If I’m ever asked what the most difficult struggle in my life is, I can think of the answer immediately. I’ve been dealing with scoliosis for most of my life, and it’s honestly the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through. However, most people don’t exactly know what scoliosis entails, which is why I want to bring more awareness to this issue.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curve of the spine or backbone. It can range from being mild to severe, and can be completely harmless or can bring about some serious problems. If it’s not observed and properly treated right away, it can lead to a more severe curve along with extreme pain and possible organ complications. The most common side effect of it is bad back pain throughout the day, especially when sitting down for a long time. Unfortunately, there is no way to ultimately cure it, but there are ways to reduce the symptoms and perhaps stop the curve from getting worse. Treatments include wearing a back brace or even surgery, but they are both pretty harsh and come with risks. Many people have scoliosis without even knowing it, which is why I would just like to point out why it is so crucial to get your physical exam each year! My physical exam back in middle school was when I first found out I had scoliosis.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 9 years old. I remember getting called into the nurses office for our annual physical exam and the nurse telling me that I should see a doctor for a slight curve on my spine. According to the first doctor I saw, I had a mild curve on the top right side of my spine. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I figured it would not get much worse as long as I just observed it, which was what I was advised to do.
The next time I went to a doctor to check up on my scoliosis was when I was about 13 years old. It was at this time that I found out the top of my backbone was now curved at 25 degrees. Since it is recommended to be put in a back brace between 20-30 degrees, several different doctors pushed me to choose that decision. I was beyond devastated. I would need to start wearing this restricting brace for 23 hours a day, and if I didn’t, I would possibly need surgery later in my life.
At that time, we started doing heavy research on alternative treatments for scoliosis. After hours of searching online, my mom (hey thanks btw!) found this specially trained chiropractor in Manhattan. He was known for being able to reverse scoliosis curves within weeks, which no other orthopedic doctor EVER mentioned to me. People from all over the world came to see him; that’s how good he was. I started off with a 2 week intensive “boot camp” for 8 hours a day. After that, I went to see him once every other week for the next 3 years. This physical therapy was one of the most agonizing things I’ve ever gone through. There were several different back machines that would stretch my back and pull it in directions that were extremely painful. There were so many days in which I would come home crying, not wanting to go back. It was the worst experience of my life.
Luckily, even though those few years were rough, there was a huge benefit that came out of it. My curvatures reduced substantially, and I was able to maintain it through my growing period. If I did not go through with this process, my curve would most likely be much worse and I may have needed surgery further down the line. Not only did it help me manage my curvature without it getting worse, but it also pushed me to my limits and showed me that I was way stronger than I thought.
Scoliosis is immensely difficult to live with, and it’s even worse when no one knows exactly what you’re going through. If you’re reading this and happen to have scoliosis or another disorder like it, just know that you’re not alone, and it eventually does get better!