Did Richard III undergo painful treatment for spine?

Portrait of King Richard III Credit: University of Leicester

King Richard the Third, whose bones were discovered in a car park in Leicester, could have undergone painful medical treatments for his spinal curvature, according to research from a University of Leicester researcher.

In the late medieval period, one of the cures for spinal curvature, or scoliosis, was "traction". Traction worked on the same principle on which “the Rack” worked as an instrument of torture.

The patient would be tied under the armpits and round the legs. The ropes were then pulled at either end, often on a wooden roller, to stretch the patient’s spine.

Richard III would certainly have been able to afford this expensive medical care – and his physicians would have been well aware of the standard “traction” methods for treating the condition.