View Full Version : new with long complicated story

03-20-2004, 05:27 PM
Hello all!

I am 50 years old, have had scoliosis since I was 14. Was given some cursury physical therapy and monitered, but that was it. I basically just hemmed my skirts wierdly and carried on.

I had occasional bouts with acute back pain, would get xrayed, no injury just scoliosis, took a variety of different medications, stayed in bed etc etc. I could go for years without an episode, then usually stress would trigger one. When I was initially diagnosed, I was told my legs were of equal length, but at about 21, I was told that the left one was 1/2 inch shorter and was told to start wearing a lift. I did for a while, then stopped, it did not seem to make much difference.

Life went on, children, stress, work, widowed. Then got sick with a "mystery illness" which caused pain, fatigue, weakness, weight gain, and I even developed a foot drop on my left side. After 5 years of this, progressivly getting worse, FINALLY I was diagnosed hypothyroid. By that time I was unbelievably deconditioned. And must have had some nerve involvement, one main symptom was foot pain and that foot drop did not come out of the blue.

Started rehabilitating myself. Took up middle eastern dance. Started looking in the mirror, and saw that not only was my right hip higher, so was my right shoulder. Lots of stretching and yoga postures as a part of class. Foot drop went away. Shoulders evened out. This was because I became more and more aware of my posture and worked on leveling them out. Pretty much constantly was aware of and attempting to correct it. Once that was corrected I noticed (never really had before) that my rib cage was shifted towards the left. In middle eastern dance you do chest slides and circles and it was a real effort (and still is) to get that rib cage shifted towards the right. Causes some pain when I do it. At my level of flexibility it should not be an effort but it is.

Peroidically my thyroid would act up and I would be too sick to progress and missed classes. Then I developed a very severe pelvic organ prolapse which required surgery. (I have since found out that scoliosis and prolapse have something in common, hypermobility) Interesting thing was that during the surgery it was noted that my abdomenal wall was weaker on the left side. I have more stretch marks on that side and also more of a "belly hang"

Healed from the surgery, went back to dance class, made a commitment to perform in a recital this May. As practice goes on it becomes clearer that I am substantially weaker on the left. Plus when I do stretches there is a clear difference between the two. Some stretches are easier on the left, others on the right.

Also it is becoming more noticable to me that I am lopsided, at least in terms of hips. Right hip higher and cannot get chest to slide very well that direction. Minor pain, which I just ignore. Kind of a fact of life with the scoliosis. Take Aleve fairly regularly and definitely before dance class.

Part of me thinks if I fixed the shoulders I should be able to make an impact on the chest too. Fortunately it seems I have little to no rotation. No real hump. I am grateful for that.

Well for the first time in my life I have gone to a chiropractor. I realized my health plan would cover it to some degree and I figured why not.

I had not had exrays in years. Boy what an eye opener that was. The curve seems to be a lot bigger than I recall when I was young. Truthfully I have attribute this to some degree to the debilitation occuring during the thyroid diseease. But it is a pretty dramatic curve. If I had been this curved when I was younger I am sure they would have braced me. the chiropractor said 45% but she only eyeballed it, did not measure. (by the way, the xray confirmed that my shoulders are totally level) Moot point, I am too old for much agressive treatment anyway.

The chiropractor, to give her credit, did not promise she could fix it. She said "maybe a little" the curve would improve, but that mostly she could help with pain. Well I endure the moderate pain I have, and just keep on going. But I figured I would give it a little bit of a try. She put the electrostim on for a while and an heat pack and gave me a massage, and adjusted my neck, which cracked more than I expected. However, my muscles on my back are tight, not sure how sucessful she was there.

I have to say, it did something. I noticed the next day that I was just automatically sitting up straighter while driving, and my left back felt like it had been exercised in some way.

I go to curves 3 times a week to try and strengthen and get some more weight off, and I do a lot of stretching afterwards and also am pretty flexible. What I am going to do is to go right before going to the chiropractor, hoping that my muscles being warmed up and stretched befor hand will help make the adjustment more sucessful.

Meanwhile I continue to practice those mildly painful chest slides and when I notice that a move is harder on the left due to weakness I try and practice it more on that side. Not sure if any of this will do any good, but I am going to do it anyway. I also am practicing my undulations which involves forward and backward movement of the spine. My posture has improved radically from when I first started dancing. My current dance instructor also has a degree in physical fitness and is a yoga instructor, so I trust her to teach safely.

I am a stubborn old lady and am gonna dance come hell or high water, even if I am lopsided and have to endure a little discomfort.

Oh, I also sit on a yoga ball instead of a chair at my computer because it is supposed to help your posture and recently got me a wobble board because I did have issues of balance. All of that is improving with time also.

I guess on one level I feel fortunate not to have had a severe case, and not to have had chest rotation, on the other hand I am a little concerned about the progression.

Interested in anyone's insight or comments on this complicated history of mine.


03-22-2004, 10:04 AM
Well I saw the chiropractor today and she wants me to see an orthopedist, because of the severity of the lumbar curve. I have a thoracic curve also but it is mild.

I have no clue who would be a good doc to see in the Northern Virginia/DC area. There are 250 docs listed on my insurance provider' list within 10 miles of my home.

Could anyone make any suggestions?


03-22-2004, 12:11 PM

Sorry, I cannot help with your research on good doctors in you area cause I live in San Diego. But I like the detailed account of your experience with scoliosis. I can relate except mine is thorasic with a big hump on the right side. With 56 degrees curvature, I am still very active with work, 4 grandkids, walking in the park with hubby and video exercises. If you want, you can email me at rosesharon4065@hotmail.com.


03-22-2004, 12:48 PM

I checked the Scoliosis Research Society's Physician Locator (www.srs.org/locator). There are several scoliosis doctors in Richmond and Baltimore, but I didn't see any in northern VA. I'm sure there are some, but SRS' records are not always complete or up to date. I did, however, find one at Georgetown University Hospital (contact info below). His office can refer you to other doctors, or he may be able to help you. Good luck!


William C. Lauerman, MD
Georgetown University Hospital
(202) 444-7455
Dept of Ortho Surgery
S/B 3800 Reservior Road, NW
Washington DC 20007
Adolescent, Adult Scoliosis, Aging Spine, Juvenile/Infantile

03-23-2004, 06:34 AM
thank you Dave ... He is actually quite close to me. And he is on my insurance provider list. I also found another doc who is less than a mile away.

Now I have to decide which one to see :)

Two known spinal docs to make a decision about beats 250 orthopedic surgeons, no specialty mentioned.

Georgetown has a wonderful reputation .... also has all that stuff that goes along with being an academic institution. Which can be good or bad depending on your point of view.

Hmmmm ..... I had better decide before I see my primary doc for a refferal tommorow.

thanks again,


03-23-2004, 12:14 PM

A couple of thoughts:

First, if the doctor you initially consult with recommends surgery, I'd suggest you make an appointment to see the other one for a second opinion, just to be safe.

Second, there's another section of this Forum under "Miscellaneous" for "Physician/Hospital Feedback." You might want to post a message there asking if anyone is familiar with Dr. Lauerman or the other doctor you found.

Best of luck!