How the Best Womens’ Golfer in the World Overcame Childhood Scoliosis

stacy lewis womens golfer scoliosis in children

Here’s how Stacy Lewis overcame childhood scoliosis to become the best womens’ golfer in the world. She’s tasted victory in the LPGA tour and the Curtis Cup – but she worked really, really hard to overcome a serious illness: scoliosis in children.

Scoliosis in children is a serious illness. Stacy wore a back brace for 7½ years – she had to wear it for 18 hours a day, even when she slept. Back braces and physiotherapy are common treatments for scoliosis in children. Stacy took the back brace off only to play golf. She was wasn’t sure she would be able to walk again, let alone win LPGA tours and become the best womens’ golfer in the world (even better than Tiger Woods?).

“You just have to go out there, day-by-day, and take care of yourself,” says Stacy Lewis said in World’s ‘best golfer’ overcame childhood illness. “Golf is … peaks and valleys and you can only get on those peaks for so long. You just have to take care of yourself the best that you can.”

The back brace wasn’t how Stacy overcame scoliosis as a child. Below is a summary of the surgery and work she did to heal from childhood scoliosis, plus some info on scoliosis in children (including answers to the questions, “what is scoliosis”, “will my child be okay if she has scolosis”, and “what are the signs and symptoms of scoliosis in children?”).

How Stacy Lewis Overcame Childhood Scoliosis

Her spine deformity progressed even after she stopped growing. Normally, scoliosis in children may stop progressing after they stop growing. When Stacy stopped growing at age 18, she stopped wearing the back brace. Unfortunately, her spine deformity kept progressing and she had to have surgery to stop the spinal curvature from getting worse. Surgery is one of the “last resort” treatments for scoliosis in children.

A golf scholarship at university – put on hold. A few months before learning she had to have surgery for the scoliosis, Stacy Lewis had accepted a golf scholarship at the University of Arkansas. It wasn’t easy for Stacy to decide to have back surgery – it isn’t exactly the easiest way correct her scoliosis in children! – but the Arkansas team golf coach said Stacy’s spot on the golf team would be held for her.

Did the word “scholarship” catch your eye? I hope so! Read Scholarships for Women Going Back to School.

Muscle sparing surgery. Stacy’s surgeon knew about Stacy’s hopes and dreams for golf (but perhaps not that she would become the best womens’ golfer in the world!), and chose a “muscle sparing surgery” that addressed the deformity from the “front” of the spine. This allowed him to fuse fewer levels of the lumbar spine. According to the Scoliosis Research Society, “A single rod and 5 screws were inserted into her spine and a nice, balanced correction was achieved. Saving a level would allow the extra mobility that is so well demonstrated in Stacy’s golf swing today.”

More back brace time for Stacy. She spent three more months in a brace and then another six months of golf rehab. Then, Stacy Lewis began to putt and chip her way back unto the University of Arkansas golf team. The LPGA tour was a distant hope and yet a very real dream.

Stacy Lewis golf victories – and why she’s the best womens’ golfer in the world. She won a major on the LPGA tour, and became the first person in the 76 year history of the Curtis Cup at St. Andrews to post a 5 – 0 record and lead her US team to an historic victory. She has won golf victories at the US Open tournaments as well. To learn more about her, go to Stacy’s Back.

This may not be a New Beginning for her, but it is for me! I didn’t realize Stacy Lewis overcame scoliosis as a child before she became the best womens’ golfer in the world. And, she is fighting for equal rights and equal pay in womens golf.

“The ultimate goal for all of us is to be playing for the same amount of money as the guys and playing on the same golf courses as the guys. That’s where we all want to get to. I hope I’m still on Tour when it happens, if it happens.” ~ Stacy Lewis, the best womens golfer in the world.

Scoliosis in Children

Are you more interested in childhood scoliosis than Stacy Lewis’ being the best womens’ golfer in the world? Me too. I found an extremely helpful article on scoliosis in children on Boston Children’s Hospital website. Here’s what they say about in answer to the questions, “what is scoliosis”, “will my child be okay if she has scolosis”, and “what are the signs and symptoms of scoliosis in children?”

What is scoliosis in children? Scoliosis isa condition in which the spine, in addition to the normal front to back curvatures, has an abnormal side-to-side “S-” or “C”-shaped curvature. The spine is also rotated or twisted, pulling the ribs along with it. Sometimes lung function can be compromised when the curvature is severe or starts very early in life. The condition isn’t rare. It mainly affects girls—many of whom have mild forms of scoliosis, are never even aware of it, and never need treatment.

If my child has scoliosis, will she be OK? Scoliosis in children is not a life-threatening condition, except in some early-onset scoliosis. The outlook for your child greatly depends on the nature and severity of her scoliosis and her age, since the amount of time remaining for her to achieve complete bone growth plays a big factor. Early diagnosis and early treatment can improve the outlook for many forms of scoliosis. Most children and adolescents diagnosed with scoliosis can look forward to normal, active lives.

How is scoliosis in children treated? Treatment for spinal problems and scoliosis in children depends on the nature and severity of the condition. Whether your child’s particular spinal condition is congenital-, idiopathic- or neuromuscular-related, Children’s Spinal Program provides comprehensive treatment—including evaluation, diagnosis, consultation and follow-up care. Treatments can include simple observation and monitoring, physical therapy, bracing, casting, and surgery (which worked to correct Stacy Lewis’ childhood scoliosis, and left her able to be the best golfer in the world!).

What are the signs and symptoms of scoliosis? Because of all the possible combinations of curvatures, scoliosis can look quite different from child to child. Common signs and symptoms of scoliosis may include:

  • uneven shoulder heights
  • head not centered with the rest of the body
  • uneven hip heights or positions
  • uneven shoulder blade heights or positions
  • prominent shoulder blade
  • when standing straight, uneven arm lengths
  • when bending forward, the left and right sides of the back appear asymmetrical

Symptoms that suggest scoliosis can resemble those of other spinal conditions or deformities, or may result from an injury or infection. It’s important to get a doctor to diagnosis scoliosis in children.

To learn more about scoliosis in children, go to Scoliosis in Children on the Boston Children’s Hospital website.

I welcome your thoughts on how the best golfer in the world overcame childhood scoliosis! I hope this article helps you see scoliosis in children differently – and with more hope, faith, and confidence.

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