In my time as a physio on the Northern Beaches one of the most common concerns people bring up during their physical assessments is their ‘Scoliosis’. Scoliosis is one of those conditions that just sounds horrible isn’t it? I want to start by saying the likelihood of you ending up with a Quasimodo-like hump on your back due to the condition is AT LEAST a million to one. Scoliosis is simply derived from the Greek word for bent or curved and is used today to describe the lateral curve in the spine caused by the condition. Scoliosis commonly presents as one curve, called a C-curve, or two curves, called an S-curve and is classified as either structural or non-structural depending on whether or not there is an added rotation on the spine present with the curvature.
What are the signs of Scoliosis?
Unless you can turn your head 180 degrees to the back (in that case we have bigger problems than mere scoliosis) it might be hard to self-diagnose the possibility of scoliosis, but physiotherapists look for the following as indicators of scoliosis:
- Your head is not centred directly over your body
- One shoulder sits higher than the other
- One shoulder-blade sits higher or is more prominently sticking out
- You have unequal gaps on one side of your body between your arms and your trunk
- One hip bone is more prominent than the other
- You suffer pain around those areas that are imbalanced
What to do if you have been diagnosed with a scoliosis
Did you know that Usain Bolt was diagnosed with scoliosis early in his career? It’s certainly not a career ending condition by any stretch of the imagination. Depending on the position of the scoliosis in your spine, your physiotherapist will give you a number of exercises or stretches to regularly perform. There are also a number of things to avoid if you have been diagnosed.
- Getting sucked into buying lots of things to fix it
“When I first bought a tempurpedic pillow it made me realise I was basically sleeping on a pile of rocks up until that point.” Human being have been in our current form for at least 200,000 years. For how many of those years have we have nice soft mattresses and perfectly contoured pillows? There is no evidence to support the hype around sleeping paraphernalia. That being said, if you are having pain at night, it’s time to talk to your local musculoskeletal physio about it! Sleeping accoutrements aside, other nonsense things to avoid are posture braces, long term orthotics and consistently taping!
- Get strong
It is important to find yourself a local physiotherapist who is knowledgeable in a number of complementary treatment options. Recent studies have shown that clinical Pilates and Yoga can be an effective reliever of chronic discomfort along with other non-surgical options such as meditation, massage therapy and a well designed functional training program.
- Don’t sit for hours on end
You would be surprised at how much spine and neck pain is exacerbated simply by sitting and doing nothing. Unfortunately, whether you’re sitting at your work desk all day or on the couch watching cricket for hours on end, it’s likely that your neck and spine aren’t in their optimal positions. Get up at least every hour and stretch your body from side to side and have a walk around to avoid placing too much pressure on these areas constantly. If the pain is getting worse, walk on down to your Dee Why physio and pick my brain.
If you think you may have scoliosis, or you have been diagnosed with scoliosis but have been neglecting your exercises or you have never been given a full body assessment for your condition, it is important to visit a local physiotherapist with the skills and equipment to create an in depth program for you. Scoliosis is a relatively benign condition when treated correctly, but can lead to further complications in the future if it is neglected.
Why pre and post-surgery physiotherapy is the key to a full recovery
There’s no better way of putting it, major injuries suck. Especially those that require surgery. I’ve been there myself, as a sports physio on the Northern Beaches I’ve seen firsthand many injuries on the beach and on the sporting fields. I’ve had 7 operations including a full shoulder reconstruction and a hernia repair. I know that first you have the pain when you injure yourself. Then there’s the pain and lack of mobility leading up to surgery. Post-surgery it can feel like an eternity before your body is back to its optimal condition. You might even think your body is just a bit stiff from surgery and that it’s ready to get back to business as usual. You’d be wrong.
It’s easy to want to get straight back into the activities you were doing prior to your injury and for a lot of people this is where they can come unstuck (sometimes literally). Even though your brain might be telling you to go for it, your body is the one wearing the brunt of that decision. Old habits die hard and if your injury was caused by an improper technique or movement, the chances of you re-injuring the affected or surrounding area aren’t just high, but nearly guaranteed. This is where proper rehabilitation comes into its own.
They tried to make me go to prehab, I said yes, yes, yes.
Pre-surgical rehabilitation or prehab for short is the concept that’s going to get your body into the best shape it can be in before your surgery. Think of it as a 6 week bikini body challenge for your ACL. A well designed pre surgery strengthening regime can shave weeks of time and pain off your post-surgical recovery. In fact, surgeons agree that the physical shape your affected area is in is one of the strongest predictors of the chances of a fully successful recovery! It is likely that you have pain and weakness operating in tandem leading up to surgery, but you’re going to need every ounce of strength you’ve got to recover fully. In prehab your local physio will help you build strength and stability where you need it most to ensure you get the most out of your rehabilitation.
Surgeons understand the benefits of proper rehabilitation
There’s a reason surgeons recommend physiotherapy as the most essential component of the rehabilitation of your new or improved body part. While surgery corrects the structural issues caused by your injury, your body must relearn particular functions and movements to prevent another injury from occurring. Unless optimal motor control, joint motion, muscular strength and function is restored you might as well book yourself back in to go under the knife again already. For example walking, running or jumping around after knee surgery NEEDS TO BE RELEARNED! How did you end up here in the first place? Dodgy form. This is exactly the reason one some people experience the same surgery over and over again!
How pre and post surgical rehabilitation helps you recover
- Improves range of motion and movement function of the injured area
- Sports physiotherapy focuses on strengthening the muscles surrounding the injury
- Reduces pain associated with lack of movement and the injury itself
- Helps you to relearn movements: this could be through teaching you to walk, run or jump with a different movement pattern to avoid the same injury
- Empowers you with the knowledge of how to keep your body in better shape
- Shortens the recovery time associated with your injury and surgery
Pre and post-surgery rehab isn’t sexy. It can be a long process that requires intensive hands on physiotherapy from an expert in rehabilitation techniques, functional training and is up to date with the latest in complementary forms of exercise equipment. Make sure you find yourself a local musculoskeletal physiotherapist with access to state of the art gym and functional training capabilities to give yourself the best chance of a full recovery.