Story Time: Have We Found the Cure for Scoliosis?
Every day I work with people that have their own interesting and unique journey that they have been on to eliminate their back problems. Everything from car crashes to deformed vertebrae from birth; I see it all. I think it’s time for a story.
This month I would like to bring to your attention the story of a previous member of ours who was dealing with scoliosis at a young age. It is one that sheds some light on whether you can really trust doctors when it comes to your health.
So, as many of you know, my father used to work as an interstate truck driver before we opened Maiden Wellness in 2015. Through his job, he met many other drivers. Many of which he befriended. One of these drivers was called Andrey (No, that is not his real name. I will use this name to keep our member’s name confidential). Andrey had a teenage son with scoliosis named David (also not his real name).
Living with a Brace
David’s story starts 2 years ago, in 2015. His parents started noticing issues with his ribcage so they decided to see their physician. Because this was a skeletal problem, their physician referred them to an orthopedic doctor at Cedars-Sinai. The orthopedic decided to perform a scan to see if David’s spine was healthy.
The scan showed that he had severe scoliosis in his mid back. If left untreated, he would need to have surgery. To help with the problem, he prescribed a brace to be worn for one year. David wore that brace for one year everywhere he went. After a year had passed, they went to see the orthopedic once more. They had another scan, and the results showed that his curvature had stayed about the same. It was about 40°.
Harrington Rod Placement Surgery for Scoliosis
The orthopedic doctor simply apologized and said that they would need to do the surgery. All you really need to know about this type of surgery is that:
The surgery would be very expensive. $150,000 to be exact.
David would be stuck with rods in his back for the rest of his life. No more flexibility and a high chance of back pain in the future.
His spine was still growing, so putting rods in could hinder his spinal growth as well.
Feel free to pause and read up about the surgery he recommended: Harrington rod implantation surgery.
We Offered to Help
Obviously, Andrey and his wife wanted to do everything possible to avoid the surgery. Andrey was still in contact with my father and so he asked us if we could help. We assured him that we could help get rid of his scoliosis. David was a very thin kid at the time, so it made sense why he had developed scoliosis. He had very weak spinal muscles that became unbalanced from his sedentary lifestyle.
We knew that all you needed to do for scoliosis was strengthen the side of the spine that was weak, and loosen up the side of the spine that was tight and creating the curve. They lived about an hour away from our center so I started therapy with David once a week on Saturdays, and sometimes Sundays. Because it was quite a drive, my father and I decided to lend them one of our stations. We never do this, but we really wanted to help, and so we made an exception.
In between sessions with me, David would exercise on his own at home in the morning and in the evening. We did this for about 2 months and I started to notice an improvement. He was getting stronger and taller. Plus, his back was feeling better and not giving him trouble. So, as you can imagine, we were very excited to find out what the next scan results would show. We hoped to see that the curve had improved.
The Results were Devastating
I remember that day like it was yesterday. Andrey drove all the way here to Chino to show me the results. When he showed me that the curvature had gotten worse (44°) I was shocked as well as embarrassed. I thought I had betrayed these people and offered false hope to their son. It did not make sense to me. David was taller, straighter, and feeling great! I couldn’t understand how it could have possibly gotten worse.
David started training with the Professor
So what did we do? We helped Andrey get in touch with the Professor that invented the stations we use. We decided that he would continue the program, but at home, with the Professor over Skype. The Professor lived in Ukraine and spoke Russian, so they were able to work with him. This way, they wouldn’t have to drive all the way out to Chino. At this time, they returned our station and purchased one of their own.
David kept exercising with the Professor for the next few months, hoping that somehow the results had been wrong. Meanwhile, I was beating myself up over the fact that I had made his scoliosis worse. We even decided to stay away from advertising that we help with scoliosis, in fear that the same thing would happen to someone else.
The final results
Eventually, the day came to go in and see the orthopedic for yet another scan. The doctor said it had gone up to 54°! This time, I was lost for words. Not to mention the Professor. He was truly upset when Andrey showed him the results and did not understand how this could be. There simply HAD to be an error in the results. Which there was. The results were from an older test. We are still wondering how the doctor got a scan showing 54°.
Andrey provided the pictures you see above, of his son’s spine before & after. I’m sure you can clearly see that the picture on the right does not look like a 54° curve, which is why they were slow to believe that what the doctor said was true. They decided to ask the orthopedic if those were the right results, and he confirmed that they were.
Getting a 2nd opinion from a Physical Therapist
Andrey and his wife were not ready to give up hope just yet. They decided to look for a second opinion. So, they consulted with a physical therapist that they knew, who focused on spinal problems. They told him the situation and he asked them to show him where David had the 54° curve. So, they showed him.
He looked at the spot and asked if they knew what 54° looks like because that for sure was not 54°. He then did a test of his own and concluded that it was notit. It was 20°. I repeat, 20°! I think you can imagine how much of a relief it was to hear the news. The therapist said that they should definitely continue the program and that David did not need surgery. (There went Cedars-Sinai’s $150k!)
They immediately told the professor and boy was he relieved. He knew something was off right from the beginning. I just found out about the results a few weeks ago. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had lived the past year thinking that I had lied to a friend and failed to deliver on my promise to help David get better. I was overjoyed to find out that I had done the exact opposite!
A few lessons from this story
When something seems off, you’re probably right. You have the right to question doctors, especially when it comes to surgeries or serious medications. I have so many stories to share about members that didn’t believe that surgery or medication was the only way out even though their physician was highly recommending it. They decided to do their own research and realized that there were other natural ways to deal with their problem. In the end, they didn’t need surgery or medications. Just simple strengthening for their spine.
Just because someone has a Ph.D., you should not believe that everything they say is true. Always make sure to do your research and get as much information as possible. The medical field is a constantly evolving industry. Approaches to different back problems change as studies come out that show one approach is more effective than the others.
There is a human element involved, so every once in a while, you will have people that are just looking out for #1 (aka themselves). We have to realize that the medical industry is a very lucrative BUSINESS. You will find people (in any profession) that will use deception to try and make a sale. When it comes to life-changing things like surgery, make sure to do your research, get as many opinions as possible, and make a well-educated decision.
We haven’t contacted the orthopedic, so we don’t know why he did what he did, but I would assume that maybe he was surprised to find out that David’s scoliosis was going away. That is simply unheard of! Almost all the treatments out there have been unsuccessful in truly getting rid of scoliosis naturally. Up until now.
Am I saying that the medical industry is filled with evil doctors out to get your money? Not at all (at least not all of them). What I am saying is that in the end, you are the only one that has your best interests in mind. Being well educated about how your spine works and how to treat it will help you tremendously in getting rid of your back pain.
I am ever so grateful that Andrey & David let me share their story with you. I think we can all learn from their experience, and be a bit more careful when it comes to doing what’s best for our back health.