My Scoliosis Story and Where Yoga Fits In

I left off my last post suggesting that I would be back soon with an update on my second opinion doctor’s visit and the plan of action, so here I am.

I figure it makes sense to start at the beginning:

Some of you may know I have scoliosis because I have mentioned it once or twice on the blog, but many of you probably don’t know. To be honest, I didn’t talk about it much before my leg started tingling because it was never really an issue (pain wise) until last year.

I was checked just like everyone else in middle school, but my curvature went unnoticed until I was 16 and went to my older sister, lifted up my shirt and asked her what exercises I could do to get rid of a pesky love handle. <–Yes, I had just one love handle. She is an RN and as soon as I lifted up my shirt she noticed by hips were misaligned and knew I needed to see the doctor. After several sets of X-rays the doctors suggested that I did indeed have a moderate case of scoliosis with an S curve (a 30° right thoracic curve and a 40° lumbar) but because the curves weren’t over 50° or causing me any pain, surgery wasn’t recommended nor covered by our insurance. Bracing wasn’t recommended either because at that point I had hit puberty and “stopped growing.” The doctors also suggested that I should be able to do everything normal teenagers did – sports, running, swimming.. the whole 9 yards and that I had no more chance than anyone else to have back pain as I aged. They said that there was only a slight chance that the scoliosis might be worse as I aged but that wasn’t likely since I had stopped growing. This reassured my parents and I went about my life as normal.

Most of that might have been the doctor’s best judgment. At the time, however, they didn’t tell me that one side of my back was going to compensate for the curvature while the muscles were going to build up causing extreme tightness. Further, it was never mentioned that I should get X-rays every year or so to keep an eye on the curves to make sure they weren’t progressing. I never knew anyone who had scoliosis nor did I do any research online (WebMD wasn’t big back then), so the only advice I had was that of the doctor.

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This is an X-ray from the back of a person with an S curve about the same size of mine, although this isn’t my actual X-ray. (Image source) You can see the mis-alignment of my shoulders and the fact that I always stand with my weight on my left leg.

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Although most people tell me they never notice my scoliosis until I tell them about it, I’ve pretty much always had slight body image issues because of it. But that’s a whole other story for a different day.

8 years later (2 years ago) I thought my body was looking a bit different (more mis-aligned) so I decided to find an adult spine doctor and get updated X-rays. He compared my old X-rays with the new ones and said it looked like the curves were the same degree so there was no need to worry, especially because I wasn’t experiencing any pain. I left the appointment feeling great!

I went back to that same doctor when my leg started tingling in July where I was prescribed physical therapy, which I’ve been doing regularly since last fall. My PT thought the tight muscles on my left side were probably causing nerve impingement leading to the tingling but it didn’t subside with the PT so I tried to schedule a follow up appointment with my doc. As it turns out the group he worked with no longer accepted my insurance. :/

I researched online for adult scoliosis/spine doctors and found the doctor I saw 2 weeks ago. I went in for the appointment and explained my leg tingling issue, for which he prescribed an MRI. He then requested new X-rays of my spine and as soon as he compared those to the ones from when I was 16 he said spinal fusion surgery was necessary. This all happened in a matter of 10 minutes and soon after I was leaving the office with a packet of paper work to schedule surgery. It was an emotional day, to say the least.

So, last week I got the MRI and scheduled an appointment with a different doctor to get a second opinion. My MRI results came back normal – there is no disc damage, which means the tingling is most likely coming from muscular issues, just as my PT had predicted all along. The new doctor was fabulous. He looked at all my past X-rays and explained that the other doctor was correct – I was a good candidate for the spinal fusion surgery. I have a progressing curve, I’m young, not overweight, flexible, etc. but suggested it also makes sense to exhaust all other options before deciding to fuse 8 discs in my thoracic spine when I’m not in extreme pain. Basically, if we could see into the future and know that my curves wouldn’t progress any further or cause me pain then surgery would not be necessary. However, we can’t foresee those issues and now is the opportune time to have spinal surgery, not when I’m older.

If it were a simple surgery or if the curvature was severe and causing health issues it would be a no-brainer but I have to decide what’s right for me and my body. It’s an intense surgery with 3-4 days in the hospital, 2 months of wearing a brace and a ton of physical therapy adding up to about 9 months of recovery. The real kicker is that with spinal fusion, often times people experience painful side effects or further progression of the curves.

To sum it all up, my new doctor didn’t have a definitive answer and I have a lot of thinking to do. He said I should come back in 6 months to get updated X-rays and try some non-surgical methods to help with the muscle imbalances. I started researching and reaching out to others who have scoliosis and found that many people recommend yoga and pilates. I’ve done both but with no specific focus on it being therapeutic for my back. So, throughout the next 6 months I am going to really focus on doing things that loosen up the muscles on the lower left side of my back and working to decrease the progression of my thoracic curve. I honestly have a feeling that yoga can really help me if I put my mind to it. I’m excited to embark on this journey to healing.

So far, I’ve ordered this book, which has a full chapter dedicated to scoliosis and was recommended from a friend.

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And this DVD.

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I’ve done the Yoga for Scoliosis DVD 2 days in a row this week and so far it’s been awesome. The video is based on Iyengar Yoga and everyone in the video has a different type of scoliosis. There are modifications for each posture and you’re instructed to follow the person who has the curve most similar to yours. It’s slower than most yoga classes I’ve taken but I can tell it’s working the areas I need to work. I’m honestly loving it so far!

I’ve also read the chapter on scoliosis in Back Care Basics but haven’t started doing the poses yet. Most should probably be done with a partner for the first couple times to make sure I’m aligning myself properly.

At this point I plan to keep up with my physical therapy and really focus on healing yoga for the next 6 months. I’ll be doing most of the yoga on my own but I’d like to try out a few local studios as well. I’m actually already signed up for a Yoga for Scoliosis workshop that’s happening at the end of this month.

I’m definitely open to other methods of healing but yoga is really calling to me right now so I’m just going to go with it…

Who knows, maybe I’ll even try Naked Yoga, I hear that’s great for scoliosis. 😉 Even in difficult times like these I have to remember to laugh. Laughter is the best medicine.

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    152 comments
  1. Hi

    have you seen an improvement in your curvature since implementing these practices? I’m researching on what to do. I have a lumbar curve and im not interested in surgery

  2. Wow! At 24 with 2 surgeries down I wish yoga was an option when I was younger because now after the spinal fusion and the hardware removal I am experiencing severe leg numbness down my right leg. Doctors run you around and no one has answers :/ I do yoga once a week to help with my pain but nothing seems to actually heal me. Your story is amazing. Namaste

  3. Hi, I also have scoliosis and terrible body image issues because of my uneven hips. Could you personally tell me the yoga moves or anything you do that could help align my body maybe? Thank you

  4. Hi,
    I just happened to read your article now, as I was wandering about on internet for something else, and I thought I’d share my experience with you, although you wrote your article long time ago and I didn’t read all the comments. Maybe I’ll be completely off-topic, and if so I apologize, but I think I ought to share my experience to all the people who helped me during all those years.
    I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was about 10, and things went fast afterwards. My parents didn’t want me to wear a brace, and I did quite a lot of re-education that allowed me to be balanced (shoulders- and hips-wise). The therapy I used during those years is called “Mézières’ method”. Unfortunately it exists only in France as far as I know, and it is absolutely brilliant. If anyone is interested I’d be more than happy to explain the principle of it.

    Anyways, when I reached the age of 16 or so, I got scared by a doctor (I tried many different things meanwhile I was doing the Mézières’ method), who said that my spine had gone very very bad, as well as my jaws, and that I needed surgery for both problems urgently.
    At that time, my S-shape scoliosis was 93º dorsal and 55º lumbar, although my shoulders and hips were still aligned.

    So I went to see many doctors, to get advice, they all said I urgently needed surgery. They told me scary things, like if I didn’t get the surgery I’d be in a wheel-chair by the age of 30 and dead by the age of 50 etc. I ended up in a center specialized in scoliosis surgery, and was quite close to decide to have it, when I met the head of the hospital. After examining all my X-rays, effort test, breathing capacity reports and looking at me in person, he told me that he didn’t advice me to take the surgery. Because despite my scoliosis my body was balanced, because my shoulders and hips were aligned, because my effort tests were good and more than anything else because I didn’t suffer too much from my back and I could have a totally normal life. He said that spine surgery was not a cure, that it was more of a crutch than anything, since they didn’t know the reason of scoliosis, designed for people who had very important deformation and/or terrible pain. He also said that there was no long-term vision on the spine surgery like mine (leaving only 3 lumbar and 3 cervical vertebras free from fusion), but that they already could see operated people not doing so well after the surgery.

    I decided to listen to him and not do the surgery, and this was the beginning of a wonderful journey to get to understand my body and make friend with it, after all those years listening to doctors saying that it was all wrong.

    Here is a small summary of the therapies I’ve tried and helped me most:
    – Mézières’ method, great great. Based on the big chains of muscles that run in the body, from toes to head.
    – Alexander technique, awesome too. Makes you feel your body from inside and use just the amount of tension you need, releasing all the other unnecessary tensions;
    – yoga, very good, although you should really have a teacher who knows about your back situation and can guide you to align your body, because when you’ve got a scoliosis your perception of space and your own placement in space are twisted;
    – Tai-Chi
    – acupuncture
    – chinese medicine (especially massage)

    Traditional medicine says that an adult’s scoliosis can’t reduce or straighten up. Well, when I was 20 my curves were 93º/55º.
    Today I’m 31, my curves are 60º/60º, I have no pain, no vertebra calcification, perfect breath capacity.
    Oh, and of course I’m not in a wheel-chair. I walk, run, dance, jump, do everything I want, of course with a very intimate relationship with my back which I cherish very much !

    Cheers !

  5. I also have scoliosis but nobody discovered it until I was in my 20s and had a physical for a new job. My back hurts all of the time I have a big rib hump on my left side. I could tolerate all that because I lived with it for so long but now a new pain going down by outer left leg to my knee. Having trouble with this new pain just wanted to know if you found any exercises that helped. Thanks! Mallory

  6. Read your webpage – your story, only. I teach massage therapy for scoliosis to a variety of health care professionals. In 2015 doctors from CLEAR Scoliosis Institute lectured at all our Florida seminars. The Founder of CLEAR SI lectured at our 2014 seminar in Atlanta, Dr. Dennis Woggon. Before trying any surgery, please consider speaking with him. He’s had tremendous success with scoliosis correction. His contact information is below. I have also included a YouTube link that is very informative regarding the CLEAR non-surgical method. It’s not his video, but one of his CLEAR doctor’s.

    St. Cloud Chiropractic Clinic & CLEAR Scoliosis Center (Founder)
    437 N. 33RD Avenue
    St. Cloud, MN 56303
    320-252-5599
    http://www.Dr.Woggon.com
    http://www.CLEAR-Institute.org

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy1sQQF5srw

  7. I’m 16 and Have scoliosis they caught it at least several years ago…. At that time it was 28 I think on top and 20 something on bottom. I didn’t wear the brace, I have insomnia and It made me so I couldn’t turn in my sleep, and it didn’t fit right…. I just went in a few days ago and am 16 now, and it has progressed to 47 on top and 42 on bottom but is pretty balanced. It also causing my hip to look higher than the other. They told me It wasn’t supposed to progress anymore a year or two ago, but it keeps slowly increasing. this time it was 2 degrees within a year. I really am upset that I couldn’t tolerate the brace, I’m close to needing surgery now if it keeps increasing even though I’m done growing…. I feel your pain I’m also petite. 5″1. and have love handles.

  8. I understand this is an old post. However I have a-shaped scoliosis and put all of my weight on my left leg as you do. Recently I that leg has been feeling heavier and more tingly and I was wondering if the yoga or anything else you may have found by no w improved anything for you. I’m on the hunt for knowledge! 🙂

  9. So I randomly Googled “Doctors that JUDGE Scoliosis patients” and the blog came up and it was like reading my story (except for the overweight part, which doesn’t help my paid, I know) I am in a very big amount of pain as well. I had an MRI done in August of 2014 which showed arthritis among other long detailed issued that I am sure you can related to. I just wanted to tell you thanks for this post. I will be giving Yoga a try.

  10. Hi Meagan! I just stumbled upon your post several years after it was written, but I’m glad I did!

    I have the exact same scoliosis issues you do. I am noticing after having my son it seems to be a little different, I don’t know if it’s worse or what.

    There’s a muscle that sticks out right at the bottom of my rib cage on my abdomen, it’s on the left side, and it is more noticeable now than it used to be. My husband noticed it one day and was like “Oh no, you don’t have a tumor do you?!” lol he’s a hypochondriac at times-

    I assured him it had always been that way, but I know it wasn’t that pronounced before. I don’t have a whole lot of back pain either, but that random muscle getting more out of whack has me a little concerned that other parts may be getting worse too.

    After having my son, I went to the chiropractor and had a few adjustments, and he did the x-rays and all that fun stuff. He gave me a lift to wear in my left shoe, since that leg is shorter. I put it in my running shoes but I usually forget to wear it to work. It does help when I run though, I used to have issues with my IT band on my left leg, and since using the lift it doesn’t happen anymore, so that was a big plus!

    A few times I have noticed my toes will go numb, sometimes on both feet. It seems to happen at random times. Periodically I have another random pain that shoots through my left buttcheek (lol)- It feels like someone is jabbing a needle in it. I’m sure it’s sciatic nerve related.

    Anyways, I’m really glad you shared your experience- I haven’t come across anyone in “real life” that has the same issue. Plus since my shoulders are pretty straight I don’t think most people notice I have an issue (thankfully), but the curve is VERY noticeable on the x-ray, and it’s really obvious (to me) that one hip is higher. I guess most people don’t pay much attention!

    Thanks!

  11. I am a 65 yo who just found out I have serious scoliosis from the middle of my back which forms a large S curve on my right side along with degenerative discs. Surgeon suggest a small surgery to open up a space where my nerves are being compressed. Otherwise a major surgery eith screws all the way down to the bottom of my spine. I have severe pain when I stand a long time with pain going down my right leg. He suggest I talk with other neurosurgeons for their opinion. He said he would have to build up my bones before he could do any major surgery because I have soft bones.

    My question is have you ever heard of Groth exercises for scoliosis done by a physical therapy to help realign the curvature? 4 years ago I had fusion surgery of my cervical from C3-C5 with rods placed in my neck. I knew something was wrong with my lower back from an MRI, but my neck was worst. I didn’t hear anything about the scoliosis until I recently had an MRI on my lumbar area. Gaga

  12. Hi Brittany!

    Your post today (March 10/15) about creating a healthier home office led me to find out that you and I both suffer from scoliosis (I also have an ‘s’ curve to my spine, leaving one leg slightly shorter than the other). Thank you so much for including past blog post links – it allowed me to find this post about your scoliosis. My scoliosis was diagnosed when I was around 15 and my last x-ray was when I turned 18 (I just turned 29 on Feb. 14)!

    Reading this it has really gotten me thinking that perhaps I talk to my doctor about getting updated x-rays! I have also been trying to increase the times per week I practice yoga and am going to check out the book and DVD you suggested. I only tend to deal with my scoliosis when it is causing problems, but I think it’s time I keep better care of myself! Thank you so much for getting me thinking about my health!

    .. Sorry about the short novel I’ve left you… 🙂

    ~Meagan

    • Hi Meagan. I’m so glad you found this post. It seems like we have a ton in common considering I just turned 30 on February 14th! V-day babies! 🙂

      Do you have any pain caused by your scoliosis? I typically don’t experience much pain — just tightness in my lower back. I do still have the leg tingling issue though. :/ I need to do an updated post soon and talk about what I’ve been doing lately to help with it.

  13. Bikram yoga will greatly correct your spine in just one or 2 sessions. I grew 3/4″ after one session. I’m a believer!!! This has been a miracle for me. The heat in the room is what makes this possible. If you have scoliosis your NEED to try bikram yoga!!!!

  14. The Schroth method, a 100 yr old German physical therapy specifically developed for scoliosis, is now being recognized by the US scoliosis treatment community and practitioners are increasingly available in the US. My insurance covers it as out of network PT. I highly recommend it. It teaches you how to realign your body with very specialized exercises to strengthen the weak side and release the overworked muscles on the convex side.

    I have a very similar s curve, recently reassessed after having two children, which can exacerbate scoliosis. For the last decade yoga seemed like it was helping me but I’ve recently realized I need scoliosis specific yoga with a teacher trained in scoliosis treatment. Luckily Elise Browning Miller lives in my area! Just wanted to mention to any brave souls who make it all the way through these comments that not just any yoga class to teacher will be good for someone with scoliosis. It may even make it worse!

    And stay away from muscle relaxants! They can leave you even more out of whack.

    The Back Care Basics book you mentioned has gotten me through several periods where my pain kept me from sitting or lying down comfortably.

    There is hope for scoliotic spines! Western medicine may not have the right answers.

    • Thanks so much Laura! I had not heard of the Schroth Method, but after watching some YouTube vids, it looks very good. The breath work would also do a lot to “unstick” the fused sections of vertabrae. I’ll bet if you combined it with Yamuna bodyrolling you could accelerate the process.

      And since I was there on YouTube, I also found this excellent video – with exercises you can do at home – by a British Osteopath:

      If your upper back curves right & lower back curves left:
      http://youtu.be/9TWtrCmzaOw

      If your upper back curves left & lower back curves right:
      http://youtu.be/W9qUhlQdOzg

      However, as I commented on the video, I also would:

      “Awesome video!! I was diagnosed with an S-curve at age 12. In my 20’s I began treating it with advanced yoga, Yamuna body rolling, craniosacral, myofascial and osteopathic treatment. By age 45 my lower spine is completely straight and my upper is only 1” off center. These exercises look excellent. But what I would add is to combine them with loosening and stretching exercises – even between sets – otherwise you may see an increase in pain. I think you also need to mobilize or “unstick” the vertebrae, since most will have entire sections that are “fused” together and just move in a block – another thing that will prevent these exercises from having their full, desired effect. Just my thoughts. Thanks for sharing and I’ll pass this along.”

  15. Don’t have surgery please once u start on the spine down that route u are opening a can of worms contact dr Musharraf Ali at his clinic in London he is incredible and he can straighten your spine naturally look him up and buy his book I have curvature and have left it far too long spine is crazy stiff now and little neck movement not sure anythings any good for me

  16. Hi Brittany,

    Ive just been reading your blog about yoga and scoliosis and was wondering if you found it helped you and how is your scoliosis now? I have had scoliosis and kyphosis for many years and now also have thoracic outlet syndrome. I have been treating these with massage, osteopathy and pilates. I actually tried the yoga for scoliosis dvd yesterday and found it helpful. Im just wondering how you have found it useful long term?

    Cheers,
    Becs

  17. You’re on the right track! I was diagnosed with a Grade II, S-curve scoliosis when I was 12 – but who knew how long it had been like that? I was offered a back brace (like Deenie in the Judy Blume novel) but turned that down.

    In my mid-twenties I made a decision to heal the scoliosis – regardless of everyone saying that’s “impossible”. I did 10 years of craniosacral or osteopathic treatment every 10 days and I began doing yoga seriously. Then about 6 years ago (with gradual improvement) my healing really sped up when I discovered an amazing yoga teacher named Sandra Sammartino (google her). She’s been teaching for 35 years and only does workshops now for people who want to go deep into true, transformational yoga.

    Luckily, I had a full year with Sandra when she was still teaching weekly classes – she would call the students over, “Everyone come look, Jini’s spine is moving!” and everyone would rush over. She introduced me to Yamuna Body Rolling – and this is something everyone can get going on right away as there are licensed practitioners in most cities now. Yamuna devised this system after she broke her back and no one/nothing could help her.

    Well, I’m now 45 and the lower part of my spine is completely straight, with only a slight rotation. The upper part is only 1″ off center now. Oh yes, I will have my perfectly straight spine in the next few years!

    So don’t let anyone tell you anything is impossible: Whatever we believe, we will create.

    Namaste.

    • This is an amazing story. I wish I knew to seek out alternative options when I was diagnosed when I was 11. I don’t remember the curvature degree but I had the surgery fairly soon after. My entire thoracic is fused. And funny you mention Judy Blume, because I remember the moment I was sitting at the kitchen table reading this book and relating so much to the character, Deenie. I told my mom, “I think i have this scoliosis thing.” She shook her head and had no idea what I was talking about. I was told to see a doctor a few months later with the whole bend over/ruler test in PE.

      20 years later I have been very fortunate to not have major issues. I am starting acupuncture and more massage because I believe my stiffness in my shoulders is attributed to my muscle tightness from years of my back just compensating for the rods doing all the work. I also heard about rolling recently as a great form of deep tissue work to help release scar tissue.

      It’s nice to read stories of people who went through something similar, because you sometimes feel all alone. Thanks for the advice. And Thanks Brittany for sharing your story, I too am in IIN!

  18. Hi Brittany,

    I recently came across this blog and I am 27 years old. I had a minor surgery as a kid and I had a follow up the doctor and recently my ortho found out that I have scoliosis. Its almost the same degree as yours.

    I will begin yoga. I will pick up the DVD you suggested on your post and begin working on my posture and stay positive.

    Has the curve improved or is it still the same? I’ll be happy to hear from you. 🙂

  19. Thank you for sharing your personal struggle with scoliosis. My daughter was discovered to have scoliosis at 16 from trouble with her legs. I have been researching options since that time. We too, are going to a yoga workshop this week for scoliosis. I will be ordering the materials you shared with your readers. I pray your updated posts will be progress for you, as they will be hope for the rest of us.

  20. sounds very much like my life…except now I am 65 and am experiencing more than occasional back/arm/leg pain. Now I have migraines, and rarely sleep all night. looking into buying a curved body pillow to assist. can only sleep on my right side, on the left gives me a migraine, back and belly are out completely. Right shoulder really takes a beating and am in PT now for pain. Such is life, need to do more exercises to strengthen and limber my body/back. think positive stay smiling

  21. Wow you look amazing!! I have had a two level spine fusion in my lumbar spine 7 months ago. I have had a pretty rough recovery. I have always trained and tried to keep fit and am trying to get back into the gym again. i am doing ok, however, i get very very stiff. Was considering yoga or Pilates but didn’t know if i would be able to do it or if it would help or make things worse?
    You look stunning by the way!! Very Pretty Lady. XX

  22. As I lay here on my bed in extreme back pain I Google ways to sooth back pain from, scoliosis and came across your blog I will definitely try yoga now that I know it’s good for you. My doctor said I need to do physio and last time I was there (13) he said that I don’t need N e thing but he said when I get older he forsee me needing surgery. I know someone who had the surgery and let’s put it this way he’s limited in movemen. Should I do any kind of yoga or yoga really geared toward scoliosis? And what’s your progress..?

    • Hi Michelle,
      I started with Bikram Yoga and I had pain relief within the first week (I went 5 times in a row). It’s good if you can find a hot yoga studio that offers healing yoga, and one that really emphasizes correct alignment in the postures. At my studio, they even explained to us why, in “dead man’s pose” (savasana), you want to work towards getting your ear on the towel as you lie on your stomach to get a passive stretch to your neck and upper spine.

  23. Hi Brittany,

    I am Kavita from India. I, too, have scoliosis ‘S’ curve. It was diagnosed at the age of 11. Since then i have been very conscious of my body and clothes. It has also affected my confindence level.

    I really liked your thoughts over scoliosis. I would like to try yoga. Your words have given me hope. I will try to get the DVDs that you have mentioned in your blog.

    Take care.

  24. Weight training and lifting definitely won’t be good for your back, yoga, Pilates and swimming are best. Try working unevenly in yoga to strengthen your weak side, try and find a teacher who can help you do this. Good luck!

  25. Hi..
    I have a left C shape mild to moderate scoliosis in the lumber with a very stressed muscle on the left and it’s pretty bigger than the right one.. I have been doing P90x if anyone have heard about.. but I don’t know if all the jump training and lifting training is good for my back.. and another question too.. is the Yoga thing is good for my scoliosis type or not ?! knowing that I already do yoga and Pilates in the P90x workouts.. so do I need a special type of yoga or something ?!

  26. Not sure any of my issues anyone has anything close to my situation but I am kind of desperate. I am over 50, also diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 16 but of course back then they said there was nothing to do. I have done very well up until about 6 years ago when my leg starting giving out. Chiropractic help, staying active etc. it has now gotten so much worse. I have a 63 percent curve on the top and a 65 percent on the bottom, pretty bad! I have had X-rays and mri’s, been doing physical therapy but conclusion by the neurosurgical team at Barrows is that I need the surgery. I am looking for answers, anything or anyone that may have done it or if you guys out there think I can actually get away without it. I am almost to a point that I cannot walk, almost every step my leg gives out and is painful. Any advise and how awful my life will be if I do the surgery? I am an active realtor and need to work!

    • Hi Nancy,
      I would recommend trying hot yoga. I had my top vertebrae fused and herrington rods installed as a child. Last year I was having difficulty walking because my lower back pain was so bad. It turns out, since my body was still uneven, I developed a pronounced curve in my tailbone. I was told that further surgery was my only option. Instead, I do therapeutic hot yoga. I am currently 100% pain free. Try to find a Bikram studio, or one that says their yoga is a “healing” yoga. It truly is. I started to feel better after my first week (I took classes five days in a row).

    • I’m 49 years old with a 31 degree Lumbar and 21 degree T with a straight neck. I’ve signed up for a CLEAR institute week long intensive therapy to loosen up my tight side and straighten as much as they can all of my curves. I’m at the Spine Correction Center of the Rockies in Fort Collins, Colorado. USA. It’s new but gaining
      I also do Yoga and have looked at having a trainer give me specific exercises to strengthen my weak sides. I have lower back pain when I’m active.

  27. Hello.

    I’m sorry if my English is not the better but here is my story.

    While I read this I was recalling all the matter related to my scoliosis… All those bad feelings because I felt like the hunchback of notre dame too. It was not that bad, but for a female teenager you can imagine what is to not look like others girls.
    I was between 10 and 11 years old when the scoliosis were diagnosed, back then, it was slightly noticeable, very small degrees on the curves. I had plenty of physiotherapy for a while but with time It didn’t continue. Four years later (I had 14-15 years old) I started to see that my back wasn’t straight, I went to 4 or 5 doctors to check what was that about, all of them concluded the same: “You need surgery”. Finally I decide to make it with a doctor, the date and time were schedule, a Monday I remember. Thursday before surgery I got a call from the assistant of my doctor “Dr XXX had a fracture on his hand while he was travelling, we have to re-schedule the surgery”… My perception of this was “this is a signal, I should not get this surgery”… and I didn’t..

    I mean I didn’t not till 2003 when I was 18 years old, my figure started to be worse, one shoulder higher than the other and the lump on the back was getting worse, there is when I decide (again) to see a doctor. As I knew that I needed surgery I when to a different doctor. After he seeing the new x-rays he diagnosed I had and S Curve 45° thoracic curve and a 32° lumbar. I didn’t have pain or any constrain to do anything. Nevertheless, my doctor recommended to have surgery due to I was going to keep growing and there exist the possibility of the curves getting worse and in consequence develop associated health problems.
    I thank to my doctor for recommending having surgery and as well to my parent who are very precocious and they could afford it due to our insurance. On 08/08/2003 I got my surgery. The next day of the surgery I was back on my feet, everything hurts.. Even coughing. Thanks morphine for pain. Four days after I was at home; I didn’t wear any corset or special wraps on my back. I can say that I fully recovered in 3-4 month with twice a week of physiotherapy to recover the strengths in my back.
    Now I am 28 years old. In general, I feel great but having constrains in flexibility, I mean, It is not serious but I am not as flexible as I was. I got in this blog because I was looking for benefits of the hot yoga, today I’m having my first session.

    Good luck and don’t give up.

    • U were lucky to have family that cared about u. I’m now 22 years old and my family couldn’t afford the 2000 dollars Canadian for the 50% chance of death and a 50% chance of paralysis surgery and now my spine is by my left hip and my heart below my left breast. I jog for 3 minutes and I feel like I’m going into cardiac arrest. I stand up straight and feel like I’m getting stabbed in my left hip with a freshly sharpened knife. I tend to drop things more than once and slow ppl I’m walking with way down cuz I can’t walk as fast as most ppl can. I hate my father for screwing my life up by giving this back problem to me. Apparently I’m ” too young for narcotics ” and NO OTHER PAIN KILLERS WILL WORK. I’ve become immune to all the painkillers that r for severe pain. So I deal with back pain 24/7.

      • Hello Christina.

        Yes I were very lucky.
        I really can not imagine what you are being through because my situation was completely different to yours in every way. I can’t believe there are places where label as “cosmetics surgery” are given to this serious health issues!!

        how is your father related to this problem? if may I ask of course.

        Don’t give up Christina, Stay Strong..
        God gives us things that we are able to face and overcome.
        Find another option… there is always an option.

        • He’s got scoliosis and since its genetic and its mostly the female children who get it from the father. I had a friend who had the surgery and she was the only female friend I had as women can be judgemental and treat other women who r worse off or if they hear something believable about someone they judge harshly and don’t give the woman who was lied about a chance to redeem herself cuz everything she says is a lie. She was one of the lucky few to have the surgery and come out 100% fine but a few months later the rods got infected and the drs KILLED HER when they went to clean out the rods. I don’t need that happening to me. And because I didn’t get the surgery when I should have its apparently ” too late for me now “. Tiffany, is there any way we could communicate other than here? Would be appreciated. 🙂

  28. I also had a pretty severe S curve. I was misdiagnosed all through middle school. In the 5th grade I began having severe ankle pain, went to doctors and nothing checked out. My after and paternal grandmother both frequently saw chiropractors for scoliosis throught their entire adult life. After nothin at the dr.
    checked out my dad took me to see his chiropractor. I have gone monthly/bi-monthly consistently sice age 11, now 25 my spine is almost perfectly aligned. I can go a little longer between adjustments now and really only go when I experience pain or my spine shifts. Ultimately the cause of my scoliosis was my left leg being .25 inches shorter than the right, I now wear a lft in my shoe to balance me out- when I wear sandals I do myself no favors. But sometimes summer fashion is worth the visit to the chiropractor.
    I wish you luck I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would be like without getting started seeing a chiropractor at such a young age. His goal was to align me before my bones fused at adulthood. And we accomplished that through frequent visits and by my fairly consistent usuage of the lift.

  29. Brittany, I’m not sure this site is still active, but I want to applaud your efforts at trying to figure out how to loosen up those muscles and keep them that way. I am now 50 years old and have slight scoliosis with the curve like yours and my one hip has always been higher than the other. No one caught it and really labeled it until I was in my mid-to-late 20’s and having lots of back pain when my PT and chiropractor both easily concluded it. Xrays confirmed it. It really is amazing how strong one side can be and how weak the other…and how much that imbalance can lead to back pain, etc. So keep up the yoga and anything else that works!

  30. Hey there – I haven’t read all the comments yet so someone may have already said this to you but it’s super important to build strength on the convex side of your curve(s), maybe even more important than increasing flexibility! Check our the chapter on Scoliosis in Yoga for Arthritis by Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall. Good luck to you!

  31. Wow, thankyou for sharing. Actually i was googling apple cider vinegar drink recipe and clicked the link to your post. I found out you have scoliosis from that post. Then i decided to read more about your scoliosis case. I am 23yo and was diagnosed of scoliosis when i was 18. I live in Indonesia (am Indonesian). I did pretty much nothing about it since there are very few people around here have scoliosis. And scoliosis therapy here are very pricey.

    But after i read this post, i definitely am becoming more motivated to try the yoga for scoliosis. I have quite similar case of scoliosis where it is not necessary to wear bracing nor do surgery as i was already past my puberty. And no one would know i have scoliosis until i tell them. The only time i experienced backpain (up until now) is when the exams are coming (mid and finals). That’s just the worst as i have to think and endure the backache. I think i need to start doing the yoga (or other workout) to prevent worse scoliosis, as i don’t know what will happen as i’m getting older. It is better to prevent the surgery^^

    Once again, thankyou for sharing 🙂

  32. I suggest reading “The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion: Revolutionary Program That Lets You Rediscover the Body’s Power to Rejuvenate It” and other books from Pete Egoscue.
    I’m on the first book now.

  33. A very interesting subject for sure. I was diagnosed with mild scoliosis at 11 years old. My doctor at that point said that it was not that bad, and if anything, scared me with the brace idea. He didn’t push it to the best of my knowledge. My parents raised five kids, and I don’t believe my mom was thinking that it was a big deal back then.

    42 years later, I have to say, it surely hasn’t gotten better, and I have always felt very paranoid about my body especially in a bathing suit, dress, pants, etc. Everything is uneven. I have one hip sticking out, shoulders lopsided, and one leg longer. I’m 5’2, and petite. I have to say that I have been always very active and think that helps alleviate all of my back pain. Now if only the deformity would go away!

    For almost a year now, I started taking hot yoga (Bikram). There are 26 postures that are outstanding for your entire back, and my hope is that if I can keep this up for the rest of my life, maybe my body will stabilize and possibly get a little normal. The teachers are very helpful and mindful.

    I never was interested in yoga, but have to say that this hot yoga is most definitely good for me personally, and for all body types. The heat helps the stretching which is what our bodies require.

    Keep up the blogs…maybe one day (sooner or later), they will discover an easier remedy for all of us.

  34. Interesting blog! I have been doing a lot of research on scoliosis the past few days. I also have an S curve. I learned more about surgery, the Spinecor brace, exercises, PT, and yoga. I decided that the best option, along with seeing my chiropractor, is to get going with yoga. I signed up for the Elise Browning Miller Scoliosis Workshop in Los Angeles the beginning of August. I really want to develop more strength and flexibility through yoga. The last time I worked out at a fitness center, I was aching for a week, so that is not right for me. I have her exercise DVD, and just ordered her booklet as well. I also have Kevin Lau’s book and DVD on natural scoliosis prevention and treatment, with many yoga-based exercises. Because I understand my scoliosis (diagnosed later in life), now I understand why some yoga poses were always next to impossible to do, and that modifications are possible.

  35. Brittany,
    I have a similar scoliosis to you. I also went undiagnosed in middle school and in high school my primary physician diagnosed me.I have the S-curve and my curve is less than 30. I go to Bikram yoga. Some days it helps and some days I feel more tight. Have you experienced this? I am also thinking of going to one of Elise Browning Miller’s training’s. I strive daily to not be in pain. I am glad there are others out there that can relate to me. I sometimes feel sorry for myself because I know it will never go away but then I try to remember I’m not the only one and it could be worse. Thank you for this blog excerpt. I am now inspired to continue yoga and try different types to see what works best fit for me.

  36. Hi Brittany!

    Thank you for sharing this part of your life! I’m a 22 year-old, yoga-loving, organic-eating, athletic girl, but my slight scoliosis has always been kind of a cloud above my head. I have the S-shape going on, like you, and I noticed it in middle school, but when I told my mom about it she checked me out and was basically like “you’re fine, it’s not even noticeable, you’ll straighten out.”

    I guess she didn’t know that people don’t just naturally “straighten out”. Although nobody noticed it, my posture/spine was something that I became extremely self-conscious about, but never wanted to acknowledge the idea of surgery or seek serious medical attention. I decided that yoga and stretching and being aware of myself was the best cure, and I’ve been able to correct my curvature pretty well over the years! I’m still not perfect, especially under my close scrutiny, but gradual progress is better than none at all!

    My biggest hurdle/fear was trying out for athletics in college. I’m a student at the University of Oklahoma, and OU is crazy about their sports. We are a Big 12 school and the quality of our athletics programs is mind-blowing. One semester, I decided that I wanted to try out for the OU Rowing team.

    Yes, rowing. The most spine-straining, back strength-requiring sport I probably could have chosen. I don’t know why I do these things to myself! But anyways, I tried out with about 100 other girls, and about half of us made the novice team. Then, the coaches informed us that, in order to seal the deal, we had to go through intensive physicals. They took my blood (I came up slightly anemic), they took all my numbers – height, weight, blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood oxygen content, everything you can think of. They even did an ultrasound on our hearts! It was intense. The most terrifying moment was the second day in the doctors office, when the doctor told me to take off my shirt and bend over. I stood up really tall, took a breath, took off my shirt, and turned around. My heart was racing as I carefully and mindfully bent over and touched the floor, knowing that her carefully-trained, merciless eyes were actively seeking even the slightest of flaws. But after a moment, she told me to stand up and that I was done.

    She scribbled her observations on the most important piece of paper in the world to me – the one that would tell the university if my body was good enough to row – and I sat in silence. When she finally handed it to me, my eyes jumped to the bottom of the page, to the bone/spine section. She had only scribbled a sloppy couple of words, and they were so ugly to me: mild scoliosis. Then, I had to look at the bottom of the page, where she would officially give her notice of approval or disapproval. There were three options: 1) I was physically unfit to engage in sport, 2) I had physical ailments that might inhibit me, but not enough that she disapproved of my engaging in sport, and 3) I was good to go.

    She totally checked the third box. Somehow, she didn’t even think that my back would limit me. My heart soared. I thanked myself for years of trying to stand taller, releasing tension in yoga, building strength in yoga, and just thanked the yoga gods in general.

    I NEVER talk about my back problems with anyone. I’m kind of ashamed of them. But I wanted to share mine with you because you shared yours with the blogosphere. Thanks, and cheers to the both of us straightening ourselves out with yoga and awareness and self-love!

  37. Hi Christina,
    That is a terrible story! I wonder if it’s possible for you to go back and sue that insurance company, calling scoliosis cosmetic is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! I would really encourage you to give hot yoga a try. Find a studio that is accepting of people in all types of physical condition (my studio has quite a few older students, which I think is a good sign). Even with a previous surgery my spine is a hot mess and hot yoga has brought me a great deal of relief. Hatha yoga focuses on back strength, and flexibility and proper alignment of the spine. Even little things like putting your ear all the way to the floor when lying on your stomach in savasana (resting position) help align the spine. When I started my ear was nowhere near the floor, and now it goes right down with a little gentle coaxing. It’s weird how little things like that make a difference, but they really do…

    • I can’t afford that sort of thing. Its bad enough me and my bf r on my Canadian disability check. Plus living in a motel with a small fridge we can barely afford food. And we got a week to go before we get any money. Is there a way we can chat privately?

        • I can’t stand straight for 3 minutes without feeling like I’m getting stabbed in the side with a freshly sharpened knife so what makes u think I can stand to do physical labour?!?! And since he’s now gone due to physical abuse towards me, it’s gonna be even harder for me without my bedtime massage. More pain that’s all. Fml. Wish I had someone to talk to.

          • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that! Just wanted to let you know that in the yoga room, you do what your body can handle. Just be sure to find a teacher who offers therapeutic hot yoga. At my studio, they tell you that even if you just sit for the hour in the warm, humid room you are doing your body good. It really feels good on my back, because the scoliosis constantly twists my muscles and nerves, and the hot room lets everything relax. Then, you add some gentle stretching when you’re ready. When I started, I was in a lot of pain and could not do much. I would go into the very beginning of the asana (posture) and then stop. When they did balancing, I held onto the ballet barre in the back and lifted one foot in the air for a little bit. Every day I was able to do maybe a centimeter more. Now after 10 months I am out on the floor and probably 95% pain free. I sometimes still wake up stiff, but I do some of the back stretches I’ve learned in class and the stiffness goes away. Good luck!

  38. hey Brittany, i know what its like, when i went to school they never tested us for scoliosis, but when i was 10 i was getting called the ” female version of the hunchback of notre dame ” cuz i was ugly and had a hunchback i was unaware of. i hit puberty early and was told i was gonna stay 5’5 the rest of my life. im now 22years of age, and down to 5′ with my spine close to my left hip and my heart below my left breast. at the time when they told us about the surgery we couldnt afford the 2000 bucks it cost cuz my health coverage called a scoliosis surgery ” cosmetics ” meaning the surgery WAS NOT NEEDED OR NECESSARY for me. i deal with back pain all the time, am apparently ” too young for percosets ” ( even though im immune to all other pain killers and was prescribed them at the age of 19 and had no addictive reactions to them only took them as needed ) and cant walk for 5 minutes without having to stop and take my inhalers even though i do not have asthma which is time consuming and pisses ppl that r with me that have to wait for me right off. i cant bend without being in pain, cant stand for more than a few minutes without feeling faint, and my grip is slowly going in my hands as i cant even hold something light without dropping it on the floor and having an extremely difficult time picking it up. i wish Brittany there was a way for us to communicate more and personally chat. its hard finding ppl that r like me out there. i had one friend who had scoliosis and survived the surgery but the rods had gotten infected so when the dr cleaned them he killed her.

      • Care to wire the money for the bill? My health coverage and disability income won’t pay for it and I’m near homelessness right now. No one else will help me unless I sold my body sexually for it. I would rather starve to death.bad enough im going nearly a month with very little food and water cuz of the piping for the water not working properly all the time ( put it this way, I have been unable to bathroom in nearly 2 weeks now due to the hot water fluctuating randomly and frequently like a lightswitch which isn’t good for my back at all )

  39. Nicole C, you have to practice every day (no excuse). I had no pain long time until it was too late. Doctors are wrong that it is OK if you have no pain and you spine is in S shape.

    My case was not so bad and I recovered after 6 moths of practicing (exercises for back muscles) and going to chiropractic once a month. I still have mild scoliosis and I’m searching for better solutions.

  40. Hi Brittany,

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing your experience with scoliosis. I am about the same age as you, with a very similar experience.

    I only discovered it about 2 years ago, but have always thought my back looked different than everyone else’s. I had no pain, however, so I never thought to think of scoliosis as the culprit. It seems as if it’s getting worse, and I also have tingling in my hands. I’m supposed to go for another xray in a couple of months, and they’ll be able to determine if it’s progressing. I have been trying to do yoga but worry that I’m not doing it frequently enough to make any positive difference.

    I’m very scared, but your experience has really inspired me. I feel as if I can adopt the same positive attitude as you, then half of the battle will already be won. Please keep us posted on your progress, and I will do the same.

  41. Hi,
    I had spinal fusion surgery as a child for severe scoliosis. I had been having a lot of back pain in the past few years. A spine specialist took my x-ray and said that now my tailbone is curving and the only cure is more surgery. I was almost crippled with the pain, and in desperation I tried Bikram yoga (AKA hot yoga). My pain was relieved within a week. I have now been practicing 4-5 times a week for about 4 months, and I can feel the changes in my spine. Bikram really focuses on strengthening, stretching and straightening the spine. I highly recommend it!

  42. Nice blog ! yesterday i got diagnose with a curve spine. My doctor said it was a muscle spasm which i been having alot all over my body. Im just wondering would yoga help my stress levels? I think this is the problem. I will have to go back to the doc because she didnt explain much

  43. I’m really happy I found this post. It’s great that you are reacting quickly to all this and making it a priority! I’ve been struggling with scoliosis as well for about 7 years. My curve was also discovered “late”. I was 19 when I was told I had scoliosis and it took another three years to discover that it was because of a minor case of LLI (Leg Length Inequality). My left leg is 2cm longer than my right, which causes a double curve in my back. (Fun Fact: Bruce Lee had an inch difference in leg lengths!) I did martial arts until I hit university and was in such good shape that I didn’t feel the effects of my scoliosis. Once uni hit, I got really busy and lost a lot of muscle strength from lack of training. That coupled with bad advice from physiotherapists and doctors, my body slowly worsened over the next three years. Last year I could barely walk without pain, now I wear an 8mm lift and am on the road back to a high level of physical fitness.

    The past year has been emotionally and psychologically difficult and I’ve been looking for people with similar experiences to share with. The only thing that eases any anxiety about this is working towards a solution and learning as much as I can. Now that I feel like I’ve gotten my head above water I want to change the relationship I have with my scoliosis. I do not want to hide it or fear it, it doesn’t define who I am but it is a part of me. It’s been a helluva ride! (YES, you have to have to laugh at this stuff. I’ve learned that my body is my home and I certainly have a fixer-upper!) It’s great that you have found yoga! I switched from kick-boxing to tai chi and I feel like it will be the key to my success. I recommend tai chi to anyone with alignment issues, minor or major. Swimming is also highly recommended! I also found myself a great alignment specialist. Physiotherapy and osteotherapy didn’t work for me in the long run. There’s so much I’ve learned about the body and now I’m working on how my mind can play a positive role in this, meditation and body awareness is my next area of focus (which is a big part of yoga!). There is definitely some trial and error in all of this!

    I’ve realized that my health is entirely in my hands and it sounds like this could be the case for you too. Embrace it! I deal with muscle pain on a daily basis (for now) but I know if I honor my commitments, continue educating myself, put in the work and make sacrifices when necessary (I’m also working to be an illustrator and have had to stop working as a scenic painter in theatre due to physicality of the work) I will get my body back. Stay strong and get strong!

    Thank you again for this post. I’m ALWAYS open to talking about this. Feel free to contact me.

    Good luck!
    Samantha Scafidi
    Montreal, Quebec

  44. Iyengar Yoga is the only best solution for Scoliosis.
    Please check this website:http://www.iyengaryogakshema.org
    The main centre is based in Pune and New Delhi, India.
    I’m sure you will benefit from this form of yoga and the curve will reverse at least 25%.
    All the best & God Bless you.

  45. Hi and I just discovered your blog and I just have to say keep it up! I honestly had no idea that yoga could help people like us. I to suffer with S curve scoliosis (77′ top 75′ bottom) . I’m currently 36 and finally in physical therapy and also receiving dry needling to help relieve lower back pain and yes its working. But with my scoliosis I was also born with other things ugh.
    So since you’ve been doin this for a few years now, how has your posture been?

  46. Hi there,

    I just found this blog because I have a spinal fusion and I was researching the effects of yoga on spinal fusions. I had the surgery 7 years ago (it seems like yesterday!) when I was 16, I’m 23 now and I am so glad I received the surgery. Even though it is scary and your mind goes crazy overthinking everything that could happen- I am in less pain now than I was before. I had the surgery on my lumbar spine and the thoracic was compensatory so it has continued to correct itself. Yoga, pilates, and weight training are a wonderful way to strengthen your core and help the pain/your spine stay strong. I wish you all the best and please reach out if you would like to know about my experience with the spinal fusion surgery.

  47. Hey there! I just stumbled on this blog because I am also being told to get my thoracic curve fixed. I had the surgery on my lumbar spine when I was 12 (am now 26) and now have the other part of my spine trying to correct itself. But I too have been looking to yoga and weight training to try to keep the pain/muscular tension at bay. I wish you the best and am glad I found your blog!

  48. I came to your site through a search for a protein pancake website (going to try yours tonight!), and stumbled across your scoliosis story as well. I too have scoliosis, an S-curve w/ each curve around 50 degrees. I wore a Charleston brace for a year at night, then a Boston brace for 2 years during the day and night.

    I’m now almost 23 years old and recently went to a back appointment. I was so worried about having surgery, but since my curves haven’t progressed and I don’t have extreme pain, I’m fine for now. It is a tough place to be in though, with the possibility of always having surgery in the future!

    I have loved using pilates for the past few years to help manage pain and build core strength. Yoga, on the other hand, has always caused me pain after taking a class. Do you find that the Yoga for Scoliosis DVD is different than just an average yoga class?

    Good luck with everything!

  49. I had scoliosis as as a teenager (25 degree curve), and now, after time, energy and so much effort, it has completely healed. It took so long, until I reached 30-something, but it was worth it. Yoga, yoga, yoga, pilates, swimming, and healing the emotions that caused my scoliosis in the first place. Lousie Hay’s book ‘You can heal your life’ refers to this. Anything is possible. Really!

  50. Hi,
    I’m 52 and healthy for the most part outside of my scoliosis getting worse. I will definitely try the exercises, I’m at the point where, if I had insurance, I would have back surgery. I saw a doctor many years ago, and he advised I have surgery. I have kept my back strong by working my own business with a lot of lifting and bending.
    The leg pain has become almost unbearable now. But here’s hoping yoga and palades work
    Thank you

  51. Hi Brittany,

    I’ve just recently come across your blog whilst researching yoga for scoliosis options and its such a great blog. It’s so nice to read about you and others on here who are going through the same things, as none of my friends have back problems so sometimes I feel very alone with it all.
    I have an S curve like you but no one ever mentioned it could progress so this is really interesting and something I’m going to look into. I’m 30 now but unfortunately when I was diagnosed at 12, no one took any x-rays. I’ve just discovered Elise Miller and am fascinated by her work. Unfortunately I’m here in the UK but I’d love to be able to travel to the States for one of her workshops. I wanted to ask you how it went, how you got on with the DVD and if you’re still practising yoga for scoliosis? I practice yoga but I find that some of the poses are just too hard and sometimes a little painful for me to do as I know I just can’t stretch that way, but I just wondered if your overall mobility has increased now?
    I think your positive attitude is great, I let my back problems get to me a lot especially because I’m self conscious of my neck positioning (it’s compensated over the years), but I know I need to try and rise above it more. Thanks to you and everyone else who’s written on here, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    Natalie.

  52. Dear Brittany,
    Thank you for the sweet reference to my work in your blog. I’m glad you found my DVD helpful and I hope you are still practicing. Would love to meet you at one of my workshops around the country. (www.yogaforscoliosis.com).

    Thank you again and warm regards,
    Elise Browning Miller

  53. Hi Brittany,

    Reading your story was like reading about myself [I know a lot of people say that bbut it really is true for me], I have a similar curve, with a similar prognosis, and I was diagnosed at 16. About 4 weeks ago I started feeling tingling in my right leg, and [as i’m now 23 and working] have booked into for PT. I have just purchased the DVD you suggested, and can’t wait to try it out.
    I wanted to ask you, how is your progess going? Did you get the surgery? How are you doing with the yoga? I’d love to hear from you, keep going, and much love and support to you.

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks so much for commenting – your story does sound very similar to mine. I hope you enjoy the yoga for scoliosis dvd – I really like it! My progress is going well – the leg tingling lasted about a year but it’s finally gone away now! I decided not to get surgery and so far so good. I still have tightness and minor pain but I just don’t think the surgery is right for me right now. I have exercises from a Chiropractor that I try to do and I take pilates and yoga classes as well.

      Please email me (eatingbirdfood@gmail.com) if you want to keep in touch and talk about scoliosis – I’m happy to share what I know. 🙂

  54. Hi, I too have scoliosis and to deal with it have done yoga for about 5 years, mostly Bikram yoga. It helped a lot but eventually the progress stopped, and I started doing only postures that aim at the back muscles, still a work in progress. I believe the reason I got scoliosis in the first place was because of the mattress I slept on while growing up – a stuffed mattress which developed a depression and was never replaced, and I was also made to sleep on my right side all the time – first in kindergarden and then my parents kind of enofrced it, they believed it reduces stress on the heart.

  55. Hey thanks for sharing your story! i also have scoliosis and the same leg tingling. i too want to try everything to avoid surgery. ive seen multiple docs about it. what ive found is pt helped a little.. chiropractor seemed to make it worse (heads up) now im doing massage therapy by a great person who works only on scoliosis and i think it will help a lot! i hope to get into yoga and pilates soon 🙂 thanks again and id love to get in contact with you if you want.. nice not to feel alone

  56. Thanks, Sarah for sharing your story! My daughter (age 11) has just been diagnosed with a 25 degree curvature and will be wearing a brace for the forseeable future. It was quite a shock, but we are getting used to the idea. I am also scheduling a second opinion, as our doctor was less cold and less than informative (shocker…). Anyway, I was very interested in your blog about using yoga and PT to help strengthen your weaker muscles. Did you ever find a teacher who hadexperience in scoliosis? If so, how? Did you go to a chiropractor? I am new to the holistic approach to things, but my insticts tell me just slapping a brace on and hoping for the best isn’t enough. Thanks again for your story…it’s reassuring to see how many people out there are going through the same thing.

    Libby

    • Libby,

      I wish I had known about several alternative scoliosis treatments when I was younger (I’m 38 now w/a 50 degree right thoracic curve). I was originally diagnosed when I was 4, monitored every six months until I was in my teens. I wasn’t braced and progressed from 20 degrees to 50 degrees in between six month check-ups. That was my last growth spurt and my curve has been pretty steady since. I’m very active and do cross-fit workouts 3-4x/week. Please research the Schroth method. I would complete a Schroth program if I were 20 years younger. The constant ache in my back isn’t enough to make me seek out surgery, but I do everything possible to stay active, which helps me hurt less. I am a nurse anesthetist and have seen scoliosis surgery first-hand. It is a brutal operation and I’m avoiding it at all costs.

  57. I actually just started reading your blog recently and just came across this post today. My mother has severe scoliosis and had two spinal fusions (one in the early 60s and a “revision” surgery in the early 70s with a Harrington rod). While at the time both were absolutely necessary–she was in pain as well as beginning to rotate–in the years since she has unfortunately developed further problems as the disks in her lower back have begun to degenerate. Recently, a doctor told her that she will need a second revision at some point in the future that will involve fusing the remainder of her spine.

    Fortunately, they no longer do spinal fusions in precisely the way that they did them then–the doctors have learned much in 40 years–but it is certainly not something to be taken lightly. Keep doing that yoga–anything is better than surgery!

  58. Your blog has always been interesting, but this post really made me sit up and take notice. I’m in my 30’s and just found out a few months ago that I had mild scoliosis. I wasn’t really surprised because ever since I was a kid my mom has always said there was something wrong with my back. But the doctor who diagnosed me just said there was nothing else I can do but just wait and hope that it doesn’t get worse. He never even suggested that I try yoga or other exercises! It’s a good thing I noticed this post…it has given me alot of food for thought. At least now I can do something about this. Thanks!

  59. You have no idea how helpful this post is for me. Thank you for being so honest with your journey! I have a similar one. Surgery wasn’t worth the risk for me, even though doctors insisted. Instead I did physical therapy and traction and was able to reduce my curve! I’m no longer a surgery candidate! It took 4 days a week for two years but was incredibly worth it. I’m glad you’re also taking the alternative route. Surgery is very risky and you may have more pain as the end result! I’ve been relatively pain free and living with less of a curve than I did before- it has been “stable” and unchanged for 6 years now! I hope your path works for you- I know it’s possible- I’m proof!

  60. Wow, thanks for blogging about this! I just came across it after a google search on proper workouts for scoliosis… Very helpful, thanks!

  61. Wow – there are so few of us and please please read this!! I’m currently 23 and had a spinal fusion when I was 14. My curve suddenly showed up in August of 2001 (very slight) and by December of that year, had shot to over 52 degrees. I had Harrington rods put in before Christmas of that year.. I didn’t even have the OPTION of not having it done because it progressed so quickly. I honestly would NOT opt for surgery unless you are in major pain or have progressed past the 50 degree mark. The few days after surgery were quite honestly the most painful experience I have ever had – I grew 2 inches in 11 hours (ouch!). I underwent 8+ months of absolutely no physical activity and took an entire year before things were back to “normal”. I had the rods out three years later due to complications, but everything is still fused 9.5 years later. I have definitely had some post-fusion complications just because I’ve been so active my entire life. I can’t do any impact sports anymore (used to play soccer/field hockey/basketball/tennis) because of a compressed degerated disc right above my fusion (that started 3 years ago). It’s been really hard adjusting to all the changes and I am in pain most days (it’s tolerable without meds!). I would highly highly advise against surgery unless you are in major pain or hit that mark of degree. If you have any questions or worries, please email me (i’ve got some info on my blog as well). I’m completely open to talking about any of my experiences with scoliosis. Keep up the yoga – I’m so happy that you have that right now!!

      • I’m 12 and I also have a 66 degree curve. Most doctors said I should do the surgery but one doctor didn’t think that it was necessary. My parents are also trying to avoid surgery, but I don’t know if surgery would be better for me right now.

        Can someone pls tell me what kind of treatment I should get?

  62. Hi Brittany,
    I read your post yesterday on my phone but wanted to comment on the computer. I think it’s fascinating that you’re going to be dedicated to yoga and I hope it works. I can definitely see how it can work or at least make you feel mentally better. The surgery sounds pretty terrible, can’t lie about that!

  63. I have very very very slight scoliosis, but my mom has it pretty badly and had to have surgery to put a rod in her back. I know how self conscious she is about it. I also hope the yoga helps!

  64. Thank you for posting this! I was told I had scoliosis when I was in 6th grade but, like you, wasn’t in pain so it went untreated and un-talked-about.

    I hope the yoga helps!

  65. Thank you for sharing your story 🙂 It’s so inspiring to see that you didn’t give up when you were given your diagnosis. There are so many people out there that don’t go to the lengths you have to heal your body. I wish you the best of luck in the future. It seems you’ve made fantastic decisions so far, so I doubt this will be any different!

  66. I read your blog often, and love it, yet have not commented before. I too have scoliosis and my upp body, brib cage, hips, neck, etc. are all “off” a little bit. I also notice in the way I stand, more weight on one leg etc. I have to think about which shoulder I put my purse on since one side is higher and tighter then the other. Yoga sounds like it will really be beneficial for you, working and practicing while being aware of your body- go you! One thing that seemed to help align my spine a little bit was laying on a foam roller everyday. I lay down, put it under by spine (long ways), with my feet flat on the ground and knees bent. I rock back and forth and lift one hip up then the other hip, and stay on it for about five minutes. I found this really has helped relax the muscles that overcompensate through the day and has been a way to give myself a little adjustment. Of course what works for one doesn’t work for all, but I just thought I would share. I hope you find some relief in yoga, it sounds really great!

  67. oh wow, i had no idea! that’s crazy stuff, too. i’ve recently been seeing this guy (Aaron Brooks, http://www.perfectpostures.com/index.php) for my alignment issues, might be worth shooting him an email? I know it wouldn’t be seeing him in person, but might be worth a shot if he can recommend someone that might be able to help you? I didn’t have scoliosis, but my hips are out of whack. i think it’ll get me back on track and able to do what I want athletically!

  68. I do the same thing with putting my weight harder of the left leg. And the curve of my waist is uneven on both sides. I’m glad your new doctor thinks it’s worth it to exhaust other options. You’ll still be young and fit enough to have surgery a year from now if all else fails, so there’s no need to rush.

  69. I am new to your blog but I am falling in Love! I am a pescatarian as well and have been for 5 years. I am so sorry to hear about your back. My husband performs many spinal surgeries a day and many look just as yours. I will be praying for you and I hope you can find peace with your decision. Very happy to hear you are practicing yoga as well. It is a miracle worker!

  70. Hey – Thank you for sharing this! I really admire how you are sharing your experience and wish you the best recovery! If you want someone to do some back-healing yoga with, let me know!

  71. Wow, I’m glad you went for that second opinion! I hope that yoga and physical therapy help you and that you can postpone the surgery for as long as possible. Also, you’ve made me think about some of my own symptoms! I had a physical about six years ago and pointed out that one side of my rib cage juts out more than the other. The doctor said it’s because I have scoliosis. I always knew I had a slight case (I remember my pediatrician pointing it out), but I didn’t think my doctor would know just by looking at my weird rib cage! So, now that I think about other symptoms, I wonder if it’s all related to the scoliosis. Something to think about! Anyway, good luck to you!

  72. Wow. That’s definitely a lot to take in. Be thankful you are young and that you are seeing a doctor now to keep tabs on this.

    I wonder if working on side of the back more than the other would help? I had a hip misalignment diagnosed recently (I’m sure my scoliosis history didn’t help either) and the doctor said one side of my body was weaker. I was focusing on that one side. Once it’s stronger and more straight then I am to work both sides equally.

  73. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing! My younger sister just found out about some body alignment complications and that she has scoliosis and she’s only 12. Naturally, we’re all pretty concerned but I’m going to forward this post over to my mom so that she can take a look at it. Thank you again!!

  74. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. I was in the hospital for 6 days with mine, but I don’t recall having to wear a brace after (before, yes) or doing any PT after except when I was still in the hospital. Would you believe I haven’t had follow up x-rays in probably 13 years or so? I tried to order the original x-rays from the hospital where I had the surgery, but they sent them on a disc that required proprietary software. 🙁 I guess I should go get a check-up.

    • I never would have known you had scoliosis Carolyn! I would recommend the follow-up x-rays just to keep an eye on it, but if you’re not noticing any changes in your body or pain than you’re probably fine.

  75. So sorry to hear about all of this Brittany. Matt had his spinal fusion for a disc in 2003, so I know what all of this means. The surgery was definitely not a breeze, but he did really well (because he was young + fit) and was feeling great in just 3 weeks post-op.

  76. britt, i am sorry to hear you are struggling with this, but impressed with your positive attitude. i am with you on the spinal fusion surgery as an extreme measure, so i can understand why you would want to exhaust all other options. my dad (a psychologist) recently opened up a wellness center with yoga, meditation, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc. i used to kind of mock holistic therapies until i saw what it is doing for his patients, so i think it’s great that you are exploring yoga!! if you are ever in the philly area, let me know! we can visit his center and take a class together 🙂 thinking happy thoughts for you girl!

  77. i can definitely relate–i also have an s-curve, and as a result i have a defined waist on one side of my body but not on the other, so i sympathize with the self-consciousness that comes along with any irregularity. i hope that the yoga helps with your back and that you can avoid or postpone the surgery. it sounds like your new doctor is great and i’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! 🙂

  78. Wow, this is so interesting to me, I’ve kind of got the opposite of your problem, my spine has almost no curve to it, and I’ve also been working with a PT to help with some of the tension this causes. I am pretty much silly for not doing yoga more regularly and this post is very motivating for me to get back into a regular practice!

  79. Honestly from pictures I never noticed you had scoliosis. I had the same thing happen to me in middle school. I went back to get checked a couple times but haven’t been back since. You really made me think about being checked. I hope you have good results with yoga. I have a good feeling about it!

      • How are you doing with your yoga and back care book? I found this post today and was impressed with your enthusiasm of making a difference without surgery. I to have S shaped scoliosis and mine continues to get worse. Trying to look for other options.

  80. Hi, I’ve really been enjoying your blog…the name caught my attention because as a vegan my kids refer to everything I eat as “bird food.” 🙂

    I’m a yoga teacher and I’m thrilled to see that you’re turning to yoga to help with your scoliosis. Attending the workshop is a great idea and I’d suggest finding a yoga therapist if you can. There are many wonderful yoga teachers but teacher trainings differ greatly and aren’t super well-regulated, so sometimes people aren’t as well versed in anatomy and specific conditions as others. A yoga therapist with knowledge of scoliosis or a physcial therapist/yoga teacher combo would be ideal…hopefully you can hook up with someone at the workshop!

    Best of luck to you! 🙂

      • Hi, Interesting to read your blog and know what it’s like to feel uncertain about treatment options. I was involved in a car crash 5 years ago, after which my back pain just didn’t improve as predicted by the medics involved with my care. Found out 3 years later that I had Scoliosis. Came as a complete shock to me!!!
        Decided to explore all avenues available and try to take control of the situation, as wanted to avoid surgery, if at all possible.
        So read a pile of books on Scoliosis, including Curves, Twists and Bends, by Annette Wellings, a Pilates teacher with Scoliosis herself, as well as Scoliosis – Prevention and Treatment by Dr. Kevin Lau.
        I also attended the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London for 4 weeks, where they tell you all about Scoliosis and tailor a specialised physio program for you. It was fantastic there as you realise that there are others with Scoliosis too, young and old, and you don’t feel so ‘different’ and they really know their stuff, which makes you feel so much better.
        I also now go to yoga, swim and walk as much as possible.
        I find back massages with specialist trained physios fab and acupuncture good too.
        As there is very little research available and each person is different, you have to find out what works for you personally.
        My Scoliosis is S shaped and more profound than the one shown, but because it’s S shaped is balanced and not noticeable unless you know what you’re looking for, shoulder blades and ribs raised a little on one side.
        I suggest you look at a Body Nerve map to see which spinal vertibrae and disc your leg pain is connected to stretch that area to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.
        These are mere suggestions but have found that they worked for me.
        I now attend a Spinal Clinic and have specialised physio which helps me both physically and emotionally.
        You can feel a little isolated if you don’t know anybody else going through a similar experience, so good luck and hope you feel better about yourself soon
        Gaynor

  81. Yay to being birthday twins!! Apparently we must’ve been sprinkled with a little extra love-dust being that we also suffer from the same variety of scoliosis…! :$

    I don’t have a lot of pain associated with my scoliosis but I sometimes get what I refer to as my ‘granny hip’ which gives me a bit of a limp for a few days until the kinks work themselves out. I do, however, suffer from a lot of tension headaches due to my upper back getting tight. I am trying to be a lot more aware of my posture at my desk (keep my shoulders down, straight back etc.) and to do a lot of stretching during the day.

    I hope you can figure out what makes your leg tingle, soon! That would be a little annoying to constantly deal with! But all in all, considering our degrees of scoliosis, I’d like to say we’re pretty blessed with not having many issues interfering with our lives!

    And I’d love to see an updated post and maybe get some new suggestions of things I could try out myself!

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