Sciatica is a fairly broad medical term that usually refers to a painful or tingling sensation in and around the legs. Up to 43% of the population will experience sciatica at some point in their lives, although this depends on how strictly you define the condition.

What does sciatica feel like?

Different people experience different sensations when suffering from sciatica. Some experience stabbing or shooting pains, while others describe the feeling as numb and tingly, not unlike pins and needles.

These sensations may occur in any of the following body parts:

  • Legs (especially the backs of the legs)
  • Feet
  • Buttocks
  • Back

Sciatica usually affects just one side of the body, but it has been known to cause pain / numbness in both sides.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica

Sciatica arises when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the hip down through the leg, is irritated. This can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including (but not limited to):

  • A herniated spinal disc ('slipped disc')
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Pregnancy
  • Trauma (e.g. from a car crash or sporting accident)

Can scoliosis cause sciatica?

Yes, it can. While sciatica isn't one of the more common symptoms of scoliosis, the two conditions can occur simultaneously, and in some cases, the patient's spinal curve may indeed be the underlying cause of their sciatica.

There are a number of ways in which a curved spine may lead to sciatica (or symptoms that are virtually indistinguishable from sciatica). The most common causes are:

  • Pinched nerve – When the spine curves and twists out of its normal position, it may press up against the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain or a loss of feeling.

  • Putting more weight on one leg than the other – An individual with a twisted spine may end up walking differently, shifting more weight onto one leg to compensate for the change in their posture. While this in itself won't result in sciatica, the overburdened leg may begin to feel painful after a while, and this pain may be mistaken for sciatica.

In other cases, the patient's scoliosis and their sciatica may both be caused by the same underlying condition. As mentioned above, spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis are known to cause sciatica, and both conditions can result in a curvature of the spine as well. To read about how stenosis and spondylolisthesis are linked to scoliosis, click on the corresponding links above.

If you're experiencing pain or discomfort as a result of scoliosis, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help. Our ScoliGold treatment method has proven extremely effective in the treatment of patients with curved spines – get in touch now to arrange a consultation.

Running a marathon

The London Marathon is fast approaching, and if you're preparing to take part in the run, it's even more important than usual for you to look after your back.

Back issues can result from all manner of activity and inactivity. Lots of runners experience lower back pain; this is due to the repetitive stress and impact on the body for a significant stretch of time.

If all the bones in the vertebrae and the other vertebral articulations are functioning well, then running should not cause any problems. It is when these vertebrae are aggravated that runners experience back pain.

Lower back pain is common among new runners and runners who have come back too strong and too quickly after taking some time off.

What back problems do runners most commonly experience?

  1. Muscular pain that comes on suddenly in the lower back is indicative of a muscle spasm. Your muscles will feel very tight, and the pain can be extremely severe and debilitating in some cases. This type of pain does not cause a shooting sensation, and can be corrected through ScolioGold exercises.

  2. Pain shooting down the back of one or both legs indicates a trapped nerve, often known as sciatica. Sciatica can cause a great deal of discomfort and will need to be fully assessed to determine the best form of treatment.

How to avoid back pain from running

To prevent back pain, it's important to work on strength and flexibility all the way through your kinetic chain. Your spinal muscles are supported by your core - having a strong core is essential, and this is where our ScolioGold therapists come in. Asking your ScolioGold therapist to teach you core-strengthening exercises will be highly beneficial to your overall health.

Tightness or weakness in your glutes, hips, quads and hamstrings will also have an impact on the muscles in your lower back, putting more strain on those muscles and setting them up for a spasm.

At Scoliosis SOS, we always advise our patients to continue with their hobbies and other things they enjoy doing - they just need to do exercises that are specifically tailored to them to compensate for any potentially problematic activities. Building a strong core and balanced muscles will significantly reduce your chance of injury.

If you are trying to prevent lower back pain or spinal injuries whilst you run or train for a marathon, make an appointment with one of the Scoliosis SOS Clinic's specialist therapists today. Contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

What does scoliosis feel like?

Every case of scoliosis is different. Some scoliosis sufferers lead lives virtually unaffected by their condition, whereas others are constantly reminded of it. There is a lot of variation between the ways in which people experience scoliosis, and as a result, asking two people the same question...

"What does scoliosis feel like?"

...might result in two very different answers. In this post, we'll look at some of the physical pain that scoliosis can cause, and we will also explain how scoliosis can affect a person's self-esteem and body confidence.

Physical pain

Although some lucky scoliosis patients are scarcely impaired by their condition at all, in other cases there can be a lot of discomfort. The curvature of the spine itself is not a direct source of pain; however, it can cause pain in other ways. For instance, back pain may arise because the curve is putting pressure on your spinal discs, ligaments, nerves, and muscles. Sometimes this pain is merely uncomfortable; sometimes it can be seriously debilitating.

There are also cases where a severe curvature has caused misalignment of the hips, which can affect the patient's gait (how they walk). Over time, this can cause leg pain as the muscles over-compensate for the lack of balance.

If a spinal curve becomes extremely severe, it can lead to even bigger problems such as cardiovascular / breathing issues. This is because the curve of the spine progresses so much that it begins to twist the rib cage, which can reduce the amount of space your lungs and heart have to work properly.

Body confidence

Even in cases where there is only minor physical discomfort, for many scoliosis sufferers, we must also consider the added emotional pain of body confidence issues. Idiopathic scoliosis usually develops during adolescence, and teenagers / preteens tend to be especially prone to body image sensitivity. This can be a big issue, as scoliosis can result in a visibly curved spine, noticeably uneven shoulders, waist, hips and legs, and a leaning posture.

The treatment courses that we deliver here at Scoliosis SOS aim not only to treat the physical symptoms of spinal curvature but also to build up the confidence of the patient. We don’t think that anyone should be embarrassed about scoliosis, and it is our goal to treat every aspect of the condition.

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Pain Caused by Scoliosis

You might think it obvious that a curvature of the spine such as scoliosis should cause pain. However, most medical professionals agree that the curve itself is not what makes scoliosis painful - instead, the symptoms that arise as a result of the curvature are what tend to cause patients pain.

Why does scoliosis cause back pain? 

Scoliosis may result in back pain because it can place stress or pressure on the patient's spinal discs, nerves, ligaments, muscles and/or facet joints. 'S'-shaped scoliosis is typically less painful than 'C'-shaped scoliosis because the curvature is balanced more evenly.

Furthermore, if the spinal curvature is severe enough, the back muscles may also become more prone to painful spasms; these can cause the surrounding muscles to become inflamed, another potential source of pain.

Can scoliosis cause leg pain? 

Many scoliosis patients report feeling pain in their legs and wonder if this pain is caused by scoliosis. If the curvature is so severe that it causes misalignment of the hips, this can change how the patient walks and may make the muscles tire sooner as the body has to over-compensate in order to maintain balance.

Scoliosis is also associated with lumbar stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal). This can sometimes result in leg pain and nerve irritation.

What other pain can be caused by scoliosis? 

If one's spinal curvature becomes too severe (typically above 80 degrees), this can lead to breathing/cardiovascular issues. This happens when the spinal curve causes the rib cage to twist, which in turn reduces the amount of space available for the lungs and heart. The rib cage may also then push up against the internal organs, which could cause yet more pain. 

However, scoliosis itself is still not thought to directly cause pain, especially in infants and adolescents. If you do find that you are experiencing chronic pain as a result of your scoliosis, there are treatments available to help you with this; here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we offer non-surgical treatment courses to help scoliosis patients reduce pain and combat other symptoms of spinal curvature.

To book your initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS, please click here.
Scoliosis sufferer in the British army

If it is your ambition to join the British Army, you may be concerned about whether your curved spine will scupper your chances of achieving this goal. Today, we'd like to put your fears to rest.

Army Entry Requirements

The British Army's entry requirements state that all would-be soldiers looking to join a UOTC (University Officers' Training Corps) must satisfy the Army's medical requirements. Certain conditions - such as deafness, blindness, and the absence of one or more limbs - are deemed 'immediate barriers', meaning that anyone with these conditions is automatically disqualified from entry into a UOTC. The rules are more flexible for other conditions; for example, if you have ever suffered from diseases like malaria, pneumonia, heart disease, or tuberculosis, this may disqualify you from signing up, but the final decision will depend on the details of your specific case.

Back pain, in addition to being a common symptom of scoliosis, is one of the factors that can potentially disqualify a person from entering the British Army. However, it's worth noting that none of the effects of scoliosis are immediate barriers, and generally speaking, your spinal curve should only keep you from joining the Army if it has a significant effect on your mobility and/or your overall health.

Matthew's Story

24-year-old Matthew Gilson from Somerset wanted to join the British Armed Forces, but he feared that this ambition would have to be laid to rest when he was diagnosed with scoliosis. He found himself suffering from intense back pain, and this forced him to put his demanding training regime on hold for a while.

Scoliosis sufferer Matthew from Wells

However, after completing a 4-week ScolioGold treatment course here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, Matthew's pain levels had receded massively, and his posture was better as well. This improvement allowed him to re-apply for the Army and continue following his dream of serving in the military.

If you require scoliosis treatment, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to find out how our non-surgical treatment courses may be able to help you.
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