Scoliosis treatment uses alternative to braces or surgery
For many, the word “scoliosis” brings to mind a child in an awkward-looking back brace that invites taunts from classmates and embarrassment for the child. Today, some parents of children with scoliosis are opting for an unconventional therapy that allows them to skip the back brace or surgery.
Scoliosis is a congenital or neuromuscular condition where the spine curves away from the middle or sideways to varying degrees. If the curvature is severe enough to require treatment, doctors usually prescribe a back brace or surgery to attach a metal rod and fuse the vertebrae.
When Aviv Nissim, a Jenks High School senior, decided to get treatment for his scoliosis, he sought out Dr. Bernard Fuh, a chiropractor with Advanced Spinal Health in Tulsa, who uses a scoliosis treatment called CLEAR scoliosis therapy.
After graduating with a degree in biology from Oklahoma State University, and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, Dr. Fuh received post-graduate training in the treatment with the CLEAR Institute, a Minnesota chiropractic academy founded by Dr. Dennis Woggan.
The CLEAR therapy uses active exercises, a special traction chair with a brace and a weight system to strengthen muscles around the spine. Dr. Fuh said that when he learned about the treatment from another chiropractor who was doing it, it made sense to him. “I wanted to solve the problem,” Dr. Fuh said. “You can’t just do an adjustment and make it last. I give patients exercises to do at home.”
Dr. Fuh said that many patients opt for treatment for cosmetic reasons. “We’re kind of in between a brace and surgery,” he said. “Many people want to avoid the surgery, which is pretty brutal.”
Aviv said that he didn’t want to undergo surgery for his scoliosis because he didn’t want it to interfere with his activities. “I’m passionate about working out and keeping in shape,” he said. “So we started looking for an alternative to surgery and found Dr. Fuh.”
After a few weeks of treatment, Aviv said he noticed a difference in his appearance and in his flexibility. “I wasn’t one of those people [with scoliosis] who feels pain from scoliosis,” he said. “I could see it. My shoulders were kind of uneven, but now I can’t tell anymore.”
According to Dr. Fuh, the typical treatment takes six to eight months. Therapy is three times per week for six weeks, then two times per week after that. He also does x-rays before and after the course of treatment.
“If the curvature is 30 percent or below, I can straighten the spine within four to eight weeks,” Dr. Fuh said.
Aviv said that he sits in a traction chair 30 minutes, twice a day as part of the CLEAR Therapy. Weights are also used to strengthen muscles and maintain the new strength.
“I can run and do push-ups,” Aviv said. “I notice that my spine is straighter. I also have a lot better balance, and I can walk a lot faster than I used to.”