Is Scoliosis Painful
 
 
A curved spine can disrupt your life in all kinds of different ways. It can have a severe impact on flexibility and mobility, which is particularly problematic if the patient participates in sports or other physical activities; scoliosis also tends to affect one’s appearance, and many scoliosis sufferers find that their self-esteem is diminished as a result.
 
However, for many scoliotics, the very worst part of their condition is the pain that it causes them. Although some patients suffer minimal discomfort, many can scoliosis painful to varying degrees. Chronic back pain can have a very damaging effect on a person’s life, and many people find that it even impacts their ability to work. Rachel Webster, a 35-year-old woman who completed a ScolioGold course late last year, is a good example – watch the video below to hear about her experience:
 
 
All this having been said, the pain that scoliosis causes does vary greatly from one patient to the next. Some scoliotics may not experience much pain at all, whereas others suffer such debilitating back pain that they require maximum strength medication. Interestingly, there seems to be little if any correlation between the angle of someone's spinal curve (their Cobb angle) and the level of pain they experience. For instance, someone with a 60-degree curve may not feel any pain at all, whereas someone with only a 20-degree curve may experience a huge amount of pain. Every case of scoliosis is unique.
 
When pain does develop, it tends to happen because your body is over-compensating for the curve in your spine. Your muscles will be working overtime to help control the curvature of your spine, and this extra exertion can lead to muscle pain, which can be incredibly uncomfortable.

I experience a lot of back pain - does this mean I have scoliosis?

No, not necessarily. Almost everyone experiences some back pain from time to time, and even if your pain is more persistent, that doesn’t mean it’s a sure sign of scoliosis. Back pain can arise due to all sorts of different factors, and this in itself is not sufficient evidence for a diagnosis of spinal curvature. More reliable symptoms of scoliosis include:
  • A visible sideways curve in the spine
  • Ribcage being more prominent on one side
  • One hip/shoulder sticking out more than the other
  • One leg being longer than the other
  • One shoulder appearing higher than the other
If you are unsure whether or not you suffer from scoliosis, be sure to visit your GP for a professional diagnosis before seeking treatment.  We also offer screening checks for anyone who is concerned that they may have developed a spinal curvature.

Overcoming the pain of scoliosis

If you are experiencing pain due to a curved spine, we at Scoliosis SOS can help you to reduce that pain and improve your overall quality of life. If you find scoliosis painful, you don't need to suffer alone - use the links below to find out how we can help you.
Back brace for scoliosis
 

If you suffer from scoliosis and the curve in your spine is getting worse, your doctor may recommend that you wear a scoliosis brace. A brace doesn't directly cure scoliosis or correct the curve, but it can help to prevent the curve from progressing any further.

If you require a brace, you will often have to get a cast taken of your back; this will be done at an outpatient appointment, so you will not be required to stay overnight at the hospital. Scoliosis braces are often made from a rigid plastic, although flexible braces are sometimes used instead for milder curves. While many scoliosis sufferers worry that a brace will be visible through their clothes, most modern scoliosis braces are designed to be difficult to see under loose-fitting clothing. Usually, a scoliosis brace will have to be worn for 23 hours a day, coming off only for showers and baths; however, in some cases, the patient is only required to wear the brace at night.
 
Many of the patients we treat here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have experience with scoliosis braces. The video below features an interview with one such patient, 12-year-old Yana from Malta:
 

If you already wear a scoliosis brace...

During the period of brace wear (sometimes up to 6 or 8 years for juvenile scoliosis patients), it is crucial to maintain the strength of the patient's back muscles and not allow them to atrophy due to the constant support provided by the external plastic shell. A lack of back muscle strength can result in correctional benefits being lost at the end of the bracing period, leading to an increase in the patient's curve.
 
Attending a four-week ScolioGold course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can complement the effects of a brace, helping to maintain spinal flexibility and strength, correct your spinal curve, and reduce any pain you may feel as a result. If, like Yana, you'd like to supplement your bracing treatment with a Scoliosis SOS treatment course, please click here to contact our clinic.

If you are still researching your treatment options...

In many cases, our non-surgical treatment courses can actually eliminate the need for a scoliosis brace entirely. Our ScolioGold method is demonstrably effective at reducing the Cobb angle and changing each patient's quality of life for the better. We're constantly monitoring and developing our methods to reflect the latest advances in the non-surgical field, and because of this, our therapy continues to deliver gold-standard results.
 
To find out whether our scoliosis treatment courses could help you, we recommend arranging an initial consultation (which can either be carried out via telephone, via Skype, or here at the clinic itself).
Famous People with Scoliosis
 

Scoliosis affects roughly 4% of the population - that's 1 in every 25 people, or just under 300 million people worldwide.

 
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to discover that many celebrities and public figures are affected by this condition. We've even treated some of them here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, including EastEnders actress Rita Simons:
 
 
Here are 4 other people you've probably heard of who suffer (or used to suffer) from scoliosis:

Usain Bolt

Jamaican sprinter Usain St. Leo Bolt has won six Olympic gold medals to date, and with the 2016 Games taking place in Brazil this summer, one suspects he'll be adding to that tally very soon. Bolt has said that his curved spine "really hampered" his early career, but obviously the condition has done very little to slow him down more recently!
 
Here's what Bolt had to say when asked about his scoliosis in a 2011 interview with ESPN:
 
"When I was younger it wasn't really a problem. But you grow and it gets worse. My spine's really curved bad...but if I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn't really bother me. So I don't have to worry about it as long as I work hard."
 

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar - best known for her leading role in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series - grew up with scoliosis, and she still has trouble with the condition today. According to this Daily Mail article, Gellar finds that "working out on the treadmill and Pilates" both help her to deal with her spinal curvature.
 

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was the guitarist and lead singer of grunge band Nirvana, who formed in 1987 and achieved international fame in the years leading up to Cobain's tragic death by suicide in 1994. Cobain seemingly suffered from pain throughout his lifetime - here is an excerpt from an interview that the troubled frontman gave in 1993 (the interview can be read in its entirety here):
 
"I had mild scoliosis in junior high, and since I've been playing guitar ever since, the weight of the guitar has made my back grow in this curvature. So when I stand, everything is sideways, it's weird.
 
"I go to a chiropractor every once in a while...most people have a small curvature in their spine anyhow, though some people have it really bad and have to wear metal braces. It gives me back pain all the time. That really adds the pain to our music. It really does."
 

Liza Minnelli

Liza Minnelli is the daughter of Hollywood star Judy Garland, and she has had a hugely successful acting career in her own right, appearing in films like Cabaret (for which she won an Oscar) and TV shows like Arrested Development. Here, in her own words, is how Minelli found out about her scoliosis:
 
"I didn't realise I had anything wrong with my back until...I guess it was around the time of [1969 movie] The Sterile Cuckoo that Fred [Karlin, composer] said, 'Come on, somebody's imitating you. Let's go see her.' So we go down to one of those places that used to be in the Village and we sit down and I'm all excited and this girl comes on and she goes like this: [walks with twisted, uneven shoulders]
 
"I was so indignant. I said, 'I don't do that.' And he said, 'Yes, you do.' I found out that because of the scoliosis, if I lean back one way, it hurts."
 
If you suffer from scoliosis, attending a four-week course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic may help you to overcome your condition and significantly improve your quality of life. Click here to get in touch and book an initial consultation.
 
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Type 1 Chiari Malformation

Despite the fact that there is no underlying cause for the development of scoliosis in 8 out of 10 cases, there are a number of medical conditions that can lead to a curvature of the spine.  We've discussed some of these conditions - including Marfan syndrome -  in the past, and today we'd like to talk about another: Chiari malformations.

What is a Chiari malformation?

A Chiari malfomation is a structural defect in the human brain that causes part of the cerebellum to sit below the foramen magnum. When the bony space at the lower rear of the skull is smaller than usual, the cerebellum and brain stem can be pushed downwards, affecting the function of this part of the brain. This can cause reduced muscle strength, balance problems, neck pain and dizziness, along with several other symptoms and medical issues.

How are Chiari malformations linked with scoliosis?

Spinal curvature is common among people with a type 1 Chiari malformation (CM), the most common form of the condition. In this form of CM, the lower part of the cerebellum extends into the foramen magnum without the brain stem, an opening that only the spinal cord passes through in normal circumstances. This form of CM is often left unnoticed until adolescence or adulthood, and is usually diagnosed during an examination for another condition. This means that you may already have identified your scoliosis without realising that CM is an underlying cause. 

Both a sideways (scoliosis) and forward (kyphosis) curvature of the spine can be caused by a type 1 Chiari malformation, and both of these conditions are often present in children due to the fact that their skeletons have not yet fully matured. As is the case with scoliosis itself, CMs are more commonly found in women than in men.

What treatment is available?

For sufferers of CM type 1, symptoms can usually be managed with medication. In more serious cases, skull and spinal surgery may be considered as an option to relieve pressure on the brain, or to correct a tethered spinal cord in children. To help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by spinal curvature, treatment options such as our ScoliGold method can provide lasting results without the need for surgical intervention. As with all of our patients, CM sufferers who attend a course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic will receive a range of therapies tailored to their exact needs, relieving the symptoms of their spinal curvature while keeping their underlying medical issues in mind at all times.

For more information on how we can help to treat the symptoms of CM, please feel free to contact Scoliosis SOS today.
Back pain consultation

If you're interested in attending one of our ScolioGold treatment courses, the first step is to undergo an initial consultation with one of our scoliosis specialists. This allows us to assess whether or not our ScolioGold programme could benefit you. 

Your initial consultation will take one of two forms:

  • Visit to our Clinic - If you are able to travel to our London clinic, one of our consultants will evaluate your symptoms in an appointment lasting 40 to 60 minutes.

  • Remote Consultation via Telephone/Skype - We treat many patients from all over the UK and the rest of the world, and so we are more than happy to carry out your consultation over the phone if you are unable to visit our clinic in person. These appointments are conducted in the same way as our face-to-face consultations, although we will require you to send over some photographs of your back and/or your X-rays beforehand so that we may assess your condition properly.

What will happen during my consultation?

First, one of our expert consultants will go through your medical history and symptoms, gathering information about your condition and any previous treatments you may have received. The consultant will then evaluate your spinal measurements, a process that includes a radiation-free back scan if you visit our clinic in person. The consultant will then outline the treatment options available to you, offering their recommendations for a treatment plan along with expected outcomes and a rough time scale.

If you are interested in finding out how our treatment courses could dramatically alter the symptoms of scoliosis without surgery, get in touch with Scoliosis SOS and book your initial consultation today!