By Dr Kevin Lau
Scoliosis is known by the curvature of a person’s spine. The areas commonly afflicted are the middle or side bones of the spine. Scoliosis can be discovered at birth, while in the womb the bones of the spine fail to form properly or the ribs fuse together leading to congenital scoliosis. The condition poses minimal risk to infants and young children of both genders.
Neuromuscular scoliosis refers to muscle problems such as poor muscle control, muscle weaknesses and muscle paralysis caused by certain diseases (spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and polio). Idiopathic scoliosis has no cause and is frequently observed in adolescents, the majority being young girls. The spinal curves worsen as adolescents grow. The braces are less helpful to overweight patients afflicted with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
Treatment varies according to the cause of the scoliosis, the size and location on the spine and the growth rate of the patient. For curves between 24 to 40 degrees in adolescents, body braces are advised by doctors to stop the advancement of spine curving. Boston Brace, Milwaukee Brace, Wilmington Brace and Charleston Brace are the different types of braces. Each brace has an individual function and the patients’ health care provider has to choose the most suitable one for the patient.
Medical reports say the scoliosis brace does not reverse the curve; instead it applies pressure at certain points to straighten the spine. The importance of the brace is that it is adjustable as the patient matures.
The standard treatment prescribed is a scoliosis brace that corrects moderate curves of 24 to 40 degrees in adolescents. This treatment is recommended despite the lack of evidence to validate its prescription and the debate is still ongoing. Though hard and elastic braces have been shown to correct spinal curvature, the research does not provide definite answers. More investigation is needed to determine conclusively if body bracing is good for scoliosis patients.
The preference for scoliosis bracing is in small part due to subpar research on the effects of scoliosis exercise in the 1960’s to1970’s. It is important to consider the supervision of these research studies. The participants were instructed to engage in scoliosis exercises which were not directed towards relieving scoliosis curvature or pain. The orthopedic scoliosis specialist community took the research as the basis to advocate scoliosis bracing over exercise.
Recent long-term studies published in research journals cast doubt on the usefulness of the scoliosis brace treatment, especially on its supposed ability to halt the scoliosis spine progression, preventing the patient from needing scoliosis surgery or significantly altering the condition.
At the 2010 SOSORT meeting in Montreal, a speaker presented findings that demonstrated the possible negative impact scoliosis braces may have on an individual. When scoliosis braces were used on rat tails, which are structurally similar to the human spine, the rate of disc deformity increased. Moreover, the curvature of the scoliosis spine had an elevated chance of worsening.
Aside from the limited probability of the braces actually working, there are other reasons for the immense aversion to wearing it. The brace is constructed to attach against the skin to firmly hold the spine in place. It has been known to cause great discomfort as well as skin problems since the plastic brace is fitted very tightly. The plastic fittings chaff the skin and are responsible for skin irritations and skin breakouts. The areas have to be given time to heal before the device can be worn again. The brace is also responsible for darkening of patches of the skin. Health care professionals advise patients to wear a cotton shirt underneath the brace, but that does very little to help.
Weather conditions further enhance the distress; given that hot or humid conditions can be very uncomfortable, patients have to take excessive measures to keep their skin cool and dry.
Scoliosis brace treatment is not flexible. It has to be worn for the prescribed period of time each day, which means the patient has to be careful on the removal and fixing of the brace. Most patients find it bothersome to remove the brace for bathing and then to re-attach it again. The biggest issue adolescents have with the scoliosis brace, it is too noticeable. The brace is even obvious under clothing, undermining the patient’s confidence. Many patients reported feeling self-conscious and “weird” after a few weeks of wearing the brace. They began to resist the treatment, seeing it as an imposition and a very unwanted interference in their already difficult lives.
In light of these latest developments, patients should explore other options rather than expensive and invasive scoliosis braces. “Health in Your Hands: Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment” by Dr Kevin Lau D C, Kevin Lau is a good book that underlines a comprehensive and easy plan to prevent and treat scoliosis.
It is divided into three sections and each section offers something to the reader. With purchase of the book, readers will be privy to vital information that will help them manage their scoliosis condition.
The book offers the following;
- In-depth explanation of the causes and research on the scoliosis condition. The common symptoms of scoliosis.
- Critical analysis on bracing and surgery. Answering questions such as why they are unsuitable and ineffectual.
- Information on the latest treatments including a discussion on their various aspects.
- A scoliosis assessment to determine the quality of life teenagers will have in their later years.
- An extensive nutritional program. In addition to details on the consequences of a proper lack of nutrition especially how it effects the normal growth of the spine.
- Comprehension on the movement of muscles and ligaments on scoliosis patients.
- Elucidates good, strengthening exercises for the spine and routines you can follow within your schedule. All the exercises are detailed in simple diagrams.
- Tips and body mechanics to amend your posture as well as to ease back pain are mentioned in the book. Additionally, the best sitting, standing and sleeping positions are given.
- Inspirational stories and case studies that will enable readers to gain experience and enlightenment.
The dietary program outlined in the book is what the Aboriginal groups of Australia and tribes from native Africa have been surviving on. Their community has a very low occurrence of scoliosis and they are relatively healthy. Dr Lau describes his book as cohesion between modern medicine and ancient wisdom, combining the best from each for a healthier lifestyle.
People suffering from scoliosis have found relief from their problems within the book. It is well-researched and designed to provide maximum benefit to the readers. Chiropractors even recommend it to their patients. The book is handy for both patients and health care professionals to incorporate into a fitness and health regime.