Many are aware that scoliosis is a condition that pertains to the spine, its curvature, and how it affects the posture. But it is definitely more than that. It is a long, hard, emotional, and expensive journey for the patient as well as the family. Learn more about scoliosis and early detection in this post, as well as a possible scoliosis treatment plan. Read more about our journey, and how timely it is that it started as the country commemorates National Scoliosis Month.
Types of Scoliosis
There are four types of scoliosis: congenital, idiopathic, neuromuscular, and degenerative, which occur in the geriatric group (65 and above).
We have taken precautions against allergies because I have a lot, so I don’t want my children to suffer the same health problems I did. As such, scoliosis was farthest from our minds because we don’t have a history of scoliosis in the family.
It turns out that our daughter’s scoliosis is idiopathic–meaning it just occurs without a known cause. The most probable explanation is that she is a girl experiencing puberty and it is a prevalent condition among those her age.
The Beginnings of Shawna’s Misaligned Posture
Mid 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I noticed that our eldest daughter Shawna’s left hip is slightly going upwards/outwards. It was weird seeing it because she had a straight posture when she was younger while learning ballet. She just compensated for it by standing up with her weight on one leg while bending the other knee.
Since it was a global viral outbreak and her back posture was not considered an emergency, I didn’t get her checked. However, it was on my mind all the time.
About July 2021, I noticed that her back situation was becoming more concerning, so we sought the help of a friend who is into chiropractic practice. He aligned the spine and said that Shawna’s case was not really scoliosis. At least, not back then.
By April 2022, Shawna just turned 13 and had her first period. A month later, I saw that her back situation has worsened. She was curving in places that should not be. Her right shoulder was going outwards to the right, while her left hip is going further up.
When I contacted Mr. Paul Perez, PTRP, of PAPerez Physio – Prehab & Pain Management Clinic in Bacolod City, he asked me to let Shawna do the Adam’s Forward Bend Test.
We saw the curvature so we immediately set an appointment with Dr. Jan Michael Quisumbing, whose specialization is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
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Dr. Quisumbing then recommended that Shawna get a scoliosis series X-Ray at the Riverside Medical Center, which we immediately did that same day.
The Diagnosis: Thoracolumbar Scoliosis
The scoliosis X-Ray series is actually just to confirm what is already obvious: Shawna has thoracolumbar scoliosis with an angle of 30 degrees. Her condition already falls in the moderate category. We were told that if the curvature of her spine reached 40 degrees, it would already be considered severe.
Shawna’s Scoliosis Treatment Plan
After the X-Ray results were revealed, Dr. Quisumbing recommended a series of physical therapy sessions as well as a customized Boston back brace.
When we went home, I joined a scoliosis support group on Facebook to learn more about the condition and how to deal with it. There, I learned how hard and painful it is to manage scoliosis at a later stage and if the back bracing is not done. The patient will really suffer, which means that the scoliosis treatment plan is not just for aesthetics.
Moreover, I also reached out to the scoliosis brace maker recommended by our doctor. We then scheduled a fitting.
The Boston Back Brace
Shawna’s Boston back brace was measured using a mold made of plaster of Paris cast. Using that, the maker produced a brace made of polypropylene plastic. The cast had to take the shape of her body so she was made to wear a tight-fitting rash guard while the cast was being molded.
After two weeks, they came back to fit the actual brace, and then attached the straps. The final brace was delivered in the afternoon.
Regular adjustments will have to be made as Shawna’s body grows and adjusts to the bracing. As for this writing, we already did one adjustment.
Aside from the back brace, Shawna has to undergo nine (9) physical therapy sessions. These therapy sessions involve blading, dynamic cupping, static cupping, dry needling, and exercises. If you do not know what some of these procedures are or what else they can do, you may want to look at this post on dry needling and other similar posts to help you understand further.
Before the therapy sessions began, our daughter had been complaining about pain in her foot arc. It then progressed to the gluteus minimus, which she said felt like a sharp pain. Walking was painful.
It took three therapy sessions for these pains and discomforts to go away. She also shifted to the use of rubber shoes to support her arc. Moreover, we ordered a customized foot arc support but they are still yet to be delivered. She will have to wear them at home inside her shoes.
Moreover, the PT is teaching her exercises that she could do at home, which she has to perform twice daily, after showering. These could further hasten and help in her spine alignment.
Family’s Love, Support, and Assurance
When we first learned about her scoliosis, my heart sank. We have taken care of our daughters well, giving them nutritious meals, food supplements, emotional support, training, education, and all. But still, inexplicable things like these happen. We never expected this because there is no history of scoliosis in the family, so it could not be congenital. We were told that hers is idiopathic, which means, there is no known cause.
Shawna will have to live with the Boston back brace for a maximum of 10 years–or until she stops growing.
She also needs to undergo occasional physical therapy sessions and regular scoliosis X-ray series to monitor her development. We also had to buy 14 undershirts because she has to wear them under the brace. That means she has to change twice a day.
The brace has to be worn until she stops growing, otherwise, the spine will just curve back again if we stop mid-way. Consistency is the key here.
Of course, the first few days were difficult. But we assured Shawna that we are there for her. One time while eating, all three of us (Papa, Shane the younger sister, and me) sat up straight while eating just so we could empathize with Shawna. Even Shane would willingly do things for her Achi because she knows that Shawna’s movements are limited.
In less than a week, Shawna has adjusted well. She still does housework like setting the table, cleaning, folding the laundry, cooking, and sweeping the floor. I also ask her around, but her bending is limited, so we have to tie her shoes and pick up things for her.
In scoliosis, early intervention is the key to preventing the curvature of the spine from worsening. When the condition progresses, patients may experience difficulty in breathing, back pains, as well as other internal organ problems. If the curvature exceeds 60 degrees, the doctor will have to recommend surgery and insert a metal brace to help straighten the spine.
Thankfully, Shawna’s condition was detected early and her scoliosis treatment plan was started immediately. We are praying for a miracle that God will bring complete recovery and correction to Shawna’s spine.
Cost of the Scoliosis Treatment Plan
Aside from the adjustment period, another consideration is the cost of the scoliosis treatment plan. There are consultations with the doctor, X-Ray, therapy, back brace, as well as other items for supporting the treatment. These include the undershirts, rubber shoes, etc.
All these things differ, but I am thankful that we have a brace maker based here in Bacolod, otherwise, we would have to get one from Manila. It’s expensive there plus it would be hard to constantly have the brace adjusted.
So far, we have spent almost P50,000 at the start of Shawna’s scoliosis treatment. The figure will vary greatly depending on how much the brace and physical therapy sessions will cost.