Spondylosis

Spondylosis, also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease, is a painful condition caused by degeneration of the vertebrae within the spine. It can occur in the neck (cervical spondylosis), the upper back (thoracic spondylosis) or the lower back (lumbar spondylosis). In severe cases, it can also affect more than one region of the spine – this is known as multilevel spondylosis. 

The term spondylosis can be used to describe a range of different degenerative spinal conditions that can occur as a person ages. If you have been diagnosed with spondylosis, ask your GP what specific type of spondylosis you have, as this may determine the best treatment method(s) for your condition.

What causes spondylosis? 

Over many years, almost every part of your body is affected by general wear and tear. This includes your spine, and spondylosis is caused by the soft tissue in the spine (including spinal discs, muscles, tendons, cartilage and ligaments) deteriorating over time. This in turn can cause a deterioration of the spine that leads to stiffness and pain in the back.

Spondylosis can also be hereditary. That’s not to say you will definitely get spondylosis if a family member has it, but it may mean that your body is predisposed to spondylosis. There are several other factors that can increase your risk of developing spondylosis:

  • If you have a high BMI, this can put an increased level of strain on your spine, which may lead to quicker and further deterioration of the spine.

  • If you smoke, it can dehydrate the discs in your spine, causing more wear and tear and potentially leading to spondylosis. 

Can you prevent spondylosis? 

As spondylosis is predominantly caused by old age and can be hereditary in cases, it is difficult to prevent. However, certain lifestyle changes can be made to help decrease the chance of spondylosis developing. These include:

  • Regular Exercise – As hard as it can sometimes be to get to the gym, exercise is key to maintaining good general health. Weightlifting can also help to increase bone density.
  • Stretching Often – Stretching can help reduce any pressure placed on your spine from tension. Try to stretch every morning and regularly throughout the day.
  • Balanced Diet – You may be tired of hearing this one, but a balanced diet is necessary to a healthy life. Not only that, getting the vitamins your body needs helps look after your bone and can help your body to withstand wear and tear better.

Can spondylosis be treated?

Most of those diagnosed with spondylosis do not need to undergo surgery. In the majority of cases, the primary aim is to treat the pain caused by this condition. Here are some common treatment methods:

  • Physical Therapy – This treatment method helps to build back muscles and increase flexibility. Increased strength in the back can help decrease the pain caused by spondylosis.
  • Acupuncture – Often used to relieve back and neck pain, acupuncture involves inserting tiny needles into parts of the body in an effort to reduce the discomfort caused by spondylosis. 
  • Lifestyle Changes – As mentioned above, lifestyle changes such as losing weight and eating more nutritious food can help to improve spinal health. After a spondylosis diagnosis, it is especially important to maintain these positive habits.

If you suffer from spinal curvature as a result of spondylosis or a similar condition, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic may be able to help. Learn about our treatment courses or get in touch to arrange an initial consultation.

Harrington rods for scoliosis

If you suffer from scoliosis, you will probably have looked into the various treatment options for this condition. Today, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of one specific treatment method: spinal fusion surgery using Harrington rods.

What are Harrington rods?

Developed in the early 1960s by Dr Paul Harrington, the Harrington rod is a straight rod that contains a ratcheting mechanism. These rods are used in spinal fusion surgery to reduce the curvature of the patient’s spine.

The rod is positioned along the concavity (inside) of the spinal curve and attached to the spine using two hooks – one attached to a vertebra at the bottom of the curve and the other to a vertebra at top of the curve. Then, employing the ratcheting mechanism, the surgeon stretches the spine to straighten the curve and fuses into position.

Do Harrington rods help to correct scoliosis?

For 20 years, Harrington rods were seen at the ‘gold standard’ for spinal fusion surgery – if you underwent spinal fusion surgery before the year 2000, the surgeon most likely used Harrington rods. This procedure was routinely recommended for any patients with a spinal curve exceeding 45 degrees.

These days, however, there are a number of alternatives for scoliosis patients who require surgery. You can read about these more modern methods here.

Harrington rods have been successful in many cases of scoliosis, but they also come with a number of risks and limitations.

What are the risks and limitations of Harrington rods?

As with all surgical operations, there are risks involved with the procedure described above. This intrusive operation requires the surgeon to remove spinal discs and muscle so that the rod can be inserted and screwed onto the vertebrae. The spine is then bent forcefully and fused into that position. Infection is one possible complication – other potential risks include:

  • Bending and breaking of the rod
  • Hardware migration
  • Pseudoarthrosis
  • Flat back syndrome

Furthermore, this surgery is not recommended for patients whose spines are still growing. Performing a spinal fusion on a growing child can lead to a number of complications, such as the Crankshaft phenomenon. As young spines continue to grow there is a chance the spinal curve will also change, which may mean the rod will end up causing further complications.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

In some very severe cases, surgery is the only way to ensure that a spinal curve will not get any worse. In most cases, however, there are plenty of other scoliosis treatment methods available that do not involve intrusive, potentially risky surgical procedures.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we offer a non-surgical scoliosis treatment programme called ScolioGold therapy, which combines a number of effective techniques to improve patient’s condition. To see how effective non-surgical treatments can be, have a look at our results and see how we have reduced our patients’ Cobb angles without surgical intervention.

If you have any more questions about scoliosis surgery and how our non-surgical approach can help you with your back condition, please get in touch today.

Neck pain and computer use

Neck pain is strongly associated with excessive use of computers.

Office workers have a higher incidence of neck pain than people in any other occupation. However, the relationship between symptoms and risk factors is currently still unclear.

A recent research study was conducted by the University of Queensland to examine the relationship between self-reported neck pain and a range of individual and work-related factors. Office workers both with and without neck pain were recruited for the study.

All participants completed a survey, which included a numerical pain rating scale and such independent variables as:

  • Demographic
  • Individual
  • Work-related factors
  • Neck/shoulder muscle strength
  • Endurance
  • Range of motion

So what were the results of the study?

Neck pain was significantly associated with females in senior occupational roles and those working more than 6 hours a day on the computer, which resulted in a reduced cervical flexion.

Many of our patients here at Scoliosis SOS find that they struggle with being seated at a computer for long periods of time. There are lots of ways in which patients can adapt their seated position to ensure they stay in their corrected posture. We encourage patients to take regular breaks from their computers and ensure they know how to cope when working at a desk.

If you suffer from scoliosis or neck pain, please contact us today. Our experts can offer advice, treatment and a spinal/ergonomic assessment.

Children's scoliosis treatment

Here’s what we always tell the parents of children with scoliosis: the sooner we are able to start your child’s scoliosis exercises, the better our chance of preventing further progression and avoiding the need for spinal fusion surgery.

However, in order for the exercises to be effective, the patient must be old enough to follow simple instructions and actively work on certain muscle groups.

We have successfully treated many young children from the age of 4 upwards. Younger children may benefit from some hands-on manipulation and massage therapy, but they cannot reap all the benefits of our ScolioGold programme because they are less able to follow our therapists’ instructions and carry out all of the necessary exercises.

Keep a close eye on your child’s back as they go through their teenage years

In most cases, the question of whether or not the patient is old enough to undergo scoliosis treatment never arises. Scoliosis normally doesn’t become apparent until a child goes through puberty; the appearance of a spinal curve usually coincides with the major growth spurt that tends to occur at this stage of a person’s life.

Still, while it is far less common, scoliosis can also be present from birth. This is known as either congenital scoliosis or neuromuscular scoliosis. In these cases, patients are often braced from a very young age to prevent progression as much as possible.

Key signs and symptoms

Back pain is a common complaint in both children and adults with scoliosis. The NHS outlines several other signs to look out for:

  • A visibly curved spine
  • Leaning to one side
  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder or hip sticking out
  • Ribs sticking out on one side
  • Clothes not fitting well

Compliance is important

The results achieved through our ScolioGold exercises are strongly dependent on the patient’s commitment and compliance. This is something that varies based on the child’s personality; if you’re wondering whether or not your child is old enough for a Scoliosis SOS treatment course, you should also consider whether or not they would be happy to follow our instructions.

ScolioGold exercises are repetitive and easy enough for children to follow. Shorter, specially-tailored exercise programmes are available for younger patients based on their maturity level. These programmes aim to turn treatment into play to help engage little ones during their therapy.

If you have any concerns regarding your son/daughter’s spine, please contact Scoliosis SOS online or call 0207 488 4428 to arrange a radiation-free spinal scan.

Sciatica is a fairly broad medical term that usually refers to a painful or tingling sensation in and around the legs. Up to 43% of the population will experience sciatica at some point in their lives, although this depends on how strictly you define the condition.

What does sciatica feel like?

Different people experience different sensations when suffering from sciatica. Some experience stabbing or shooting pains, while others describe the feeling as numb and tingly, not unlike pins and needles.

These sensations may occur in any of the following body parts:

  • Legs (especially the backs of the legs)
  • Feet
  • Buttocks
  • Back

Sciatica usually affects just one side of the body, but it has been known to cause pain / numbness in both sides.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica

Sciatica arises when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the hip down through the leg, is irritated. This can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including (but not limited to):

  • A herniated spinal disc (‘slipped disc’)
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Pregnancy
  • Trauma (e.g. from a car crash or sporting accident)

Can scoliosis cause sciatica?

Yes, it can. While sciatica isn’t one of the more common symptoms of scoliosis, the two conditions can occur simultaneously, and in some cases, the patient’s spinal curve may indeed be the underlying cause of their sciatica.

There are a number of ways in which a curved spine may lead to sciatica (or symptoms that are virtually indistinguishable from sciatica). The most common causes are:

  • Pinched nerve – When the spine curves and twists out of its normal position, it may press up against the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain or a loss of feeling.

  • Putting more weight on one leg than the other – An individual with a twisted spine may end up walking differently, shifting more weight onto one leg to compensate for the change in their posture. While this in itself won’t result in sciatica, the overburdened leg may begin to feel painful after a while, and this pain may be mistaken for sciatica.

In other cases, the patient’s scoliosis and their sciatica may both be caused by the same underlying condition. As mentioned above, spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis are known to cause sciatica, and both conditions can result in a curvature of the spine as well. To read about how stenosis and spondylolisthesis are linked to scoliosis, click on the corresponding links above.

If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort as a result of scoliosis, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help. Our ScoliGold treatment method has proven extremely effective in the treatment of patients with curved spines – get in touch now to arrange a consultation.

Horseback riding with scoliosis

The Grand National horse race is fast approaching, and this always raises a lot of questions for our scoliosis patients who are keen riders.

Horse riding is a very enjoyable hobby, and one that many ScolioGold patients are very passionate about. However, it can cause problems due to the high impact placed on the rider’s lower spine.

Can I still ride a horse if I have scoliosis?

The advice we give to all of our patients is that they never have to give up on the things they are passionate about. The simple answer is to ensure that you exercise properly in order to maintain a strong core. This should give you the ability to support the spine in a balanced symmetric position.

We also recommend that our patients pay attention to their hip position and keep an even weight across their pelvis. This can be a challenge for scoliosis patients, who often have one hip higher than the other (which causes uneven weight distribution). However, this can be corrected through specific ScolioGold exercises and strengthening the muscles surrounding the spine.

Did you know?

Horse riding is actually recommended by many health professionals, as it can encourage good posture and promote a strong core when done correctly.

Scoliosis patient and horse

People we’ve helped

We have treated lots of horse riders with scoliosis. One of them – Rosie from Twickenham – was featured in her local newspaper (see clipping above) after we helped her to overcome the pain and discomfort that was threatening to put her out of the saddle for good.

Another keen rider, Madhav, travelled to London from Kolkata to undergo treatment at our clinic. Watch the video below to hear his story.

If you have any further questions about scoliosis and how it may affect your ability to ride, please contact Scoliosis SOS today and we will be able to offer you help and advice, either in person or over the phone (our number is 0207 488 4428).

40 Degree Scoliosis

While even a minor spinal curvature can have a huge impact on an individual’s life, scoliosis tends to be particularly problematic when the curve measures 40 degrees or more.

As we’ve explained previously in our guide to Cobb angle measurements, UK medical professionals usually recommend surgery when a scoliosis patient’s spinal curve reaches 40 degrees (although in some other countries, the threshold is 50 degrees instead). Spinal fusion remains by far the most commonly-used surgical method for correcting curvatures of the spine, and so this is the procedure that most people with 40-degree scoliosis end up undergoing.

READ MORE: What Happens During Scoliosis Surgery?

 

Is there an alternative to surgery for people with 40-degree scoliosis?

While surgery is the most frequently-recommended treatment option for spinal curves measuring 40+ degrees, it is not the only path available.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we often treat scoliosis patients with curves of 40 degrees and up, and we have consistently found that our non-surgical, exercise-based treatment programme can eliminate the need for surgical intervention altogether.

VIEW TREATMENT RESULTS: Before & After X-Rays

 

Case Study: Ahda from Malaysia

Ahda Khalil, a 12-year-old girl from Malaysia, came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in late 2016 because she didn’t want to undergo surgery for her condition. Ahda’s scoliosis had already passed the 40-degree mark, and several surgeons in Kuala Lumpur had told her family that surgery was the only viable option, but after conducting some research on the Internet they travelled to London and Ahda completed a ScolioGold treatment course under the supervision of our highly-trained physiotherapists.

If you’d like to hear the full story, please watch this video interview with Ahda and her father:

 

How do we treat 40-degree scoliosis?

The ScolioGold method incorporates a number of proven non-surgical techniques into a wide-ranging treatment programme that’s specifically tailored to the needs of people with scoliosis (and other curvatures of the spine).

Here are just a few of the methods we currently utilise on our scoliosis treatment courses:

If you would like to book a Scoliosis SOS consultation for yourself or a loved one, please fill out our online form or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

Running a marathon

The London Marathon is fast approaching, and if you’re preparing to take part in the run, it’s even more important than usual for you to look after your back.

Back issues can result from all manner of activity and inactivity. Lots of runners experience lower back pain; this is due to the repetitive stress and impact on the body for a significant stretch of time.

If all the bones in the vertebrae and the other vertebral articulations are functioning well, then running should not cause any problems. It is when these vertebrae are aggravated that runners experience back pain.

Lower back pain is common among new runners and runners who have come back too strong and too quickly after taking some time off.

What back problems do runners most commonly experience?

  1. Muscular pain that comes on suddenly in the lower back is indicative of a muscle spasm. Your muscles will feel very tight, and the pain can be extremely severe and debilitating in some cases. This type of pain does not cause a shooting sensation, and can be corrected through ScolioGold exercises.

  2. Pain shooting down the back of one or both legs indicates a trapped nerve, often known as sciatica. Sciatica can cause a great deal of discomfort and will need to be fully assessed to determine the best form of treatment.

How to avoid back pain from running

To prevent back pain, it’s important to work on strength and flexibility all the way through your kinetic chain. Your spinal muscles are supported by your core – having a strong core is essential, and this is where our ScolioGold therapists come in. Asking your ScolioGold therapist to teach you core-strengthening exercises will be highly beneficial to your overall health.

Tightness or weakness in your glutes, hips, quads and hamstrings will also have an impact on the muscles in your lower back, putting more strain on those muscles and setting them up for a spasm.

At Scoliosis SOS, we always advise our patients to continue with their hobbies and other things they enjoy doing – they just need to do exercises that are specifically tailored to them to compensate for any potentially problematic activities. Building a strong core and balanced muscles will significantly reduce your chance of injury.

If you are trying to prevent lower back pain or spinal injuries whilst you run or train for a marathon, make an appointment with one of the Scoliosis SOS Clinic’s specialist therapists today. Contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

Scoliosis Walking

As those with scoliosis may well know, a curvature of the spine doesn’t just affect your back – it can also affect other parts of your body. This includes the hips and legs, which can sometimes lead to a change in the way you walk.

Today we will look at how scoliosis affects walking, the causes behind this, and what can be done to rectify it.

How does scoliosis affect walking?

A sideways curvature of the spine can sometimes cause the hips to misalign. This misalignment can cause one leg to appear shorter than the other, affecting the patient’s gait. They also may be restricted while they are walking, as scoliosis sometimes causes stiffness and impairs overall mobility.

In severe cases of scoliosis, the knock-on effects of the spinal curvature can disrupt the coordination between the leg muscles. This also stiffens the muscles and makes it difficult to walk with ease. This is usually due to the degeneration of the spine applying excessive pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.

Treating scoliosis-related walking problems

There are a variety of ways to treat scoliosis and resolve any associated walking problems. The best method of treatment usually depends on the severity of the curvature – here’s a look at some of the most popular scoliosis treatment methods:

  • Bracing – Bracing is often the first port of call when treating a case of scoliosis, especially if the patient is young and their body is still growing. A rigid brace is used to halt the progression of the curvature while the patient finishes growing. Further treatment may be necessary later on.

  • Specialised physiotherapy – Physical therapy is a popular non-surgical method for treating scoliosis. It combines a mixture of exercises, orthotics, stretches, massages, and – in some cases, including that of our own ScolioGold treatment programme – hydrotherapy. A comprehensive physical therapy programme can help to reduce the curvature of the patient’s spine and improve their overall quality of life.

  • Surgery – Surgery is usually the last option given to the patient and is reserved for extreme cases. The operation may involve spinal fusion or magnetic growth rods, depending on the age of the patient (and where in the world they live).

Each of these treatments can help towards fixing a scoliosis patient’s walking problems; it is up to you to decide which method is right for you.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we specialise in the non-surgical approach to scoliosis treatment. Our clinic, based in London, provides intensive physiotherapy courses which aim to improve the curvature of your spine. We have treated patients from all over the world for over a decade, and we are very proud of the results we achieve.

To see the results of our ScolioGold treatment courses, browse our ‘Before & After’ photo gallery here.

If you’re interested in attending a ScolioGold course, please contact us today to book an initial consultation.

Medical professionals use a mind-boggling array of different terms to refer to scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine. On this blog, we frequently aim to put some of this arcane diagnostic jargon into layman’s terms – see our posts on levoconvex scoliosis and thoracic hyperkyphosis, for example.

The tricky medical term that we’d like to look at today is thoracogenic scoliosis. At first glance, this phrase may look like it means the same thing as thoracic scoliosis – that is, a sideways curve in the ‘thoracic’ (upper/middle) region of your backbone.

But don’t be tripped up! Thoracogenic scoliosis is a far more specific term than thoracic scoliosis, and they should not be used interchangeably.

So what is thoracogenic scoliosis?

According to the Scoliosis Research Society’s Revised Glossary of Terms, thoracogenic scoliosis is a “spinal curvature attributable to disease or operative trauma in or on the thoracic cage”.

In simpler terms, thoracogenic scoliosis is what we call a spinal curve that was caused by either surgery or a disease in the thoracic region (that is, the part of the body that’s highlighted in the image below).

Thoracic Spine

This raises another question…

What can cause thoracogenic scoliosis?

There are several diseases and operations that can trigger the development of scoliosis. Here are just a couple of examples:

  • Thoracotomy (surgical operation). A thoracotomy involves opening up the patient’s chest, usually to access vital organs such as the heart or lungs. Scoliosis very rarely results from a thoracotomy, but it can happen, as in this case where the patient developed scoliosis post-surgery as the result of her rib fusion.

  • Lymphoma (disease). Cancers such as lymphoma may, if they grow large enough, disrupt the spine and push it into a curved / skewed position.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat all types of scoliosis in patients of all ages. Click here to learn about our treatment methods, or if you’d like to arrange an initial consultation, please contact us today.