Scoliosis is a fairly widespread condition, affecting roughly 4% of people worldwide. But even though tens of millions of people live with curved spines, there is still a lot of misinformation out there, and so many of the things you think you know about scoliosis may well be inaccurate or downright incorrect.

Here are 5 myths about scoliosis that we'd like to debunk once and for all:

1. Scoliosis can be caused by wearing heavy backpacks.

This first myth has been propagated by some big names over the years. For example, famous scoliosis sufferer Sarah Michelle Gellar has attributed her spinal curvature to wearing her school rucksack on just one shoulder, but while this bad habit puts extra strain on your back muscles and can lead to poor posture, there's no evidence that it can cause scoliosis.

Similarly, Kurt Cobain once stated that the weight of his guitar caused his back "to grow in [a] curvature", but this was almost certainly not the original cause of his scoliosis. We hope this will come as a relief to any guitarists reading this!

2. Scoliosis is always painful.

As we've stated on numerous occasions here on the Scoliosis SOS blog, every case of scoliosis is different, and a curved spine sometimes won't cause any pain at all. It's true that scoliosis often does cause pain, but it's not a guarantee, and the severity of the pain tends to vary hugely from one patient to the next.

It's not even the case that a more pronounced curve equals more pain - we've met some people with very extreme scoliosis who suffer little to no pain, and others with only minor curves who feel a lot of pain. As we said, every case is different!

3. Scoliosis only affects females.

Scoliosis is vastly more common in females than in males - in fact, adolescent girls are up to 10 times more likely to develop scoliosis than adolescent boys.

But scoliosis absolutely affects males as well. For example, Connor Bartlett is a young man who recently came to our clinic for treatment - watch the video below to hear his story.

4. Nobody knows what causes scoliosis.

Scoliosis can arise as the result of numerous other conditions, including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Marfan syndrome. It can also occur in older people as a side effect of the natural ageing process.

However, most scoliosis patients have what's called idiopathic scoliosis. This type of scoliosis usually develops during adolescence, and while it's true that we don't yet know for sure what causes it, scientists have made some exciting progress on that front lately - click here to read more about that.

5. Scoliosis only ever develops during adolescence.

As mentioned above, idiopathic scoliosis usually starts developing during the patient's pre-teen / teenage years, but that's far from the whole story. Young children can developed curved spines,  as can older people; even if you're not of the age at which idiopathic scoliosis usually manifests itself, you may still develop a curved spine as the result of another underlying condition.

This information is provided by the team at Scoliosis SOS. Based in London, England, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic is one of the world's leading providers of non-surgical treatment for scoliosis and other spinal conditions - click here to learn more about our ScolioGold treatment programme, or contact us now to book a consultation.
Shoulder Pain
 
Given that scoliosis is a disorder of the spine, you might assume that the pain experienced by some scoliosis sufferers is exclusively concentrated in the back. But a person with a curved spine may also notice a degree of shoulder pain in addition to (or instead of) the more common back pains.
 

Why does scoliosis cause shoulder pain?

When a curved spine causes shoulder pain, it usually happens because the curve is located near the top of the spine and the muscles in this region are working harder than normal to control - and compensate for - the unusual angle. This puts a strain on those muscles, which may be felt as an ache or pain in the shoulder.
 

How severe is the pain?

The important thing to remember is that no two scoliosis patients have exactly the same experience. Even two people with exactly the same Cobb angle may report drastically different symptoms: one may feel no discomfort at all, while the other may be in such extreme pain that they require medication just to make it through the day.
 
The above applies to shoulder pain just as much as it applies to back pain. Shoulder pain (when it arises as the result of a spinal curvature) is usually limited to an achy or uncomfortable feeling - some scoliotics report feeling like they have a 'knot' in their shoulder - but it can be more severe in some cases.
 

How can shoulder pain be treated?

Extreme pain arising from a curvature of the spine may be treated using pain relief medication (various strengths may be prescribed depending on the severity of the pain). 
 
However, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have found that an exercise-based physiotherapy regime - namely our own ScolioGold programme - can be very effective for relieving back and shoulder pain. We use a combination of methods, including Kinesio Taping and myofascial release, to reduce pain and inflammation while improving mobility and generally helping the patient to live a more comfortable life.
 
Phoebe from Crystal Palace is one of the many scoliosis sufferers whose shoulder pain we have helped to alleviate. Watch the video below to find out what she thought of her time at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic:
 
 

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Scoliosis comes in a number of different forms - a curved spine can be caused by a variety of factors, and the condition may look very different from one case to the next.
 
While idiopathic scoliosis is by far the most common type, there are many ways in which scoliosis can develop, as well as endless possible variations in the placement, degree and severity of the patient's curve.
 
In order to provide better insight for those who have recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, or are just beginning to find out more about this condition, we have put together this list which highlights the various types of scoliosis and how each one affects those who suffer from it:

Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital Scoliosis
 
This type of scoliosis is present from birth - it occurs when the spine does not develop correctly in the womb. This can occur due to one or more vertebrae failing to form properly, and can also arise due to multiple vertebrae being joined together.
 
 

Idiopathic Scoliosis

Idiopathic Scoliosis
 
As mentioned above, this is is the most common type of scoliosis. It usually develops between the ages of 10 and 15, roughly coinciding with the onset of puberty and a rapid growth spurt. The root cause of idiopathic scoliosis is not known, and it varies widely in severity.
 
 

Neuromuscular Scoliosis

In cases of neuromuscular scoliosis, the spinal curve develops as the result of a separate neurological or muscular condition. In cases such as these, the curve is often highly progressive, which means that the individual's spinal curve will get worse and worse over time if left untreated.
 
Neuromuscular scoliosis can be caused by many different underlying conditions - one example is cerebral palsy.
 

Degenerative Scoliosis

Degenerative Scoliosis 1Degenerative Scoliosis 2Degenerative Scoliosis 3
 
This type of scoliosis may occur when a pre-existing case of scoliosis gets worse later in the patient's life, but it can also occur due to asymmetric degeneration, which wears through the body's facet joints and intervertebral discs. In either case, degenerative scoliosis is usually diagnosed in adults over 50.
 

Syndromic Scoliosis

Klippel-Feil syndrome
 
In cases of syndromic scoliosis, the sideways curvature of the spine occurs as part of a syndrome, such as connective tissue disorders. Syndromes which can lead to scoliosis include Klippel-Feil syndrome, Marfan syndrome and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
 

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with any of these types of scoliosis, it's important to seek treatment in order to limit further progression of the curve. Contact Scoliosis SOS today to discuss your condition and find out how we can help you.

Living with neurofibromatosis can be challenging enough in itself, but unfortunately, this is one of the many conditions that can lead to the onset of scoliosis.

In this post, we'll take a look at neurofibromatosis, how it is linked to scoliosis, and what can be done to treat a spinal curvature when it develops.

What is neurofibromatosis?

N.B. Strictly speaking, there are two different forms of neurofibromatosis: type 1 (NF1) and type 2 (NF2). NF1 is by far the more common of the two, and from here on out, we will be using the word 'neurofibromatosis' to refer specifically to NF1.

Neurofibromatosis (sometimes known as Von Recklinghausen's disease) is a genetic condition that causes tumours to grow on the coverings of the body's nervous system. The tumours are almost always benign, but as the patient reaches adolescence and approaches adulthood, they tend to manifest themselves in the form of visible lumps and bumps on the skin.

Neurofibromatosis

These bumps - which vary greatly in size and visibility from one patient to the next - are the most characteristic and recognisable symptom of neurofibromatosis, but the condition is also associated with a range of other problems as well, including:
  • Learning disabilities
  • ADHD and other behavioural conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired vision
  • Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)

What causes neurofibromatosis?

Neurofibromatosis is caused by the mutation of a specific gene that is responsible for controlling cell division in the human body. This can happen spontaneously, although the mutated gene can also be passed from parent to child (meaning that some - but not all - cases of neurofibromatosis are hereditary).

Neurofibromatosis affects roughly 1 out of every 3,000 babies born each year. The condition can be found in people of all races and sexes; interestingly, the condition can be detected in the womb via genetic screening tests, although the majority of NF1 sufferers aren't diagnosed until the classic symptoms (bumps and coffee-coloured patches on the skin) begin to develop further down the line.

Scoliosis in NF1 patients

Whereas a person with idiopathic scoliosis (that is, scoliosis with no apparent underlying cause) usually won't develop a spinal curve until they reach adolescence, a neurofibromatosis sufferer may well develop scoliosis during their childhood. In fact, roughly 10% of children with NF1 are also affected by scoliosis.

When neurofibromatosis does result the onset of scoliosis, it seems to happen because of benign tumours growing on the spinal cord. This leads to an overall weakening of the spine, which in turn can lead to the growth of a scoliotic curve.

Treating scoliosis in neurofibromatosis sufferers

Scoliosis that arises as a result of NF1 can generally be treated using the same methods as idiopathic scoliosis. Surgery may be recommended, as may the use of a back brace to halt the progress of the spinal curve. Since the spine tends to start curving at an early age when neurofibromatosis is the underlying cause, medical practitioners may even recommend simply waiting and monitoring the condition to see if it improves or deteriorates with growth.

The ScolioGold treatment courses that we deliver here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic represent another effective treatment option and a far more appealing alternative to surgery in many cases. We have treated numerous patients with NF1 (including several children), and the results have been consistently impressive.

ScolioGold therapy uses a combination of proven techniques to combat the symptoms of scoliosis without the need for surgery or bracing. This exercise-based treatment programme can relieve pain, improve mobility, and reduce the angle of the patient's spinal curve - click here to view upcoming course dates, or contact us now to arrange an initial consultation.
If you suffer from scoliosis and you are somewhat familiar with acupuncture, you may be considering using it to help with your condition. After all, if acupuncture helps to ease back pain, then surely it can help with your spinal condition?
In today's blog post, we will take a look at what this treatment entails and how it might be used to help scoliosis sufferers.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a Latin word where 'acus' means needle and 'punctura' a pricking. Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body. There are two different types of Acupuncture; Traditional and Modern.

Traditional Acupuncture

Traditional acupuncture is a tried and tested healthcare system that has been practised for thousands of years in China and the Far East. It involves examination of the body’s flow of energy and harmony; supposedly, there are different pathways in the body where this energy flows. These pathways are called meridians.

Traditional acupuncturists posit that, when a person experiences pain or dysfunction (scoliosis, for example), it is because there is a blockage to the flow of energy on one or more of the meridians. Traditional acupuncture treatment aims to restore balance to this flow of energy by inserting needles into specific points along the meridians to remove the blockage of energy flow, thereby eliminating pain or dysfunction.

Western Medical Acupuncture

Western medical acupuncture is a synthesis between traditional acupuncture and our modern understanding of anatomy, physiology and pathology.  There is not a clear separation between modern and traditional acupuncture; rather, the two exist at different points on the same spectrum.

The main aim of Western acupuncture is to reduce pain. This is achieved by blocking the signals sent from the site of the pain to the brain via the spinal cord; acupuncture can also stimulate the brain to release chemicals that block pain signals, which can result in widespread pain reduction.

Additionally, needles are often inserted close to the painful area to help improve blood flow and promote healing to the damaged area, which in turn will also help to reduce pain. 

Acupuncture for Scoliosis

So how can acupuncture help scoliosis sufferers? Many people with scoliosis experience musculoskeletal pain due to the muscular imbalances and postural asymmetry that can arise as a result of the spinal curvature.  Acupuncture treatment can be used to help treat this pain and restore normal movement and function. 

Although acupuncture alone is not an effective treatment for scoliosis, we have recently added acupuncture to our ScolioGold therapy programme as it can be useful for relieving the patient's pain and improving their general well-being and energy levels.

To find out more about our ScolioGold programme and the exercises involved in the programme, click here. If you have any questions about your condition or you wish to book a consultation, please get in touch with our clinic today.

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