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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Cumbrian teen overcomes curved spine condition to get back in saddle

A teenage horse fanatic whose dreams were shattered when she was diagnosed with a serious medical condition is riding again.

Louise Millstone photo
Louise Millstone

Louise Millstone, now 16, from Brampton, was enjoying a normal teenage life until two years ago when she was diagnosed with scoliosis – a severe curvature of the spine.

At the age of just 14 she was told she needed major surgery to save her mobility.

Louise was passionate about horses and loved riding, but she was left in excruciating pain by her condition and feared her riding days might be over.

She was facing major spinal fusion surgery – until she discovered an exercise routine which changed her life.

Louise’s condition was diagnosed after her mother noticed her shoulder blade was protruding on one side.

She had also started getting tired far more quickly than normal and was complaining of aches and pains in her back.

Her riding instructors had noticed her lack of energy too and that her posture was worsening.

She went to her GP who gave her the diagnosis and referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon. Louise said: “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.”

When she saw the surgeon, Louise’s family was told her scoliosis was about the worst medics had seen and that surgery – a 10-hour operation to fuse the spine from top to bottom – was the only option available.

The teenager feared she would never ride again and that her hopes of going to university would be dashed.

In a desperate attempt to find an alternative, her family started to search for different treatments and discovered Scoliosis SOS.

Located in central London, it is the only clinic in the world to offer a combination of non-surgical treatments, using specially-designed exercises.

The family decided to give it a try and Louise was booked on to a four-week treatment course. They say they have been delighted with the results.

“I feel like I have been re-born,” said Louise. “My back looks amazing and I have my energy back. My confidence has soared and I am so excited about getting back to riding.

“I am ecstatic that I have been able to avoid surgery. I want to work with horses and train as a vet and these exercises have given me options again.”

A spokeswoman for the clinic said Louise’s family had been overwhelmed by the results of her treatment.

She added: “Louise and her mother decided that this treatment could not do any harm and that if it meant she could start riding properly again it could really change her life.

“Louise’s mother was not concerned about how her daughter would cope with the exercises because she had always thrown herself into everything throughout her life and when she had a goal she was normally very motivated. She was adamant that she did not want to have surgery and hated the idea of letting a medical condition hold her back.”

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