Saturday, December 18, 2010

Common Questions from Newly-Discovered Scoliosis Patients

Many people with Scoliosis email me through this blog and I must say, thank you so much for your emails and thank you for reaching out to a fellow friend with Scoliosis. For many of us, the questions that plague us are similar, although we may not know that.

Here I will try to lay out some questions that are most common, usually coming from those who have just discovered about their condition, or from those who know that they have Scoliosis but have not received treatments of any form for their condition.

Q: Where do I go to check my Scoliosis? Who do I see?

A: It is most usual and advisable for a Scoliosis patient to see a medical doctor, a specialist who specialises in spine. There are many orthopedic specialists out there, but I personally would go for a spinal specialist right away because they have sub-specialised in treating the spinal cord. There are many spinal specialists now in Malaysia, be it in government or private hospitals. If you choose a private hospital, you simply call in and set an appointment. I am not too sure about government hospitals, but nowadays I suspect you could do the same (call in and inquire about making an appointment with a spinal specialist).

You will need a referral letter from any doctor (just go to any clinic and tell the doctor that you have Scoliosis, and you need a "referral letter" from the doctor which specifies that you have Scoliosis and need to be checked by a specialist). This referral letter will be given to the specialist on the day of your appointment (you could make several copies of the letter if you choose to go to several different specialists to get more than one specialist' opinion).

Q: What happens during the first hospital check-up?

A: If it is your first check-up, they will send you to do x-rays on your spine. From the x-rays, the specialist will then tell you the condition and severity of your curve (the shape of your curve, single curve or double, non-severe, moderate, severe, etc.) and the degree(s) of your curve(s).

Q: What are the treatment options available?

A: The specialist will explain to you the options available to you (physiotherapy, bracing, surgery, etc.). He/She will recommend the treatment options for your specific condition.

But as a patient please note that there are other treatment options available as well. Many private clinics are available nowadays that provide physiotherapy, chiropractor services, acupuncture, and so on. Here's one example of such clinic. There are a few others out there, so please do your research. My knowledge of these treatments and the clinics available out there is limited, but for those who chose alternative treatments other than those suggested by your spinal specialist, please do intensive research before deciding on the course of action suitable for you.

Q: Will I need to go to surgery?

A: Again, this depends on many factors. It depends on the severity or seriousness of your curves, it also depends on your financial abilities, personal preference, and so on. For some, surgery might be the only solution (as I believe it was my only solution because my upper curve had exceeded 100 degrees back then).. but it may not be necessary if your curves are not severe, and if your spine does not get in the way of normal day-to-day living. Again this is my personal opinion on the matter. Even if your specialist suggests for you to do a surgery, noone can force you to take this step unless you yourself choose to do so.

Q: Will I feel better if I have a surgery?

A: No one will know for sure! Surgery is not a miraculous solution, it is not the end of the road that will heal all pain and problems. In my situation, surgery was necessary, but remember.. living with Scoliosis is a life-long condition. Choose a treatment option that suits you and your condition.

Q: Should I go for physiotherapy or bracing?

A: This is again up to your doctor, and you. The situation differs for every patient. Do not give up and keep trying. For some, physio and bracing work well. For some, surgery may be the answer. Some might even choose to forgo all these formal treatments provided at the hospital and opt for alternative treatments (chiropractor, acpuncture, etc.). I did physio and bracing for two years in my teenage years and it did not help me much as my curves were very progressive. But I know some people for whom physio has worked wonders in decreasing their pain and improving their daily lives. I also know of a few others for whom bracing worked well in containing and improving their curves. So in my opinion, it is really a matter of trial and error... and a lot of faith and luck as well.

Q: What if I do not get my Scoliosis treated at all?

A: Yes you can choose to do so. But in reality, if you have Scoliosis, you cannot run from the fact that it is a lifelong condition that you have to live with forever. At some point of your life you may feel discomfort or pain while doing daily activities. When or if this occurs, you must realise that it is necessary to take actions. Even the simplest action like exercising more to ease your daily pain is a good action!


So there you have it.. the most common questions that I get asked about by those who have just discovered that they have Scoliosis, and those who have not had any treatments for their Scoliosis.


Ng said...

Hi, not sure if you have heard about The Spine & Joint Specialists in Malaysia, whereby their panel of doctors and Chiropractors provide free Scoliosis checks for kids, especially girls below 10 years old? it's proven that at least 80% of the patients are female, and most of them, if left untreated after 10 years old, they will need a more comprehensive treatment? Anyone who has Scoliosis before 10 years old can be "fixed" instead of living with it for the longest time.

I'm working in the marketing department for The Spine & Joint Specialists, the largest chain of chiropractors in Malaysia. If your readers are interested, I can check with the doctors to have a special screening sessions, or if we have any up-coming free check, I can let you know in advance. Are you interested? Let me know :)

Dr Stitzel said...

I'm not sure how many of you are aware of the recent scientific developments and breakthroughs that have or are recently occurring in the field of scoliosis treatment. Prognostic testing/technology in the way of genetic testing and blood tests are now able to determine which early stage scoliosis patients are most likely to experience severe curve progression. This presents a new and unique opportunity for early stage scoliosis intervention rehab programs to reduce and eliminate many of the "at risk" smaller curve cases before they progress to much more complex and difficult large curvature cases. It’s actually quite revolutionary and amazing. Here is a link that goes into the topic with a bit more detail, but it’s still understandable.

Pam said...

In my experience, I think was better not knowing about scoliosis at all. I enjoyed my life until the doctor found out about it, and my nightmare started! Surgery and negative consequences.

Chris said...

After a year of 20 hours daily in a brace and therapy every other day. Where the angle increased from 60 to 67 degrees, and had Matt standing so horribly crocked, his shoulders were Very Unlevel. He walked so crocked he drug one leg while walking. My son Matthew was 3 months from spinal fusion surgery when I found a tight tendon. Which was causing the tension in his spine, it is so stupidly simple. I started stretching Matt, which I did for a month. Then I took my son in to the doctor that was to perform his surgery. Matthew stood and walked so much wonderfully better, yet the doctor stated Matt was worse. I feel he was looking at that surgeries price tag. I cancelled the surgery and continued to stretch my son. Now his shoulders are level, he walks normal. And Matt is able to run with perfect form, his torso is slightly shifted. Matt's spine was under tension for more than a year. I do not care that anyone else tries to tell me I am wrong. I know I am right, by the WONDERFUL results I was able to achieve in my son there is no question I am right. Just try what I sayI am Positive ALL Scoliosis is caused by the tight tendon I have found. Spinal Fusion Surgery would be putting the spine into so much immense tension it is so stupidly simple. I have posted a complete description of my findings on my web site. WWW.SCOLIOSISPREVENTION.US I was trying to bring attention to my site, a had me banned for spamming at Scxoliosisfix.

Chris said...

I have posted my entire description. Of how I removed ALL of the tension, causing my son’s infliction of Idiopathic Scoliosis. I have proved a tight tendon causes Scoliosis. It is a hidden tension. Anyone with Scoliosis can try the test I propose, to identify the tension in the presence of their doctor. Ask the doctor why the leg cannot be elevated. And then the stretch I describe that I used to remove the tension causing my son’s infliction of Idiopathic Scoliosis, if the doctor will allow it. How can doctors not understand to cause a back to get that distorted it has to be tension. The tension needs to be recognized and removed, before an angle has formed. Again, I am not a doctor. I am just describing my opinion, and the WONDERFUL RESULTS I was able to attain. In removing the cause of my son's Idiopathic Scoliosis. When the angle increases to 40 degrees, Spinal Fusion surgery is normally performed to stop the progression of the angle. I have been able to reduce the intensity of my son's angle, by 20%. Just from doing one stretch. He now has no problems. Not like after a year of doctor prescribed treatment, where his angle increased. I have been able to reduce his angle by 20%, just from performing one stretch. Scoliosis is caused by a tight tendon. Scoliosis Prevention & How I Lessened the Intensity WWW.SCOLIOSISPREVENTION.US

Henry said...

Hi, my mum is more than 70 years old and has scoliosis. No pain but discomfort running down one side to her legs. The general hospital doctor just gave her pain killers.
a) Will her mobility continue to reduce?
b) Any treatments available to make her more comfortable?
c) Will the treatments be expensive and stretched out over a very long period?