Updated: Wednesday, 20th November 2019 @ 11:34am

Back in the saddle: Ashton teen horse enthusiast battles curved spine to ride again... all with a few exercises

Back in the saddle: Ashton teen horse enthusiast battles curved spine to ride again... all with a few exercises

By Jon Harris

A Tameside horse lover who feared she would never ride again due to a severe curve in her spine has used an exercise routine to help her get back in the saddle.

Joanna Davis, 16, had been diagnosed with scoliosis two years ago after her instructors noticed she was struggling to sit up straight when she was riding and complained of excruciating back pain.

Doctors told her family she needed a major operation to save her mobility and she feared the spinal fusion surgery would shatter her dreams of riding horses again.

But after researching scoliosis on the internet the teenager discovered an alternative form of treatment being administered at a clinic in London in which patients undergo four weeks of intensive physiotherapy.

She then underwent a course in which she carried out supervised stretching-type exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding her spine and brought her into a more central upright position.

Now Joanna, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester is riding again and is hoping to go to university to train as a vet.

She said: ''I feel like I have been re-born, it's incredible the results I have. My back looks amazing and I have my energy back.

''My confidence has soared and I am so excited about getting back to riding and really focusing on getting to university in two years' time. I know I am young but I know what I want and I know that I will just need to go out and get it.''

''I am still very determined to continue riding even though I know it will be harder when I am living away from home. I have made some amazing friends and their support has been invaluable.

''I am ecstatic that I have been able to avoid surgery, having surgery would have stopped me from being who I want to be and would have damaged my ability to ride, these exercises are easy and I have just adapted them so that they fit in with everyday life!

''I want to work with horses and train as a vet and these exercises have given me options again. I was getting so down about everything and how I was going to do what I wanted with my life and now it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders!"

Joanna's problems began when her family started to notice that her shoulder blade was protruding on one side. She had also started getting tired far quicker than normal and was complaining of aches and pains in her back.

Riding teachers had noticed her lack of energy and saw her posture on horseback was getting worse and that she was struggling to sit up straight when she was riding.

Joanna was sent to see the family GP who diagnosed scoliosis and she was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon who said her curve was one of the worst he had seen and her only option was a ten hour operation to fuse the spine from top to bottom.

Joanna was worried that she would have to give up her hobbies because of her spinal deformity, lost a great deal of flexibility and her confidence deteriorated fast.

The teenager added: "Scoliosis destroyed my world. I have always been so passionate about riding, getting up on a horse and giving absolutely everything to be out in the fields.

''But when I started feeling tired and getting pain down my back, it was really hard to stay motivated. I struggled to keep up with all my lessons and I lost loads of confidence.

''Everyone around me was really worried and it was hard because I felt like I was letting everyone down and being a hassle!"

Later Joanna and her family researched the treatment of scoliosis and feared for the teenager's furture at it was a progressive condition and if left un-treated can lead to fatal heart and lung problems.

Current treatment in this country is to wait until the curve becomes so severe, that the only option left is to operate – but surgery involves metal rods being inserted either side of the back, before the spine is fused solid.

Eventually the famiy found an alternative treatment known as ScolioGold which is administered by fellow scoliosis suffer Erika Maude and the only clinic in the world to offer the treatment. It meant she was able to avoid painful surgery.

Joanna added: ''I am ecstatic that I have been able to avoid surgery, having surgery would have stopped me from being who I want to be and would have damaged my ability to ride, these exercises are easy and I have just adapted them so that they fit in with everyday life.

''I am still very determined to continue riding even though I know it will be harder when I am living away from home. I have made some amazing friends and their support has been invaluable.

''I want to work with horses and train as a vet and these exercises have given me options again. I was getting so down about everything and how I was going to do what I wanted with my life and now it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders."

The treatment reduces pain by getting the patients muscles to work together to support the spine properly and prevents the curve from progressing.

Erika Maude, who opened the clinic seven-and-a-half years ago, said: "Joanna has done extremely well and has dramatically reduced the asymmetries surrounding her shoulders and hips.

''She has reduced her pain and has de-rotated her rib cage to the point where she is

now able to stand straighter and her muscles are able to support her spine properly.

''Joanna will now be under close observation to ensure she maintains the results she has achieved and will continue to exercise on a daily basis."

Story via Cavendish Press.

Image courtesy of MTSOfan, with thanks

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