Although it is estimated that over 4% of individuals have some degree of scoliosis, many people have never heard of (or know very little about) this condition. 
 
Scoliosis Treatment Diagrams
Image Source: Arallyn on Flickr
 
Whether you have just been diagnosed or are simply looking to find out a little bit more about scoliosis, we thought that it would be a good idea to provide a short history of scoliosis so as to allow our patients and other visitors to find out more about mankind’s understanding of scoliosis and how this has progressed over the years.

Scoliosis in Ancient Greece

Although our sophisticated understanding of scoliosis, what causes it, and how to treat it is a rather modern development, knowledge of the condition can be traced back to ancient civilisations, and is well-documented by ancient Greek scholars. Hippocrates wrote about spinal curvature throughout his medical literature, although there was no clear distinction between different types of curve at this time. He even developed treatment methods and devices for spinal correction, the most well-known being his ‘Hippocratic ladder’ and ‘Hippocratic board’.
 
This research was furthered by Galen in the 2nd century AD, who is considered to be an early pioneer of spinal research, and who is said to have first coined the term σκολίωσις/sκoliosis (from which the modern term derives). 

Ambroise Paré’s Scoliosis Brace 

The modern Boston bace (designed circa 1972 in Massachusetts) is widely used to treat idiopathic scoliosis, particularly in children, by halting curve progression. The concept of bracing for scoliosis, however, has been around far longer than the 1970s, with Ambroise Paré suggesting the use of a metallic brace for spinal correction during the Renaissance era. Known as the ‘Father of Modern Surgery’, Paré was the first to use continuous bracing as a form of treatment for scoliosis, and was also the first to recognise that this was not useful once the patient had reached maturity. Despite his insistence on the bracing method, Paré never rejected traction therapy, continuing to use this in his treatments, and also insisting on the importance of exercise for healthy spinal development and curve correction.

The Development of Cobb Angle Measurement 

Cobb Angle Measurements
 
The system used nowadays to measure scoliosis and post-traumatic kyphosis is known as the Cobb angle, which acts as a guide for assessing the severity of a patient’s curve. This method was devised by and named after John Robert Cobb, an American orthopaedic surgeon who worked at what was then known as the ‘Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled’ from 1934 onwards. It was here that Cobb experimented with and developed his scoliosis assessment method as a way of better understanding the condition and avoiding unnecessary surgery.
 
Would you like to find out more about non-surgical scoliosis treatment? Visit our treatment page to read about the ScolioGold method we use here at Scoliosis SOS, or get in touch with us here.
Exercise is important for scoliosis sufferers – in addition to being good for your overall health, the right kind of physical activity helps to strengthen the muscles that may have been weakened by the curvature of your spine. However, some exercises can have a negative, even dangerous impact on a scoliotic spine, and if you have scoliosis, it’s good to know which stretches and exercises might do you more harm than good.
 
We at Scoliosis SOS have a lot of experience when it comes to treating scoliosis and other spinal conditions, and our physiotherapists understand exactly how a curved spine can be affected by different movements and extensions. Today, we’d like to highlight some exercises that scoliosis patients are better off avoiding.

Positions and exercises to avoid if you have scoliosis 

Lumber Hyper Extension

Lumbar Hyper-Extension

It’s important to avoid any position which will exert excessive force to the lower back through extension. This will encourage compression of the lumbar spine, and is especially dangerous if you have an underlying spinal problem such as spondylolisthesis.
 
Thoracic Rotation

Uncontrolled Thoracic Rotation

You should avoid any prolonged positions where your upper trunk is rotated above your lower trunk as in the images above. This will apply inadvertent torsion and twisting forces to your spine – especially critical when looking at scoliotic rotation. 
 
Hyperflexion of the Neck

Hyperflexion of Neck

Positions such as the one shown above apply excessive strain to the small vertebrae in your neck; if you have scoliosis, this will also place increased weight and strain through the weaker parts of your spine, potentially causing your spinal curve to increase. 
 
Back Bend

Back Bends

Similar to hyperextension of the lower back (see above), this position will put undue stress and strain on your spine, and may cause your spinal curve to become even more severe.
 
If you want to learn more about which scoliosis exercises to avoid, or if you’re interested in receiving treatment here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Dorsal Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a sideways curving of the spine. The term dorsal scoliosis refers to any such curvature of the spine that occurs between the bottom of the neck and the top of the pelvis. The word ‘dorsal’ simply means ‘back’ (from the Latin dorsum), and as such, dorsal scoliosis is quite a vague diagnosis. Some medical practitioners refer to the ‘dorsal spine’, which encompasses both the thoracic vertebrae (the vertebrae attached to your ribs) and the lumbar vertebrae (the vertebrae between the rib cage and the pelvis). It is therefore more common and more informative for doctors to diagnose a patient with either thoracic scoliosis or lumbar scoliosis depending on where the spinal curve is located.

Symptoms of thoracic / lumbar scoliosis

Common symptoms of thoracic and lumbar scoliosis include:
  • Uneven shoulders, waist and hips
  • Body leaning to one side 
  • Uneven rib cage alignment 
  • One shoulder blade being more prominent than the other 
  • One arm being longer than the other 

How can scoliosis be treated? 

Scoliosis is often treated using a method known as bracing – the patient wears a rigid plastic shell for 23 hours of the day to stop their spinal curve from progressing. In severe cases, spinal fusion surgery – a surgical procedure that involves the use of metal rods to fix and straighten the spine – may be recommended. However, these are not the only ways to treat scoliosis. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we believe that the best way to treat is non-surgically, and so we treat our patients using the Schroth method and a combination of other exercise-based techniques that have been tested and proven to combat the effects of scoliosis. We call this the ScolioGold method. If you’re looking for scoliosis treatment that doesn’t involve a back brace or surgery, please contact us to find out more.
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: