Pain Caused by Scoliosis
You might think it obvious that a curvature of the spine such as scoliosis should cause pain. However, most medical professionals agree that the curve itself is not what makes scoliosis painful – instead, the symptoms that arise as a result of the curvature are what tend to cause patients pain.

Why does scoliosis cause back pain? 

Scoliosis may result in back pain because it can place stress or pressure on the patient’s spinal discs, nerves, ligaments, muscles and/or facet joints. ‘S’-shaped scoliosis is typically less painful than ‘C’-shaped scoliosis because the curvature is balanced more evenly.
Furthermore, if the spinal curvature is severe enough, the back muscles may also become more prone to painful spasms; these can cause the surrounding muscles to become inflamed, another potential source of pain.

Can scoliosis cause leg pain? 

Many scoliosis patients report feeling pain in their legs and wonder if this pain is caused by scoliosis. If the curvature is so severe that it causes misalignment of the hips, this can change how the patient walks and may make the muscles tire sooner as the body has to over-compensate in order to maintain balance.
Scoliosis is also associated with lumbar stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal). This can sometimes result in leg pain and nerve irritation.

What other pain can be caused by scoliosis? 

If one’s spinal curvature becomes too severe (typically above 80 degrees), this can lead to breathing/cardiovascular issues. This happens when the spinal curve causes the rib cage to twist, which in turn reduces the amount of space available for the lungs and heart. The rib cage may also then push up against the internal organs, which could cause yet more pain. 
However, scoliosis itself is still not thought to directly cause pain, especially in infants and adolescents. If you do find that you are experiencing chronic pain as a result of your scoliosis, there are treatments available to help you with this; here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we offer non-surgical treatment courses to help scoliosis patients reduce pain and combat other symptoms of spinal curvature.
To book your initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS, please click here.

Doctors and other medical professionals use a lot of long words when describing scoliosis, to the point where some patients find it difficult to know exactly what they’re being diagnosed with. You probably know that scoliosis is a sideways spinal curve, but would you understand what the doctor meant if – for example – they told you that you had mild thoracic dextroscoliosis?

To help you better grasp the terminology associated with scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine, we’d like to take a moment to break that mouthful down. If you want to know what ‘mild thoracic dextroscoliosis’ actually means, read on…

Mild

Let’s start with the easy bit. The word ‘mild’ indicates that, as things stand, your spinal curve is not especially severe – although it may get worse over time. A mild case of scoliosis may not be visible to the casual observer, although other symptoms may still be present.

What counts as a ‘mild’ spinal curve?

Generally speaking, if your Cobb angle measurement is 20 degrees or less, you can be said to have ‘mild’ scoliosis (bear in mind that a curve of less than 10 degrees would not be classed as scoliosis at all). Note that the word ‘mild’ here only refers to the angle of the curve – a person with mild scoliosis may still experience a significant amount of pain, reduced flexibility, etc.

Thoracic

The next word is ‘thoracic’, which simply means that your spinal curve is located in the upper (thoracic) part of the spine, coloured red in the diagram below.

If your curve is located in the lower part of the spine, you are said to have ‘lumbar’ scoliosis. When the curve encompasses vertebrae from both the thoracic and lumbar spine, that’s called thoracolumbar scoliosis.

Dextroscoliosis

Finally, we come to the longest word of the three: ‘dextroscoliosis’. This term is taken from the Latin word dexter, which simply means ‘right’ (as in the opposite of left); therefore, if you have a case of dextroscoliosis, you have a spine that curves to the right.

As the image above shows, scoliosis that curves towards the left side of the body is known as levoscoliosis. If you’re ever struggling to remember which is which, just remember that ‘levoscoliosis’ and ‘left’ both begin with the letter L.

Now, let’s put it all together…

What does ‘mild thoracic dextroscoliosis’ mean?

If you have mild thoracic dextroscoliosis, you have:

  • A spinal curve measuring 10-20 degrees
  • …in the upper (thoracic) part of your spine…
  • …that curves towards the right side of your body.

If you have been diagnosed with mild thoracic dextroscoliosis and require treatment, simply click above to book your consultation. For further information on dextroscoliosis or if you have questions regarding our treatments, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

Case Study: Anna, aged 36

Anna has a mild case of scoliosis, but that doesn’t stop her feeling self-conscious about her condition. At the time when she came to us for treatment, she was about to get married. Despite only having a mild case of scoliosis, that might not have even been detectable to others, Anna knew that her scoliosis curvature would be playing on her mind throughout her big day. Our treatments helped her feel confident enough to wear her backless wedding dress! 

Watch our full interview with Anna here:

Global Scoliosis Population
Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with scoliosis or merely suspect that you may be suffering from a curvature of the spine, it’s likely that you’ll have many questions about the condition, especially if you’ve heard little about it until now. For example, many people ask how common scoliosis is, and this is a question to which there is no single or clear answer.
Despite this, we can provide some information about the prevalence of scoliosis in people of all ages, along with data about how often those spinal curves go on to cause further medical problems.

So, how common is scoliosis? 

Approximately 4 out of every 100 people have scoliosis. However, not every case of scoliosis causes pain, nor does it necessarily impact the patient’s mobility or appearance. In fact, many cases are asymptomatic (i.e. there are no immediately obvious symptoms), with the condition being diagnosed only once a mild skeletal imbalance is noticed.
For some sufferers, however, the curvature gets progressively worse as time passes, with secondary medical issues and complications arising as a result.

Who does scoliosis affect?

Scoliosis is more likely to affect women than men, and so there are more female than male scoliosis sufferers. There is no clear reason for this bias, although multiple theories have been proposed.
With regards to age, scoliosis can develop at any time of life, from birth to old age; more often than not, however, it develops during adolescence, roughly coinciding with the growth spurts that occur between the ages of 10 and 15.

Which types of scoliosis are most common?

The question ‘how common is scoliosis?’ becomes more complicated when you consider the many different types of scoliosis that exist. Idiopathic scoliosis is by far the condition’s most common form, but you may be more at risk of developing another type of scoliosis if you have other medical problems, such as a neuromuscular condition or an illness that weakens your muscles and/or bones.
The most common location in which scoliosis occurs is the upper/middle section of the back (thoracic scoliosis), although many patients suffer with lumbar (lower back) scoliosis instead.

How common is severe scoliosis?

Around 0.2% of people have a scoliotic spinal curve measuring in excess of 30 degrees; only 0.1% percent have a Cobb angle exceeding 40 degrees. Treatment is usually recommended before the curve gets as far as 40 degrees – this treatment may consist of physical therapy, preventative measures (such as bracing), and/or corrective surgery (usually reserved for the most severe cases).
It is important to note that scoliosis is not considered to be a fatal condition. The curve caused by scoliosis cannot directly result in an individual’s death; that being said, there are some secondary risks which can occur as a result of the condition, resulting in complications for a very small number of patients.
Do you have more questions about scoliosis? Click here to learn about our non-surgical treatment methods, or get in touch to arrange a consultation with Scoliosis SOS.
In most cases of scoliosis, the curve either occurs in the upper part of the spine (a thoracic curve) or the lower part of the spine (a lumbar curve). It may also occur in the middle of the spine and include both thoracic and lumbar vertebrae – this is called a thoracolumbar curve. However, in some cases, the upper part of the spine will curve in one direction while the lower spine curves in the other. This creates a ‘double’ curvature with the appearance of a letter ‘S’.

S Shaped Scoliosis

Examples of ‘S’-shaped spines.

Causes & Symptoms of Double Scoliosis

The exact cause of double curve scoliosis is unknown, but this condition is not uncommon, nor is it life-threatening. While both curves will usually be of roughly equal size, a double scoliosis patient’s Cobb angles may be anywhere from 10 degrees to 100 degrees. Symptoms of ‘S’-shaped scoliosis may include:
  • One of your hips or shoulders being higher than the other
  • One of your shoulder blades being higher or sticking out further than the other
  • A rib hump (if your scoliosis has caused your chest to become twisted)
  • One arm appearing to be longer than the other because of a tilt in your upper body
As this spinal condition progresses, back pain can develop and the curvature can put pressure on your nerves. This can lead to weakness, numbness and pain in your legs, and may even cause a loss of coordination in the muscles of the legs, making it difficult to walk. In severe cases, the patient’s lungs or heart may be affected, leading to breathing problems and heart failure. Luckily, such extreme outcomes are very rare even if you do have an ‘S’-shaped spine.

Treating ‘S’-Shaped Scoliosis 

In order to halt the progression of double curve scoliosis, you may be required to wear a brace or undergo spinal fusion surgery. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, however, we treat scoliosis suffers using a non-surgical, brace-free treatment programme called ScolioGold – a combination of non-surgical scoliosis treatment techniques from around the world.  ScolioGold therapy is designed to treat all aspects of each patient’s spinal condition with no need for surgical intervention. For more information about our scoliosis treatment courses, or to book an initial consultation, contact Scoliosis SOS today!
Scoliosis explained
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with scoliosis and your spinal curvature is – for the moment – still relatively small, you may be wondering how your condition will affect you as it progresses (i.e. as the curve becomes more pronounced).
As your Cobb angle increases, the curve in your spine may impact your day-to-day life in a variety of different ways. However, please bear in mind that no two cases of scoliosis are completely identical, and some symptoms that appear prominently in one patient may not appear at all in the next! There is no guarantee that you will experience all of the below effects if your spinal curve continues to grow; the aim of this list is to give newly-diagnosed scoliotics a general idea of what to expect as the condition progresses.

How will scoliosis affect my appearance?

Scoliosis examples
The visual symptoms of scoliosis include:
  • Visibly curved back
  • Leaning to one side
  • Shoulders sitting at different heights
  • Uneven hips/waist/legs
  • One shoulder blade / one side of the rib cage protruding more prominently than the other
The visibility of these symptoms varies hugely from one patient to the next, although a greater curve will generally result in more immediately visible prominences and unevenness.

What will scoliosis feel like as it progresses?

As your curve grows, you may experience any or all of the following physical symptoms (again, severity varies massively from one case to the next):
  • Back pain
  • Pain in other parts of the body (e.g. legs, neck)
  • Reduced flexibility
  • Muscular imbalance (i.e. a weakening of the muscles on one side of the body)
  • Compromised breathing

How will scoliosis affect my everyday life?

Mild cases of scoliosis usually don’t have a significant impact on the patient’s mobility – it is reasonably rare for scoliosis to become so advanced that it qualifies as a disability. However, while you should be able to get around without too much difficulty, your spinal curvature may cause problems if you participate in sports (or other physically demanding pursuits) on a regular basis. As noted above, scoliosis can limit flexibility/range of movement and create a noticeable muscular imbalance, and these symptoms can be hugely detrimental to one’s performance in certain sports.
If you experience pain as a result of your spinal curve, you may need to start taking pain relief medication as it grows larger. The type and strength of the painkillers you take will depend on the degree of pain you are feeling – be sure to consult your GP if necessary, as they will be able to prescribe certain medications that are not available over the counter. Chronic pain can have a significant impact on a person’s overall quality of life, making it harder to work, socialise and relax, but taking pain relief medication can help to minimise that impact (although most painkillers come with risks and side-effects of their own).
Most of the above symptoms/effects of scoliosis can be halted, minimised, or even eliminated completely through proper treatment. Treatment options include bracing, surgery, and physical therapy programmes such as the ScolioGold treatment courses we provide here at Scoliosis SOS – click here to find out more.