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’.
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:
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.
- 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
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!
Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis
(a condition where the spine curves sideways). Approximately 8 out of 10 cases of scoliosis are classed as ‘idiopathic’, meaning that there is no known cause for the patient’s spinal curvature.
What does ‘idiopathic’ mean?
The word ‘idiopathic’ essentially means ‘without a clear underlying cause’. It is derived from the Greek words ‘idios’ (one’s own) and ‘pathos’ (suffering). If a disease or condition is idiopathic, it seemingly develops on its own rather than as the result of another condition.
While the cause of idiopathic scoliosis is often a complete mystery, it is believed to occur for any number of reasons, including:
More commonly, however, scoliosis occurs with no apparent underlying cause. This is called idiopathic scoliosis.
Who does idiopathic scoliosis affect?
In theory, idiopathic scoliosis can affect anyone at any time of life. In the vast majority of cases, however, idiopathic scoliosis develops during adolescence, with the appearance of the curve roughly coinciding with the onset of puberty.
- Infantile idiopathic scoliosis is diagnosed in children between 0 and 3 years of age.
- Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis is diagnosed in children aged between 3 and 9 years of age.
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 18
These are the most common times for idiopathic scoliosis to be diagnosed and early detection allows children and young adults to be monitored and treated before their curvature becomes too severe. If not treated early, idiopathic scoliosis patients may require spinal surgery.
Scoliosis is more common in females than in males
, and adolescent girls are more likely to develop idiopathic scoliosis than any other sex/age group, so it’s important you check your child for idiopathic scoliosis regularly if you think they may be at risk. We teach you how you can check your child for scoliosis at home in this blog.
What causes idiopathic scoliosis?
The cause of idiopathic scoliosis is, by definition, unknown. If we knew why it happened, it wouldn’t be idiopathic!
That being said, it is widely thought that idiopathic scoliosis occurs due to genetic factors
. In fact, it was reported in 2016 that researchers at a Japanese university had potentially identified the gene responsible for triggering spinal curvature: it’s called LBX1 and you can read about it here
Is there a cure for idiopathic scoliosis?
Idiopathic scoliosis cannot be ‘cured’, as such, but it is often possible to arrest and even reverse the progression of the patient’s spinal curve before it grows too severe. Depending on the patient’s circumstances and the severity of their condition, they may be treated via bracing, surgery, physical therapy, or a combination of these methods.
to learn more about treatment options available to idiopathic scoliosis sufferers, or visit our ScolioGold
page to learn about how we treat curvatures of the spine here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic using exercise-based therapy.
If you have any questions about idiopathic scoliosis, or if you’re interested in our treatment options, give us a call on 0207 488 4428, or fill in our enquiry form below.
In most cases of scoliosis, the patient’s spinal curvature is not triggered by any known cause. However, this is not the case for all forms of the condition. Some types of scoliosis occur as a result of other medical conditions; this is true of neuromuscular scoliosis (commonly referred to as myopathic scoliosis).
What is neuromuscular scoliosis?
People with this type of scoliosis are impacted by disorders of the brain, the spinal cord, and the muscular system, the weakness of which leads to an abnormal spinal curvature. The rate and risk of progression is often much higher than for other types of scoliosis, which makes neuromuscular scoliosis one of the most severe forms of the condition.
The following conditions are often linked to neuromuscular scoliosis:
- Cerebral Palsy: This condition causes muscle weakness, uncontrolled body movements, poor co-ordination, and other issues. To find out more about its connection with scoliosis, read our blog post here.
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy: A disease which impacts the nerve cells connecting the brain and spinal cord to the body’s muscles. With progression, the disease can lead to a gradual weakening of the muscles, making physical activities more and more difficult. Find out more in our previous blog post.
- Spina Bifida: A condition which impacts the development of the spine, leaving a gap. This leads to mobility issues, bowel problems, and a build-up of fluid on the brain.
- Muscular Dystrophy: This term refers to a collective group of medical conditions which cause the muscles to weaken, leading to a progressive loss of physical ability. Mutations cause changes in the muscle fibres, interfering with their ability to function. In most cases, these mutations are passed down genetically from parent to child.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Bruises and tears which cause damage to the spinal cord, impacting the ability of the brain to transmit messages to the rest of the body.
How does neuromuscular scoliosis affect the patient?
- Progression: Due to the fact that this type of scoliosis is common in children with the conditions listed above, it can often become worse during growth spurts. This progression can lead to a collapsed torso and a raised diaphragm, which impacts the patient’s lung function. This can be even more severe in cases where the muscles which control breathing are already weak.
- Symptoms: Often, patients with neuromuscular scoliosis who are able to walk will display similar symptoms to those with idiopathic scoliosis: tilted shoulders, uneven waist/hips, and prominence of the ribs on one side. For patients who require the use of mobility aids due to the severity of their condition, the symptoms can include those mentioned above, as well as changes in overall posture, a tilted pelvis, progressive loss of the ability to sit unsupported, and pressure sores. In addition to these symptoms, patients may also suffer from other types of spinal curves, including kyphosis and lordosis.
How is the Condition Treated?
While a brace may be suggested in an attempt to prevent the progression of the spinal curve, in the most severe cases, neuromuscular scoliosis surgery is usually recommended in order to halt the curve’s development. The condition also calls for regular monitoring, with regular hospital appointments to assess the progression of the curve.
If possible, exercise is also recommended as a form of treatment for neuromuscular scoliosis, in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine which have become weak as a result of the patient’s condition. We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have treated numerous patients with neuromuscular conditions using our ScolioGold method
Would you like to find out how we can help to treat the symptoms of your neuromuscular scoliosis? Please click here to get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team.
– 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.