chiro, yoga, something like that maybe? She swims in the summer/fall, so I would think she's got a pretty decent core body strength, but maybe not. We are in Walnut Creek, so recommendations for out this way are appreciated. Concerned but don't want to overreact


I would recommend doing some pilates with a rehab pilates instructor. Although her core may be strong from her swimming; the repetitive nature of the swimming movement can actually exacerbate kyphotic tendencies. I recommend Turning Point studio in your area - they have great instructors there. Thanks Cynthia
Please ask your ortho. doctor to give you a referral to see a Physical Therapist. I don't think seeing a chiropractor will help your case. You can go to the closest outpatient Physical Therapy clinic you want. Annette
I have mild scoliosis as well. PILATES is the answer- especially one-on-one on a ''cadillac'' machine. Mat classes are good as well, but the expertise of one-on-one instruction is by far the best. Even if it's just once a week. Pilates is all about spine lengthening. It will teach your daughter good posture and body balance. Tell the instructor about the scoliosis and they will work on her spine and she will feel so good afterwards. wish I started young

2010 - 2012 Discussions


Adolescent Scoliosis in 13 year old girl

Dec 2012

My 13 year daughter grew more than 5 inches in the last year. On her annual well child visit , her Pediatrician noticed early signs of Scoliosis. The doctor thinks we should wait and see. I am not a big fan of ''wait and see'' and like to take a more proactive course of action. I would love to hear from parents who have had to deal with a similar issue. My chiropractor suggested certain exercises and I was also thinking of signing her up for Pilates... Any suggestions welcome. Thank you. Anon


I'm in a similar boat with my daughter, so I'd love to hear what you find out. I thought about osteopathy, but I can't afford it - if you might be able to, you might give that some thought. A friend in New York recommended a chiropractic system called the Pettibon system - you can look this up, but in addition to chiropractic adjustments (which in my view are not critical, although that's not what the practitioner will likely tell you), the system involves exercises and re-molding of the spine. My daughter does warm-up, stretching-type exercises and then rests on foam blocks that re-shape the spine temporarily. Even with imperfect adherence to the regimen, her scoliosis seems to have improved about 50% in the past several months. I actually stopped the adjustments - the cost was prohibitive and I felt pressured in an unfriendly way about them by that chiropractor - but she's continuing the exercises, and I can see they're having a positive impact. Nancy
When I was in my 40's an osteopath told me I had mild scoliosis but she said most people do. Treatment for scoliosis is a big deal. (Well, at least it was when I was a kid.) I would ask your daughter's doctor why he thinks he should ''watch and wait''. If you're not satisfied with his answer, you could get a second opinion. Disclaimer: I have no medical expertise. This is just what I would do if it were my child. Francesca
Scoliosis is a prevalent condition that often goes undiagnosed and may never cause any serious problems. Your growing teen, who now has a diagnosis of scoliosis, may benefit from non-invasive and gentle movement lessons, such as Feldenkrais or The Anat Baniel Method. These lessons can help her grow into an organized skeleton that is strong and available for supporting all levels of activity. You can find local practitioners online. wishing you a good outcome
I'm not sure my post will help you but I have been through this myself. I have scoliosis and wore a brace from the ages of 13-17. When it was discovered (at 12) my parents were also told to wait and see, but the curvature worsened. At the time (20 years ago) there was not much you could do about it proactively with exercise, etc. Chiropractic intervention was also considered not to be useful. Things may have changed now; I have not kept up on this and don't know if there are new treatments for this condition.

I guess what I'm saying is that there may not be much you can do about it at this point. Her curvature may not worsen, but it definitely can as she is still growing. Only when she stops growing will her bones ''fuse'' into place and then the condition is not considered to be problematic. That is what happened to me, I still have a visible S curve in my spine but it likely didn't get worse because of the brace. At the time, I was told that if I didn't get a brace I might be facing surgery. This could have definitely been scaremongering....anyway, I'd advise getting a second opinion, and good luck! Sarah


When I was exactly your daughter's age, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. My doctor gave me the best advise any doctor ever gave me. He said that I could either continue with my bad posture or start swimming. I wasn't a swimmer and had so many hang ups about my body, it wasn't easy to start. But my mom pushed me and I am forever thankful for what she did. Now only did swimming become my main sport, it healed me. Today, I am in my thirties and have great posture. X-rays tell the truth about my scoliosis but I have no back problems even though with 3 young children I no longer have time to swim. Swimmer
Hi, Sorry I missed this question the first time it came out. My daughter is 12 and has scoliosis. She was diagnosed last year and we did a ''wait and see'' approach. We ended up doing the brace because right now she is at the most intense time of growth, which is right before girls start their periods. After they start menarche, growth slows down. So we felt that after watching her curve increase without a brace, we would kick ourselves if bracing actually made a difference. She was part of the decision because it's a lot to take on, especially in the beginning. But now it's just normal for her. She wears it outside of her shirts, even. I guess it's too much trouble for her to try to hide. She sees Dr. Berven at UCSF, who is ambivalent about bracing's effectiveness, and from what I've read, it's about 40%-60% effective. Personally I feel it really depends on the person and his/her individual circumstances. In September she started wearing a brace. My daughter wears her brace 24/7 except when she gets home from school (for about 2 hours) and except when she does sports (which is not often). As for complementary medicine, she did pilates/physical therapy with a great PT in Alameda, and she does yoga at school and she swims twice a week with the Berkeley Barracudas. I am happy to talk with you more about her treatment so feel free to email. Best of luck! laurel

Scoliosis brace and airplane travel

Oct 2012

Hi all, We're planning an international trip in Mid-November. My 12 year old daughter wears a plastic brace for her scoliosis which has a few metal buckles. It just occurred to me that she might get pulled out of line for a pat down or something like that. I'd like to avoid any hassle getting through TSA and would like to hear other people's experiences with this. I was thinking of just having her not wear it until we get through the line, putting the brace through the X-ray machines, and then she can put it back on again. She's supposed to wear it all the time, so it's not like we can leave it home for ten days. Thoughts? Trying it make it easier


I worked a brace for two years. I did not fly during that time but my suggestion would be to check the brace (padded in a duffel bag or similar) and let her fly without it. Next best option would be to go to the airport with it off and put it on after security . Flying long distance is so uncomfortable even without a brace, and you are not guaranteed overhead bin space if she wants to take it off. I would really think about checking it and ask if you can check it at the gate. My parents let me have it off on weekend days when we went to the beach (sometimes all day) and also for hours for dance class. Of course you should also ask her orthopedist! Good luck Susan

Scoliosis in 10 year old boy

Sept 2011

I have a 10 year old boy who was diagnosed with S shaped idiopathic scoliosis when he was 8. I understand that there is now a blood test which will show the likelihood of progression which can be taken after the age of 10 -- does anyone have any experience with this? At the 9 year appointment the curve hadn't progressed, but as we approach the 10 year appointment I can easily see progression, and am getting ready for a 23 hour/day brace recommendation. Any advice welcome! Thanks, another worried mom


Sorry to hear about your son's scoliosis. Maybe our situation is not comparable, but we took our daughter to a very good osteopath who was able to reduce the curvature such that it was no longer detected in a school check up. Her name is Catherine Henderson, and she has an office in Albany. The treatments are expensive, and we were fortunate to be able to afford it, so I don't know if it's an option, but figured you should know. She could assess whether she thinks such treatments could help. Anon.
Scoliosis, except in very extreme and unusual cases, is just a description of the spine in relation to some imaginary ''perfect'' spine. You can assume, for example, that among the people giving you this ''diagnosis'' for your son, some of them have ''scoliosis'' by their own definition (and they aren't living in braces). Where did they get this definition from? Someone gave it to them, and now their job is to pass it on to you. Do you want your son to live in a brace so that these people will have done their job well? No, of course not. Just think: every time someone ''diagnoses'' something, money moves from your pocket to theirs in one way or another. Please watch this video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGma5bzOGww When you go to this video, along the right side of your screen you will also see lots of other videos with exercises for aligning the spine. You can also search online yourself with terms related to ''Exercises for Scoliosis'' and similar. Shame on the professions that bandy this word around, so that it lives and festers in the consciousness of the people they're supposed to be helping. Let them go their way! Let your son live his life--I bet he's healthy and gorgeous! Don't worry, or let him worry! There are many, many professional people like the one in the video--especially in this area!--who can fill you both up with positive, healthy, problem-shrinking kinds of advice and instruction. Please do not make the exchange you had about all this be life-defining in any sense. Seek out the positive voices that will help you neutralize the ones you've heard so far on this subject, and everything will be fine. Please Learn About Exercises for Spinal Alignment
Please check out Dr. Mohammad Diab at UCSF. He has an excellent track record with young scoliosis patients and has a ton of ideas/treatments for young children. The best part about him is that he defines mother's of his patients as part of the medical team and understands that mother's intuition is more valuable than most tests. http://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/cgi-bin/expertDetail.cgi?doctorid=26572 anon
I have scoliosis and wore a Milwaukee brace for 2.5 years at the most inopportune time, from ages 13-15, 23 hours a day. My curves were moderate--not severe. I had a lot of back pain and soreness, which no doctor assessed for or made recommendations about, and my parents weren't educated about any kind of alternative treatments (yoga, massage, chiropractic).

In adulthood, I started doing yoga and found relief from the pain for the first time. Building core (abdominal) strength, and twisting poses, were especially helpful. I saw my first chiropractor, a warm Italian woman who was also pretty intuitive. My curve began to improve noticeably, even though I had stopped growing. She noticed that my curve was significantly better when I was consistent with doing yoga. It slipped back when I wasn't as rigorous with it. I've learned that the curve isn't static, it can get better or worse depending on stress, sleep, and how you take care of yourself. I'm not sure where she got her information, but she said braces weren't being used as often. At the time, she was treating a teenage girl for scoliosis whose parents decided not to go the brace route. More recently, a chiropractor I saw in the bay area also noticed my curve improve with yoga and chiropractic visits.

I'm not abreast of the latest technologies, but as a 33 year-old woman, I wish I had someone to advocate for other ways of healing besides the brace when I was 13. It was clunky, uncomfortable, and did nothing for my back pain. I'm not actually sure how much it helped. No matter what you decide, I would recommend finding a really good chiropractor to consult with--someone who has experience treating scoliosis. Molly


I did not see the original post, but would like to second the suggestion to reach out to Dr. Mohammed Diab at UCSF. He is currently treating my 7 year old daughter for scoliosis and we are very pleased with his care. In general, I would recommend getting multiple opinions in a scoliosis diagnosis, because there are many different paths to treatment, and many opinions out there. For young children with curves between 25 and 35 degrees, and significant growth ahead of them, there is a new procedure called ''Vertebral Body Stapling'' -- google it to find more info. I would also like to mention a recent breakthrough in the field of adolescent scoliosis (which would include a 10 year old onset case, such as your son's) -- there is a new, non-invasive genetic test that can predict whether a particular adolescent's curve will worsen. This could give parents an informed perspective as to whether it is worthwhile to pursue bracing. According to what I have read, in many cases, perhaps a majority of cases, of adolescent scoliosis, the curves are unlikely to worsen significantly after diagnosis. The explicit goal of bracing is to hold a curve, not correct it. So if a curve will not worsen, why brace? Google ''NY times scoliosis'' and you find an article titled: ''Scoliosis Test Lets Children Avoid a Brace'' to learn more. You may need to keep asking to find a doctor who uses the test, since it is such a new breakthrough. Good luck to you -- I know how confusing this can be. Mom in a similar boat
We are watching 10 degrees of scoliosis in my 11 year old who is also doing Alexander Technique for ideal back posture and health. My child's orthopedist, Dr. Tseng, in Berkeley and in Oakland, is excellent. He has a fellowship in spine and his training is top-notch. His is a conservative approach, and he says that if my child were to need bracing, which is not like the former medieval back brace, but a band around the torso, he will recommend doing so if my son has a 30 degree curve. Straight Up

Just learned that 15yo has 20-30 degree scoliosis

Sept 2011

I've been just told my 15 almost 16 year old has 20-30 degree scoliosis. I'd appreciate support advice such as physical therapy, other exercise (especially yoga), emotional support, and how to parent. Personal experience really appreciated, and suggested doctors. We are following up with orthopedic doctor; I don't know what's next. Thank you so much. Another worried mom


Hi AWM, Both my kids had slight curves and were watched for a couple of years by a doctor at Childrens Hospital. It seems that no treatment is taken until the curve is past the 25% mark, or if it's 20degrees and rapidly getting worse. Here's a great link to get you started reading up on it. Medline Plus has links to many other great authorities on Scoliosis, like the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Mayo Clinic. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/scoliosis.html I think in the end, you most likely won't have any medical treatment plan. But my kids love having hot baths and massages, especially when one side of their back muscles ache more than the other from sports or skateboard crashes. I have a great masseuse from Israel who believes in affordable massage if you'd like her name and number. Good luck. an
You might want to look at the website for specialized PT for scoliosis and kyphosis. www.scoliosisrehab.com My daughter received a lot of benefit from their program for her kyphosis. good luck and feel free to email me if you have questions.
We took our daughter who was diagnosed with scoliosis to Catherine Henderson who is an osteopath trained in England. Great results in about 6 sessions, so much so that at a scoliosis screening at school it was no longer detected. Our daughter was a bit younger (12) when initially diagnosed. May be very worthwhile looking into. Catherine has an office in Albany and her phone number is (510) 526-5256. Anon.
Our 14-year-old daughter was also recently diagnosed with moderate-to-severe scoliosis (an ''S'' curve of 30+ degrees on each curve). I would be happy to share with you what I know. Brenda
Hello there, My daughter who is now almost 21 years old was diagnosed with a 38 degree scoliosis when she was 15 or 16. By the time she was officially diagnosed, it was too late to do a back brace. She did go through a terrible year of intense pain (junior year of high school)that has since resolved. During the year of pain, we had a team of doctors (James Policy of Oakland's Children's in fabulous), chiropractor, pain specialist, physical therapist and an acupuncturist. Ultimately, it was the acupuncture that gave her the needed relief. Now she just has to be super careful about her back (she can't lift anything heavier than 20 lbs, she can only do short drives, etc). Mostly, the ''limitations'' are insignificant and do not interfere with the wonderful quality of her life. She's a happy, healthy junior in college.

I'm sure everything will work out with your child as well. Feel free to contact me via email for more, if you would like. k


10 year old recently diagnosed with scoliosis

March 2011

My 10 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with scoliosis and will be required to wear a brace 20 hours a day ''until she stops growing.'' So we're looking at 4 years or so, I imagine. She has a 26 degree curve and the goal is to keep it steady while she grows so we don't have to have surgery to stabilize her spine. I'm kind of floored since nothing like this runs in my husband's or my families.

I would like to know what other sorts of supportive therapy (besides the brace) we should be looking at for our daughter. I imagine that the brace wearing will affect her core muscles in the long run. Do they have pilates for kids? Should we consider yoga and/or swimming, too? She's not a sporty kid but of course she does PE in school and she loves to ride her bike. She can take off her brace for PE, bike riding, and exercise, but really needs to keep it on most of the day. I would love to hear experiences and advice from families who are living with this. L


Hi, I haven't gone through this with my own child, but I was a kid who had scoliosis. I wore a brace all through junior high school and into my first year of high school. It seemed like all my friends either were getting braces or their parents were getting divorced, so there was no one I could relate to on this (or so it seemed, maybe that's just the feelings of being that age!).

I wound up having a brace that went from my chest to the top of my hips, so I while I couldn't bend at the waist it was not obvious (it turned out later most kids never knew I had it, even though I felt like it was very obvious). I took what was called an ''adaptive PE class'' (for kids with disabilities) which allowed me to leave the brace on -- I could have it off for an hour a day and I didn't want to waste that on PE class (I think I'd take it off for an hour after school instead). Taking the PE class with those kids was an eye opener, and I think it benefited me in a lot of ways.

There is a book called Deenie (http://www.worldcat.org/title/deenie/oclc/800751) which is about a girl who has scoliosis. It's a book for tweens, and you might read it before giving it too your daughter. It's Judy Blume and written in 1973, so I don't know how well it's aged.

The good news is that I got through it. I wasn't athletic at the time, but I am now (age 43) and have no back troubles and no regrets about wearing my brace.

I'd be happy to talk to you and your daughter if you like. I don't have any medical advice to offer, but I can talk about what it was like in the ''old days.'' MP


I hope the MD who recommended the brace also stressed the importance of Physical Therapy! It's important that your daughter have a few sessions of PT to learn proper/safe body mechanics (lifting, backpack fit, etc) to avoid injuring her back, and strengthening and stretching exercises so that her musculature can support her better. She needs to see a PT first rather than a gym person as PTs are specifically trained in exercise prescription particularly with people who have underlying medical conditions and musculoskeletal dysfunctions. Please get a referral for a PT first, then she could do pilates or swimming or some physical activity that she enjoys, but she'll know how to do it safely! PT mom

Seeking excellent doctor for adult Scoliosis

Jan 2011

I have had Scoliosis since my teen years but it has progressed and causes me significant pain. I saw a Dr Slabaugh (Oakland) about 20 years ago - I am now 50, but he didn't help. It appears one leg is shorter than the other, one hip higher than the other and I have upper and lower thoracic curves. They are both pronounced - I have a large hump on upper right of back, one lower shoulder, etc. and cannot sit for long, sleep for more than 5-6 hours, stand for long periods, carry bags, or sit comfortably on a flight for longer than an hour.

The pain and associated problems affect me every day. I would like to find a doctor who has success with treating Scoliosis and the related problems (lungs compromised, hip pain due to lack of symmetry, lower and upper back pain, sometimes crippling back pain. Sacroiliac Joint pain, misaligned neck with pain etc. repeated falls due to the longer leg hitting the ground first, etc.. I also notice now that my 14 year old daughter has a curve in her back from the side profile, and am concerned that she too may have Scoliosis. If you have dealt with Scoliosis or know of someone who has, and if you know of a great doctor anywhere in the bay area, I would love to hear from you. Thanks Want to be pain-free!


I was told I had scoliosis since I was a teen also... I recently started going to ALIGN Chiropractic Center and my back pain is almost completely gone. I learned that I have a short leg, which was causing a pseudo-scolisis. I've been doing decompression therapy for a month now and my back feels stronger then ever. The Doctors at ALIGN have experience working with both teens and adults. 510- 654-2207; alignchiro.com anon
I would advise you to avoid chiropractors and other alternative treatment modalities until you are evaluated by an orthopedist physician who specializes in scoliosis. What you describe is not to be taken lightly and is likely to worsen as you age and the quality of your life continue to deteriorate. UCSF has one of the world's best spine services and they routinely treat adult scoliosis. You need to be evaluated with treatment recommendations from experts in this in order to make an intelligent decision. If I remember correctly from your original post, you were inadequately or not treated at all as an adolescent, when you should have been, and this is causing your present problems because your curves are not stable, they are deteriorating. Here is the dept. website with contact information: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/clinics/spine_center/index.html

Here is information about scoliosis: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/scoliosis/

Best of luck living with the same thing


Brace treatment for child's scoliosis

Nov 2010

Dr. Policy of Children's Hospital Oakland recently diagnosed my child with idiopathic scoliosis and has recommended a brace be worn for the next 3-4 years for 20 hours per day. Would be very appreciative of any comments regarding Dr. Policy and/or this treatment for scoliosis. Seems a very extreme protocol, especially with no guarantees of avoiding surgery. Worried Mom


I would get a second opinion. When my 14-year-old son, then a high school varsity runner, was first diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and a 23-hour brace was recommended, we both said ''no way!'' We switched to Dr. Peper Slabaugh of Webster Orthopaedic Associates for scoliosis care. My son wore a Charleston nighttime brace for a few years while continuing his active lifestyle and high-intensity athletic training. At 18, he completed his growth with the Cobb angle unchanged. His scoliosis now is stable and no further treatment is necessary. I highly recommend reading ''Scoliosis and the Human Spine'' by Martha Hawes. I found it very empowering. Been there
While I don't know a lot about using a brace for scoliosis (I thought that was the dark ages), this protocol does seem extreme...I DO know, however, that Pilates exercise is very effective in maintaining scoliosis. You don't say how old your child is. If he/she is old enough to pay attention and follow some direction, this could be helpful to balance the muscles in the back and hips. I know of a trainer in Alameda(Don't know her name...sorry) who specializes in scoliosis. Many Pilates trainers around the area are very skilled in working with people/kids with scoliosis. It would be worth checking out before agreeing to the extreme of 20 hours in a brace. Good luck. mom w/ scoliosis son
I have recent experience with Dr. Policy, and a diagnosis of idiopathic scoliosis. We got a second opinion at UCSF, which for us was very relieving, and have also been using some other practitioners that have been extremely helpful. I'm happy to talk to you personally about our experience, I've been quite involved in the process for the last several months and have quite a bit of information that I think could be helpful. Please ask the moderator for my e-mail address. anon

2007 - 2009 Discussions


Teen with Scoliosis Looking for Physical Therapist

Sept 2009

My 14 year old daughter just had a growth spurt and now has a 19 degree curve (S shaped actually) in her spine. I had this as a preteen and did exercises which corrected it a lot before I stopped growing. We have maybe a year window for my girl. I am looking for both a great sensitive pediatric orthopedist (prefer a woman - are there any out there now that Monica Kogan has moved to Chicago?) and a physical therapist specializing in Scoliosis in teens. please share your ideas and referrals! Help Us Correct Scoliosis


John King Sports and Orthopedic Specialists 547-2102 6300 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
Hi, have you considered or thought about a Chiropractor for your daughter? I have lumbar scoliosis and have seen orthopedic docs and massage therapists. But what really remedied the pain I have experienced most of my life,(I'm in my 40's now)since I was diagnosed with scoliosis at 13 yr of age, was a Chiropractor, who I have been seeing for almost 15 yrs and I have my family see him for treatments. He can probably help your daughter and give her gentle yet aggressive exercises to ease her spinal curve also to avoid future pain and progressive curvature as she matures. If you chose to go this route, my Chiropractor is Dr. Steven Jakobsen, located in Lafayette, his office number is (925)283-8140. Good luck! Denise
I highly recommend Dr. Peter Slabough in Oakland. After another orthopaedic surgeon scared my teenage son with spinal fusion surgery threats, Dr. Slabough's conservative approach worked very well for us. My son wore a nightime brace to correct his scoliosis for several years (until growth completion), without any changes to his active lifestyle (running on his high school varsity team, cycling, backpacking, traveling the world...) been there

Our 5 year old just diagnosed with scoliosis

June 2009

Hi, Our daughter was just diagnosed with scoliosis, and we have our first appointment with the orthopedic specialist this week. So I don't know much yet -- how much of a curve (although I think minor at this point), treatment recommendations, etc. My question at this stage is really about how to talk about this with my daughter. Most advice online is focused on adolescent children facing a brace/surgery. I think I have good instincts on this, but it's always helpful to hear from others who have already gone through something. And of course, it would be nice to connect with other families who are dealing with this. Anyone out there have any experience with scoliosis with their young child? Many thanks


Contact the Scoliosis Association of San Francisco. It is run by Linda Racine, who has scoliosis. They have meetings They have a yahoo group. This is her website: http://www.scoliosislinks.com/ (650)726-0341 scoliosissf@comcast.net

Also National Scoliosis Foundation (www.scoliosis.org). The National Scoliosis Association is another well known group: http://www.scoliosis-assoc.org/

The BPN archives have posts to previous questions on scoliosis (in case you haven't searched them): http://parents.berkeley.edu/recommend/medical/scoliosis.html

Best of luck to your family. Your daughter is VERY LUCKY that you discovered her curve so early and she is getting treatment. Hopefully she will not grow up like some of us have with very visible and nearly disabling deformities. anonymous


Hi there! Some people have actually have good results with Feldenkrais. Get her on a swim team to stabilize her back and put her in dance classes. Consider gentle chiropractic care too...I love Reuben Ziegler in Berkely for chiropractic. Early age and small curve that is just a ''C'' curve, not an ''S'' , she may be a candidate for an electrode implanted on the concave side of the curve, which she activates at night, and in 2-3 years it tends to reduce or stabilize the curve. Wish you well!
Our 7-year-old grandson, with 15% scoliosis, was just found (via MRI) to have an attached spine. Unusual, but not extremely rare, his spine is attached at the bottom, so as he grows, the spine cannot grow as fast, and starts curving. The remedy, which he is having next week, is a fast and simple (we are told) arthroscopic procedure to detach the spine at the bottom. Either 0 or 1 night in hospital, two weeks of taking it easy afterwards. john
Hi there, I am in my 30s and have kyphosis which is similar to scoliosis except my spine is curved forward. I saw the note about swimming which was the same advice my parent's got. Being a type A personality, I became a competative swimmer swimming 4 hours a day, was recruited to swim for college, but eventually ripped up my shoulders so badly I had to quit swimming my second year of college and haven't been in the pool since -- too painful. My kyphosis feeds into my cronic back and neck pains (many years of PT and wearing a back brace didn't ever seem to make a dent in correcting the curve of my spine and I had reputable doctors at Boston's Children's hospital) but my swimming injuries (not the kyphosis) are what cause most of my pain. All this to say, have your daughter swim in moderation! She's only 5 now but if she takes to swimming, monitor the amount of yardage she is doing and inform her coaches of her scoliocis so that if she tells a coach she is experiencing pain, she is told to stop rather than the ''no pain no gain'' line I got. Swimming gave me many gifts of friendship, discipline, determination which I hope your daughter is able to experience, but I guess you really can have too much of a good thing. I miss swimming

In my 30's, scoliosis is bothering me now

April 2008

I have had scoliosis since I was young...never bad enough for bracing or surgery, but now that I am in my early 30's it bothers me frequently. I practice yoga and am in OK physical health, but the muscle imbalances are taking their toll. I need recommendations for good orthopedic doctors who specialize and/or have experience with treating scoliosis in older patients. Thanks. Feeling old with a bad back at 31


Contact UCSF spine service http://www.ucsfhealth.org/adult/medical_services/spine/ They are the best in the country for older pts and for revision surgery. anonymous with scoliosis
Have you tried Pilates for scoliosis? I work at Synergy Fitness Pilates Studio on Solano ave in Albany. We have a lot of clients (and 2 of our trainers) with varying degrees of scoli. Your trainer in Pilates will design a program specifically for you. You will strengthen in a way that will support your body and help you to be pain free. There are many good Pilates studios around. If Synergy Fitness is near you, check us out, www.synergyfitness.com June
She's not an orthopedic doctor, but my chiropractor, Karen Kartch, has recently helped me make a lot of progress reducing my scoliosis, using ''The Graston Technique'' along with some exercises. The Graston Technique involves a set of specially shaped tools that the chiropractor (some PTs use it, too) uses to break up old adhesions and scar tissue. Kartch Chiropractic is at 3661 Grand Ave. near Safeway. The phone number is 510.444.4449.

At the same time, I've taken some classes called Body Balance to re-align my posture. Dana Davis is based in Petaluma but offers classes in Berkeley (www.sonomabodybalance.com), and Jean Couch works in Palo Alto (www.balancecenter.com). There is also a great book that explains the theory, with lots of helpful pictures and exercises to start you on your way: Ageless Spine, Lasting Health by Kathleen Porter.

Doing both of these together has really helped me change painful patterns. Good luck! Karisa


I was diagnosed with a 35 degree lumbar curve when I was twelve that has on and off given me issues. As an adult, yoga was good ritual, but I never fully recovered from my pregnancy. PT #3 diagnosed a combo of pelvic injury from pregnancy and my old friend scoliosis.

With an amazing team of practitioners (an rockin' PT who has a scoliosis magic- I had heard rumors of him, a loving and gentle Rolfer, a gifted Osteopath, and a non-invasive spine specialist MD to round it out) I have probably lost at least 10 degrees from my curve. And I think I will lose more. I don't think any of these specialist's gifts would have worked as strongly alone - they complemented each other extremely well. And the PT and Rolfer developed a good collaboration.

The pros: Little to no back pain. And my pants fit better. My ribcage is shaped differently - its more balanced.

The cons: it was time consuming and expensive, only the PT would bill my insurance. In the gym I wished I had focused on more Pilates and swimming instead of my old weights routine. I got aggressive and ended up with a bulging disk in my neck, and then headaches. Now in healing mode and definitely mending, I see there is an integration in the body of where the curve moves to. It doesn't just disappear, it needs to work its way out. And I wonder if I did too much work too fast. When I go back for more it will be at a slower pace.

I wish my parents had taken me to even just one of these practitioners when I was 12 and 13 and newly diagnosed.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss further. Take care, Julia


Chiropractor for adolescent scoliosis?

Sept 2007

I am looking for a chiropractor experienced in treating adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in Walnut Creek area. Rasa


Caution! Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a potentially serious (and crippling) condition and needs to be evaluated and treated by a specialist. The proper specialist for such is an orthopedic surgeon with special training in scoliosis. Many teenagers, if the condition is treated (properly) early, can avoid the extensive surgery which is often needed in adulthood if the condition has not been arrested in time. Dr. Peter Slabaugh, in Oakland, treated my own daughter and is one of the best specialists for scoliosis in the Bay Area. This condition is not one which should be handled by a chiropractor. Robert A. Fink, M.D.
I obviously can't add more than what the doctor said in response to this - he had obviously sound and learned advice. But I was flabberghasted that this was even a topic and thought, hey, let's reiterate how serious scoliosis IS. Because a lot of people on this board seem to have a mistrust of doctors and will try all sorts of weird alternative medicines - which is fine, I guess, for certain conditions, but NOT SCOLIOSIS.

You are doing your child a GRAVE injustice by not having an orthopedic specialist treat him/her for his/her spinal curvature. I'm not a doctor - I'm a woman who's now 40 that had scoliosis diagnosed basically at birth because both my parents had it. So did my brother. But I got the doozy. My scoliosis didn't seem so bad when I was say 10, or 11...to the casual onlooker. But as I grew, my spine twisted and curved more. My parents knew I should have surgery - but they kept postponing it(reasons will be stated later), and hoping swimming would fix it, and then a back brace...and then a weird machine that shocked my muscles at night and was supposed to make the spine grow straight. Sometimes those things can work for scoliosis, but sometimes they don't. In my case, they didn't.

When I was a junior in college, I couldn't wait anymore. I had an internship in a 9 to 5 job and my back was numbing up all the time. It freaked me out. I went to a doctor in Boston and was informed that in 5 years I'd be in a wheelchair because my scoliosis was progressing. Shortly after that, I'd have respiratory problems because my spine would start crushing my lungs. So the next year I had major surgery - my spine was fused, and 2 rods were put in it. It wasn't fun, it was painful and I had to learn to walk again, but I did get taller - losing some of the curve stretched my spine. Now I am basically fine, but I still have a curvature - my curve was just too bad; I probably should have had the surgery earlier. But the real reason I didn't have it earlier is because my PARENTS didn't want me to because they wanted to try everything BUT the surgery the doctors were recommending so that my competitive swimming career would be extended (I was good - really good - and god for! bid we mess up THAT for the sake of something permanent like a back). I'd be taller now and have less of a lingering curve if my parents had just followed the doctor's recommendations in the first place, and not messed around.

So if the doctor's advice didn't scare you straight - maybe my experience will. Don't mess around with your kid's back. GO TO A DOCTOR - not a chiropractor. I'd NEVER let a chiropractor touch my back. EVER. --I set off metal detectors, but I can still breathe and don't have a wheelchair


i didn't see the original post, but just doctor fink's.

i applaud you for seeking alternative concepts for your daughter's care. there are other western countries that don't automatically send kids to surgeons, they send them to clinics where they get intense exercise, education, physical therapy and body work.

i was diagnosed with adolescent scoliosis at 12 or 13. the docs wanted to do a brace, and basically my mom blew it off because we moved to piedmont from the midwest and she didn't want me to start a new school with a brace on. i don't know if that would have made a difference.

i have tried all different kinds of things on my back, and then i found rolfing. big change in my life experience. and then i found a physical therapist who has created this whole system with the spine. and then those two worked together on me. pretty amazing stuff.

ida rolf created her system because her son had scoliosis. the rolfer i found is very gentle and nurturing, and the best body worker i've ever been treated by. and i think she had worked on an adolescent before. i wish i had been treated be her as an adolescent. rolfer: susan solari 510-225-5305

pt: john king at sports and orthopaedic specialists best of luck to you. julia


I was diagnosed with scoliosis by a chiropractor at 40 years of age--something never picked up by other doctors nor pediatricians. I saw the X-ray, so it was real--I had a 15 degree curve. After 3 months of chiropractic treatment, my curve was reduced to 7 degrees (I saw my X-rays overlay each other). My point here is that there have been some strong opinions shared about this topic and I think an individual (or their health care advocate) needs to research options--definitely before choosing surgery! I my case, chiropractic care was effective. b
I think that you should take dr fink's suggestion seriously and have your child's scoliosis monitored by an ortheopedic specialist specializing in scoliosis. As a pilates practitioner who works both on adults and children with scoliosis- trying to balance the musculature- i would like to emphasize that the causes of scoliosis are much debated (have been to a conference on the topic ) and it can involve surgery if severe. i would feel very uncomfortable having a such a young client if he or she was not being monitored. Something you need to bear in mind is that with scoliosis the bones can become shaped differently from one side to another and you need a doctor with x-rays to diagnose and distinguish between functional scoliosis and structural scoliosis. I have to really wonder if having your spine adjusted would help with this- when you have smaller bones on one side and larger on the other? A curious thing i learned is that scoliosis (besides its genetic conponent) is particularly prevalent in dancers and gymnasts- leading to questions and conjecture about too much flexibility being possibly a contribution cause. I think I have helped a lot of people with scoliosis to feel more confortable, but where it is structural it can't be changed. the best i can hope for is to help prevent it from progressing- and even this is an area where there is not much research. I try to balance the muscles enough so that the person no longer feels the discomfort it may be causing. Generally, i notice that clients with scoliosis have really weak erector spinae, and need to work one side of the body differently from the other so i start by doing a drawing of that person's body and mapping the imbalances so I can work that person very specifically where needed. Beware of any health practitioner who claims they can cure scoliosis. i am glad to answer questions (510-508-1408) but i do think your first step should be to find the appropriate doctor to monitor your child before you start looking for alternative therapies. andrea
I'm sorry to have missed your post, but I've read the previous responses and would like to share my experience. I was diagnosed with ''moderate'' scoliosis in my teens and received nonsurgical treatment (traction, brace) until I reached 18. At that point I was told my curve would remain stable during adulthood and no further treatment was needed. I didn't have any scoliosis-related back pain in my 20s, but in my early 30s I decided to start monitoring my curve again. At that time, as my curve appeared to be increasing, a specialist strongly recommended surgery to stabilize the curve, otherwise later on in life I could have ''respiratory failure, etc.'' He even questioned whether I could have a successful pregnancy, blah, blah, blah (by the way I had my first child last year with no complications whatsoever). Any way, after learning the risks such surgery entails, and given the fact I was in no pain to speak of, I decided to put of the surgery, but continue to have monitoring x-rays every year or two.

I also decided to begin chiropractic treatment, not as a ''cure'' but to prevent further curve increases or mitigate any future discomfort. After 10 years of chiropractic treatment, my curve has increased slightly, and still looks like a capital ''S'', but more importantly, I've been able to manage the symptoms, so Iím glad I didnít choose surgery. Of course, each case is different, I have never had ''back numbing'' or serious pain, and surgery was recommended to me in my late 20s and not in my teens. But it is also true this surgery is very serious, requires a long postop period and has risks (infection, future corrective surgeries, ''rod snapping'', yes I've seen the x-raysÖ).

So, if you can wait a couple of years, you may want to give chiropractic or other alternatives, such as rolfing, a try, and see whether they work for your daughter. You can always go for the surgery if these don't work for you within a reasonable amount of time. By the way, my chiropractor is very conscientious and has very reasonable fees. His name is Robert Townsend with Community Chiropractic in Oakland and can be reached at 510)708-9363. Best of luck.


2004 - 2006 Discussions


Mother-in-law experiencing severe curvature

Nov 2006

Has anyone had experience with managing scoliosis? My mother-in-law is experiencing severe curvature (66%) and often severe pain. She does not have osteoporosis, and was never diagnosed to have scoliosis until a few years ago. What could have caused this? Her doctor says surgery would only provide a cosmetic benefit. She swims daily and does yoga which helps a lot to keep pain away. We were wondering if anyone has had success with other treatments, and would so appreciate any advice! Kristine


Scoliosis in an older person may or may not be due to childhood scoliosis. Send your MIL to a good specialist in the field of scoliosis. I recommend Dr. Peter Slabaugh of Oakland. Robert
I feel for your mother-in-law. I have scoliosis that's become severe, and it's very difficult to assimilate the changes it brings. That said, I believe her doctor, probably not an orthopedic surgeon, is incorrect in saying that the surgery would provide only a cosmetic benefit. After having seen specialists the last few years to monitor my curve, my understanding is that the difficult surgery with its long recovery is undertaken by patients with no further recourse ONLY BECAUSE when successful, it does provide physical relief and stabilization.

A group to contact is the Scoliosis Association of San Francisco. Linda Racine is a kind, well-informed advocate for scoliosis patients (she's one herself). She'd be good for your MIL to contact, either via the associated yahoo group, or by phone (google to find). Also National Scoliosis Foundation (www.scoliosis.org). Your MIL should see an orthopedic surgeon who can assess her properly and see if she's a candidate for surgery now, or can stave it off. I was basically told, if you can manage without it, do. The only catch is that waiting until a much older age means a tougher, slower recovery. If your MIL doesn't know who to see, she should definitely get advice from Linda Racine or other seasoned scoliosis patients. From experience,

I can say emphatically, this is one condition where an experienced specialist is mandatory. I've wasted time with others, called ortho surgeons on my ins list only to hear the receptionist unable to pronounce scoliosis! Don't go there! Probably no one can say why she got it. Sometimes as we age, minor problems intensify, hormones are less supportive, and things just wear out. Science says exercise can't straighten the curve, but anecdotal evidence and even the docs now promote it for managing the pain and for strengthening. Yoga, pilates, and swimming have helped me. Elise Browning Miller (google her) is a Palo Alto yoga teacher whose own scoliosis became her teacher; yoga for scoliosis is now the specialty she's well known for. She's one person who actually seems to have reversed some of her curvature through yoga--bazillions of hours of it. If your MIL wants to contact me, feel free to pass on my eddress. Barbara


11-year-old just evaluated for scoliosis

August 2006

Hi, I am trying to reach parents of children with scoliosis or other spinal conditions. Our 11-year old daughter's condition has just progressed to a point where treatment is indicated and we would appreciate connecting with people who have had the experience of evaluating treatment recommendations and helping their child adjust to wearing a brace. Thanks very much.
ellen


You might try calling the Family Resource Network in Oakland. This great organization has lots of info, parent meetings, and resources for parents of kids with all kinds of special needs.The phone is (510)547-7322 Special needs parent

Teen's back brace causing skin irritation

Jan 2006

My sweet son was diagnosed with scoliosis, and now wears a back brace. He is doing very well, but there is a spot where the brace rubs against his skin. It has caused a raw spot that heals and then hurts again. It has also caused dark bruising in the same area. Does anyone have experience with this? Is there a way to avoid the skin irritations? We already switched to a very mild clothing detergent. Is there a good dermatologist we might visit? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Patti


My 15-year-old daughter has been wearing a similar back brace for two years. She has very dry skin and a tendency to develop exzema so the orthopedist and the peditatrician both recommended that she wear a very thin layer of clothing between her skin and the brace. The t-shirts made for cyclists, that keep moisture away from the skin, have worked very well. I got them at REI. The pediatrician has also recommended the very thin cotton/lycra t-shirts made by Gap Body, which are comfortable because they have no side seams, but I don't know if they are available in men sizes. Best of luck, Laura
A scoliosis brace should not be rubbing the skin raw. Take your son back to the prescribing doctor and/or the orthotist who made the brace. It needs to be adjusted. Robert A. Fink, M. D. rafink@attglobal.net
Hi Patti, Sounds like a pressure sore and if the problem is not resolved, this could really be troublesome for your sweet son. I would contact the orthotist who supplied the brace first. There are a number of ortho-foam-type products and/or self-adhesive gel products which might pad the brace more effectively where it is irritating. Also, the frame itself might need to be adjusted for a better, tailored fit. Keep on them until it's right. My son uses a wheelchair and has a recurring pressure sore. Of course we watch this carefully but, in addition, continually apply a product that we have found is the best so far in alleviating and preventing skin irritation and soreness: 100% Shea Butter supplied by Bare Escentuals (4th Street Berkeley). There are other Shea Butters on the market, but this one is quite thick and really sticks to the skin. Also, medical supply companies carry over-the-counter products specifically designed for pressure sores, waterproof/sweat-proof and some can be applied directly on a sore which is open. First though, I'd get after the brace supplier and/or the doc who prescribed the brace for help. The bruising tells me this is far more than a surface issue and is harming tissue below the skin. Best of luck! Ann
Heartfelt thanks to each of you who took the time to share your experiences with scoliosis. I no longer feel so alone in figuring this all out. The information you provided has been most helpful. We know that it takes a village to raise a child. Thank you for being an important part of my village. Patti

Alternative treatment for adult scoliosis?

Sept 2005

I am wondering if anyone out there can recommend a good alternative health practitioner who works with adult scoliosis. I've heard of people achieving dramatic results with various treatments such as rolfing, chiropractic, yoga, etc. and would love to talk to a few such people. I met one person who had a lot of success with chiropractic (traction) and another who had success with rolfing but would like to get more information before making a decision. geri


I have scoliosis and after living with recurring back pain for most of my adult life, I went to see Dr. Timothy Shen (http://www.spine-health.com/doctor/TimothyShen/) who referred me to SOL Physical Therapy (http://www.solpt.com/html/sportsmed.htm) where I have had a great experience. I don't know how alternative it is, but my PT used Active Release Technique on me (http://www.solpt.com/html/artheal.htm) in combination with exercises for strengthening and flexibility and my back feels better than it has in years. I am stronger and have a lot more symmetry in my body now. I had 14 sessions and now just do the exercies on my own. I highly recommend SOL and my PT, Laurie Barnum, or any practitioner who uses ART.
Kim

2003 & Earlier


Scoliosis/spine care

Sept 2003

I am looking for good referrals for the care of my spine. I have Scoliosis, with quite a curve and pronounced hump. One leg is shorter, one hip higher, etc. One shoulder is quite a bit lower than the other, and my belly button is now off center as the rotation continues. I am contemplating another pregnancy but know that it will put increased pressure on my spine and the curve will worsen. I am hoping to see an expert in this arena, someone who can help me improve the posture I have, and work with me to strenghten my back and stomach muscles so that perhaps I can look and feel better. I do not want to go the surgical route, and nor do i wan to resort to painkillers even though I often have associated pain. Thanks, anon


I have seen both Pilates and Feldenkrais approaches to movement and body care be very helpful with scoliosis. They both help to increase your interior sense of where your center line is, which in turn gives you a sense of using both sides of your body equally. This equalization is what you are after and what will make inroads into the pain you have. Feldenkrais work can offer the sensibilities and awarenesses necessary for change, and Pilates can offer the exercises to maintain the changes. L T R
I would highly recommend trying chiropractic. Depending on your particulars (severity, age, etc.) a chiropractor would have a good chance of slowing, stopping, or possibly even reversing the curvature(s). Find one that works with posture and/or biomechanics; in this area I'd recommend Dr. Doug Ross (he's near the Berkeley/Oakland border) his practice is called Rockridge Family Chiropractic 428-9288. Dr. Ross not only adjusts your spine, but gives you exercises and stretches you can do at home to support the care you're receiving at the office. I'm certain that he would do a free telephone consultation if you have any questions or concerns. Lois W.
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