Dublin actress Eva Butterly, who was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teen, is now helping others with the condition through fitness.
The 27-year-old Rush native – who also had a part in TV hit Game of Thrones, as an actress in a travelling troupe who portrayed canny Margaery Tyrell – was diagnosed with an extreme curvature of the spine at the age of 12, but in recent years she has found that lifting weights has dramatically improved her condition.
Eva told Dublin Gazette she discovered she had the condition after her primary school teacher noticed that her shoulder was “slumped to one side”.
“She informed my mam, who then brought me to see a chiropractor, where I was diagnosed with scoliosis.
“I received chiropractic treatment for six months, but my back got progressively worse to the point where a large hump started to form.
“I was sent to see an orthopedic surgeon , who diagnosed me with severe scoliosis and required immediate surgery because my curvature was so aggressive.”
Eva then had two spinal fusion operations. The first was to insert metal rods into either side of her spine to prevent the curvature getting worse, but after complications the second operation was to remove the rods as they became infected.
Growing up with scoliosis was hard for Eva. She remembers: “My body felt very alien to me and I had trouble finding clothes that fit.
“I wore a body cast for a year after that to secure my spine in place, and thankfully there have been no further complications since.”
“The backs of chairs in schools always caused a lot of discomfort, and I felt very different to other girls my age.”
Eva started going to the gym at 18 and over the years she has found that weightlifting has helped her manage the scoliosis.
She is hoping to inspire others with the condition. “Strengthening the muscles that surround my spine has helped tremendously with pain and also the overall aesthetic appearance of my back.
“Through weight lifting, I developed a newfound confidence in myself, which was very empowering to a previously self-conscious teenage girl.
“I continued to train 4-5 days a week and over the course of a few months my body started to change. I became a lot more symmetrical, and my pain pretty much disappeared.
“There are many studies that show lifting weights not only relieves back pain and improves the functionality of the spine, but it also increases your bone density.
“Strong muscles have a much easier time holding the spine in place; strong bones help prevent degeneration of the spine as we get older.”
She added: “My mission is to empower people to take control of their health through resistance training. I also advocate for the importance of well-balanced nutrition and mental health.
“I want people to know that they don’t have to be a slave to their scoliosis and there are lots of things they can do to help themselves manage the condition.”
Eva’s message to people with scoliosis is to get support: “Go online and get yourself some support. Don’t be afraid to reach out; be curious about your condition, ask questions about the best treatment options available.
“Scoliosis is not only physically difficult, but it is also a struggle mentally, and it is easy to feel very alone on the journey. Reaching out to other people can help lessen the load.
“There are people out there who relate to your struggles and can empathise with you. You might even make a new friend in the process!
“I am always open and willing to chat if anyone ever needs a listening ear.”
2019 is set to be a big year for the inspirational woman. She will be working with people all over the world with the launch of her online coaching service, Scoliosis Warrior, and no doubt she will continue to go from strength to strength in whatever she sets her hand to.
To follow Eva Butterly, see The Scoliosis Warrior @evabutterly on Instagram, or on Facebook see www.facebook.com/ evabutterlyfitness/