In mid-October, 2015, my 13-year-old daughter was complaining of pain on her upper right side. She is a pre-professional ballerina and chiropractic care is a regular part of her care, however, her pain did not subside upon treatment. Fortunately for us, her local chiropractor did a further examination in order to assess the source of the discomfort. When he had her take a forward bend, he found pronounced uneven muscle structure and impressed upon us that we must see the pediatric orthopedist immediately for a further scoliosis assessment.
The very next morning I contacted the orthopedist as I had been instructed, but I also contacted an acquaintance whose daughter had recently been through very serious back surgery for scoliosis. We met for coffee a couple days later and she was kind enough to share her experience. In that moment, I learned that “scoliosis is serious business.” Just like my daughter, my friend’s daughter manifested scoliosis at 13. My friend sought the medical advice and services of the same orthopedist to whom I had been referred. According to the orthopedist’s instructions, they first waited and watched the scoliosis rapidly progress to which the doctor responded with a brace that proved ineffective. Consequently, at 15 years of age, my friend’s daughter had a difficult time walking and the doctor performed a severe surgery to fuse together her spinal column and fill her full of 3 inch screws and long metal rods. Based upon my friend’s testimony, I was appropriately terrified at the prospects for my own 13 year old daughter.
While waiting for the ominous appointment with the orthopedist, I sought anyone with information regarding scoliosis treatment alternative to surgery, and of course I consulted “Dr. Google”. Playing with different key word searches, I stumbled upon the CLEAR Institute for Scoliosis Treatment which led me to services of Dr. Alexander Greaux and the South Florida Scoliosis Center – a practice dedicated to the treatment of scoliosis with groundbreaking, non-surgical therapies. While I did find other sources of chiropractic and physical therapy related scoliosis treatments all around the country, it was the manner of advertisement of the CLEAR therapies that really drew me in. As a corporate attorney with a good deal of experience in litigation, I have been trained to be on the lookout for statements of guarantees, exaggerated claims of success and other forms of “puffery” in marketing and advertising for products and services. What really impressed me about the CLEAR Institute and Dr. Greaux was the measured manner in which they described their success in treating scoliosis patients. I also appreciated the honesty with which they explained the challenges they face in conducting long-term studies that would more accurately report on, and better define the parameters for non-surgical scoliosis treatment modalities. This, I thought, is the more trustworthy presentation of information I had seen in my research, and for this reason I sought out the care of Dr. Greaux.
It was now five days since the discovery of scoliosis by the chiropractor, and my anxiety level was only rising. When I contacted Dr. Greaux’s office, the staff was kind and understanding, and I was relieved that they were as anxious as I was to have my daughter assessed and treated as quickly as possible. Four days later, and still waiting to see the orthopedist, Dr. Greaux found that my daughter had a 22 degree lower lumbar curve with compensatory curving in the thoracic region and some rigidity in her neck. He also kindly explained that although the curve was on the cusp of moderate, my husband and I should take this situation very seriously because our daughter had every risk factor expecting this curve to grow rapidly into a surgical situation. Although my anxiety exploded into panic, Dr. Greaux remained calm and talked us through the treatment options and the benefits and burdens of each. We decided to bring her back for a one-week intensive of therapy to take place soon after, and headed to our appointment with the orthopedist in between.
The orthopedist predictably found the same 22 degree “s” curve and recommended nighttime bracing together with the “watch and see” approach. Like Dr. Greaux, he warned that our beautiful ballerina could very quickly grow crippled. My research taught me that bracing does nothing to reduce curvature and that the curve could continue to grow nonetheless – a troublesome prospect with which the orthopedist agreed. At this news, my husband and I were even more determined to go through with the therapy, and our daughter enthusiastically agreed.
The therapy program prescribed by Dr. Greaux required two sessions a day at 2.5 to 3 hours each. I’m not going to minimize it; the therapy was painful, exhausting and more than challenging for our little girl. There were even times when tears escaped because she was so determined to go through with it but her little body would protest being made straight. Nevertheless, every single member of the staff, and especially Dr. Greaux, was overwhelmingly attentive, tender, sympathetic and supportive of the process. At the end of the week intensive, my daughter’s reward was that her curve had reduced from 22 degrees to 15 degrees!!! She also achieved substantial progress in increasing the proper mobility and shape of her neck. We are overjoyed! While she is momentarily out of the danger zone, we most certainly recognize the importance of continuing the home therapy precisely per the instructions of Dr. Greaux, or else the curve could once again escalate into total devastation. We are so grateful to Dr. Greaux and all of his staff for their hard work and dedication to pioneer advances in non-surgical scoliosis treatment, especially in the face of hostility from many orthopedic surgeons. In fact, my husband, daughter and I cannot wait for our next appointment with the orthopedist so we can share our own success story with the hopes of persuading him to reconsider his position that “therapy is a scam.” Meanwhile, we intend to continue to tell everyone we possibly can about Dr. Greaux and the CLEAR Institute to spread hope and awareness for non-surgical scoliosis treatment options.