What is Compensatory Scoliosis?

Compensatory scoliosis is slightly different from other types of scoliosis as the spinal curve seems to disappear when the patient is sat down. This is because compensatory scoliosis is usually caused by a pelvic tilt caused by the contracture of the hip, or because one of the patient’s legs is shorter than the other. As there may be no structural abnormality in the spine itself, the apparent curve is significantly changed depending on the patient’s position at any given moment.

The curve serves to maintain normal body alignment, which is why a patient with compensatory scoliosis will appear to straighten significantly on side bending. If left untreated, this will lead to the development of scoliosis over time – this is why you should see a medical professional if you think you may have this condition. The first course of treatment for a case of compensatory scoliosis often requires the patient to wear orthopaedic insoles (or similar), which correct the height difference and align the axis of the spine. The condition also has to be monitored to make sure that the spine isn’t deteriorating over time.

To learn more about the other types of scoliosis, see our comprehensive list here.

How can we help?

If your spine’s condition does deteriorate to the point where you require scoliosis treatment, we at Scoliosis SOS can help. We’ve combined a number of well-known non-surgical treatments (including the Schroth and FITS methods) to create a highly effective treatment programme called the ScolioGold method.

If you’d like to arrange a consultation with one of our specialists, please feel free to contact us today. We will work with you to determine the best treatment for your condition.

scoliosis chronic pain

Unless you yourself are living with chronic pain, it can be difficult to imagine how debilitating it can be to the sufferer.

‘Chronic pain’ means any persistent pain – it can last for weeks, months, or even longer. Chronic pain can occur as a result of scoliosis when your body tries to compensate for the curve in the spine.

Although some people with scoliosis feel only minimal discomfort, others suffer severe pain, including:

  • Muscles spasms
  • Trapped nerves
  • Leg and hip pain
  • Breathing / cardiovascular issues

All of these problems can make it incredibly difficult for someone with scoliosis to live a normal life. If your back pain is affecting your day-to-day activities, it may be a good idea to seek professional medical help in order to find out what can be done.

How to treat scoliosis-related chronic pain

Every case of scoliosis is different, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ cure for the associated pain. The level of pain doesn’t even necessarily correlate with the angle of one’s spinal curve; for example, someone with a 65-degree curve may feel little pain, whereas someone with a 20-degree curve may experience intense pain.

A scoliosis specialist will be able to help you determine the best method of treating the chronic pain caused by your scoliosis. In some cases, if the curve is particularly severe. a surgical operation may be required in order to correct your spinal curvature and relieve the pressure it is putting on your body.

However, there are several non-surgical methods for relieving scoliosis-related pain, including pain relief medication and physical therapy. Although pain relief medication can help to reduce the pain you feel, physical therapy programmes – such as our own ScolioGold method – can be more effective in the long run. ScolioGold combines a number of effective non-surgical treatment techniques and is tailored to the specific requirements that accompany a curvature of the spine.

We have helped countless scoliosis patients to overcome their chronic pain and achieve a significantly higher quality of life. If you want any advice about the pain caused by your scoliosis, we are more than happy to help – please contact us today to book a consultation with our friendly scoliosis specialists.

Exercise after Scoliosis Surgery

In a particularly severe case of scoliosis, surgery may be the only way to prevent the patient’s spinal curvature from continuing to get worse. Spinal fusion surgery, while generally effective, is a major operation from which it typically takes months to fully recover.

After undergoing this type of surgery, it is often necessary to make some lifestyle changes in order to minimise your recovery time. For instance, bending, lifting and twisting should all be avoided in the weeks immediately following a spinal fusion procedure, as your spine and incision will need time to heal.

Later in the recovery process, you can start to consider your regular exercise routine. Many patients who undergo scoliosis surgery are able to maintain their usual lifestyle after the operation, but changes do sometimes need to be made to reduce pressure on the spinal area.

Can you exercise after scoliosis surgery?

Yes, you can, although the more important question is how long you ought to wait before exercising again. As mentioned above, heavy lifting, bending and twisting are all strictly off-limits to begin with; indeed, intense exercise of any sort is best avoided at this point. However, low-impact exercises – such as walking and swimming – will benefit both your health and the ongoing fusion process.

Before you can return to your usual sport and exercise habits, your skin will need to heal from the incision and your bones will need to fuse together again. This can take anywhere from 6-9 months. Your surgeon will be able to tell you when you’re sufficiently healed, at which point you’ll hopefully be able to ease back into more physically-demanding exercises and activities.

What exercises can you do after scoliosis surgery?

As a general rule, anything that puts too much pressure on your spine is best avoided after scoliosis surgery. Heavy weightlifting, high-impact sports like rugby, and exercises that involve your abs can all damage your spine again and should be removed from your exercise regime.

Exercises that involve flexion of the spine or neck, such as sit-ups and squats, can place pressure on the discs above and below the spinal fusion site. These should also be avoided as much as possible, although they can be replaced with more gentle stretching exercises.

It is best to swap high-intensity exercise for more frequent low-impact exercise after scoliosis surgery. Recommended post-surgery activities include:

  • Swimming
  • Gentle yoga
  • Bicycle rides
  • Elliptical machine training

In this way, you can still maintain an active lifestyle without fear of damaging your vertebrae, discs or spinal cord.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we believe that exercise is the best method for fighting spinal curvature. We treat both patients who are looking to avoid surgery and those who have already had a spinal fusion. Our non-surgical ScolioGold treatment courses combine stretches, exercises, and massages to reduce the angle of your spinal curve and improve your quality of life. Contact us now to arrange an initial consultation.

Worried that your scoliosis will prevent you from taking part in your favourite sport? Read about some of our sporty success stories here!

Are you born with scoliosis?

Scoliosis can potentially occur at any stage of a person’s life. Some people grow up with curved spines, while others develop scoliosis in their old age. Every scoliosis sufferer’s story is different.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that there’s no single, straightforward answer to the question we’re discussing today: are you born with scoliosis?

Idiopathic scoliosis

By far the most common form of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis – that is, a sideways spinal curvature that occurs without any clear cause.

Idiopathic scoliosis usually doesn’t develop until the pre-teen / teenage years, so it would be incorrect to say that one is ‘born’ with this type of scoliosis. However, idiopathic scoliosis is widely believed to be rooted in genetic causes, so it might be said that some people are born with the genes that will one day manifest as a progressive spinal curve.

Congenital scoliosis

While scoliosis most commonly occurs during adolescence, it is occasionally the case that a visible spinal curvature is present from birth. Babies born with scoliosis are said to have congenital scoliosis, a condition that occurs when the baby’s spine doesn’t develop properly in the womb. A baby with congenital scoliosis may have multiple vertebrae joined together, or one or more vertebrae that didn’t form completely.

Scoliosis in later life

Even if you weren’t born with scoliosis and you didn’t develop a spinal curve during your teenage years, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be affected by scoliosis later in life. Scoliosis can occur in fully-grown adults for a number of reasons, including:

  • Asymmetric degeneration. The human body deteriorates with age, and if one side of your body deteriorates more rapidly than the other, this may result in a sideways spinal curve.

  • Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density that is most common in post-menopausal women (read about osteoporosis here).

  • Spondylolisthesis, where a vertebra slips out of place (read about spondylolisthesis here).

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis in patients of all ages, from young children to people in their 60s, 70s and beyond. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please fill out our enquiry form here.

Scoliosis test

Are you worried that your child may have a curved spine? Perhaps you suffer from scoliosis yourself, and you’d like to know whether or not the condition has been passed to your son or daughter?

Fortunately, there is an informal test for scoliosis that may help to put your mind at ease. The Adams forward bending test – demonstrated in the video below – is a quick and easy way to check your little one for signs of scoliosis. It can be performed at home and does not require any special medical equipment.

Please note that this test should not be used in lieu of a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. If you believe that you or your child are suffering from scoliosis, be sure to see your GP.

The Adams Forward Bending Test

Here’s a step-by-step guide to checking your child for scoliosis:

  • Have your child take off their top and stand with their back to you.

  • While your child is standing up straight, look for visible signs of scoliosis – do their shoulders, ribs, neck, waist and hips look symmetrical? Or do they appear to be skewed towards one side?

  • Now ask your child to bend forward at the waist.

  • Once your child is in the forward bending position, look at their back. Does one side of their rib cage look higher than the other?

While no body is perfectly symmetrical, any obvious unevenness that you notice may potentially be a sign of scoliosis. Again, we strongly recommend visiting a doctor if you are concerned that a spinal curvature may be present.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide effective non-surgical treatment for scoliosis sufferers of all ages. Click here to see before and after photos of our youngest patients, or get in touch today to arrange a consultation with us.

Sleeping with scoliosis

Getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge when you suffer from scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine). Some scoliosis patients are kept awake at night by the pain and discomfort that stems from their condition, while others simply struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position. Whatever the reason, scoliosis can often make it very difficult to nod off!

With that in mind, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic would like to share a few tips that we hope will help sleep-deprived scoliosis sufferers to rest a little more peacefully tonight:

1. Get the right mattress.

It’s important (even if you don’t suffer from scoliosis) to find a mattress that provides adequate support for your body while still providing a good level of comfort. You should ideally invest in a medium-to-firm mattress that doesn’t give too much when you lie down on it; if you use a mattress topper for extra comfort, try not to go any thicker than 2 or 3 inches as this will negate the support you’re getting from the mattress itself.

2. Don’t use too many pillows.

Resting your head on a large stack of pillows might sound inviting, but elevating your head too far off the mattress can put a lot of strain on your neck and upper spine. For this reason, it’s better to stick with a single pillow that’s not too thick.

That being said, those extra pillows can still come in handy: try using them for extra support in spots where your scoliosis is particularly painful / uncomfortable.

3. Find the right sleeping position.

It’s well worth taking the time to work out which sleeping position suits you best. Most people sleep on their side, although you may find that sleeping on your back is more comfortable as this spreads your body weight evenly across a larger surface. Sleeping on your front may not be such a good idea as this position forces your back and neck into a slightly unnatural position.

4. Take painkillers if needed (but speak to your doctor first).

While we don’t recommend becoming dependent on pain medication if you can possibly avoid it, you may find that certain low-level painkillers help you to nod off a little more easily at night. Visit your GP to discuss the best course of pain relief for your condition, especially if the pain is so severe that it is consistently keeping you awake at night.

5. Practice good sleep hygiene.

There are lots of bad habits that can make it harder to fall asleep (in addition to reducing the quality of what sleep you do get). These habits may well be exacerbating the difficulties your scoliosis is causing you, so here are a few rules that you should try to follow:

  • Stop looking at screens (your TV, your smartphone, etc.) at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or eat foods that trigger indigestion too close to bedtime.
  • Get lots of exercise during the day.
  • Try to go to bed at approximately the same time every night.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we aim to address every aspect of your condition via our unique ScolioGold treatment programme. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.

Rib Hump

Scoliosis is a condition characterised by an excessive sideways curvature of the spine and a variety of other symptoms. One of those symptoms is a visible rib hump, where one or more ribs protrude noticeably. Many patients first spot the signs of scoliosis through changes in their appearance, and a rib hump is a key sign to look out for. It is most obvious when the patient is bending forward.

Why does scoliosis cause a rib hump?

Thoracic scoliosis (a curvature of the spine in the upper half of the back) can cause the patient’s chest to twist into an unusual position. This can lead the chest, pelvis and hips to become misaligned, which in turn will create the recognisable scoliosis rib hump.

Whether your scoliosis bends to the left or right, the bend causes tightened muscles on one side and lax, lengthened muscles on the other. This causes the ribs on the concave side to press closer together, and the ribs on the opposite side to separate further. The rib hump can usually be seen at the point where the ribs are separated.

Can the rib hump be treated?

Most forms of scoliosis can be effectively treated through specialised physiotherapy and a regular, specific exercise programme; the patient’s rib hump will usually become less visible as treatment takes effect. If the patient is still growing, it is also possible to treat scoliosis (and the rib hump) through the use of bracing, as can be seen in this study by T. Thulbourne and R. Gillespie.

Exercises and stretches that strengthen the muscles on the side of the rib hump can help to reduce the appearance of the hump. Strengthening the muscles in the thoracic region plays a large part in reducing the overall curvature in the upper region of the back, too. Both stretching exercises and postural exercises can be beneficial for scoliosis sufferers, and can generally be done from the comfort of one’s own home.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer 4-week therapy courses using our own ScolioGold method, which utilises an array of different highly-specialised physiotherapy methods (including Schroth and SEAS) to treat every aspect of the condition. Click here to see the results that ScolioGold treatment can achieve.

Contact Scoliosis SOS today to book an initial consultation with our scoliosis consultants.

Surgery is often recommended once a scoliosis patient’s spinal curve has progressed beyond a certain point, and in the vast majority of cases, ‘surgery’ means spinal fusion surgery. This procedure involves joining two or more vertebrae together to prevent the patient’s curvature from growing; nowadays, this is usually achieved by fastening small metal screws called pedicle screws to the spine, then using a bone graft to ‘fuse’ the vertebrae together

However, while this procedure is still the standard surgical scoliosis treatment method in most parts of the world, there are a number of risks associated with spinal fusion. Though rare, the potential complications include:

  • Screws placed in the wrong positions
  • Screws breaking or coming loose
  • Dural lesion
  • Infection
  • Various neurological, pulmonary, and vascular complications

In response to the risks sometimes associated with spinal fusion, a number of other surgical scoliosis treatments have been developed, and some of these new techniques seem to becoming increasingly popular. Today, we’d like to look at three relatively new surgical procedures and why they’re potentially preferable to spinal fusion surgery.

Magnetically-controlled growing rods (MCGR)

Magnetically Controlled Growing Rods

Magnetically-controlled growing rods are already being used in more than 20 countries (including the UK and the USA) to treat scoliosis in children under the age of seven. During the MCGR procedure, the surgeon fastens titanium rods to the patient’s spine; these rods have a lengthening mechanism that can be operated magnetically, and after the operation itself, the patient attends a series of minimally-invasive ‘distraction’ procedures where a remote controller is used to lengthen the rods and correct the spinal curvature.

This effectively puts the doctor in control of the child’s scoliosis until they have finished growing.

 

Stapling and tethering

Spinal Tethering Operation

Vertebral body stapling (VBS) and vertebral body tethering (VBT) are two minimally-invasive procedures that are usually performed on scoliosis patients who are still growing (e.g. teenagers and pre-teens). VBS uses malleable metal staples to join two or more vertebrae together, while VBT uses pedicle screws attached to a flexible cable at the site of the curvature. VBS is recommended for thoracic curves of 25-35 degrees and lumbar curves under 45 degrees; VBT can be used to treat thoracic curves between 35-70 degrees.

Currently available only in the UK, the USA, India, Canada and New Zealand, the tethering and stapling procedures have no major reported complications and are generally less invasive than the more commonly-seen spinal fusion procedure.

Apifix

Apifix for Scoliosis

Apifix is a small implant that is attached to the spine using just two screws. No fusion is performed, and the procedure is not very invasive, leaving a far less visible scar than spinal fusion surgery.

Apifix Scar

This procedure is ideal for adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis, especially where the curve measures 40-60 degrees. Apifix is currently available in the USA, Israel, and across Europe.

Any surgery carries risks and complications, depending on the procedure and patient presentation. If you are looking for a non-surgical alternative to spinal fusion, please contact the Scoliosis SOS Clinic today. We use an exercise-based regime called ScolioGold to correct scoliosis without any surgical intervention whatsoever. We can also assist with recovery after undergoing scoliosis surgery.