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Scoliosis

Is there a treatment for her curved spine?

Question

My 14-year-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with scoliosis. The doctor say nothing can be done-we have to ‘watch and wait’ and then consider surgery if the curve in her back increases. However, we are unsure what exercise she can or should do. Also, she experiences pain and we wonder what is the best thing for this. Can you help?

Answer

A normal back should be vertically straight if viewed from behind. If something goes wrong, it may acquire an elongated S-like curvature, which is called scoliosis. The humans pine has a uniquely complicated and awkward system of engineering caused by walking upright. When our predecessors walked on all fours, the abdominal and thoracic (chest) organs hung from the spine. The spine was supported by the fore- and hind legs. But as soon as man started to stand upright and the hind legs became the only support for the entire body, everything changed .Because the spine has all the organs in front of it, there's immediately a potential for falling forwards. (When people faint, they fall forwards, not backwards.)

Over the course of evolution, the muscles of the back developed to compensate, acting like pulleys to stretch the spine upright. Today, the spine itself acts principally as a structure that provides surfaces for muscles to attach to. When the spine twists, curves or bends, the movement is brought about by muscle contraction. Muscles in the spine may go into a spasm as a result of poor posture, trauma at birth or later in life, chronic one-sided back pain, nutritional imbalances, mineral deficiencies, genetic problems, malformation of the hip joint, etc. Scoliosis begins as a spasm of muscles on one side of the spine. This impels the spine to curve to that side and the ligaments and muscles become hardened, which results in the spine becoming crooked. The 'S' shape develops when another group of back muscles in the lower region on the opposite side go into spasm. The upper curve and the lower curve act together to deform the spine.

The sooner you treat scoliosis the better result you will have . This is what I suggest:

    Therapeutic Yoga

  • With my colleague Jiwan Brar, who practices therapeutic Iyengar yoga, I have treated many patients with scoliosis. We hope one day to do some research to prove its effectiveness and make it available to the NHS by training physiotherapists to carry out the treatment. Although therapy is very individual, we have some general guidelines. For further information, I suggest you refer to our book Therapeutic Yoga.
  • Therapeutic yoga is a powerful modality of treatment for scoliosis. The breathing makes it easier for the spine to twist in the desired direction and the stretching of muscles accomplished by the poses helps realign the spine.
  • For therapeutic yoga exercises suited to individuals, please consult with Ms Jiwan Brar at the Integrated Medical Centre. Please give the age of the child and provide a photograph of the spine or a general description of the scoliosis, including the position (upper back mid-back or lower mid-back) and degree (severe, moderate, etc).
  • Massage

  • Massage the entire spine with Back Massage Oil. You can make your own blend with two tablespoons of sweet almond oil and two drops each of marjoram and ginger essential oils. Using your thumbs positioned at the bottom of the spine, each an inch away from the central bone, press into the flesh and massage up wards. You will notice that one side of the spine will be raised, meaning that the muscle on that side will be tighter. Massage this tightened band of muscle. It will be sore initially but with each stroke it will ease. Then use the ball of the palm to apply firm pressure on the tightened muscle. Move up and down the spine until the muscle relaxes. This may take l0- l5 minutes.
  • Nutrition

  • Make sure enough protein is consumed - eggs, cottage cheese, fish and chicken (preferably organic). Carrots and bananas contain potassium, which is important for the muscles.
  • Take one l5mg tablet of zinc every other day for two months.
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