As we've discussed on this blog previously, scoliosis is generally not considered a life-threatening condition. A curved spine can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort (among other complications), but cases where the patient's very life is at risk are vanishingly few and far between.
Leaving out the risk of suicide - see Scoliosis and Depression - the only exceptions occur when scoliosis is allowed to progress to the point where the body is so distorted that vital organs can no longer function properly.
Can scoliosis affect your heart?
In the vast majority of cases, no. If your condition is closely monitored and treated in a timely manner, you should never come anywhere near the point where your scoliosis begins to cause heart problems.
Theoretically, however, scoliosis can affect the heart if the curvature goes untreated and progresses unabated over an extended period of time. A severely curved spine can distort the rib cage, and a severely distorted rib cage can leave the heart and lungs with too little room to beat / inflate.
Thus, heart failure is a possible outcome of severe progressive scoliosis - but again, it's important to bear in mind that is an extremely rare occurrence.
Treat your scoliosis early!
The symptoms and complications associated with scoliosis vary enormously from one patient to the next - pain isn't always proportional to the angle of one's curve - but nevertheless, it's always better to catch the condition early and seek treatment right away than to let it progress.
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide non-surgical scoliosis therapy for patients of all ages and curves of all sizes. Here's an example of a patient who came to us for early (almost pre-emptive) treatment after her older brother ended up requiring spinal fusion surgery:
Call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 or use the links below to find out more about our ScolioGold treatment courses.
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Scoliosis can affect the body in a number of different ways and with varying severity.
For example, significant spinal curvature and rotation can sometimes affect lung function, leaving the patient short of breath.
How does spinal rotation affect lung function?
According to the Thoracic Institute at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children's Hospital, "spine rotation causes a windswept thorax, with both restriction of the volume of the convex hemithorax and restriction of the motion of the involved ribs".
In other words, scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine can limit your movement and inhibit the inflation of your lungs.
As a general rule, the more severe the angle of trunk rotation (ATR), the more severely your respiratory system may be affected. This can be particularly noticeable during periods of activity and exercise, which may leave you feeling short of breath.
Can lung function be improved?
Despite this correlation between spinal rotation and lung function, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Our ScolioGold treatment programme can provide relief for people with scoliosis, even when it is so severe as to affect the patient's lungs.
The Scoliosis SOS Clinic's own research has shown that treatment via the ScolioGold programme can improve a patient’s forced vital capacity (i.e. the amount of air that can be forcibly exhaled from the lungs after taking the deepest breath possible).
However, due to the retrospective nature of the study along with other contributing outside factors, the improvements cannot be fully attributed to decreasing ATR. Nevertheless, it’s an encouraging statistic and shows how ScolioGold can be beneficial for scoliosis patients seeking non-surgical help.
What is ScolioGold?
ScolioGold therapy is a treatment programme that combines the Schroth method with myriad other tried and tested therapeutic techniques from across the globe.
Continuously monitored, modified and developed, the ScolioGold programme is constantly evolving to include the latest advancements in non-surgical treatment.
Learn More About ScolioGold Book a Consultation
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)
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 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
- 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.
As those with scoliosis may well know, a curvature of the spine doesn't just affect your back - it can also affect other parts of your body. This includes the hips and legs, which can sometimes lead to a change in the way you walk.
Today we will look at how scoliosis affects walking, the causes behind this, and what can be done to rectify it.
How does scoliosis affect walking?
A sideways curvature of the spine can sometimes cause the hips to misalign. This misalignment can cause one leg to appear shorter than the other, affecting the patient's gait. They also may be restricted while they are walking, as scoliosis sometimes causes stiffness and impairs overall mobility.
In severe cases of scoliosis, the knock-on effects of the spinal curvature can disrupt the coordination between the leg muscles. This also stiffens the muscles and makes it difficult to walk with ease. This is usually due to the degeneration of the spine applying excessive pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
Treating scoliosis-related walking problems
There are a variety of ways to treat scoliosis and resolve any associated walking problems. The best method of treatment usually depends on the severity of the curvature - here's a look at some of the most popular scoliosis treatment methods:
- Bracing - Bracing is often the first port of call when treating a case of scoliosis, especially if the patient is young and their body is still growing. A rigid brace is used to halt the progression of the curvature while the patient finishes growing. Further treatment may be necessary later on.
- Specialised physiotherapy - Physical therapy is a popular non-surgical method for treating scoliosis. It combines a mixture of exercises, orthotics, stretches, massages, and - in some cases, including that of our own ScolioGold treatment programme - hydrotherapy. A comprehensive physical therapy programme can help to reduce the curvature of the patient's spine and improve their overall quality of life.
- Surgery - Surgery is usually the last option given to the patient and is reserved for extreme cases. The operation may involve spinal fusion or magnetic growth rods, depending on the age of the patient (and where in the world they live).
Each of these treatments can help towards fixing a scoliosis patient's walking problems; it is up to you to decide which method is right for you.
Here at Scoliosis SOS, we specialise in the non-surgical approach to scoliosis treatment. Our clinic, based in London, provides intensive physiotherapy courses which aim to improve the curvature of your spine. We have treated patients from all over the world for over a decade, and we are very proud of the results we achieve.
To see the results of our ScolioGold treatment courses, browse our 'Before & After' photo gallery here.
If you're interested in attending a ScolioGold course, please contact us today to book an initial consultation.
It is fairly common for a person with scoliosis to also suffer from uneven legs and/or flat feet. Indeed, one of the key symptoms to look out for when attempting to spot a case of scoliosis is whether the patient has uneven hips and/or legs.
There are two different types of limb length discrepancy (LLD), which are as follows:
- Functional Leg Length Discrepancy - Functional LLD is caused by scoliosis. A curved spine may cause the pelvis to become uneven, making one leg appear to be longer than the other (even though both legs are actually the same length).
- Anatomical Leg Length Discrepancy - This is when the structural length of the two legs is actually different (i.e. there is a genuine length difference between one leg and the other).
Anatomical limb length discrepancy can actually lead to scoliosis, since the body tries to compensate for the difference in leg length. This means that scoliosis can both cause and be caused by a difference in leg length.
Luckily, there are some ways to address leg length discrepancy without resorting to corrective surgery.
Treating a scoliosis-related leg length discrepancy
One way to reduce LLD is by using orthotics and/or insoles that are designed to compensate for the difference in leg length. These insoles help to slow down the progression of the spinal curve and relieve some of the discomfort that scoliosis can cause. To learn more about how orthotics and insoles can help with scoliosis-related leg length discrepancies, read our blog on the subject here.
There's also the option to undergo a specialised physical therapy course such as those delivered here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. Using our own ScolioGold method (a combination of proven non-surgical treatment techniques), we work with each individual patient to determine the best way to improve their scoliosis and leg length discrepancies (if present). After an initial consultation, a specialist will recommend the best course of treatment for your case.
The ScolioGold treatment method has been extremely effective with our patients - see some of the results here. Our treatment programme has helped to reduce pain, improve posture and boost confidence while also reducing the Cobb angle (spinal curve) of our patients.
If you are hoping that we can help you with your scoliosis leg length discrepancies, please get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team today.