Scoliosis Awareness Month: Teen with curved spine documents journey on TikTok

A teenager from Southampton is using TikTok and Instagram to raise awareness of the spinal condition, Scoliosis.

Under a year ago, Abbie Blake had surgery to correct a near 80 degree curve to her spine and since then, has been documenting her recovery on social media and warning others of the symptoms.

To mark Scoliosis Awareness Month, the 16-year-old has been speaking to ITV Meridian to help raise the profile of the condition.

Abbie said she didn't know what Scoliosis was when she was first diagnosed and took to Instagram to find accounts of people who had been through it.

She said: "I started as soon as possible because none of my friends knew what the condition was. It was a way of explaining it, not only to my friends but other people.

"Since I've had surgery and started posting more about it, I've had people getting in contact and making them feel less nervous.

"I had a mum get in contact about her son having surgery and she was saying how I helped her nerves and made her feel calmer. That was just great and I enjoyed getting the feedback, it makes me want to carry on doing it."

Abbie had surgery to correct a near 80 degree curve to her spine

What is Scoliosis?

According to the NHS, Scoliosis is a condition where the spine twists and curves. Although it can affect people at any age, it's typically starts in children aged 10 to 15.

There isn't a cure for the condition but depending on the severity, some people have to go through surgery to correct the alignment of their spine.

The signs of Scoliosis can include:

  • a visibly curved spine

  • leaning to one side

  • uneven shoulders

  • the ribs sticking out on one side

In most cases the cause of scoliosis is unknown and it cannot be prevented but a lot of people are able to live normal lives and do exercise.

The teenager said her mum was the one who noticed her curve when she wore a striped t-shirt, as the pattern made it easier to see.

Abbie said they went to the GP, who wasn't sure what Scoliosis was either. She then had x-rays and found that her curve was severe enough that a brace wasn't an option and that she needed surgery.

She said: "I went on the waiting list for surgery and nearly a year later I had spinal fusion. I'm not sure exactly where I'm fused from but my spine is a lot straighter than it was."

"Having the surgery can sometimes feel like it has a negative impact as you're recovering for quite a while and it stops you from doing sport. Being able to document my journey on TikTok and Instagram made me do something positive while I was recovering."

Abbie chose a prom dress that would show off her scar

On Wednesday, Abbie went to her prom in a dress specially chosen to show off the scar on her back.

She said: "It was fun to show my scar off and was great to take some photos and not feel ashamed and like I have to hide it.

"You don't need to hide something you can't help. It's about having a positive outlook."