Scoliosis (adolescent idiopathic)
If you know me well you probably know that I have scoliosis. Scoliosis is a spinal condition where the spine is curved sideways. Scoliosis usually develops for people when they are a child or a teen.
My Experience With Scoliosis:
I was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis when I was 13 years old by my pediatrician by a simple test where I had to touch my toes. My pediatrician noticed a slight curve in my spine and then sent me to an orthopedic doctor. They told me that my curve was mostly harmless and they would monitor it every 6 months until I stopped growing. The curve eventually grew to a point where my doctor gave me a decision to make. He told me I could wear a back brace (something that would prevent the curve from growing any further), or I could just keep watching my spine. I decided to just watch my spine to avoid going through the pain of wearing a back brace. At my next appointment, the doctor told me that my curve had only curved by less than a degree in that time period, and the majority of my growing was over. My scoliosis is minor thankfully, but scoliosis still has an effect on my life. The location of my spine can often cause nerves and muscles to be irritated or squished, causing back pain. There can also be an effect in appearance, such as posture, uneven shoulders or hips, etc. When I was diagnosed with scoliosis, I was worried about how it would affect my day to day life. I was scared that I would have to quit dance because of this. Thankfully, the doctor told me that my scoliosis wouldn't be affected by any physical activity, and that I could continue dancing. He told me that even if I eventually wore a brace, I could still continue all my activities, which was a great relief for me.
How do you know if you have scoliosis?
One way to check if you have scoliosis is to bend down and touch your toes and have someone look at your back to see if there is a curve in your spine. If you see one, then consider getting it checked by an orthopedic doctor. If you have already got it checked, depending on the severity of the curve, you can merely monitor it, wear a brace, or get back surgery. Wearing a brace won't fix the curve, but prevent it from growing any further. Surgery is the only thing that can put your spine back in place, but it isn't needed if you have a curve less than about 50 degrees. Usually, if your curve is less than about 25-30 degrees, then they will just monitor the curve until you stop growing.
How to manage scoliosis:
Scoliosis can have a major effect on your life, causing discomfort and pain all the time, especially while you're sleeping. I can't even count the number of times I've woken up and I have back-aches all day because of my awkward sleeping position the night before.
Choose a mattress that is firmer to help support your back
Avoid large pillows for your head
For a Thoracic Curve (one that affects the upper back)
If you prefer sleeping on your side, sleep with a small pillow between your legs
If you prefer sleeping on your back, having a very think pillow below your shoulder blades can help
For a Lumbar Curve (one that affects the lower back)
Try sticking a very small pillow under or above your lower back for extra support
Try adding a small pillow under your neck
Exercising can help build better muscles to help posture and can significantly help with pain and discomfort
Avoid smoking, as it can cause back and neck problems
Avoid always looking down at your phone, as it can cause bad posture
If you have scoliosis or know someone with scoliosis, I hope this helped you and feel free to email me for any questions you have.