Back pain is a very common ailment amongst people of all ages. It varies hugely in severity – ranging from a mildly uncomfortable ache to constant, debilitating agony – and can be brought on by all kinds of different triggers, including:
- Poor posture
- Lifting heavy objects (manual handling injuries)
- Pulled muscles or ligaments
- Stress / fatigue
- Hard blows to the back (e.g. falling on your back)
- Medical conditions such as scoliosis or spondylolisthesis
Most back pain gets better within a few weeks if not sooner. Sometimes, a simple change may be all that’s required to relieve your back pain – for example, if you suffer from back pain due to bad posture
, correcting your posture should solve the problem.
Sometimes, however, the pain doesn’t go away (this is called ‘chronic pain’ or ‘persistent pain’). In this case, it may be necessary to seek treatment.
Treatment options for persistent back pain
If you are suffering from severe and/or persistent back pain, you should visit your GP. They will most likely recommend one (or more) of the following treatments:
- Pain relief medication. In order to help you deal with the pain, your doctor may prescribe a course of painkillers. Different types of medication may be recommended depending on the severity of your pain and other factors: if you only require light pain relief, paracetamol or ibuprofen might do the trick, whereas particularly excruciating pain may require something stronger (such as codeine or tramadol). Always consult your GP before taking pain medication.
- Physical therapy. In certain circumstances, physical therapy may be recommended as a way of reducing your pain and helping you to live your life normally. Some forms of physical therapy are available on the NHS, although if your pain is caused by an underlying medical issue, it may be a good idea to seek a specialised treatment course that is specifically tailored to your condition (e.g. ScolioGold therapy for scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine).
- Surgery. Some causes of chronic back pain can be corrected via a surgical operation. For instance, if you have a severe case of scoliosis that’s causing persistent pain, spinal fusion surgery might be recommended as a possible solution. However, surgery is invasive and comes with many risks, and there are several alternatives to surgery that you should consider before undergoing an operation.
if you suffer from back pain and would like to arrange for a Specialist Spinal Physiotherapist to assess and treat your condition, please contact Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 to arrange an Initial Consultation.
The human spine (also known as the backbone or, more properly, the vertebral column) is made up of numerous small bones called vertebrae. When a vertebra is damaged or displaced, the knock-on effects can have serious consequences for the health of the entire back and even of the body as a whole.
One good example of this is a condition called spondylolisthesis.
What is spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips out of place so that it is no longer aligned with the rest of the spine. This can happen for a number of reasons: some people are born with defects that lead to spondylolisthesis, but it can also be caused by a blow to the spine, a tumour, and the body’s natural ageing process, among other things.
Spondylolisthesis usually occurs in the lower (lumbar) spine, although it can happen further up too.
So, spondylolisthesis is the same as a slipped disc?
No. The phrase ‘slipped disc’ is perhaps a little misleading – it really has nothing to with vertebrae slipping out of place. Rather, a slipped disc occurs when one of the ‘discs’ that sit in between your vertebrae becomes ruptured. If this happens, the nucleus pulposus (a gel-like substance inside each disc) may bulge out through the wall of the disc, putting pressure on your nerves and resulting in pain.
This phenomenon is unrelated to spondylolisthesis, which affects the vertebrae rather than the discs that separate them.
Spondylolisthesis sufferers may notice some or all of the following symptoms:
- Back pain and/or stiffness
- Tightness of the leg muscles
- Sciatica (pain or discomfort of the legs and/or buttocks)
- Curvature of the spine (see below)
That being said, some people with spondylolisthesis don’t notice any symptoms at all.
Spondylolisthesis and scoliosis – what’s the connection?
As noted above, one possible outcome of spondylolisthesis is a curve in one’s spine. Scoliosis
(a sideways curve) or hyperkyphosis
(a forward curve) may develop due to the weakening of the backbone that occurs when a vertebrae moves out of place.
Scoliosis and hyperkyphosis can themselves lead to a number of health issues, including:
- Back pain
- Reduced mobility and/or flexibility
- Compromised breathing
A curved spine can also have visible effects (e.g. uneven shoulders, prominent ribcage), which in turn may result in reduced self-esteem and a negative body image.
Treating scoliosis and spondylolisthesis
Whether your spine is curved as a result of spondylolisthesis or another underlying condition, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London can help you. Our exercise-based ScolioGold
treatment programme has been fine-tuned to specifically address the needs of scoliosis and hyperkyphosis sufferers, and the results we achieve are consistently outstanding.
We use a variety of physiotherapy methods to treat those suffering from spondylolisthesis, such as:
- Schroth Method
- Rigo-Schroth Method
- FITS Method
- PNF Technique
- SEAS Method
Click here to read about all the different methods we use to treat our patients’ spinal conditions.
For more information about our treatment courses, or to book an initial session with one of our consultants, please contact us today.
– a sideways curvature of the spine – comes in many different forms. The cause, location and severity of the curve can vary hugely from one patient to the next: for example, a 12-year-old girl with idiopathic scoliosis
and an older woman whose spine is curved due to the degeneration of her intervertebral discs could both be said to suffer from scoliosis even though their conditions are very, very different.
One of the most obvious defining characteristics of any spinal curve is its direction – does the patient’s spine curve to the left, or to the right?
What do the words ‘dextroscoliosis’ and ‘levoscoliosis’ mean?
‘Dextroscoliosis’ and ‘levoscoliosis’ look like two intimidatingly dense pieces of medical jargon, but they actually just refer to the direction in which a scoliosis patient’s spine curves
- Levoscoliosis curves towards the left side of the body
- Dextroscoliosis curves towards the right side of the body
Unlike the word ‘scoliosis’, which is Ancient Greek vocabulary, these terms are derived from Latin. It’s relatively easy to remember which is which, because ‘levoscoliosis’ and ‘left’ both begin with the same sound (and the average person is more dexterous with their right hand, although admittedly that mnemonic may be a little counter-intuitive if you yourself are left-handed).
Is it better to have dextroscoliosis than levoscoliosis?
At this point, you may be wondering which set of scoliosis sufferers has it worse. Is it more painful to have a spine that curves to the left than one that curves right? Or is it the other way around? Or does it not really make any difference?
First of all, it should be reiterated that every scoliosis sufferer has a different experience, and that applies to both dextro- and levoscoliosis sufferers. The direction of your curve is not a reliable indicator of how much pain you will experience, how far the curve will progress, or the extent to which your condition might impair your ability to move around.
That being said, some people have suggested that levoscoliosis is more dangerous than dextroscoliosis because (among other reasons) the heart is on the left side of the body. While a right-leaning spinal curve can indisputably have a hugely detrimental impact on a person’s quality of life, there is some evidence that a left-leaning curve is more likely to be accompanied by other health conditions and diseases. A study entitled Left thoracic curve patterns and their associations with disease (Goldberg et al, 1999) noted that there was some correlation between levoscoliosis and disease; however, the authors of that study concluded that the correlation wasn’t especially strong, and that several other factors were more reliably associated with disease in scoliosis patients.
More details on the link (or lack thereof) between levoscoliosis and disease can be found here
Treating dextroscoliosis and levoscoliosis
Both levo- and dextroscoliosis are traditionally treated using the same methods:
- Spinal fusion surgery
However, here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have achieved excellent results through treating both levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis using an exercise-based physiotherapy regime called ScolioGold therapy
. Our intensive treatment courses have helped many scoliosis sufferers to combat the symptoms of their condition, achieve a higher quality of life, and avoid undergoing surgery.
Click here to see what our patients have said about their ScolioGold treatment courses, or contact us today to book a consultation.
If you work in an office or frequently spend long periods of time driving, it’s likely that you may well have poor posture. Bad posture occurs when your spine is held in unnatural positions, putting stress on your joints, muscles and vertebrae. Slouching in your chair, hunching over your keyboard, or looking down at your mobile phone for extended periods can cause a build-up of pressure on these tissues.
Lower back, neck, shoulder, and even arm pain can be linked to bad posture, and it can lead to even more severe, painful and visible symptoms such as hyperkyphosis
– a condition where the thoracic spine (upper back) develops a forward-curved posture.
This condition is most commonly associated with people over 40, and it can continue to worsen with age. That said, hyperkyphosis can affect anyone at any time of life, and it is believed that 20-40% of adults will develop this condition at some point.
Hyperkyphosis sufferers may not recognise a change in back posture at first because the curvature is often quite gradual, but if left untreated, you may find that you are having difficulty performing normal tasks and keeping your balance. Some people will also experience upper back pain and spinal fractures as the condition advances.
Hyperkyphosis can be treated by undergoing surgery, but like most surgical procedures, there are a number of risks. If you’re put off by the prospect of having surgery to treat your condition, you’ll be glad to know that we at Scoliosis SOS
treat spinal conditions (including hyperkyphosis) using our non-surgical treatment method called ScolioGold
ScolioGold is a mixture of exercise-based techniques that are continuously monitored and developed to ensure that all aspects of the patient’s condition are fully treated. For more information on our ScolioGold treatment method, click here
. If you have any questions or you wish to book a consultation, please contact our clinic