who is affected by scoliosis

Unfortunately, scoliosis can affect anyone and may occur at any time of life for a variety of different reasons. However, the condition usually develops during adolescence and the majority of sufferers are female.

No one has a perfectly straight back - everyone’s spine is a little bit curved, and this causes no problems in most cases. Scoliosis is only diagnosed when the angle of curve exceeds 10 degrees.

So who is affected by scoliosis? This condition actually affects roughly 4% of the population, making it quite a bit more common than some people realise.

Most cases of scoliosis are diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 15. During this time, most teenagers are going through a growth spurt, and this is where scoliosis tends to become more pronounced. However, it is not clear why the condition affects more women than men (although multiple theories have been put forward). As mentioned above, scoliosis can affect a range of people for a range of different reasons, such as those listed below.

severe scoliosis

Causes of Scoliosis

Idiopathic – If the patient has no other health problem that might have caused their spine to curve, then they are said to have idiopathic scoliosis. This is the most common form of scoliosis, and while the cause is not known, it is thought to stem from genetic factors.

Ageing – While the majority of scoliosis cases are diagnosed early on in life, getting older also causes your body to change quite dramatically. Deterioration of the spine with age may result in a sideways curvature.

Health Conditions

Scoliosis can sometimes be caused by other health conditions. Unfortunately, those affected by the following conditions (among others) may also be affected by scoliosis:

Birth Defects – Although it is rare, sometimes the condition is present from birth. This happens when the baby’s spine doesn’t develop properly in the womb.

Muscular Dystrophy (MD) – This is a condition where the muscles weaken over time. This is a genetic problem that may eventually cause the spine to start curving.

Marfan Syndrome – A hereditary disorder where the body’s connective tissues deteriorate. This can eventually affect the spine.

Cerebral Palsy - This condition is associated with muscle weakness, and a weakening of the muscles around the spine can lead to scoliosis.

If you are worried that you might be affected by scoliosis, our expert team would be happy to talk to you and discuss your options. To book a consultation, please click here.

Scoliosis Treatment Sri Lanka

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we've treated people from all over the world - scoliosis sufferers of all ages have come from many, many different countries to receive non-surgical scoliosis treatment at our clinic in London.

One of those countries is Sri Lanka, and one of our recent patients was the lovely 11-year-old Tiani Perera. This is her story.

Tiani's Story: Young Scoliosis Patient from Sri Lanka

In many cases, overseas patients come to us when the only option they've been given is spinal fusion surgery. We offer an alternative to this, and so patients travel from far and wide to receive treatment here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. This was the case with Tiani, and when she was offered surgical treatment in Sri Lanka, she decided instead to come and visit us in London.

Tiani was diagnosed with scoliosis at home in Sri Lanka in 2015. The first indication that she had scoliosis was that her shoulders were not level; furthermore, when she bent over (see Adam's forward bend test), a small hump was visible below her right shoulder blade. 

When Tiani's parents noticed these symptoms, they took her to the doctor, who confirmed her spinal curvature and stated that surgery was the only viable treatment option. However, Tiani was too young for surgery at the time (since her body was still growing), and so she had to wear a brace first.

Due to the severity of Tiani's condition, she struggled to sit comfortably in school and would often feel pain in her back before going to bed at night. She didn't want to have surgery, and so when her family were told about Scoliosis SOS and our highly effective non-surgical treatment methods, they decided to make the 11-hour trip to our clinic in London.

Tiani underwent a 4-week ScolioGold treatment course and was very pleased with the results. Her rotation improved by eight degrees, she was no longer in pain, and she found that her shoulders and hips had become realigned again. 

Tiani is one of the many scoliosis sufferers from other countries that we have treated here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. If you would like to learn more about our ScolioGold courses, please click here - or get in touch to arrange an initial consultation.

Hypermobility

If a person has scoliosis, this condition can manifest itself in a multitude of different ways. Aside from the most obvious symptom - a visibly curved spine - patients may experience any number of other effects, from back pain and stiffness to muscular imbalance, constipation, and even compromised breathing.

Another condition that seems to be quite common among people with curved spines is hypermobility. Today, we'd like to take a closer look at the relationship between hypermobility and scoliosis, but first...

What is hypermobility?

If you have hypermobility, it means that some of your joints are unusually flexible or have a greater range of movement than normal. Hypermobility is also known as hyperlaxity, and people with hypermobile joints are sometimes said to be 'double-jointed'.

Common signs of hypermobility include:

  • The ability to bend one's elbows and/or knees backwards
  • The ability to bend one's little finger back beyond 90 degrees
  • The ability to bend one's thumb backwards to the point where it touches the arm
  • The ability to place one's palms flat on the floor without bending one's knees

Hypermobility is not necessarily a health problem in and of itself, but it is associated with a number of undesirable symptoms. For instance, individuals with hypermobile joints often also experience:

  • Aches and pains in joints/muscles
  • Joint dislocations
  • Fatigue
  • Recurrent sprains

When hypermobility is accompanied by symptoms like these, we call it JHS (Joint Hypermobility Syndrome).

What causes hypermobility?

In many cases, hypermobility occurs independently of any other conditions. In other words, hypermobility isn't always the result of an underlying health issue - some people are just double-jointed with no clear cause.

That being said, hypermobility does sometimes form part of a larger set of symptoms. In particular, hypermobile joints can commonly be found in people with the following conditions:

  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) - A condition that's characterised by stretchy skin that cuts and bruises easily.

  • Marfan syndrome - A genetic condition of the body's connective tissues, resulting in long limbs, flexible joints, and heart problems in some cases.

Both of the above syndromes are also closely associated with curvatures of the spine.

How are hypermobility and scoliosis connected?

Because conditions like Ehlers-Danlos and Marfan syndrome often lead to both hypermobility and scoliosis, it is perhaps unsurprising that many people with curved spines also have hypermobile joints.

Yet the correlation between hypermobility and scoliosis does not appear to be limited to Marfan syndrome / EDS patients. A 2011 study of children with idiopathic scoliosis (i.e. a sideways spinal curvature with no clear underlying cause) showed that joint hypermobility was significantly more common amongst idiopathic scoliosis sufferers than amongst other children. (If you're interested, you can find the full study here.)

So it seems that if you have scoliosis - regardless of whether your condition is idiopathic or the result of a condition like EDS - you are more likely than average to have hypermobile joints as well.

Treating scoliosis patients with hypermobile joints

Because hypermobile joints have a greater motion range than usual, they are also more susceptible to injury. It is very important for physical therapists to bear this in mind when treating people with hypermobility, as some of the exercises and techniques commonly included in physiotherapy regimes are potentially harmful for patients with overly mobile joints.

Given the high incidence of hypermobility amongst scoliosis patients, our ScolioGold therapists are trained to always be mindful of the risk of over-extension.

Click here to learn more about our exercise-based treatment courses, or contact Scoliosis SOS today if you suffer from curvature of the spine and wish to arrange a consultation.

Scoliosis is fairly rare amongst babies and young children, as in most cases the spinal curve doesn't develop until adolescence. However, that's doesn't mean that babies are never affected.

Scoliosis in Babies

Broadly speaking, there are two types of scoliosis that affect very young children: infantile scoliosis and congenital scoliosis. Today, we're going to explain the differences and similarities between each condition, and how they can be treated.

What is congenital scoliosis?

Congenital scoliosis is scoliosis that is present from birth. It is caused by irregular development of the spine while the baby is still in the womb. It occurs because one or more vertebrae didn't form properly, or if multiple vertebrae are joined together.

The symptoms of congenital scoliosis are just the same as any other form of scoliosis: uneven hips and/or shoulders; rib cage more prominent on one side than the other; a visible lean to one side. But these symptoms may be harder to identify in a very young child.

Every person experiences scoliosis differently, whether you're born with the spinal condition or develop a curve later in life. Some sufferers may experience pain, respiratory problems, and/or reduced mobility, but none of these symptoms are guaranteed to arise. In some cases of congenital scoliosis, where the condition is linked to a problem with the spinal cord, the patient may also experience reduced coordination, reduced strength, and numbness, but again these symptoms vary from person to person.

Read more about congenital scoliosis >

What is infantile scoliosis?

Infantile scoliosis is a sideways spinal curve that is diagnosed between 0 and 3 years of age. Unlike congenital scoliosis, it isn't present at birth; rather, it develops early in the child's life.

Infantile scoliosis affects more boys than girls, and the exact cause of this condition is unknown. Some have suggested that the spine is slightly bent at the time of birth and simply worsens with growth. The spinal curve typically appears between the shoulder blades or in the thoracic (upper) region of the spine, and the spine tends to curve to the left more often than it curves to the right.

The diagnosis of infantile scoliosis is based on the age of onset, the location of the curve, findings from the physical examination, and x-rays.

The symptoms of infantile scoliosis are very similar to those of congenital scoliosis, and again, their severity varies from one patient to the next.

Treating infantile and congenital scoliosis

In cases of scoliosis where the patient is still very young, doctors usually recommend monitoring/observing their condition to see whether the spinal curve will correct itself over time.

Later on, if the curve has not corrected itself and is in fact worsening, the patient may be recommended to wear a back brace to stop the curve from progressing. In severe cases, they may have to undergo spinal fusion surgery.

Like most forms of the condition, infantile and congenital scoliosis can be effectively treated via exercise-based physiotherapy, which is what we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. We have treated plenty of young children, and have seen some excellent results!

If you would like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses and how they can benefit even very young scoliosis patients, please call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 or click here to book an initial consultation.

Schroth Method Exercises

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, one of the methods we use to treat our patients is a set of techniques known as the Schroth method. It is possibly the best-known way to treat scoliosis without surgical intervention, and we have helped countless patients to improve their posture and other symptoms of scoliosis using this treatment method.

The Schroth method is named after Katharina Schroth, the German physiotherapist who devised this approach to scoliosis treatment. She suffered with scoliosis herself, and after making a very promising improvement with her condition, she decided to open up her own clinic. After Katharina's death, her daughter continued her work until 1995, when the clinic was sold to a large corporate organisation.

The Schroth method uses stretches and exercises to develop the inner muscles of the rib cage in order to change the shape of the upper truck and to correct the spinal abnormalities in all three planes of the body. This treatment method also places emphasis on the conscious correction of posture during day-to-day life.

Schroth Scoliosis Treatment

The exercises included in our ScolioGold treatment method help to improve the patient's scoliotic posture and breathing pattern with the help of proprioceptive and exteroceptive stimulation and mirror control.

What is the Rigo-Schroth method?

The Rigo-Schroth method is a modification of the Schroth method. Devised in the 1980s by a Spanish practitioner named Dr Manuel Rigo, it is based on much the same regime of stretches as the Schroth method itself; however, the Rigo-Schroth method is structured differently, with significantly more emphasis on the role of the therapist.

How do we use the Schroth and Rigo-Schroth methods?

Back when we first opened our clinic, our treatment courses were entirely based on the Schroth method, but over the years, we noticed that some aspects of scoliosis were not addressed through use of the Schroth method alone. So, to ensure that all aspects of each patient's condition are fully treated, we've combined the Schroth and Rigo-Schroth method with a number of other exercise-based / non-surgical treatment techniques to help provide our patients with a fully comprehensive treatment package.

Click here to read more about ScolioGold therapy, or contact us today if you’re interested in booking a treatment course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.

See also: Examples of Schroth method exercises

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