Going back to school is hard enough for any child. When you’re an adolescent with scoliosis, it’s a special kind of torment.

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.

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Fourteen is the age when most girls start experimenting with clothes and developing their individual sense of style. For Kathryn Dunnill, it was also the age she received her scoliosis diagnosis.

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.

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When Leah LaRocco’s doctor prescribed a back brace to halt the progress of her scoliosis curves, sleep became a nightmare.

“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.”

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A long flight, train ride or car ride can put even the strongest spine to the test. For people with scoliosis, sitting for hours on end inflicts even more stress on the lower back.

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:

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Treating scoliosis is a race against the clock. If you catch it early enough, the right exercises can reduce it to negligible levels.

Unfortunately, many cases aren’t spotted until the spinal curve is moderately advanced. At that point treatment becomes more difficult and the risk of progression increases threefold.

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By: Dr. Aatif Siddiqui

About 2% of the population suffers from scoliosis, which means millions of Americans are battling this potentially serious condition. And yet, not much is generally known about scoliosis. Few people know the long term problems scoliosis can cause for your health – or how to fix those problems. At ScoliSMART, we believe that the first step in treating scoliosis is information. Before you can make a sound decision about your treatment options, you have to understand as much as you can about the condition.

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When a patient with scoliosis reports back or leg pain, doctors often blame the spinal curves—despite the fact that idiopathic scoliosis rarely causes pain.

But the curves often aren’t the culprit. Many patients are actually suffering from a separate, unrelated condition that goes undetected while the curvature takes the blame. Take sciatica and scoliosis, for example; when they appear together, it’s often difficult to discern whether they’re related.

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For decades, bracing and spinal fusion have been the go-to treatments for scoliosis.

But as a growing body of research sheds new light on this complex condition, patients are increasingly turning their backs on these outdated practices—and seeking alternative therapies instead.

Massage, in particular, has gained attention for its ability to reduce the chronic back pain that’s sometimes associated with scoliosis. A skilled massage therapist “can use a combination of massage strokes, sustained pressure, positioning and stretches to help balance the muscles of the back and body” and temporarily alleviate scoliosis symptoms, says massage therapist Jeanne Troncao.

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A scoliosis diagnosis means different things to different patients.

For some, it means dealing with a minor inconvenience that never quite becomes a real problem — or one that fades away as adulthood approaches. For others, it means chronic back pain and an inhibited range of motion. In extreme cases, it could mean suffering from heart problems or breathing difficulties.

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Vertebral body tethering, or VBT, is a relatively new procedure being used to treat idiopathic scoliosis. Though ScoliSMART doesn’t perform VBT, it has close relationships with many doctors who perform the operation.

VBT is a surgery that uses tethering of bones – inserting screws and cord into each of the spinal bone – to help correct the curvature associated with scoliosis. For VBT to be most effective, we recommend that it only be used by adolescent patients who are still growing and already have a curvature of over 40 degrees. Though we do all we can to avoid invasive surgeries, like spinal fusion, VBT is a less invasive, surgery that still allows the spine to grow and also allows for further treatment options in the future. It’s a great option for advanced scoliosis in adolescents, as it both arrests the growth of the curve – and begins to reduce it.

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