Here on the Scoliosis SOS blog, we’ve discussed a number of conditions that can lead to a curvature of the spine – conditions such as osteoporosis and spondylolisthesis. But just as scoliosis can arise as the result of a larger, underlying health problem, there are also a number of conditions that sometimes occur as the result of scoliosis.

Today, we’d like to take a closer look at one such condition: spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal.

What is spinal stenosis?

As you probably know, the human spine (more properly known as the ‘vertebral column’) is made up of a number of small bones called vertebrae. Each individual vertebra has a hole in the middle of it, meaning that the vertebral column is effectively a long tube of bone.

Housed inside this tube is the spinal cord, a long bundle of nerves that runs from your brain stem to the lumbar (lower) section of your spine. The spinal cord carries information about the different parts of your body to and from the brain, and it is, therefore, crucial for all sorts of day-to-day bodily functions.

The space where the spinal cord resides is called the spinal canal. If your spinal canal becomes narrower for some reason, you are said to have spinal stenosis (‘stenosis’ being a Greek word that literally means ‘narrowing’). Spinal stenosis can affect any region of the spine, although it most commonly occurs in the lumbar region.

Spinal Stenosis

Image source: Blausen Medical via Wikimedia Commons

Spinal stenosis may result in one or more vertebrae pressing against the nerves of the spinal cord, which in turn may lead to a number of different symptoms.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis

If your spinal cord is being compressed due to spinal stenosis, you may experience pain, discomfortnumbness and/or weakness in various different parts of your body (including the back, shoulders, arms, hands, legs and buttocks).

Depending on where the stenosis is and which part of your spinal cord is impacted, you may also experience a loss of bladder/bowel control. In particularly extreme cases of spinal stenosis, the patient may find that symptoms progress until certain parts of the body are completely paralysed.

All of these symptoms occur because the inside of the vertebral column is pressing on the patient’s nerves and interfering with the bodily functions associated with that part of the spinal cord.

What causes spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis can occur for all sorts of different reasons, the most common being:

  • Ageing – Changes/deteriorations in the spine as you get older may result in a narrowing of the spinal canal

  • Genetic defects – In some cases, a baby may be born with a narrow spinal canal (or with a genetic deformity that affects the structure of the spine)

  • Tumours – If you have an abnormal growth on the inside of your spine, these may press against your spinal cord

  • Injuries – Certain accidents/traumas may impact the spine and result in spinal stenosis

Scoliosis can also result in spinal stenosis, with the deterioration and curving/twisting of the spine sometimes putting pressure on the spinal cord itself. If you have a curved spine and you are experiencing numbness or any of the other symptoms mentioned above, it may well be because your curved spine is putting pressure on your nerves and interrupting the transmission of information between your brain and the rest of your body.

Click below to learn about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and our non-surgical scoliosis treatment methods, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more spinal health information.

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For more information on how our non-surgical scoliosis treatment can help your condition of spinal stenosis, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team today.

For individuals with severe scoliosis, life can be very difficult indeed. Patients with a pronounced spinal curve may suffer from any number of symptoms, including chronic pain, limited mobility, and a low body image. In especially extreme cases, the curvature of the spine may cause serious problems with the patient’s lungs, limiting their ability to breathe – but every spinal curve is different, and the symptoms vary massively from one case to the next.

The phrase ‘severe scoliosis’ usually refers to a case of scoliosis that has progressed to the point at which spinal fusion surgery is typically recommended. This is usually around 40-50 degrees, depending on your age and where in the world you live. In most cases, spinal curves this severe continue to worsen, and that is why spinal fusion is often recommended.

In the vast majority of cases, severe scoliosis will drastically affect the posture and physical appearance of the patient, and surgery can be effective in reversing these changes to a certain extent. However, spinal fusion surgery is not always successful, and can pose some risks of its own.

What other treatment options are available?

While the procedure is relatively safe and successful in the majority of cases, many people are put off spinal surgery due to the risks involved. If you’d rather not undergo spinal fusion surgery to correct your severe scoliosis, your options are somewhat limited; bracing can be effective way to stop scoliosis progressing further, but a back brace cannot reverse the curvature that has already developed and is only used in patients who are still growing.

But it’s not all bad news! We at Scoliosis SOS are able to treat severe scoliosis in patients of all ages without surgery and without the use of a brace. Our therapists treat scoliosis patients using a unique combination of non-surgical spinal techniques that we collectively call the ScolioGold method. Our treatment programme can help reduce your Cobb angle, provide pain relief, and help improve body image, boosting your sense of self-esteem.

We have frequently treated patients with Cobb angles of 50 degrees or more – in fact, we have even helped patients with curves of up to 120 degrees!

Severe Scoliosis Before and After Treatment

A patient with severe scoliosis before (left) and after (right) ScolioGold treatment.

If you’d like to find out more about our ScolioGold method, click here. If you’d like to arrange an initial consultation, please contact us today.

Further Reading: Coping with Severe Scoliosis

Pregnant woman having an epidural
 
Previously on this blog, we’ve examined the impact that pregnancy can have on scoliosis and discussed the ways in which we at Scoliosis SOS can help. However, there’s one fairly common question that we failed to cover last time around: if you have a curved spine, can you have an epidural to help with the pain of giving birth?

What is an epidural?

An epidural is a type of steroid injection administered into the ‘epidural space’, which lies between the covering of the spinal cord and inside the bony spinal canal. The medication reduces pain by coating the nerve roots and the outside lining of the facet joints in the areas near the injection.
 
An epidural is administered by an anaesthetist, who will first insert a drip into your arm to administer fluids whilst you are having the epidural. You will then be asked to sit leaning forwards – or to lie on your side with your knees drawn up – in order to allow the anaesthetist to begin the procedure of inserting the epidural. First, an injection of local anaesthetic will be used to numb the skin where the epidural will be inserted; then, a needle will be used to insert a fine plastic tube between the bones of your back.
 
The needle is then removed, leaving the tube to be used for administering the pain relief drugs. While this will usually make it difficult to walk around and cause unsteadiness on your feet, some hospitals are able to offer mobile epidurals that allow you to walk around.

Scoliosis and epidurals

Cases of scoliosis vary hugely in their severity, and every spinal curve impacts the patient in different ways; the same is also true of undergoing an epidural. It is quite rare for back problems to prevent the use of an epidural during labour, but it may not be an option for some scoliosis patients, particularly those who have undergone surgery or have a curve in the lower (lumbar) spine.
 
Due to the fact that the epidural is placed in the lower spine, a spinal curve in this region may present difficulties for the anaesthetist, who may not be able to safely inject the epidural catheter in order to administer the pain relief medication.  If the scoliosis impacts the patient’s middle to upper spine, this should not present a problem, although it is still important for the patient to make the doctor/nurse aware of their condition beforehand.
 
If you have undergone spinal fusion surgery to correct a progressive curve, your doctor may not wish to risk disrupting the implant and/or giving you an infection, both of which can occur when administering an epidural. This may cause them to advise you against receiving an epidural.
 
If you are a pregnant scoliosis sufferer and you would like to have an epidural when you go into labour, the most important thing for you to do is to speak with your doctor and anaesthetist, who will be able to give you professional advice and guidance based on your individual circumstances. Not only will this provide you with a truly informed understanding of the possible risks involved (and the likelihood of success), it will also enable you to discuss alternative methods of pain relief in the event that an epidural is not possible or presents too much of a risk.
 
Would you like to find out more about treating your scoliosis before becoming pregnant or after giving birth? Get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team today! 
Scoliosis through life
 
While scoliosis is typically diagnosed during adolescence, the condition can also lead to complications later in life, particularly when left untreated. Most cases of spinal curvature are treated before any major complications occur; if left untreated, however, there is a chance that scoliosis may lead to more serious problems for the patient in question. Some people who undergo spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis also experience complications later in life.
 

What complications can occur later in life if scoliosis is left untreated?

If scoliosis is left untreated for long periods of time, it can lead to chronic pain and a variety of other complications. Most of the symptoms listed below will only occur after the patient’s scoliosis has reached an advanced degree of curvature, and can usually be avoided as long as the condition is treated in a timely manner:
  • Breathing problems
If scoliosis is left untreated for many years, the increasing curvature of the spine can cause the ribs to restrict lung capacity. This can lead to shortness of breath.
  • Leg pain
Advanced cases of scoliosis can cause one leg to appear shorter than the other due to misalignment of the hips. This can change the patient’s posture and gait (how they walk), which in turn causes the muscles to tire sooner due to over-compensation to maintain balance.
  • Cardiovascular problems
If the curvature of the spine reaches a particularly severe point, the restriction of the rib cage can lead to heart problems. In the most severe cases, this may even lead to heart failure; however, this only occurs in a tiny minority of cases.
  • Lumbar stenosis
While scoliosis is unlikely to cause any severe neurological problems no matter how old you are, it is associated with lumbar stenosis. Lumbar stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can ultimately lead to nerve complications, weakness or leg pain.
 

Post-surgery complications

When surgery is conducted on (or near) the spine, there is always a possibility of short-term or long-term complications. In the case of scoliosis, spinal fusion surgery can sometimes lead to the following complications in later life:
  • Flat-back deformity
After surgery to rectify scoliosis, the natural ‘C’-shaped sagittal curve of the lower back may be lost. This is due to the vertebrae in the lumbar spine fusing together, thus eliminating the natural curvature. This deformity typically appears later in life, sometime between the ages of 30 and 50.
  • Transitional syndrome
When the spine is working correctly, each segment shares the weight and stress of everyday movement and activities. However, when one or more segments are not working correctly, the others have to take on more stress to account for this. This means that, if your vertebrae are fused together, the closest vertebrae to the fusion site will begin to take on more stress and may ultimately become damaged over time.
 
 
Scoliosis can cause many complications later in life, but if you seek treatment before your spine deteriorates too far, many of these issues can be nipped in the bud and avoided altogether. Surgery is not your only option when it comes to improving the curvature of your spine – here at Scoliosis SOS, we provide non-surgical treatment courses that have shown to be very effective indeed.
 
To discuss scoliosis treatment options, please book a consultation – this can be conducted over the phone, via Skype, or in person at our clinic in London.
Thoracic hyperkyphosis
 
Thoracic hyperkyphosis is a condition where the thoracic (upper) spine curves forward, resulting in a slouched or hunched appearance. It can affect people of all ages for a variety of different reasons.
 
While most people have some level of curvature in the upper spine, a person is said to have hyperkyphosis if the angle of their curve exceeds 45 degrees. Common symptoms of thoracic hyperkyphosis include:
  • Back pain
  • Stiffness
  • The top part of the back looking curved or hunched over
Every case is different, but many thoracic hyperkyphosis patients also report feeling fatigued as a result of their condition. Furthermore, the visible effects of hyperkyphosis sometimes contribute to low self-esteem, a negative body image, and emotional and social issues.

What causes thoracic hyperkyphosis?

As mentioned above, thoracic hyperkyphosis can arise for a number of different reasons. The most common causes include:
  • Bad posture – If you frequently slouch or otherwise fail to sit properly in chairs, your poor posture may end up causing hyperkyphosis over time.

  • Scheuermann’s disease – Scheuermann’s is a condition (mostly affecting young people) that occurs when the vertebrae don’t grow evenly. This can result in a hyperkyphotic spinal curve. Read more about Scheuermann’s disease here.

  • Congenital issues – Sometimes, a baby’s spine will develop incorrectly in the womb. This may result in the child being born with hyperkyphosis, with the condition progressing (getting worse) as they grow up.
Thoracic hyperkyphosis may also be caused by nutritional deficiencies, vertebral trauma, and a number of other problems.

How to treat thoracic hyperkyphosis

Just as hyperkyphosis has many different causes, it can also be treated in many different ways, including:
  • Bracing
  • Physical therapy
  • Spinal surgery
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we frequently treat thoracic hyperkyphosis patients who wish to reduce the angle and visibility of their curve and alleviate symptoms such as pain and stiffness. We do this using our ScolioGold method, an exercise-based alternative to surgical intervention that has repeatedly shown itself to be effective in cases of a spinal curvature.
 
For more information on hyperkyphosis, watch our video here:
 
 
 Learn more about ScolioGold therapy below or get in touch to arrange a consultation with Scoliosis SOS.
 
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis affects approximately 4 out of 100 adolescents worldwide. When the number’s that high, it’s perhaps unsurprising that we often treat adolescent scoliosis suffers from other parts of the world who do not wish to undergo surgery.

Scoliosis Patient from Malaysia

This was the case with Adha, who found out she had scoliosis through a clinic who visited her school in Malaysia in April 2016. Here’s her story:

Scoliosis Case Study: Adha From Malaysia

Adha was diagnosed with scoliosis in April last year by local clinic staff who visited Adha’s school. Each pupil in the school was checked and Adha was one of the three pupils who received a scoliosis diagnosis. 

After she was diagnosed with scoliosis, Adha and her father visited three specialist hospitals to see 3 different orthopaedic surgeons, and each one recommended that Adha go in for surgery to correct her scoliosis. Because Adha’s curve surpassed 40 degrees, she was considered a severe case and a suitable candidate for spinal fusion surgery.

However, Adha and her family decided against surgery and instead looked for alternative means of combating her spinal curve. Through searching on the internet, they found the Scoliosis SOS Cinic in London and read about the treatment courses we provide for people suffering from scoliosis. Adha’s brother happened to be studying in London at the time, so they decided to come here for treatment.

Adha and her father arrived at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic for Adha’s first consultation in the summer of 2016. After an initial consultation, they decided to go ahead with a full four-week course and stay in our London-based accommodation.

After the completion of the four-week course, Adha’s curvature has visibly improved and both she and her father are really pleased with the results.  Their advice for anyone else in Malaysia suffering from scoliosis is to try out the ScolioGold programme, as it is a great alternative to surgery. 

Here’s an interview with Adha and her father that we conducted after she completed her treatment course:


No matter where in the world you live, if you are suffering from a curved spine, we would love to hear from you. Contact Scoliosis SOS today to arrange an initial consultation – this can be carried out via Skype or over the telephone if you don’t live anywhere near London.
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we specialise in the non-surgical treatment of spinal conditions such as scoliosis and hyperkyphosis. Our approach combines a variety of different methods, including various types of exercise, physical manipulation and more.

For sufferers of scoliosis and other spinal conditions, uneven posture can be a persistent problem, causing pain and discomfort as well as impacting the individual’s outward appearance. For this reason, postural correction is one of the goals we work towards during our ScolioGold treatment courses, the aim being to produce lasting posture improvement for the patient. 

How do we achieve posture improvement for our patients?

Successful posture improvement is achieved by tailoring treatment to the specific needs of the patient, depending on their individual condition and the symptoms they experience.

While scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine) can lead to postural problems, the idea that scoliosis is caused by bad posture is a common misconception. There is no evidence to suggest that poor posture can lead to the development of scoliosis, which sometimes arises because of an underlying neuromuscular/skeletal condition but which is idiopathic in the majority of cases. In contrast, hyperkyphosis (a forward curvature of the spine) can be caused by poor posture, with an estimated 20-40% of adults developing this deformity at some point in their life.

Since we treat different types of spinal curvature in patients of all ages and backgrounds, it is highly important for us to ensure that our treatments target the specific areas in need of improvement. We do this by using a selection of carefully-chosen corrective methods while also accounting for the impact and limitations caused by other aspects of the patient’s condition. In addition, each patient is also provided with an exercise programme to perform at home in order to ensure lasting results.

What methods are used?

Here are some of the posture improvement methods we use here at Scoliosis SOS:

FITS Method

FITS Method

This programme of individually-adjusted exercises is used to eliminate myofascial restrictions and build a series of new, corrective posture patterns.

Taping
This technique is used to promote correct muscle movement patterns while also reducing pain and inflammation. The tape, which has been worn by such famous athletes as Serena Williams and Gareth Bale, works by acting as an elastic reminder for postural control.
 
Medical Acupuncture
This treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into points of the body to reduce pain, improve blood flow and promote healing. Acupuncture is used to target pain caused by muscular imbalances and postural asymmetry. 

Looking for more information about posture improvement methods? Here are some exercises to try at home.

Contact Scoliosis SOS for more information about our treatment courses.