When Fiona Wilson was suffered from a chesty cough that she couldn’t get rid off, she went to the doctors to make sure she didn’t have an infection.
The last thing she expected to hear was that although her lungs were fine, she had scoliosis - an abnormal curvature of the spine.
Fiona, now 55, who lives in Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, explains: “I had no idea I had scoliosis - I didn’t even know what it was. But I had probably had it since I was a teenager.
“I only discovered I had it by chance about eight years ago when I had a bad chesty cough that I just couldn’t shift.
“The GP listened to my chest and told me my lungs were fine, but she noticed the ‘S’ shaped curvature of my spine and told me she thought I had scoliosis.”
Fiona was referred to specialists and after tests including an MRI scan, it was confirmed she had the condition. Looking back now, Fiona believes her father also had the condition as he used to say he had one leg shorter than the other and she has since noticed in photographs that he looked lopsided.
At the time of diagnosis, the scoliosis was not causing any issues for Fiona. However, as time has gone on, it has got progressively worse and it eventually got so bad, Fiona was forced to take early retirement from her job in the civil service.
Every day tasks such as gardening and shopping began becoming impossible because of the excruciating pain and Fiona found that multiple trips to GPs and consultants did nothing to help alleviate the constant pain.
At one stage, Fiona was even given a misdiagnosis of breast cancer from an NHS physiotherapist who sent her for a mammogram and X-rays because he believed her rib pains were caused by cancer.
Fiona, who has three children and one grandchild, says the scoliosis started having a huge impact on her life and curtailing her activities and the treatment she received only provided short term relief.
One physiotherapist recommended she walked more so Fiona got herself her dog Monty about five years ago so she could walk him to keep mobile.
She says: “My hobbies became sedentary, like reading, doing tapestries and crosswords. I was largely inactive, apart from walking my dog. Any physical activity, like sport, walking, gardening or housework left me exhausted and in pain.”
While skimming through a newspaper, Fiona read an article about a dancer who had seen a huge improvement in her scoliosis after attending the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London and learning a set of specialised exercises.
Desperate for anything that might help, Fiona telephoned the clinic for advice.
Founded and run by Erika Maude, who has scoliosis herself, the clinic opened nine years ago and has since brought relief to thousands of sufferers. Located in central London, it is the only clinic in the world to offer treatment following the ScolioGold method, which is the combination of internationally renowned non-surgical treatments, which have been practiced separately in Europe for several decades.
Fiona says: “The education that I received at the clinic informed me far more than any GP or hospital consultant, who previously only offered painkillers, unhelpful exercises, and even the misdiagnosis of breast cancer before dismissing me from their care stating I was too old now for any surgical intervention.
“This left me feeling helpless and hopeless, until I discovered the clinic’s alternative and positive approach to scoliosis patients.”
Following an initial consultation, Fiona undertook a four-week course of intensive exercise therapy at the clinic to combat her scoliosis.
Fiona says: “I did five-and-a-half hours of physio every day for four weeks during the course. I was taught ways of correcting my posture and educated about scoliosis so I could help myself and manage it. I greatly enjoyed my weeks at the clinic and found it extremely beneficial. It really helped talking to other sufferers too.
“It has straightened my posture out a great deal. I had a real surprise when I saw an X-ray and say how much straighter I was. I also had a shoulderblade that was jutting out, but now it has gone back in.
“It has really helped with my posture and my pain and I now feel much more hopeful and positive that I can self-manage my scoliosis and prevent it from getting any worse.
“I love that I can see and feel the difference that the exercises have done for my body, pain and posture.
“I feel more in control now and I have got all the equipment at home now so I can do the exercises.
“My aim is to stay as mobile and as active as possible for as long as I can.
“I would recommend the SOS clinic to anyone suffering from this condition. It really is an amazing place doing amazing work.”
l For more details about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, visit www.scoliosisSOS.com or call 0207 488 4428