Trapped inside a scoliosis brace for 16 hours a day over two years, young Leah LaRocco suffered both physical and emotional scars. Now, as she looks back at that time in her life, she calls the contraption a “modern-day straight jacket for teenage girls” and compares spinal braces to “medieval torture devices.”
As a teenager, she spent five years in back braces trying to reduce her scoliosis curve. But as soon as the brace came off, the curve started progressing again – growing 10 degrees over the next six years.
By age 25, her curve measured 47 degrees—just shy of the high-risk waterline for rapid progression. To prevent the need for surgery, doctors put her on a regimen of scoliosis exercises and measured her progress over the next several months.
For most people, the rich foods that deck the holiday table represent impending weight gain and possibly gastric discomfort. For people with scoliosis, they represent something more—a potential worsening of scoliosis curves and pain.
While most doctors believe poor diet doesn’t cause scoliosis, research indicates that it’s a contributing factor. No one knows exactly what triggers the scoliosis genes. However, numerous studies have linked scoliosis progression to nutritional deficiencies, and strong evidence points to an interaction between poor nutrition and genetics.
Many people know someone who claims their joint pain can predict the weather. But is it true?
Although there’s not much scientific proof that changes in weather amplify chronic pain, some correlations have been found. Patients with joint pain—caused by rheumatoid arthritis, for example—often report that damp or cold weather intensifies their symptoms. One survey found that 67 percent of patients with osteoarthritis believe the weather heightens their pain. Another study of people with chronic joint pain found similar results.
Scientists still aren’t sure why. But they have learned that, just like plants, scoliosis needs certain conditions to take root. Some of these conditions still elude us. But research is increasingly showing that nutrition is one of the factors that can affect whether—and how—the scoliosis gene is expressed.
People rarely talk about emotional side of scoliosis. Most conversations focus on the medical aspects: how fast the curves progress and which treatments are effective. Yet for people with scoliosis, emotional effects are as real as the physical ones—sometimes more so.
Her self-confidence took a big hit. But Dunnill didn’t give up. Eventually she learned to dress in a way that compliments her unique frame and puts a spring in her step.
The reality is that risks are a natural part of pregnancy, whether you have an abnormal spine or not. But just how does the scoliosis affect the entire process, from conception to delivery? Below are answers to some of the most common questions women ask about pregnancy and scoliosis.
“If I lay on my side, the pressure pads would dig into my body, leaving bruises,” she said of her teenage years lying prone in a brace all night. “If I lay on my back, the top of the brace would dig into my neck. If I lay on my stomach, the front of the brace would constrict and pinch my skin.”
But that shouldn’t dissuade you from booking your next vacation. Traveling with scoliosis doesn’t have to be a painful experience—it just takes a little extra planning. These travel tips for scoliosis patients can help you keep your pain levels down and summer enjoyment levels maximized: