What Causes Curvature of the Spine

There are three different types of spinal curve - scoliosis, hyperkyphosis, and hyperlordosis - each curving in a different direction, and this is what distinguishes each condition from one another.

Scoliosis causes the spine to curve sideways; hyperkyphosis is a forward (or outward) spinal curve in the upper region of the spine; and hyperlordosis is a backward (or inward) spinal curve in the lower region of the spine. There are many reasons why one's spine can curve, and in today's blog, we're going to take a look at what causes scoliosis, hyperkyphosis, and hyperlordosis.

What causes hyperkyphosis?

The vast majority of people have some sort of curvature in their upper spine, but a person is diagnosed with hyperkyphosis when the curve exceeds 45 degrees of forward flexion. There are a number of causes to hyperkyphosis, but the most common are:

  • Scheuermann's disease - this is a condition that causes your vertebrae to misshape, and grow unevenly, and it commonly affects young people.
  • Poor posture - If you're constantly slouching whilst you're sat on a chair, you may find that you'll develop hyperkyphosis later in your life.
  • Congenital issues - Sometimes, the cause of hyperkyphosis can be congenital. If a baby's spine develops incorrectly in the womb, this may result in them developing the condition later in childhood, and it continuing to progress and worsen as their spine grows.

Hyperkyphosis can also be caused by arthritis; osteoporosis; spina bifida; spinal infections; and spinal tumours.

What causes hyperlordosis?

Hyperlordosis can affect anyone, no matter their age or gender - although it is less common in children. The condition is commonly caused by bad posture, but can also be caused by a number of other factors, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Discitis - inflammation of the disc space between the bones of the spine; commonly caused by infection may result in you developing hyperlordosis
  • Achondroplasia - a disorder in which bones do not grow normally, which results in the person having a short stature
  • Sitting or standing for long period of time
  • Injuries or trauma

What causes scoliosis?

In roughly 80% of cases of scoliosis, the exact cause is unclear. In these cases, the form of scoliosis is called idiopathic. It is thought that idiopathic scoliosis is due to genetic factors, but this is yet to be proven. In the other 20%, the common causes are:

  • Cerebral palsy - this condition generally affects the patient's coordination and movement, but can also cause irregular posture. Find out more here >

  • Marfan syndrome - this disorder is hereditary, and affects the body's connective tissues, which can have an effect on the patient's spine. Find out more here >

  • Muscular dystrophy - this genetic condition weakens muscles over time, and this gradual weakening can lead to a number of things - including the curvature of ones spine. Find out more here >

  • Birth defects - some scoliosis sufferers are born with the condition. Their spine developed improperly in the womb, causing the curvature of their spine.

If you suffer from a curvature of the spine - Scoliosis SOS can help! We have treated all forms of spinal curve, using our ScolioGold method, and have seen some excellent results! If you wish to arrange a consultation or find out more about our treatment method, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Scoliosis is fairly rare amongst babies and young children, as in most cases the spinal curve doesn't develop until adolescence. However, that's doesn't mean that babies are never affected.

Scoliosis in Babies

Broadly speaking, there are two types of scoliosis that affect very young children: infantile scoliosis and congenital scoliosis. Today, we're going to explain the differences and similarities between each condition, and how they can be treated.

What is congenital scoliosis?

Congenital scoliosis is scoliosis that is present from birth. It is caused by irregular development of the spine while the baby is still in the womb. It occurs because one or more vertebrae didn't form properly, or if multiple vertebrae are joined together.

The symptoms of congenital scoliosis are just the same as any other form of scoliosis: uneven hips and/or shoulders; rib cage more prominent on one side than the other; a visible lean to one side. But these symptoms may be harder to identify in a very young child.

Every person experiences scoliosis differently, whether you're born with the spinal condition or develop a curve later in life. Some sufferers may experience pain, respiratory problems, and/or reduced mobility, but none of these symptoms are guaranteed to arise. In some cases of congenital scoliosis, where the condition is linked to a problem with the spinal cord, the patient may also experience reduced coordination, reduced strength, and numbness, but again these symptoms vary from person to person.

Read more about congenital scoliosis >

What is infantile scoliosis?

Infantile scoliosis is a sideways spinal curve that is diagnosed between 0 and 3 years of age. Unlike congenital scoliosis, it isn't present at birth; rather, it develops early in the child's life.

Infantile scoliosis affects more boys than girls, and the exact cause of this condition is unknown. Some have suggested that the spine is slightly bent at the time of birth and simply worsens with growth. The spinal curve typically appears between the shoulder blades or in the thoracic (upper) region of the spine, and the spine tends to curve to the left more often than it curves to the right.

The diagnosis of infantile scoliosis is based on the age of onset, the location of the curve, findings from the physical examination, and x-rays.

The symptoms of infantile scoliosis are very similar to those of congenital scoliosis, and again, their severity varies from one patient to the next.

Treating infantile and congenital scoliosis

In cases of scoliosis where the patient is still very young, doctors usually recommend monitoring/observing their condition to see whether the spinal curve will correct itself over time.

Later on, if the curve has not corrected itself and is in fact worsening, the patient may be recommended to wear a back brace to stop the curve from progressing. In severe cases, they may have to undergo spinal fusion surgery.

Like most forms of the condition, infantile and congenital scoliosis can be effectively treated via exercise-based physiotherapy, which is what we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. We have treated plenty of young children, and have seen some excellent results!

If you would like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses and how they can benefit even very young scoliosis patients, please call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 or click here to book an initial consultation.

Schroth Method Exercises

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, one of the methods we use to treat our patients is a set of techniques known as the Schroth method. It is possibly the best-known way to treat scoliosis without surgical intervention, and we have helped countless patients to improve their posture and other symptoms of scoliosis using this treatment method. 

What is the Schroth method?

The Schroth method is named after Katharina Schroth, the German physiotherapist who devised this approach to scoliosis treatment. She suffered with scoliosis herself, and after making a very promising improvement with her condition, she decided to open up her own clinic. After Katharina's death, her daughter continued her work until 1995, when the clinic was sold to a large corporate organisation.

The Schroth method uses stretches and exercises to develop the inner muscles of the rib cage in order to change the shape of the upper truck and to correct the spinal abnormalities in all three planes of the body. This treatment method also places emphasis on the conscious correction of posture during day-to-day life.

Schroth Scoliosis Treatment

The Schroth exercises included in our ScolioGold treatment method help to improve the patient's scoliotic posture and breathing pattern with the help of proprioceptive and exteroceptive stimulation and mirror control.

How do we use Schroth method exercises?

Back when we first opened our clinic, our treatment courses were entirely based on the Schroth method, but over the years, we noticed that some aspects of scoliosis were not addressed through use of the Schroth method alone. So, to ensure that all aspects of each patient's condition are fully treated, we've combined the Schroth method with a number of other exercise-based / non-surgical treatment techniques to help provide our patients with a fully comprehensive treatment package.

Click here to read more about ScolioGold therapy, or contact us today if you’re interested in booking a treatment course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.

Hyperkyphosis is a spinal disorder which refers to the excessive forward curvature of the upper back. Hyperkyphosis is usually diagnosed once the curvature reaches over 50 degrees; prior to that, it is just known as kyphosis and does not typically require treatment.

What is a hyperkyphosis brace? 

A hyperkyphosis brace is a form of treatment to rectify a spinal curvature in adolescents. These braces are not usually recommended for adults as the spine stops growing once adulthood is reached and it would not provide any benefits. The brace is used to help straighten the spine and help strengthen the back. A hyperkyphosis brace usually straightens the spine, pulls the shoulders back and allows the chin to sit upright.

Kyphosis Brace

The hyperkyphosis brace also takes the pressure off the spine and encourages it to grow in a more upright position. Every spine typically has a slight amount of curvature, but as hyperkyphosis can cause health issues bracing is required to avoid these further complications.

When is a hyperkyphosis brace needed? 

Once the degree of the curvature surpasses 50 degrees a Hyperkyphosis brace may be needed. Hyperkyphosis can occur at any age and can even occur before birth. This is known as congenital kyphosis and means several vertebra fuse together or the spinal bones do not form properly. In this case, treatment such as using a hyperkyphosis brace is needed from a very young age.

Scheuermann’s and bad posture are also causes of this condition. If these forms of hyperkyphosis develop before adulthood, hyperkyphosis braces can be used to stunt the progression of the spinal curve.

How long do you have to wear a hyperkyphosis brace?

Depending on the severity of the case, you may be required to wear a hyperkyphosis brace for the most part of every day. If worn from a young age, it may be possible to stop wearing the brace once your spine has stopped growing. This is typically around the age of 16-18 for girls and 18-20 for boys.

If the curvature is mild, a hyperkyphosis brace may need to be worn for less time but this should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we help patients with all different types of spinal disorders, from scoliosis to hyperkyphosis. Our treatment course provides patients with a non-surgical alternative and allows the spine to improve through physical therapy. You can take a look at the results of our ScolioGold course here.

If you’re interested in a non-surgical alternative for your hyperkyphosis, you can book an initial consultation with us today. We look forward to hearing from you.

Massage for scoliosis

If you have scoliosis, you may be accustomed to the back pain and stiffness that stem from the curvature of your spine. Massage is a method that's often used to combat backache, but can massages help scoliosis patients specifically?

The answer is that, while massage obviously cannot cure scoliosis, specialised massage treatments can be effective for treating the pain that arises from a misalignment of the spine.

Types of Scoliosis Massage

Using massage for scoliosis does not halt or reverse the curvature of the spine, but it can be a great form of pain management. Scoliosis massages have become popular due to their ability to reduce the - at times quite severe - back pain that sometimes occurs as a result of scoliosis.  There are five specific scoliosis massage methods that have been proven to provide relief:

Cranial-sacral therapy

This massage works by gently stimulating the restricted tissue around the spine. This massage therapy can help improve the functionality of the spine and reduce the amount of stiffness and back pain that the patient experiences.

Deep tissue scoliosis massage

Commonly associated with relieving back pain, a deep tissue massage also works for those suffering from scoliosis. Combined with stretching and neuromuscular therapy, this deep massage can reduce back pain by increasing the blood flow to the back, which in turn elongates tightened muscles.

Swedish massage

When used on patients with scoliosis, a Swedish massage can relieve back pain, along with headaches, insomnia and shallow breathing. This is a light pressure massage that uses a combination of smooth strokes, kneading and circular movements.

Sports massage

This rigorous massage technique can be beneficial for adults who have struggled with scoliosis pain for many years. A sports massage for scoliosis works to ease the restriction in the affected muscles.

Shiatsu

Shiatsu massages for scoliosis apply pressure to the same trigger points targeted during acupuncture treatments. Though based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, this is actually a Japanese technique that also focuses on stretching/rotating limbs and joints to regain the balance of the body.

Please note: If you have previously gone through surgery for your scoliosis, we would advise speaking with a medical professional before receiving any of these massages.

The Benefits of Scoliosis Massage

Alongside a noticeable reduction of back pain, scoliosis massages can also provide an array of other benefits. Here's a look at just a few. 

  • Better sleep due to reduced pain
  • Increased mobility
  • Heightened circulation
  • Improved flexibility
  • Better bodily awareness

Massage can improve not only the physical health but also the mental wellbeing of scoliosis sufferers. Scoliosis can have a very negative effect on one's mental health, and by helping to improving quality of sleep, bodily awareness and mobility, massage therapy can lead to a much more positive state of mind. 

If you are suffering from some of the symptoms of scoliosis, get in touch with Scoliosis SOS today to book an initial consultation. We can conduct consultations via Skype or over the phone if you live outside the UK.