At 58 years old, Marie Cunningham felt like she was 90. Just standing upright was so exhausting she needed crutches to prop her up.
“I can only stand, sit or walk for a short time again due to the pain building up,” she said. “I cry every day out of pain and frustration at not being able to walk, and I am getting very depressed.”
Her spinal fusion surgery six years ago did little to stop the progression of scoliosis. Now, as the worsening curvature forces her forward into a painful bend, her permanently immobilized spine prevents her from improving her condition through exercise. Sometimes the spasms in her back and legs get so bad she can’t help but scream, unable to move to relieve them.
The standard scoliosis treatment for adults offers little hope of an active life. For those living with adult scoliosis pain, the options are bleak: Rely on temporary pain management methods, or join the 38,000 patients who undergo spinal fusion surgery each year (up to 40 percent of whom end up severely handicapped due to the long-term complications of the surgery).
But what many adults with scoliosis don’t realize is that there are other options available—options that allow them to treat their scoliosis through exercise rather immobilization.
The ScoliSMART Activity Suit is one of them. This lightweight, neoprene suit can be worn either under or over clothing for up to eight hours a day, treating scoliosis pain in two ways: by supporting the spine during daily activities to prevent fatigue, and by using active resistance to actually reduce spinal curvature.
Staying Active with Adult Scoliosis
Adult scoliosis pain often stems not just from the curve itself, but from compression of the spinal nerves, which causes them to become inflamed. As a result, patients may experience leg pain and numbness or weakness when walking or standing, which can worsen as the spine degenerates with age.
Adult patients with scoliosis are often told there’s no way reverse the problem, but human biomechanical analysis has shown us that it can be done. The ScoliSMART Activity Suit is the result of that research.
Unlike a brace, which restricts movement and decreases muscle activity, the suit actually increases muscle activity while you go about your day. Its four components work together to form a supportive sleeve that helps improve posture, alignment and center of gravity.
- Torso piece: Supports the thoracic spine and rib cage.
- Lumbar piece: Supports the lumbar spine as well as pelvic tilt and rotation
- Anchor: Causes resistance between the body and leg, creating increased muscle activity in the spine.
- Tension straps: Creates resistance between the torso and hips, which helps guide the untwisting muscle activity.
The resistance between the upper and lower body provides improves spinal alignment three-dimensionally, which helps decrease built-up pressure in the discs and joints, reducing pain and facilitating a more symmetrical natural movement in your spine and legs. Because it uses the leg (rather than the pelvis) for an anchor point, the activity suit taps into the spine’s normal stored energy while walking and moving, correcting the faulty body mechanics that typically cause over-exertion and loss of energy in adult scoliosis patients.
But does it work? According to researchers, adult scoliosis patients who used the activity suit achieved significant improvements in pain levels as well as their ability to perform normal daily activities. Dr. Mark Morningstar, lead author of the study, called the ScoliSMART Activity Suit “a significant step in the right direction for those in constant pain from their scoliosis.”
Natural Curve Correction for Adults
But the ScoliSMART Activity Suit offers more than just pain reduction. It also helps reduce scoliosis curvature—and prevent it from getting worse with age.
The resistance created when you move around in the suit activates the muscles surrounding the spine, engaging them in greater stabilization activity that, with repeated use, helps untwist the spine.
“Every time you take a step, your spine gets a mini-workout, which in turn has been shown to reduce scoliosis curvature and stabilize your spine, avoiding age-related worsening while actually increasing your core stability and balance,” says Dr. Brian Dovorany.
In clinical studies, nearly eight in 10 adult patients who wore the ScoliSMART Activity Suit for 4 to 6 hours per day over an 18-month period reduced their curvature by at least 6 degrees.
That’s a big difference for patients who often told spinal fusion surgery is their only hope for preventing their curves from getting worse.
What to Do Next
Looking for a less invasive, more natural scoliosis treatment for adults? Your next step is to find a doctor who can help you develop a treatment plan.
Several doctors throughout the United States are certified to prescribe the ScoliSMART Activity Suit—and the number is growing. Contact us to learn more about whether the suit might be right for you, or to request information for your doctor on how to become certified.