A young Dublin ballet student who feared her dance career was over following a diagnosis with scoliosis has cured herself of the back condition.
Amy Quinton (19) experienced intense pain in her back three years ago, and was devastated when she was told by doctors that her spine was curving rapidly to the right.
The teenager, who had been practising ballet five times a week, developed a curve at around 50 degrees which was visible through her clothes, and her shoulders and hips were uneven due to the curve.
She was told that she would need to undergo a nine-hour operation which would involve having metal rods fitted down her back -- and this could mean an end to her ballet career.
She told the Herald: "When I was first diagnosed I was devastated. I felt ugly and disgusting, I really thought I was going to end up like a hunchback. It was quite strange as I also felt very angry and would often sit for hours thinking, why me, why have I got something wrong with me. You go through several emotions when you are diagnosed, one of which was the feeling that there is no hope. Your only option is to have surgery and no one really wants to offer you an alternative."
But she added: "Being able to dance was very important. I am now back to the girl I was before I was diagnosed. I am able to dance for hours without being in pain and I am confident that I have been able to overcome my condition and any barriers that came with it."
The brave teenager underwent an alternative treatment known as ScolioGold in a Scoliosis SOS clinic in England, and is now pain free.
"It's quite hard work but it's definitely worth it for the results you get at the end of the course," she said. "All of my friends and family have commented on how good I look. Being able to continue ballet dancing was the most important thing. I knew that if I had my spine fused (through surgery) I would lose my flexibility and could possibly end up with even more health problems.
"It was such a scary time. I don't think I could put into words how alone I felt and how devastating it is to be told you may end up unable to walk properly.".
Amy spent four weeks undergoing the treatment, and she has managed to stabilise her condition as well as making significant improvements to her posture, physical appearance and lung capacity. And she has now returned to ballet dancing..
She added: "Scoliosis took over my life for several years after I was diagnosed. I felt like everyone was staring at my back all the time and I lost nearly all of my self-confidence.
"I love dancing, it is something I use to express myself.
"So when I was told that I needed to have major surgery which would dramatically reduce my flexibility, I was left in pieces."