Scoliosis Symptoms
 
Scoliosis is a debilitating condition that often has a very adverse impact on the lives of those it affects, which is why it is important that the scoliosis symptoms are spotted early. Many scoliotics suffer from chronic pain, limited flexibility, and muscular imbalance, and more severe cases of spinal curvature can even lead to even harsher scoliosis symptoms, such as compromised breathing. Furthermore, the medical treatments that some scoliosis sufferers undergo in order to correct their curved spines frequently make for rather unpleasant experiences; back braces can be uncomfortable and restrictive, while spinal fusion surgery is a daunting prospect that carries several risks and tends to necessitate a long recovery period even when it goes perfectly.
However, it is possible to avoid all of this hardship, and your chances of doing so are greatly increased if your scoliosis symptoms are spotted, diagnosed, and treated as early as possible – that is, before the curve has a chance to progress too far. In order to spot spinal problems early and nip them in the bud (so to speak), you need to know the early scoliosis symptoms and act as soon as you notice them developing. Here are some of the main scoliosis symptoms to look out for:
  • Shoulders sitting at different heights
  • One shoulder blade being noticeably more prominent than the other
  • Body leaning to one side
  • Uneven hips, legs, waist, and/or rib cage
Many people worry that they have scoliosis because they experience chronic back pain. However, as discussed here, back pain alone is not a reliable indicator that scoliosis is present (although it is certainly worth seeking treatment for back pain, regardless!).
 

What should I do if I notice these scoliosis symptoms?

If you or your child display any of the scoliosis symptoms listed above, you would be well advised to attend a scoliosis screening as soon as possible. It may be nothing to worry about, but if these symptoms are traced back to scoliosis or a similar spinal condition, early detection will give you (or your child) the best possible chance of beating the condition with minimal difficulty.
 
 

Case Study: Sara from Hertfordshire

Sara is a nine-year-old girl from Hitchin who came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic shortly after being diagnosed with scoliosis. Sara’s family had a history of scoliosis, including her brother who needed scoliosis surgery. Due to this, Sara’s mother was on the lookout for scoliosis symptoms in Sara and as soon as she noticed the symptoms in her daughters back, she took her for a consultation. Sara was then diagnosed with a 17-degree curvature in her spine.
Even though 17 degrees is not the most debilitating case of scoliosis, Sara’s mother recognised the need to improve her daughter’s condition before the curvature had the chance to progress even further and cause more severe scoliosis symptoms. Eager to avoid the same path Sara’s brother had taken with scoliosis surgery, Sara’s mother decided to bring her to our Scoliosis SOS clinic for physical therapy.
They decided to split up the course into two-week bouts at different times to fit around Sara’s schooling. Sara found she was a bit nervous at first but became accustomed to the course after the first couple of days. After the first two weeks, Sara and her mother continued practicing the exercises at home which made it easier for Sara when she returned for another 2 weeks.
After the completion of the course, they had some incredible results and found that the Cobbs angle had been reduced from 17 degrees to just 7.
 
 
“The therapists are nice and friendly, and really help you get on the way to straightening your back.”
– Sara, 9 years old
 
Sara’s story proves that keeping an eye out for the early symptoms of scoliosis can prove incredibly beneficial in the long run. The sooner you spot the spinal condition, the quicker and more efficiently it can be treated. 
 
If you would like to book a scoliosis consultation for yourself or a loved one, please call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428 or get in touch here. Consultations can be conducted via Skype or over the phone if you are unable to attend our clinic in person.
How we helped a woman with tricuspid atresia to manage her spinal curve
Katrina
Congenital heart disease (CHD) can manifest itself in a number of different ways. For example, people born with tricuspid atresia – an absence of the heart’s tricuspid valve – frequently experience fatigue, shortness of breath, and cyanosis (where the skin assumes a bluish tinge due to poor circulation).
Pertinently for us here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, tricuspid atresia can also be accompanied by curvature of the spine. Some years ago (when our clinic was still located in Suffolk), we treated a woman named Katrina – pictured above – who suffered from both tricuspid atresia and scoliosis. Katrina, who was in her twenties at the time, had undergone spinal fusion surgery as a teenager in the hope that this would correct her spinal curve; however, she received no further treatment or physiotherapy after the operation, and her curve subsequently began to progress once again. By 2007, she was experiencing constant pain and difficulty walking. Her scoliosis was even affecting her lung capacity – particularly problematic when you’ve already got a heart condition.
Katrina had all but abandoned hope of overcoming her scoliosis, but our ScolioGold treatment programme proved to be an effective solution, succeeding where spinal fusion surgery had failed her. Our exercise-based course helped Katrina to manage her spinal condition and dramatically improve her quality of life – here’s what she herself said in an article for GUCH News (issue 58, published spring 2009):
“The course taught me how to manage my condition and to maintain my corrected posture without the help of a therapist…I now visit the clinic every 12 weeks for a refresher and to learn new exercises. I am able to speak to the therapists at any time if I need advice or have any problems.
“I am very lucky to have the clinic so close to me, however I advise anyone who has scoliosis and may be looking for further advice to ring the clinic and see what they can offer you…if you live far enough away they can provide self-catering accommodation nearby.”
– Katrina Clarke, ‘My Experience at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic’
Scoliosis can be caused by any number of different factors; in fact, very often, the cause is not even clear (this is known as idiopathic scoliosis). Scoliosis sufferers with congenital heart defects are just one subset of our diverse patient base, and we are capable of providing effective non-surgical treatment for a wide variety of different spinal conditions at any time of life.
To learn more about our ScolioGold treatment courses and book an initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS, please contact us today.
Spinal Treatment
When seeking out non-surgical treatments for scoliosis, it’s easy to feel somewhat overwhelmed and confused by the number of approaches which exist, particularly when their aims appear to be so similar. Physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths…what do all of these practitioners actually do? How do their methods differ from one another? Are these titles all just different names for the same thing? These are common questions among scoliosis sufferers and other individuals seeking out physical therapy.
In order to clear up some confusion, we thought we’d outline the details of each approach and highlight their similarities and differences. To begin, it’s probably easiest to discuss the aims and practices of each treatment method individually:

Physiotherapy

The primary aim of physiotherapy is to enable function and movement in the body, often after an accident, illness, or other form of trauma. A combination of massage, exercise and movement is used to restore the body of the patient, improving their physical ability and preventing further damage/progression. Physiotherapy is often used to treat and aid recovery from several conditions, from injuries impacting the joints and soft tissues to those affecting the brain, heart and lungs.

Chiropractic

The chiropractic profession specialises in diagnosing and treating conditions which affect the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves,  always focusing on the spine. In its most basic form, treatment involves the gentle manipulation of specific areas in order to free joints in the spine, although alternative treatments such as acupuncture are sometimes integrated into the therapy. While most chiropractors specifically treat conditions related to the spine and neck, they do provide treatment for a number of related conditions as well.

Osteopathy

Osteopaths work to ensure that the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues in the body are able to function smoothly together in order to treat conditions which affect these areas of the body, particularly the spine. A combination of physical manipulation, massage and stretching is used to increase patient mobility while also restoring balance and optimal function within the body. This works to relieve muscle tension, improve blood supply, and promote healing, providing the patient with improved health and relief from pain.
As you can see from these descriptions, these treatment methods have many things in common, primarily their holistic approach to improving overall bodily function alongside the treatment of a specific concern. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we use some elements of osteopathy alongside specialised physiotherapy as part of our ScolioGold treatment programme, which combines the principles of several proven non-surgical treatment methods in order to fully treat various issues experienced by our patients.
Our reason for including some components of osteopathy in our successful therapy, exercise and treatment programme is to improve joint mobility while also providing relief from the pain experienced by many scoliosis sufferers. It has allowed us to provide lasting results for our patients, improving their posture and enhancing their ease of movement – aspects of scoliosis which are often not properly addressed by surgical treatment.
If you would like to find out more about our treatment programme and how it may be able to help you with your condition, please get in touch here.
Back Pain
If you have scoliosis (sideways curvature of the spine), it can impact your life in all manner of different ways. Common symptoms of this condition include compromised breathing, reduced mobility / flexibility, and muscle imbalances, as well as more visual signs such as uneven shoulders or hips.
In addition to the above symptoms, many scoliosis sufferers also endure varying degrees of back pain. But does this mean that your own back pain could be a sign that you too have a curved spine?

Scoliosis isn’t always painful

First of all, it’s important to understand that not all scoliosis sufferers experience back pain as a result of their condition. Some scoliotics suffer severe and debilitating pain every day, while others report no back pain whatsoever. Some people have to take maximum-strength painkillers to cope with their scoliosis, while others get by on a lighter dose and others don’t need any medication at all.
You might assume that the level of pain you feel depends on the severity of your spinal curvature, but there’s no evidence to support this – we have seen people with relatively mild curves go through absolute agony, and we have met patients with extremely pronounced scoliosis who experience practically zero pain as a result of this.
So now that we’ve established that scoliosis doesn’t necessarily equal back pain, let’s take a look at that equation in reverse: is back pain a strong indicator that you may be suffering from scoliosis?
In a word: no.

Back pain alone is not a reliable symptom of scoliosis

The problem is that back pain can arise due to any number of factors besides scoliosis. You might have a different curvature of the spine (such as hyperkyphosis), or you might have some other problem entirely – you may have injured yourself lifting heavy objects incorrectly, or perhaps you have poor posture and it’s beginning to take its toll.
Instead of jumping to the conclusion that you have scoliosis simply because you are experiencing persistent back pain, look for these other, more reliable signs of a spinal curvature:
  • Shoulders sitting at different heights
  • Body leaning to one side
  • One shoulder blade protruding more prominently than the other
  • Uneven hips, waist, rib cage and/or legs
Whether or not they are accompanied by back pain, these symptoms are far more likely to point to scoliosis than back pain and back pain alone.
However, here at Scoliosis SOS, we treat a variety of patients with a range of different conditions, not just those with scoliosis. We use our specialised ScolioGold therapy to address a multitude of back and spinal conditions, thereby improving each patient’s quality of life and well-being.
Whether you suffer from scoliosis or just general back pain caused by poor posture, it’s a good idea to seek treatment right away, as your condition may progress further if left unchecked. Contact Scoliosis SOS today to arrange a consultation at our clinic in London and find out how we can help eliminate any muscular pain you are currently experiencing.
Mild Scoliosis
 
While we’re proud to have treated many cases of severe scoliosis here at our clinic, we’re often asked about the need to address mild scoliosis, and whether or not those with less pronounced curves should even seek treatment at all.
 
Generally, scoliosis sufferers with a Cobb angle of 20° or less are categorised as having ‘mild’ scoliosis, and are often told to simply monitor their condition as opposed to seeking treatment immediately. This is often due to the assumption that the condition is not considered to be particularly problematic or inhibitive at this level, although there is evidence to challenge that assumption – many people with mild scoliosis still suffer from pain, postural problems, and difficulties with certain physical activities, among other issues.
 
The biggest risk associated with milder cases of scoliosis is that of gradual wear and tear on the body’s soft tissues, vertebrae and disks, along with the possibility that the condition could eventually progress into a more severe curvature. There are several factors which increase the possibility of the condition progressing, including the growth of sufferers who are diagnosed at a young age. Simply being female, in fact, can also mean that a patient has a greater chance of their curve progressing, which is why it is important to consider preventative measures in order to halt further damage. 
 
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we believe in providing a treatment plan which not only reduces the Cobb angle but also provides a means of continued improvement and relief from the negative side effects of scoliosis. This makes it ideal for patients with mild scoliosis, as it not only facilitates a further reduction of the existing spinal curve, but also helps to prevent a progression of the condition over time. It is also ideal for children who show symptoms of developing scoliosis at an early age, allowing them to avoid further complications and restrictions later in life.
 
Nine-year-old Sara is one such patient. She was diagnosed with scoliosis after her brother required spinal surgery for his own severe curvature. Desperate to prevent her condition from progressing to the same stage as her sibling’s, Sara’s family sought early-stage treatment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, with amazing results:
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with mild scoliosis, or suspect that you or a loved one is at risk of developing the condition, please get in touch with Scoliosis SOS today to find out how our treatment programmes could help.