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 explained

If you've recently been diagnosed with scoliosis and your spinal curvature is - for the moment - still relatively small, you may be wondering how your condition will affect you as it progresses (i.e. as the curve becomes more pronounced).

As your Cobb angle increases, the curve in your spine may impact your day-to-day life in a variety of different ways. However, please bear in mind that no two cases of scoliosis are completely identical, and some symptoms that appear prominently in one patient may not appear at all in the next! There is no guarantee that you will experience all of the below effects if your spinal curve continues to grow; the aim of this list is to give newly-diagnosed scoliotics a general idea of what to expect as the condition progresses.

How will scoliosis affect my appearance?

Scoliosis examples

The visual symptoms of scoliosis include:
  • Visibly curved back
  • Leaning to one side
  • Shoulders sitting at different heights
  • Uneven hips/waist/legs
  • One shoulder blade / one side of the rib cage protruding more prominently than the other
The visibility of these symptoms varies hugely from one patient to the next, although a greater curve will generally result in more immediately visible prominences and unevenness.

What will scoliosis feel like as it progresses?

As your curve grows, you may experience any or all of the following physical symptoms (again, severity varies massively from one case to the next):
  • Back pain
  • Pain in other parts of the body (e.g. legs, neck)
  • Reduced flexibility
  • Muscular imbalance (i.e. a weakening of the muscles on one side of the body)
  • Compromised breathing

How will scoliosis affect my everyday life?

Mild cases of scoliosis usually don't have a significant impact on the patient's mobility - it is reasonably rare for scoliosis to become so advanced that it qualifies as a disability. However, while you should be able to get around without too much difficulty, your spinal curvature may cause problems if you participate in sports (or other physically demanding pursuits) on a regular basis. As noted above, scoliosis can limit flexibility/range of movement and create a noticeable muscular imbalance, and these symptoms can be hugely detrimental to one's performance in certain sports.

If you experience pain as a result of your spinal curve, you may need to start taking pain relief medication as it grows larger. The type and strength of the painkillers you take will depend on the degree of pain you are feeling - be sure to consult your GP if necessary, as they will be able to prescribe certain medications that are not available over the counter. Chronic pain can have a significant impact on a person's overall quality of life, making it harder to work, socialise and relax, but taking pain relief medication can help to minimise that impact (although most painkillers come with risks and side-effects of their own).

Most of the above symptoms/effects of scoliosis can be halted, minimised, or even eliminated completely through proper treatment. Treatment options include bracing, surgery, and physical therapy programmes such as the ScolioGold treatment courses we provide here at Scoliosis SOS - click here to find out more.
Hyperlordosis
 
The most important thing to keep in mind when seeking information on your curved spine is the fact that no two curves are the same. In fact, even perfectly healthy spines have some level of curvature, although this slight curve does not pose a problem unless it grows to be abnormally severe. Curvatures can occur in different parts of the spine and develop into a variety of shapes depending on the direction and location of the irregularity.
 
Previously on the Scoliosis SOS blog, we discussed the characteristics of hyperkyphosis, a spinal condition which causes the upper region of the spine to curve forwards, creating a hunched appearance. Hyperlordosis, on the other hand, occurs in the lower (lumbar) spine, causing the patient to have an excessively arched posture in the lower part of the back.
 
To explain in more detail, here's a closer look at the causes and symptoms of hyperlordosis.
 

What causes hyperlordosis?

The first thing to note about hyperlordosis is that it can impact people of all genders and ages - although it is rare in children. The condition is frequently caused by bad posture, along with a number of other contributing factors and conditions, including:
  • Obesity
  • Spinal injury
  • Sitting or standing for extended periods of time
  • Uneven muscles, particularly a weak core
  • Injuries and trauma gained while dancing

 

What does hyperlodosis look like?

Hyperlordosis causes the inward curve in the lower back to become exaggerated, causing the stomach and bottom to appear pushed out, and the inward curve to resemble the letter 'C' when viewed from the side. To find out how this differs from the appearance of scoliosis and hyperkyphosis, read our guide to different curvatures of the spine here.
 

Can hyperlordosis be treated?

In the majority of cases, hyperlordosis is not a sign of a more severe condition, meaning that it can be treated and managed with physical therapy and exercises designed to strengthen the back, correct the curve, and improve overall posture. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we are able to provide tailored treatment programmes that are specifically designed with the individual needs of our patients in mind, allowing us to provide the best possible treatment. 
 
If you have recently been diagnosed with hyperlordosis and you would like to find out more about our non-invasive treatment methods, please feel free to contact the Scoliosis SOS team today.
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.
Back pain treatment

Back pain is a very common ailment amongst people of all ages. It varies hugely in severity - ranging from a mildly uncomfortable ache to constant, debilitating agony - and can be brought on by all kinds of different triggers, including:
  • Poor posture
  • Lifting heavy objects (manual handling injuries)
  • Pulled muscles or ligaments
  • Stress / fatigue
  • Hard blows to the back (e.g. falling on your back)
  • Medical conditions such as scoliosis or spondylolisthesis
Most back pain gets better within a few weeks if not sooner. Sometimes, a simple change may be all that's required to relieve your back pain - for example, if you suffer from back pain due to bad posture, correcting your posture should solve the problem.

Sometimes, however, the pain doesn't go away (this is called 'chronic pain' or 'persistent pain'). In this case, it may be necessary to seek treatment.

Treatment options for persistent back pain

If you are suffering from severe and/or persistent back pain, you should visit your GP. They will most likely recommend one (or more) of the following treatments:
  • Pain relief medication. In order to help you deal with the pain, your doctor may prescribe a course of painkillers. Different types of medication may be recommended depending on the severity of your pain and other factors: if you only require light pain relief, paracetamol or ibuprofen might do the trick, whereas particularly excruciating pain may require something stronger (such as codeine or tramadol). Always consult your GP before taking pain medication.

  • Physical therapy. In certain circumstances, physical therapy may be recommended as a way of reducing your pain and helping you to live your life normally. Some forms of physical therapy are available on the NHS, although if your pain is caused by an underlying medical issue, it may be a good idea to seek a specialised treatment course that is specifically tailored to your condition (e.g. ScolioGold therapy for scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine).

  • Surgery. Some causes of chronic back pain can be corrected via a surgical operation. For instance, if you have a severe case of scoliosis that's causing persistent pain, spinal fusion surgery might be recommended as a possible solution. However, surgery is invasive and comes with many risks, and there are several alternatives to surgery that you should consider before undergoing an operation.
if you suffer from back pain and would like to arrange for a Specialist Spinal Physiotherapist to assess and treat your condition, please contact Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 to arrange an Initial Consultation.
Book Your Appointment >