A Yorkshire teenager has spoken out about her experience with a rare spinal condition.
Scoliosis affects, on average, two to three per cent of the population per year.
It is characterised as a curvature of the spine that is greater than 10 degrees, and symptoms include uneven shoulders, leaning to one side, and back pain.
Alana Hunt, 19, from Doncaster, UK, was diagnosed at 12 years old and explains how scoliosis has affected her life.
“The diagnosis made me feel really scared and nervous because at the diagnosis appointment surgery was the first thing that was brought up.
“I used to really struggle with getting comfortable, and I couldn’t sleep at night and it even got to the point where even sitting up I had to use a memory foam cushion to make it easier.”
As well as surgery, an orthopaedic back brace is also offered as a potential treatment for more minor curvatures as a preventative measure.
A back brace aims to apply corrective force to the inner and outer portions of the spinal curve to slow and prevent any further curving and keep the curve relatively minor.
However, in many cases, surgery is the only viable option.
“I was only offered surgery, they [doctors] told me I was too far along for the back brace… my curve was 68 degrees.”
After surgery, many patients experience a greater quality of life, such as reduced back pain and increased mobility.
“The operation has made my life a lot easier because I used to struggle to walk because I had a hunchback and I don’t have that now, it’s also easier to find clothes that fit me.”
As well as medical staff, there is also a national charity whose main mission is to support scoliosis sufferers.
Scoliosis Awareness UK (SAUK) was founded in 1981 with the main purpose of trying to “provide advice, support, and information to people affected by scoliosis and their families”.
Communications officer, Natalie Cooper said: “SAUK exists to support people with scoliosis and their families; we do this in many ways- providing information, reducing feelings of isolation, and helping people navigate the health system.
“The funds help us to run our helpline service which receives over 4000 calls and emails a year.”
SAUK usually holds fundraisers such as sponsored marathons to raise money to fund their project, but have had to adapt to Coivd-19 and now are planning to hold a virtual Q+A session with scoliosis specialists later in the year.
To help raise awareness, Natalie asks that people to keep “speaking up about scoliosis” and donating when they can.
The SAUK website can be find by following this link: https://www.sauk.org.uk/
The helpline can be contacted on 020 8964 1166.