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Scoliosis: A crippling children’s disease that can possibly be prevented or treated

By Don Davis

Special to the Post

I read an article in the newspaper recently about King Richard III, who had erroneously been categorized as a hunchback. After the bones of the 15th-century king were discovered under a parking lot in central England in 2012, scientists scanned the remains of King Richard III’s back and created replicas of each bone to reconstruct his spine. The researchers said while Richard III had a severe case of scoliosis, he was far from the limping “hunchbacked toad” with a withered arm depicted in William Shakespeare’s play “Richard III.”

“Richard had a very squishy spine but it wouldn’t have stuck out that obviously,” said Piers Mitchell of the University of Cambridge, one of the study’s authors. He said it was technically inaccurate to describe Richard III as a hunchback because his spine was bent sideways rather than forward.  He went on to say, “Unless you were pretty close to him, it is unlikely you would have noticed anything wrong with him.”

I was drawn to this story because I too have scoliosis. This condition was first diagnosed when I was 17 years old.  At the time, I had a dislocated disc caused by an awkward turn while stretching to catch a football.  I was treated by my family doctor and later by a chiropractor.   When the doctors discussed the scoliosis with my mother and me, they indicated that I was past my growth spurt, and they did not have a favorable solution. After about a year, I recovered from the disc condition, but was cautioned that I might have problems with the scoliosis later in life.

In in the last few years, my spine, which is in an “S” shape, has started to shift to the right. I am not hunched over, but am bent to the right with increased pain caused by the ribs resting on my hipbone. Furthermore, I have conferred with a spine specialist and learned there is no solution short of major back surgery for which there is no guarantee of cure but could result in a worse condition than at the present. The alternative treatments are pain medicine and aerobic therapy, which so far has been effective for me.

Whether true or not, the deformity of having the right side of the upper part of my body bent down is definitely something that bothers me psychologically. When I meet people, I find myself thinking, do they feel sorry for me because of this disease for which I was not responsible? I can’t imagine feeling the way I do, what my life would have been like if this had happened at 17 years of age like some of the victims have experienced at even an earlier age. My inclination is to try to keep this from happening to any person.

Thus, I write about this personal medical condition to bring attention to parents who have small children who have undetected scoliosis that may be treatable. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons says that scoliosis affects 2 percent to 3 percent of the population, or an estimated 6 to 9 million people in the United States. The disease can develop in infancy or early childhood, yet the primary age for scoliosis to begin is 10 to 15 years old. Occurrences are equally divided between male and female, but females have an eight times greater chance of the disease requiring treatment. Also, scoliosis is hereditary. I know this is true, because my daughter, Gail, has also been stricken with scoliosis. She was treated with a back brace at 13 years old with only partial positive results.

Knowing that there is very little that doctors can do to provide a cure for my scoliosis I first thank the Lord that he gave me many years of life without any major problems from the disease. Secondly, I have turned the whole situation over to the Lord knowing if I am to get any relief, it will come from the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, my Lord. In the meantime, I am depending on the answer the Lord gave the Apostle Paul when he complained of a medical problem of which we do not know the source, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9a). This being true, I must do my best to trust God’s grace and respond as Paul, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2Cor. 12:9b).

My scoliosis treatment seems to have hit a dead-end street, but my goal is to attempt to prevent children of today from facing the same problems as they grow older.  The Bible tells us the Lord loved little children and would not turn children away, but had them to come to Him to be blessed. I am sure he does not want any child to suffer from scoliosis or any other disease. Therefore, I am asking you to make sure your children and grandchildren are checked for scoliosis at an early age. One X-ray may save a child from a future deformity, pain, embarrassment and distress. Please do what is right, get them examined today and if required have them start treatment as soon as possible.

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