DR MARTHA HAWES, author of Scoliosis and the Human Spine, is one of the world's foremost authorities on scoliosis and she says that the condition can be successfully treated without surgery or bracing.
She was diagnosed with "moderately severe thoradic scoliosis" at the age of 11 and her doctors kept warning her that she needed surgery to prevent the condition from worsening. Her doctors also declared that "exercises don't work".
However, she managed to keep her condition stable during her youth and, at the age of 40, managed to reverse the condition despite the popular belief that scoliosis during adulthood is untreatable.
She achieved this using a combination of exercise-based mobilization therapies' in partnership with her osteopathic physician. Her thoracic curve went from from 47 to 28 degrees, and her lumbar curve from 26 to 13 degrees.
Dr Hawes was surprised at her recovery. Being a research scientist - she is a professor at Arizona University - she decided to consult the medical library to find out why.
She found about 10,000 scientific papers on the subject and, after reviewing them over a period of three years, realized that her recovery was not all that surprising after all.
This was her conclusion:
"Statements claiming that scoliosis cannot be stabilized or reversed without bracing or surgery are not, and never have been, supported by scientific data. On the contrary... scoliosis can be reduced if not eliminated using non-surgical approaches."
The actress Laura Dern (Citizen Ruth, 1996 / Rambling Rose, 1991, etc), also successfully reversed her scoliosis.
In the November 1999 issue of Redbook Magazine, she said she had an extreme 'S' curve in her spine when she was nine years old. Doctors and specialists all told her and her mother that she would have to be put in a brace from the neck down.
"Forget it, there's no hope," they told her.
Refusing to accept this diagnosis, her mother took her to a "bunch of chiropractors and healers." Ms. Dern said the person who helped her the most was an osteopath.
"My mom took me there twice a week, and within six months I was absolutely fine." she said. "I never had to wear a brace."
Scoliosis is also discussed in the book, Backache Relief by Arthur C Klein and David Sobel. (The book, together with a book on back exercises, is also published as Backache, the Complete Guide to Relief.)
The authors report: "After unproductive years of seeing 'mainstream' practitioners, 22 of 31 scoliosis sufferers got long-term relief by receiving treatment from an alternative practitioner."
Klein and Sobel further report that out of eight people they interviewed who tried yoga, 100 percent reported long term relief. They also note that those who regularly did at least two activities, such as swimming and yoga, had the best results.