Tag: exercise

5 scoliosis facts that may shock you!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or if you have an interest in scoliosis, you will certainly have noticed some themes which come up again and again. Even a quick browse through the recent research in the field, demonstrates that the main areas of interest are fairly constant – adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, the genetic links for scoliosis and the most effective methods for reducing cobb angle come up more often than not. There’s more to scoliosis treatment than just these factors however – so this week, we look at some lesser-known but potentially surprising scoliosis facts.

 

Surprising scoliosis fact number 1

The group most at risk from scoliosis is older adults.

Because of the risk of progression, and the potential consequences if treatment is not forthcoming, much research, advertising and awareness campaigning in the scoliosis field concentrates on adolescent idiopathic scoliosis – next in line is probably juvenile scoliosis. The fact is, only about        2-3% of the population in these groups will develop scoliosis. That’s still a very large number of cases, all with a significant risk of progression, but when you crunch the numbers, its clear that older people are, in fact, the most likely to suffer from scoliosis – the risk is nearly 10 times higher!

Research indicates that approximately 30% of those over 60 suffer from scoliosis[1] – the majority of cases are termed “de-novo” which is a scoliosis that develops due to spinal degeneration and can respond well to treatment.

 

Surprising scoliosis fact number 2

Scoliosis is sometimes more common in males 

It’s true that 75% of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis cases are females, and since this gets the lions share of attention in the field, it’s little surprise that most screening campaigns and tools are targeted at young girls. That being said, in some instances scoliosis is actually more common in boys. Specifically, this is the case in cases of infantile scoliosis. Infantile scoliosis is the least common of all forms of idiopathic scoliosis and comprises only about 1% of all idiopathic scoliosis in children. However, about 60% of patients in this group are boys. Infantile scoliosis can sometimes resolve spontaneously, but presents the highest possible risk for progression, so should be monitored and treated urgently.

 

Surprising scoliosis fact Number 3

Which is better, bracing or exercise? …. Actually, it’s both!

When it comes to treatment methodologies, it’s usually a case of picking the best approach and sticking with it. As it concerns scoliosis treatment, a multiple studies have confirmed that when bracing and exercise approaches are combined the results are greater than the sum of the parts. Curve correction with a dual approach is superior to either approach alone.[2]  What’s more, it seems that using exercise approaches before and after bracing can speed correction, and then prevent loss of correction after bracing.[3]

 

Surprising scoliosis fact Number 4

Your GP knows a lot less about scoliosis treatment than you might hope.

This point isn’t about criticising GP’s – they do a fantastic job, but there’s only so much any one person can know, and as it goes, scoliosis is fairly low down the list of major concerns for the general population. The situation is especially difficult in the UK, since the National Health Service (NHS) is (understandably) not in the business of recommending private companies, and the best bracing technologies on the market today are only available privately. It’s for this reason, that you must seek a specialist scoliosis consultation whenever possible – the braces on offer through the NHS are still mainly “passive” options, which don’t correct scoliosis, just try to stop it progressing.

 

Surprising scoliosis fact number 5

Active bracing is often the most cost-effective option.

Active scoliosis braces, like ScoliBrace, are advanced medical devices and aren’t cheap – and while no one would claim that the cost of a scoliosis bracing treatment is insignificant, in many cases it can be substantially less financially impactful than many other options.

Lets briefly consider the main treatment methodologies available:

Surgery – Through the NHS in the UK, surgery for scoliosis is of course free. So naturally the issue here isn’t a financial one, but rather the cost of surgery is often in terms of complications after the event – or with the disruption that it can cause to a young persons’ life. The UK Scoliosis Clinic isn’t anti-surgery – on the contrary, we know that spinal surgeons can do fantastic work for patients who have no other option – we do, however, believe that surgery should be the last resort since for many, recovery is long and complicated. While it won’t be the case for everyone, recent meta-analyses of published research have suggested that the complication rate could be as high as 89%.[4]

Exercise – Exercise-based treatment plans are only supported by research  for small curves with a low risk of progression and while exercise might initially seem cheaper than bracing, this is only true if the treatment is appropriate. In young growing spines, the risk of scoliosis progressing in moderate to large curves is high, thus a curve must be constantly straightened via a brace rather than through the intermittent use of scoliosis specific exercise. In cases where a brace has been required and only scoliosis specific exercise used, curves will often progress and surgical correction will be required.

Other forms of bracing – Regular readers will know that Scoliosis braces are not created equal. Passive models, which don’t correct scoliosis but attempt to hold the curve in its current position, do absolutely nothing to “treat” the condition.  Other braces on the market, while still active in nature, unlike Scolibrace are often not adjustable – meaning that their corrective capacity is limited, thus a new brace is frequently required as the curve changes. This means that in many cases, an advanced adjustable brace, like ScoliBrace will be cheaper in the long term.

 

 

 

[1] Scoliosis in adults aged forty years and older: prevalence and relationship to age, race, and gender
Kebaish KM, Neubauer PR, Voros GD, Khoshnevisan MA, Skolasky R, Spine 2011 Apr 20;36(9):731-6.

The prevalence and radiological findings in 1347 elderly patients with scoliosis
Hong JY, Suh SW, Modi HN, Hur CY, Song HR, Park JH.,  Journal of bone and joint surgery 2010 Jul;92(7):980-3

 

[2]The effectiveness of combined bracing and exercise in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis based on SRS and SOSORT criteira: a prospective study
Negrini S, Donzelli S, Lusini M, Minnella S and Zaina F 2014, BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014; 15: 263, Published online 2014 Aug 6. doi:  10.1186/1471-2474-15-263

‘Adult scoliosis treatment combing brace and exercises
Papadopolous D 2013, Scoliosis 20138(Suppl 2):O8, DOI: 10.1186/1748-7161-8-S2-O8

 

[3] Negrini S, Negrini A, Romano M, Verzini N, Parzini S: A controlled prospective study on the efficacy of SEAS.02 exercises in preparation to bracing for idiopathic scoliosis. Stud Health Technol Inform 2006, 123:519-522.

 

[4] Hans-Rudolf Weiss and Deborah Goodall, Rate of complications in scoliosis surgery – a systematic review of the Pub Med literature, Scoliosis, 2008, 3:

My child has Scoliosis: Top 10 things to do right away

 

If you have recently discovered that your child has scoliosis, or you suspect that scoliosis might be an issue it can often be a stressful and confusing time. There is a great deal of new information to consider and often it can seem there simply isn’t enough time.

To help out with this, here’s out top 10 list of things that you should do when first considering scoliosis treatment.  Get these 10 done, and you’ll be well on your way!

 

 

1 – Screen for scoliosis at home

If you have already had your child screened for scoliosis, either at home or by a professional you can skip this step. If you have not yet performed a scoliosis screening however, begin here.

Scoliosis screening is easy to do at home using our ScoliScreen tool. ScoliScreen was developed in Australia by our partner ScoliCare, who spent years researching and designing the easiest home screening tool available. Screening with ScoliScreen takes about 10 minutes – you don’t have to take any pictures or upload any information, just follow the steps on screen and note down your results. ScoliScreen isn’t an alternative to a professional consultation, but it’s a highly effective tool to use as a starting point.

 

2 – Get a professional consultation

Screening and consultations are always available at the UK Scoliosis Clinic

We can’t stress enough that getting a professional consultation with a scoliosis specialist is a must. Many parent’s natural reaction is to take their child to see their GP about their concerns– but this isn’t always the best step.

There are a few reasons for this – Firstly, while no question that GP’s do fantastic work, with so many different conditions to recognise and treat most GP’s simply don’t have time to research the latest options for scoliosis treatment. Years ago, it was thought that surgery was the only effective option for treating scoliosis, so many medial professionals were simply taught that the best approach to scoliosis is to “wait and see” if the curve becomes bad enough for treatment. The problem is that scoliosis almost never resolves on its own[1] so “wait and see” is never a good option. If your GP tells you to “wait and see” please bear in mind they aren’t trying to be dismissive, they just aren’t experts on the non-surgical options which are available today (but scoliosis clinicians are!).

Secondly, properly diagnosing scoliosis requires taking X-rays to fully understand the position of the spine – since GP’s have to justify any referral it can be difficult to argue for x-rays to be taken when “wait and see” is the standard recommendation.

Finally, scoliosis has often been a condition which hasn’t received the attention it really should, so many people think that the GP is their only option. One child in each class at school will develop scoliosis[2], so a significant number of people are affected, but most people are unaware of the condition. If you are reading this blog as a first port of call, please know there are numerous specialist clinics out there waiting to help!

At the UK Scoliosis Clinic, scoliosis screening as well as consultations for those with scoliosis are always available.

 

3- Get X-rays

Scoliosis is a complex Three Dimensional condition which can be successfully treated only with a thorough understanding of the condition of the spine. X-rays are the best way to properly establish the situation and also to rule out any other underlying conditions which might be causing or contributing to scoliosis. At the UK Scoliosis clinic, we have a brand-new state of the art digital X-ray machine on site for instant results – other clinics might refer you to another provider to get X-rays taken in advance of your consultation.

Some clinics offer what is often marketed as “radiation free imaging” – this simply means they do not provide X-rays and use an alternative, less effective imaging method. In real terms, this means that practitioners simply cannot get as good a picture of what is going on with the spine, which increases the risk of treatment failure, misdiagnosis or even injury from inappropriate treatment.

Are X-rays dangerous? The short answer is a handful of X-rays are far less risky than requiring major spinal surgery due to failed scoliosis treatment. The longer answer is that in fact, we are all exposed to a small amount of background radiation everyday without ill effect. For context, an average lumbar X-ray exposes you to only about as much radiation as 2 months of normal background radiation in the UK. An average airline pilot is exposed to about an eighth as much radiation as an x-ray on each transatlantic flight, meaning that most pilots are exposed to about the same amount of radiation as found in your x-ray every other week.

 

4 – Understand your treatment options

Scoliosis SEAS treatment

Specialist exercises can reduce Scoliosis

Today the non-surgical scoliosis treatment field is growing fast and there are many different approaches which can be utilised, these include treatments backed up by extensive research, such as Schroth and SEAS exercise methodologies and bracing as well as some emerging approaches which might or might not be effective, but currently lack enough research – such as chiropractic approaches.

Many clinics, like the UK Scoliosis Clinic offer a range of treatments and will tailor your treatment options based upon your needs, but some clinics only offer one approach. In this case, be sure that the treatment being offered is actually the right one for your case – and get a second opinion if you feel unsure.

 

5 – Chose a clinic which conforms to the SOSORT guidelines

Like all professions, the scoliosis treatment field has a guiding body – for us it’s the International Society on Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment, otherwise known as SOSORT. SOSORT is an International organisation that guides health professionals on the most up to date, evidence-based recommendations in relation to the conservative treatment of idiopathic scoliosis. SOSORT’s ongoing mission is to constantly evaluate new treatment methodologies and to publish guidelines for best practice for patient outcomes[3].

Reputable clinics are run by clinicians who follow the SOSORT guidelines and stay in touch with the latest research – check that your clinician is keeping up to date by attending the yearly conference or contributing to the journal for example.

 

6 – Get the best brace

In many cases, bracing is going to be the most effective, fastest and easiest way to correct scoliosis. However, not all braces are created equal – be sure to quiz your scoliosis care provider about the braces they offer and the features they provide. Many braces (including those available in some areas through the NHS) are designed to hold the spine in its already scoliotic position. This kind of brace might stop the scoliosis progressing, but it wont help to improve it.

At the UK Scoliosis Clinic, we recommend ScoliBrace – a totally custom brace designed with 3D imaging and computer aided design. The ScoliBrace is an active correction brace – meaning it actually guides the spine back into the correct position, rather than just holding it still.

 

7 – Consider mental health

While everyone’s scoliosis experience is varied and depends much upon personality, some research has shown that children and young adults are more at risk of stress and even depression as a result of scoliosis. At the UK Scoliosis clinic, we provide a private one to one environment, and welcome as many relatives or friends that your child would like to have around them. Research has shown that having a calming and private environment to discuss and perform treatment can actually lead to better clinical outcomes[4].

When considering bracing, try to also take into account the impact wearing a brace could have on a young person’s life. This is one of the reasons we are so confident in our ScoliBrace – unlike many braces ScoliBrace is low profile and is easily hidden under normal clothes. Additionally, ScoliBrace does not impede a child’s ability to participate in sports and physical activities and was designed specifically with maximising mobility in mind. ScoliBrace is also customisable in a range of colours and patterns to suit your tastes!

 

8 – Ask questions

Dr Paul Irvine and Dr Jeb MacAviny at the SOSORT conference 2018

Ask questions, ask lots of questions – and encourage your child to ask questions. A scoliosis consultation appointment is a great opportunity to do this, but feel free to phone our clinic for more information. Scoliosis treatment is a fast-moving field in which new research is always being published, so as scoliosis clinicians we spend much of our time asking questions and keeping up with research too. Avoid a clinic who can’t (or wont) answer your queries and opt for one that shows they are up to date with the latest information.

Whenever you speak with a scoliosis practitioner, consider making a list of things you would like to know and make sure you get answers! Reputable clinics will be able to answer any queries you may have, and back these answers up with the latest published scientific research papers.

 

9 – Consider the cost of treatment carefully

When considering the cost of scoliosis treatment, its important to remember that a scoliosis treatment program is not a “quick fix” – time is required to initially correct scoliosis, and then further maintenance treatment of some kind is then required to keep the spine properly aligned until the end of growth. This means that parents need to ensure that the treatment options they choose represent a sensible choice over the long term.  To give an example, this might mean that a more expensive scoliosis brace, which is adjustable to last for a long period of time may be more cost effective than two or three cheaper braces. Similarly, for small curves a ScoliNight brace might be a better long-term investment than continued scoliosis specific exercise sessions.

This decision depends to a great extent upon your own preferences and your child’s– but keep the long term in mind.

 

10 – Get on with your life!

Scoliosis does not need to be an impediment to life – and if treated properly and early on can usually be corrected without any serious impact on the young person concerned. If properly treated and corrected scoliosis will not affect your child’s life going forward, so plan for tomorrow!

 

[1] Angelo G Aulisa et al. ‘Brace treatment in juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: a prospective study in accordance with the SRS criteria for bracing studies – SOSORT award 2013 winner, Scoliosis 2014 9:3

[2] Gutknecht S, Lonstein J & Novacheck T ‘Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Screening, Treatment and Referral’ 2009, A Pediatric Perspective, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 1-6.

[3] Information about SOSORT and their guidelines can be found at http://www.sosort.mobi/index.php/en/

[4] Elisabetta D’Agata et al. Introversion, the prevalent trait of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis: an observational study Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders (2017) 12:27

New research – Scoliosis impacts functional capacity

Tired out girl

Scoliosis can make exercise more difficult

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is by far the most common cause of spinal deviation; it comprises about 80% of all idiopathic vertebral deformities and affects 2%–4% of adolescents.[1] The exact cause of AIS is still being investigated, but scientists generally agree that it is largely determined by genes that are activated by different factors.

When thinking about how we should direct the treatment of scoliosis, we often tend to focus on the well-known potential outcomes of the condition if left untreated- these include physical deformity, disability, pain and discomfort.  What we often forgotten is the impact that scoliosis can have in terms of overall health and fitness.

As it stands, research has already confirmed that that scoliosis influences factors like ease of breathing during exercise in a negative way[2] However, brand new research just published in the Journal of Paediatric exercise science now allows us to understand the degree to which cobb angle (the degree of the scoliotic curve) actually has an impact.

The research conducted at the Federal University of São Paulo in 2018, hypothesised that Individuals with scoliosis would have lower exercise tolerance in cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) and in the incremental shuttle walk test (ISWT) – a suggestion which has already been confirmed in preceding studies.[3]  Researchers then sought to evaluate the functional capacity (that is to say, the ability of the participants bodies to cope with exercise) in patients with AIS with specific regard to the functional capacity and respiratory variables in patients with different degrees of scoliosis severity.

 

Participants

The study tested a cross section of participants with varying degrees of scoliosis severity. The group included eighteen patients with mild and moderate scoliosis, 8 patients with severe scoliosis, and 10 adolescents from a control group. Patients were selected from the Orthopaedic Clinic at a local hospital, and  they  were  submitted for radiography to evaluate the Cobb angles prior to the study.

In order to ensure the results were relevant and valid, patients were excluded if they had a previous or current history of heart, lung diseases or neuromuscular disorder, cognitive changes that influenced the understanding of tests, and all those who failed to perform the assessment proposed.

 

Results

A 54 Degree Cobb angle (X-ray)

During the ISWT participants are asked to walk between two cones, placed 10 meters apart. Participants aim to match the pace provided by a simple beeping prompt. In this study, each of the partcipants performed the test twice, in order to try to ensure more even results.

Heart rate, blood pressure and fatigue were measured by modified Borg scale before and after the test[4]. The results of the study were conclusive. In the study, patients with AIS definitely performed worse than test subjects without scoliosis. Those with scoliosis found the test harder (more physically taxing) and also displayed a lower level of respiratory function. What’s more, the performance of the individuals with scoliosis was worse in individuals with a more severe cobb angle. Overall, patients with AIS walked shorter distance during the ISWT when compared with adolescents without scoliosis. Patients with  AIS > 45°  and  AIS < 45°  walked,  respectively, 156 m and 117 m less than the control group.

This study therefore identified that patients with severe scoliosis present worse functional capacity and, perhaps of greatest interest, it draws attention to the fact that even patients with mild and moderate scoliosis already show a significant reduction in functional capacity.

 

What we learn from this study.

At the UK scoliosis clinic, we are committed to ensuring that all our approach to treating scoliosis is always grounded in the most up to date scientific research available. From the results of the study there are two important take-aways.

In the first instance, the study goes to show the degree to which even a minor case of scoliosis (of the sort which may respond particularly well to bracing) may impact the quality of life and capability of an individual to participate in exercise – both for health-related purposes, and indeed as a social exercise. This is particularly interesting given that the authors of this study also noted a correlation between individuals with scoliosis and low exercise participation rates. Specifically the authors note “Adolescents with scoliosis for some reason are physically unconditioned; some authors believe that this fact is related only to the low adherence of individuals to physical activity, mainly due to the constraint of the disease deformity” .  This research therefore goes to underscore the importance of early intervention in dealing with cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Secondly, this study (by its methodology) suggest that the ISWT can be a valuable tool for assessing functional capacity in patients with AIS. As a relatively low-cost but widely applicable test, the ISWT may therefore be worth further consideration within the scoliosis treatment community. Dr Irvine is keen to follow up on this insight and will be considering its possible applications within our clinic.

 

The main source article for this post was:

 SARAIVA, BA; et al. “Impact of Scoliosis Severity on Functional Capacity in Patients With Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis”. Pediatric Exercise Science. 30, 2, 243-250, May 2018

 

 

[1] Weinstein SL, Dolan LA, Cheng JCY, Danielsson A, Morcuende JA. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Lancet. 2008;371:1527–37. PubMed doi:10.1016/S0140-6736 (08)60658-3

 

[2] Sperandio EF, Alexandre AS, Yi LC, et al. Functional aerobic exercise capacity limitation in adolescent idio- pathic scoliosis. Spine J. 2014;14(10):2366–72. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2014.01.041

 

[3] Sperandio EF, Alexandre AS, Yi LC, et al. Functional aerobic exercise capacity limitation in adolescent idio- pathic scoliosis. Spine J. 2014;14(10):2366–72. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2014.01.041

 

Sperandio EF, Vidotto MC, Alexandre AS, Yi LC, Gotfryd AO, Dourado VZ. Exercise capacity, lung function and chest wall shape in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Fisioter Mov. 2015;28(3):563–72. doi:10.1590/0103-5150.028.003.AO15

 

Barrios C, Pérez-Encinas C, Maruenda JI, Laguía M. Significant ventilatory functional restriction in adoles- cents with mild or moderate scoliosis during maximal exercise tolerance test. Spine. 2005;30(14):1610–5. doi:10.1097/01.brs.0000169447.55556.01

 

Bas P, Romagnoli M, Gomez-Cabrera MC, et al. Beneficial effects of aerobic training in adolescent patients with mod- erate idiopathic scoliosis. Eur Spine J. 2011;20 Suppl 3: 415–9. PubMed doi:10.1007/s00586-011-1902-7

 

[4] Hommerding PX, Donadio MV, Paim TF, Marostica PJ. The Borg scale is accurate in children and adolescents older than 9 years with cystic fibrosis. Respir Care. 2010;55(6):729–33. PubMed