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The Scoliosis Tree

Erika's Scoliosis Story - Part I
(This article was published in The Scoliosis Association (UK) Newsletter No.67 - November 2002)

''When I arrived in Spain at the end of June this year I had a curve of around 42mm lateral deviation, four weeks later after hard work and intensive physiotherapy it is 23mm lateral deviation. My heart felt thanks go to Dr Manuel Rigo, his wife and team of dedicated physiotherapists.''

In 1997 around my 11th birthday my mother noticed a slight hump on my right shoulder when I bent forwards. We consulted our GP who dismissed it saying that he had seen a lot worse and not to worry. My mother consulted the Internet and thought maybe I had Marfan's syndrome - she persuaded our GP to refer me to Dr Child, who said I had not got Marfan's but scoliosis, which should be carefully monitored. It was not.

A year later and yet another GP would not believe that there was any urgency in my condition but mum went into action and we saw an orthopaedic surgeon. He said my Cobb angle was 34 and it was a case for immediate bracing. I wore a Boston brace for 2 years. He then said I should discontinue wearing it since I had stopped growing and if there was any sign of deterioration to return.

After a year mum said the hump was definitely bigger. She consulted back issues of Backbone and found a book of exercises written by Susan Swire. I wrote to Susan and she told me about a clinic in Germany that specializes in physiotherapy treatment for spinal disorders but mainly Scoliosis.

Unfortunately, there was a 9-month waiting list for treatment at this huge German clinic. However, through them we found that not just Germany, but in many countries throughout the continent, scoliosis-specific physiotherapeutic treatment techniques are used as standard, together with bracing of a totally different type.

Before Dr Rigo accepted me as a patient I had to convince him that I was sufficiently self-motivated to not only overcome the language barrier, but also to carry out his exercise regime for life.

When I entered his clinic I was filled with hope and optimism. Here was a man who was totally dedicated to the non-surgical treatment of scoliotic patients. He cannot understand why Britain and America do not use scoliosis-specific physiotherapeutic treatment techniques, despite the abundance of high-quality scientific research and systematic reviews published to prove their efficacy.

I feel that this type of treatment should be the new way forward for treating all scoliosis, whether large or small and that for anybody who wishes to avoid the trauma of an operation it is certainly worthwhile to investigate this tried, tested and non-invasive form of scoliosis treatment that has proved to work for myself and many others of all ages.

Read about Erika's "Scoliosis Story" - Part II