A STAFFORD fitness fan believes she has staved off major spinal surgery by undertaking a rigorous exercise regime.
Sarah Pottle was told she would need a 12-hour operation to fuse her spine solid and that it was unlikely she would ever have full flexibility in her back again.
But the 31-year-old improved her prognosis dramatically after discovering an exercise routine.
Miss Pottle had always been very fit and active until she noticed her shoulder blades protruding through her skin on one side. She had already started to suffer from back pain and spent hours having physiotherapy with little effect.
After visiting an osteopath she had an Xray and she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition which causes the spine to curve excessively sideways.
Left untreated it can lead to fatal heart and lung problems but the treatment currently available in this country involves waiting until the curve becomes so severe, that the only option left is to operate.
The major surgery is very risky and sees metal rods being inserted either side of the spine, which is then fused solid.
Miss Pottle, of Russell Street, was devastated at the thought of giving up swimming and her dreams of starting a family.
She was also terrified and was desperate to find an alternative.
That was when she discovered Scoliosis SOS, a London clinic which offers nonsurgical treatment widely available in Europe.
“By the time I found the clinic, I was taking painkillers on a daily basis and I was rarely able to swim,” she said.
“I did so much research on the condition as I really wanted to have a baby. I was pretty terrified when I discovered that pregnancy can cause a scoliosis to get considerably worse and that the pain was only likely to increase.
"I was so desperate to avoid the surgery, I hate hospitals and the idea of being house bound for months left me in pieces.”
The treatment gave her almost instant relief from the aching around her shoulder blades and she could see the changes in her appearance by the end of the first week.
The therapists told her that as long as she kept up her exercises she would be able to have a normal pregnancy.
As the treatment continued her condition improved and her confidence soared and she was able to start swimming again.
She is also hoping to start trying for a baby in the New Year.
“Being told I had scoliosis was traumatic enough but being told that I needed to have major spinal fusion surgery was terrifying,” she said.
“For a while my whole world fell apart but since starting my exercises I feel like a new person.
"I am pain-free for the first time in a long time and I feel I can finally start to look forward.
"I am excited about becoming a mum and now this is a very real possibility for 2013.”