Britain's Got Talent Scoliosis

Scoliosis on Britain’s Got Talent!

If you live in the UK, you probably saw the inspirational young dancer (Julia) with scoliosis on Britain’s Got Talent. If you don’t, or you haven’t seen it, take a look at the video below.

Scoliosis on Britain’s Got Talent

I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was a similar age to Julia (14) and have struggled with body confidence issues all my life.

Watching Julia perform on Saturday night made me feel quite emotional for two reasons:

Firstly, I think she was so brave to go on National TV, proudly showing off her back in a skimpy top. When I was her age, I was so ashamed of my scoliosis that nobody even knew I had it. I kept it a secret and hid my back in baggy clothes. It took me a good ten years or so before I accepted my scoliosis, began to tell people and felt proud of my back. I felt so alone back then, it was especially hard as I didn’t know a single soul with the condition. The fact that she has done this will help and inspire SO MANY teenage girls with scoliosis. Hopefully, it will help them to realise that they are not alone and should be SO PROUD of their bodies. Support and talking to others with the condition is crucial when you have scoliosis.

Secondly, it was absolutely amazing to hear scoliosis mentioned on such a huge prime time TV show. Simon Cowell actually asked what it was..! The awareness that has been raised as a result is absolutely fantastic. My Twitter and emails have been going crazy since Saturday with people wanting to know more about scoliosis. It’s strange because scoliosis is quite a common condition, and yet so many people don’t (or didn’t!) know anything about it. I feel like it’s finally getting the awareness that it deserves!


What is scoliosis?

Whilst the awareness that has been raised is obviously amazing, I also feel that it’s important to educate people on scoliosis and provide the correct information. Scoliosis is NOT commonly caused by back injuries or accidents. In fact, the most common cause  of scoliosis is Idiopathic (no known cause). This is the type of scoliosis I have and it is more common in teenage girls during growth spurts. It can also be present from birth (congenital) or develop in children (early onset).  It sounds like the latter is the scoliosis that Julia has from her description. If you want to know more about scoliosis, you can check out my page here – what is scoliosis? or visit the Scoliosis Association (UK) website.


Scoliosis surgery is NOT the end!

The last thing I wanted to say on this topic is that it’s a shame that Julia feels she won’t be able to dance post scoliosis surgery. Now this all depends on the level of fusion, but having had the surgery myself (with a long fusion), I don’t doubt for a second that she will be able to dance post scoliosis surgery.

It’s all about attitude and she has such a positive attitude that I believe she will be able to achieve anything she puts her mind to post surgery. Scoliosis surgery does involve fusing the spine, and as a result you DO lose some flexibility. However, you learn to adapt. She may not be able to do some of the moves she can do now, but she should still be able to dance, just in a different way.

Yes, it is a serious operation with a very long recovery (up to a year or more) but once recovered there’s no reason why you can’t do everything you did pre-surgery. It takes time but with determination anything is possible.

I know people who have had scoliosis surgery and gone on to win professional dance and cheerleading competitions! There are so many inspirational scoliosis surgery survivors out there.


Since my scoliosis surgery almost 7 years ago, I have achieved SO many things I never thought would be possible. I have completed a Masters Degree in Marketing Communications with distinction, I have climbed an actual mountain (not easy – one year post op!), I have walked a marathon (26.2 miles) over night for charity, I have ran several 10K and 5K races, I have done muddy obstacle courses, I do classes at the gym I never thought possible such as Body Pump, Zumba, Boxercise, Body Combat and HITT training. I’m also planning a Great Wall of China Trek later this year to raise awareness of scoliosis and raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

The point is, when I was 14 and first diagnosed, I thought that if I had the surgery my life would be over. In actual fact, having the surgery, was where my life BEGAN.

I know not everyone is as lucky and every case is different, but in my case my scoliosis surgery transformed my life, reduced my pain and increased my self confidence.

I just want to say THANK YOU to Julia for being so brave and helping to raise much needed awareness of scoliosis. I only wish I had her confidence and positive attitude towards scoliosis when I was her age. It will be this that will get her through the surgery and dancing once more.

Louise X

5 ways to describe Scoliosis Pain

5 ways to describe scoliosis pain

5 ways to describe scoliosis pain

Living with a chronic back condition such as scoliosis is tough. But what does it really feel like living with scoliosis? What does scoliosis pain feel like? For those of us that live everyday with the condition, it can be hard to explain to those close to us how it feels. It can be difficult for others to understand what it’s really like. I tend to just get on with things and I try to take control of the condition by being as active as possible. Because of this though, many people just don’t realise what I deal with everyday and how scoliosis has affected me.

I thought I’d attempt at articulating what scoliosis pain is like for me – if you can relate, please let me know in the comments below. It’s good to talk and support each other 🙂


It’s more than just back pain.

Scoliosis Quote - Scoliosis is more than just back pain

What a lot of people don’t realise is, scoliosis affects the whole body.

The result of having a curved spine has an impact on EVERYTHING ELSE, not just the back.  I don’t just get pain in one part of my back. My rib cage is twisted round, which can affect my breathing.  Bras and tops don’t fit properly and I feel self conscious in skin tight tops or tops that show my back/shoulders. Scoliosis also affects the nerves so I often get random sharp nerve pains in various parts of my back. I also get numbness down my leg and tingling down my arms and in my hands.

Scoliosis causes muscle imbalances in the back, so mostly my scoliosis pain is caused by tight muscles down one side of my back (the “weaker” side).  As a result, I get regular muscle spasms down one side of my back and around my shoulder blade where my back just feels tight. Since surgery, this is MUCH BETTER but I still get it, usually after doing some intense activity like running or if I’ve been walking round all day.


It’s uncomfortable

For me, this is the worse than the pain. My scoliosis makes it so hard to get comfortable EVER. Don’t get me wrong, it was worse before I had surgery as I had a large rib hump which meant I found it uncomfortable leaning against pretty much any chair.

After surgery, it’s different but it’s still hard to get comfortable. I still find it uncomfortable leaning against most chairs as I still have a slight unevenness to my ribs. I also have a protruding shoulder blade and screws that stick out of my back. All this makes it painful/uncomfortable to sit on most chairs without a cushion.

In addition to this, as my back is now fused “straight” I can’t mould my back to fit to any seat/chair. I sit poker straight which means it can be uncomfortable when I’m in a car or on public transport.  I don’t mind this, I’d rather this than the alternative (have my scoliosis getting worse) but I can’t really remember a time that I was truly comfortable.


It can be frustrating

I try to be as active as possible, I think as a way of controlling my condition and managing the pain. But I find it frustrating sometimes that I can’t do as much as everyone else. I try my hardest to go to the classes I want to go to at the gym and and to go running. Sometimes though it can be hard to keep up and I get frustrated. I wish I could run as fast as everyone else without injuring myself or causing a new pain for example. Every time I think I’m getting somewhere with my fitness, my back is there to remind me to slow down. Whether it’s a new injury, numbness or back pain. When my back starts hurting though, I tend to push through and do as much as I can. I refuse to let scoliosis beat me.


The emotional pain can be far worse than the physical pain

Scoliosis Quote: The emotional pain caused by scoliosis can be far worse than the physical pain.

Even though scoliosis is a physical condition, the emotional pain it causes can be far worse.

Being diagnosed with scoliosis at 14 and growing up with a physical deformity was tough. I was constantly paranoid that people would notice my rib hump so I would wear baggy clothes and avoid activities where my back would be on display, like swimming. At 14, I felt like a freak and would often cry in my room at night. The psychological impact of scoliosis is often overlooked. Without a doubt though, having scoliosis has crushed my self esteem and self confidence, which still impacts on me today.


It affects you 24/7

Scoliosis Quote - Scoliosis affects you 24/7

Having scoliosis is a huge part of my life. It will always be there. It can’t be cured, it’s a chronic condition. I don’t like to use the word disability because I don’t see it that way. But in a way, it is a hidden disability. To look at me, you wouldn’t know what I go through everyday. As soon as I get out of bed, I have pain and stiffness. I find it awkward to do basic tasks, like tying my shoelaces and putting my socks on or getting comfortable because my back is fused. I’m used to it now and I just get on with it, but it affects me every day.


How does living with scoliosis affect your everyday life? Please share in the comments below 🙂

Louise X

Scoliosis and Bras – Survey

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I don’t know about you, but I have always had a love/hate relationship with bras.

Before my scoliosis surgery, I found that bra straps used to dig into my rib hump side, causing discomfort and pain, as well as the damn strap always falling off one side due to my uneven shoulders.

Post surgery, I still have the irritating issue with the bra strap falling down on one side, and as I still have some rotation of the ribs, I usually find one cup doesn’t always fit as well as the other (although this did improve slightly post surgery). This I have found very frustrating over the years and also a bit upsetting if I’m honest.

It’s for these reasons that I tend to avoid shopping in underwear shops, trying on bras in said underwear shops (3 way mirrors = EVIL) and bra fittings in general – in fact, the thought of having a bra fitting fills me with dread. I also don’t spend huge amounts of money on bras because they never fit me properly, so what’s the point?

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way! If you have scoliosis, share any of these bra frustrations and would like to contribute towards an exciting related project (by fellow scoliosis survivor Michaela), I would be very grateful if you could fill in this quick survey by clicking on the link below:

Bra Complaints for women with Scoliosis – Survey

Thank you 🙂

Louise XX

5 things I do because of my Scoliosis

5 things I do because of my scoliosis…

1. I constantly look at my back

When I’m at the gym, or walk past a shop window or mirror, I just can’t resist sneaking a look at my back. Sometimes, I swear people think I’m checking myself out. I’m not, I’m just looking at my back. I can’t help it. Post-surgery, sometimes it’s admiration. As in, I can’t believe how straight it looks from the side and that the rib hump is gone, even 5 years later! Although, other times, I’m worried about how it looks from a certain position and in a certain outfit.

2. I’m constantly paranoid people are looking at my back

This was far worse before surgery and immediately after surgery. It was so bad that, at the gym for example, I wouldn’t go on the machines at the front of the gym because I knew there would be people working out behind me and I’d be paranoid that they’d be looking at my back.

Now, 5 years later, day to day I don’t worry as much about this but if I’m wearing a skimpy top or bikini I will be more conscious, especially if the top shows my scar and shoulder which still protrudes slightly. I still won’t get changed in front of people (even people I’m close to) and activities such as swimming/going to the beach still make me uncomfortable as I think people are staring at my back.

In most cases though, they are probably not. As people without scoliosis probably don’t spend as much time staring at people’s backs and have their own things to worry about!

3. I get back envy

5 things I do because of my scoliosis
Back Envy…

I just can’t help myself looking at other people’s backs and wishing mine looked like theirs. Especially when I see people wearing backless dresses/tops which I have always longed to wear. I can’t help it, I think it just happens subconsciously now. The funny thing is, these people may be looking at me wishing they had something I have. I always remember a lady staring at me once whilst I was swimming and I was certain she was looking at my back. In the end, she came up to me and said: “How do you get such a flat stomach?” I’ve come to realise that everyone has their own insecurities.

4. I hate people touching my back

This is something I just can’t stand. Pre and post-surgery. Most of my back is numb so it just feels weird but some parts are quite tender. I’m also conscious of the way it looks and that my screws protrude. For this reason, I avoid back massages, so if I go to a spa, I’ll just stick to facials or manicures. I know a massage would make me highly uncomfortable and self-conscious and I’d be worried they may do some damage if they weren’t a trained physiotherapist. I do get jealous when friends go for a massage and when my back is sore sometimes I long for one, but I just don’t want anyone seeing/touching it. The closest I came was in Thailand when I went for a spa treatment and the lady saw my back and said “broken.” Yes, I am, please don’t remind me.

5. I take photos of my back

5 things I do because of my scoliosis

This was worse before surgery and immediately after. Before surgery, I took photos of my back all the time, in different positions. I was paranoid my scoliosis was getting worse and it took over my life. Around that time, I had literally thousands of pictures of my back on my laptop. I used to think, if anyone found my laptop they’d think I was really weird!

After surgery, I took photos daily probably for about a year afterwards. As I wasn’t working at the time and was at home recovering, it became an obsession. I’d stare at pictures of my back for hours, to make sure nothing had moved/changed. Not only that, I’d also constantly compare pictures of my back/x-rays to those of others who had had scoliosis surgery to see how my correction compared. At the time, I was convinced my correction was not as good as most peoples and I was actually quite unhappy following my surgery. It really was an all-consuming obsession but I think looking back, most of it was in my head.

Luckily, I’m past this stage now and I rarely take photos of my back these days (except for my blog!) Mostly I’m too busy to think about it nowadays but I’ve also accepted that the correction I got was good, that I was extremely lucky with the outcome and that I need to let go of the past and move on with my life.


The psychological side of scoliosis is so often overlooked, but I think my behaviour over the years shows just how much having scoliosis has affected me psychologically. And I don’t think I’m in alone in the way I think/behave.

If you have scoliosis, can you relate to any of the above? How has having scoliosis affected your own behaviour? Feel free to comment below 🙂

Image credit: angela c.


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5 things I do because of my scoliosis

Body image

I’ve recently got back from a lovely holiday in Greece, and it got me thinking about how I felt about my back while I was on holiday.

Ever since I was diagnosed with scoliosis, body image has been a difficult subject for me. All my body confidence issues seem to magnify by 1000 whenever I go on holiday and my back is on ‘display’ more. For me, post surgery, dealing with my body image hasn’t got any easier. Pre-surgey I thought that all my body image issues would disappear post surgery – I was so wrong. 

I’m aware that my back doesn’t look that bad but it’s not “normal” and somehow I feel even more conscious of it post surgery.

I dread wearing a bikini and generally, when I’m on a beach style holiday, I have several ‘techniques’ to try and hide my back from others:

1. I try and get a sunbed as close to the pool / sea as possible to avoid walking past others when getting in and out of the pool.
2. I won’t go to the pool bar etc without getting dressed again even if it’s really hot.
3. I won’t go to the swim up bar incase people notice my back while I’m sat having a drink.
4. I won’t go into the pool without a vest/t-shirt on over my bikini, some days I even avoid going into the pool at all (even if it’s hot) as I don’t want to walk past people.
5. If I want to get up off my sun lounger, I won’t even stand up in case people see my back, so I will try really hard to get my top on over my bikini before standing up.

In addition I get REALLY paranoid about people looking at me, to the point of obsession almost. If people look at me, I assume they are looking at my back and thinking bad things.

So what worried me this holiday, is that these behavioural traits that I’ve been doing for years pre-surgery, I STILL can’t seem to shake 3 years post op.

It’s really, really difficult for me to be in public in a bikini on holiday. To the point that I’d avoid it at all costs because I find people looking at me and my back too hard to cope with.

I write this post because it highlights that surgery is not a ‘quick fix’ for all the body confidence issue scoliosis causes. Yes, it improved how I looked, but it did not fix the psychological damage living with the condition for 10 years had already caused. 

It may not be this way for everyone but this is my experience, and it kind of makes me sad that I still feel this way and that it affects what I do or don’t do on my holiday.

To try and overcome this, on this holiday I purposely made myself do things I was uncomfortable with. I went into the pool without my vest top over my bikini several times, I sat on the edge of the pool reading (without a vest top over my bikini) AND I went to the pool bar, which were big things for me to do.

However, I have still not managed to walk past people just wearing my bikini. 

I think I’ll have to work up to that.