11 August 2008

New therapy changed my life

woman’s spinal condition responds to treatment

A north-east woman has said that a new therapy has turned her life around and left her better able to deal with a severe spinal condition.

Gillian Lawson had to give up work and was living with the fear of ending up in a wheelchair due to a sideways curvature of the spine known as scoliosis, which affects around 3% of the population.

The 52-year-old, of Strathdon in Aberdeenshire, was diagnosed in her 20s but the condition deteriorated until she could not stand for any longer than 10 minutes at a time.

She loved her job as a chef but had to cut her working time down to just two days a week and then stop altogether.

As the curves in her spine decreased her co-ordination and balance, Mrs Lawson also had to give up her favourite hobby of Scottish dancing. She felt desperate and alone.

“I was diagnosed in my mid-20s while I was pregnant but it was not really a big issue until five or 10 years ago when it started to become quite painful,” said Mrs Lawson. “I had four children and the pregnancies became harder and harder. If the spine is not straight it is very tough.

“The medical profession were hopeless, useless and totally disinterested. Medics will say it doesn’t get any worse but the pain got much, much worse. They are not really interested because they only have one option, which is inserting rods into the spine. It is major surgery.”

However, this summer she was offered a beacon of hope when she heard about a specialist clinic in England. After a free initial consultation she had a four-week course of intensive, exercise-based therapy in June.

Having felt isolated for so long, she met others suffering the same condition and, for the first time, felt as though someone was really looking at and working with her spine and other problems.

She now has to do a series of specialist strengthening exercises every day, which she was taught at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in Suffolk, but she can manage her condition by herself and feels fitter and more confident.

“I feel so much stronger,” she said.

“I only finished the treatment about a month ago but it has made a big difference very quickly.

“I feel like I will be able to go back to work and would even like to try going to the gym.

“If a young girl goes to that clinic it really could arrest the condition.”

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