Success with Scoliosis: X-Ray Proof

Cobb Angle Measurements of my Thoracic Spine

  • 1996 – 42 degrees
  • 1997 – 45 degrees
  • 2003 – 29 degrees
  • 2011 – 27 degrees

Success with Scoliosis: Part 1

In my first post for this blog, titled Success with Scoliosis, I showed you photographs taken 6 years apart. The difference between the two images was striking. Here they are again:

In the “after” image, taken in November 2011, my body looks more balanced, lengthened and comfortable than the “before” image taken six years previously. More importantly, my spine looks straighter. I was left with the question of whether I had successfully straightened my spine, or whether I only looked straighter. So the following month I went to a Medical Imaging Clinic in my hometown of Toronto and had a new set of X-rays taken. I have had three previous sets of X-rays taken in 1996, 1997 and 2003.

A Straightened Lumbar Spine

Before my past X-rays could be accurately compared to my more recent films I had to have them scanned and digitized. Unfortunately, my 1997 films were lost by the medical imaging department at a Toronto hospital (a story for another time), and the quality of the scan for the 1996 X-rays was not ideal, so in this post I’ll be comparing 2011 with 2003.

Here are the “before” and “after” images of my lumbar spine:

Obviously my lower spine is much straighter than it was 6 years ago. It’s also worth taking a closer look to see exactly what is going on.

Lumbar supports thoracic

Although we can consider this a lumbar view of my spine, the lower thoracic vertebrae can also be seen. The lumbar spine usually has 5 vertebrae, the thoracic spine has 12 vertebrae and the cervical spine has 7 vertebrae. So if we count up from the pelvis, the images show all 5 lumbar vertebrae, as well as 4 of the thoracic vertebrae. We can see that the increasing symmetry in my lumbar spine is continuing up into my lower thoracic spine.

Carrying on up the body, here are the before and after images of my thoracic spine:

Here the changes in my thoracic spine are less obvious than in the lumbar spine. In the after image of my lower spine scoliosis is very slight. In the after image of the thoracic spine, the scoliosis is still evident, but significant improvements can be seen. We see the straightening impact of my treatment at the top and bottom of the image, so that the curve exists in a smaller section of the spine.

When examining scoliotic curves the standard measurement used by radiologists and doctors is the Cobb angle. The improvements to my thoracic spine are confirmed by this measurement. In 1996 my Cobb angle was measured at 42 degrees. In 2003 it was measured at 29 degrees. My most recent measurement puts my thoracic curve at a Cobb angle of 27 degrees. My experience with scoliosis is an example of a patient with a structural thoracic curve causing their spine to become straighter through the use of movement re-education, exercise and manual therapy.

Success with scoliosis is possible. Hard work, yes. But definitely possible.

Comment

  1. heather says:

    Hello, when you mention the Cobb angle, I am curious about what the standard or “normal” angle degree measurement. Also you mention manual therapy, by that, are you reffering to chiropractic adjustments? I am curious because my 9 year old was just xrayed by a chiroprator and we have found a mild curvature of the spine, and am wondering how to proceed. Of course the chiropractor said she could fix this, but I am unsure if I should get an opinion from a pediatric orthopedist. Any wisdom you could share would be appreciated, Thank you

    • Hello Heather,

      I’m sorry it has taken me a couple of weeks to reply! I didn’t realize that you had written a comment until today. I think your question about normal angle would be better answered by a medical doctor. My clients at the moment all have scoliosis of more than 30 degrees.

      The manual therapy I offer is Structural Integration (sometimes called Rolfing). More info at http://www.rolf.org

      Here’s the wisdom I can share 🙂 …

      I would prefer to hold off commenting on your child’s condition without learning a lot more about what’s going: seeing X-rays, seeing her/him in person so that I can get an idea of posture, do the Adams Test etc. Best!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I went to a foot doctor today to get a Assement and the doctor said when i bent over That I might have scoliosis.I am going to see a Phyiso soon. Im Only 11 and you can feel my bones when i lean over. Im pretty sure that i do have scoliosis. But I was wondering if it is below 30 degrees will i still need a brace?

    • Joshua Lyons says:

      Hi, thank you very much for your question! The truth is that I don’t have much information to offer you about braces as I do not work with braces myself. I help my clients improve their posture and exercise with the aim of helping them stay healthy and avoid surgery. Your doctor will be able to give you information about bracing options and also refer you to the right specialist in that area. Good luck! – Joshua

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