S-Curve vs C-Curve Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine rotates and curves to an abnormal degree. A spine afflicted by scoliosis usually looks like a letter 'C' (or a reverse letter 'C' depending on the direction of the curve), but some patients have two curves, resulting in an S-shaped spine.

Treatment methods sometimes differ slightly for S curves versus C curves.

What is C-Curve Scoliosis?

C-curve scoliosis is when the curvature bends in one direction, resulting in a C-shaped spinal curve. This type of scoliosis can manifest itself in a number of different ways:

  • Lumbar Curve
    This type of curvature occurs in the lower (lumbar) back.

  • Thoracolumbar Curve
    This type of C curve begins in the upper back and ends in the lower back.

  • Thoracic Curve
    This type of C-curve scoliosis bend occurs in the upper (thoracic) back.

Treating C-Curve Scoliosis

C-curve scoliosis, where the spine bends in just one direction, is more common than S-curve scoliosis. C-curve scoliosis can be treated through a variety of different methods, including:

  • Bracing
    Bracing is a commonly-used scoliosis treatment method in young patients who are still growing. This method can halt the progression of the curvature and stabilise it until further action can be taken once the patient reaches adulthood. Soft and hard braces can be used to treat C-curve scoliosis.

  • Physiotherapy
    Physiotherapy is a popular C-curve scoliosis treatment method, especially when offered as an alternative to surgery (see below). Using exercise-based techniques like the Schroth method, physical therapists can help to reduce spinal curvature while boosting the patient's overall quality of life.

  • Surgery
    Spinal fusion surgery is often used to address severe curvatures. If the curvature is so severe that it risks causing respiratory and cardiovascular issues, surgery may be suggested by a medical professional.

What is S-Curve Scoliosis?

S-curve scoliosis is when the spine contains two curves, one in the upper and one in the lower back. When these curves go in opposite directions, they make the spine look similar to a letter 'S'. This type of scoliosis is less common than C-curve scoliosis, but it isn't necessarily accompanied by more severe symptoms.

An S curve is also known as a double major curve as it involves both a thoracic (upper back) curve and a lumbar (lower back) curve. As the curves tend to balance one another out at times, this type of scoliosis can often be harder to spot at first.

Treating S-Curve Scoliosis

As with C-curve scoliosis, S-curve scoliosis can be treated in a variety of ways:

  • Bracing
    Bracing can also be used for S-curve scoliosis to help halt the progression of the curvature. However, different types of braces may be needed to treat a severe S-shaped curve. A specialist brace such as the Gensingen brace may be needed, as these are individually made for each patient.

  • Surgery

    In the most severe cases, surgery may be recommended to help halt and rectify the spinal curvature(s). However, this is typically only recommended when the patient's scoliosis is threatening to cause other health issues.

  • Physiotherapy
    Physiotherapy can also be used to treat S-curve scoliosis through a variety of exercises, stretches, and massages. This method is preferred amongst many patients, especially those suffering from a mild to moderate spinal curvature. Physiotherapy is a great method for improving the patient's curvature(s) without the need for an operation and long recovery times. 

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have been treating patients with C- and S-curve scoliosis for over 12 years. Our 4-week long ScolioGold course provides a tailored treatment regime to help improve the degree of your curvature. Through a series of exercises, stretches and massages, we are able to help improve the degree of C- and S-shaped scoliosis and improve your quality of life. Click here to see the fantastic results we're capable of achieving.

To book an initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS, please get in touch today.

Lumbar Scoliosis Treatment

Scoliosis can occur in any part of the spine, and different names are used to describe curves in different locations. If scoliosis specifically affects the upper spine, this is called thoracic scoliosis; if it affects the lower part of the spine, it is called lumbar scoliosis.

In today's blog post, we're specifically going to talk about lumbar scoliosis and how it can be treated.

About lumbar scoliosis

Lumbar scoliosis is often idiopathic, but it can also be linked to neuromuscular conditions. Some people are even born with lumbar scoliosis (see congenital scoliosis).

This type of scoliosis is characterised by the appearance of a C-shaped (or reverse C-shaped) curve in the lower section of the patient's spine. In extreme cases, lumbar scoliosis can materialise in combination with thoracic scoliosis to form an S-shaped (or reverse S-shaped) curve with the thoracic curve going in one direction, and the lumbar curve going in the opposite direction. 

Visual symptoms of lumbar scoliosis include:

  • Uneven waist
  • Hips, shoulders and/or rib cage different heights
  • Body leaning to one side

How can lumbar scoliosis be treated?

The best treatment for lumbar scoliosis depends on a number of factors, from the age and overall health of the patient to the severity of the spinal curve. If the patient is experiencing any pain or inflammation, the doctor may prescribe ibuprofen or another type of pain relief medication to reduce this discomfort. In other cases, the doctor may recommend that you undergo a course of corticosteroid injections in the spine to reduce inflammation; these injections are performed under an X-ray, but the patient can receive this treatment no more than 4 times in a 6-12 month period.

In cases where the curve is progressing (continuing to worsen) and there is a risk that it will impact the general health and wellbeing of the patient, it may be recommended that the patient undergoes spinal fusion - a surgical procedure that involves the insertion of rods and screws into the spine. Like most surgical procedures, there are a few side effects and risks associated with this treatment method, and this does put some patients off.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we offer a non-surgical treatment programme that consists of a combination of spinal exercises and techniques from around the world, ensuring that all aspects of the patient's condition are treated. We call this the ScolioGold method.

If you or a loved one suffer from any form of scoliosis, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to arrange an initial consultation or simply find out more about our treatment courses.

Functional vs Structural Scoliosis

Broadly speaking, all cases of scoliosis can be sorted into two different categories: functional scoliosis and structural scoliosis. Determining which type of scoliosis a patient is actually suffering from helps to ensure that an appropriate course of treatment is selected.

In a nutshell, the difference between functional and structural scoliosis is as follows:

  • Structural scoliosis is when the patient's spine actually has a physical curve.

  • Functional scoliosis is when the spine appears to be curved, but the apparent curvature is actually the result of an irregularity elsewhere in the body (e.g. different leg lengths).

Read on to learn more about the specific differences between functional scoliosis and structural scoliosis.

Structural Scoliosis

Structural scoliosis is when there is an actual 'structural' curve in the spine, which can progress over time if not treated correctly. There is no clear underlying cause for most cases of structural scoliosis, although it can be caused by nerve or muscle disorders (such as cerebral palsy), birth disorders (such as spina bifida), or an injury or tumour. 

How to treat structural scoliosis

The way in which structural scoliosis should be treated is dependent on the individual's circumstances, with both the cause and the severity of the curve being taken into account. For more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to stop the condition from progressing.

Non-surgical treatment options are available, too. We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic use an exercise-based programme that has proven extremely effective. The ScolioGold method uses a number of different non-surgical techniques that are tailored to each individual case. To see how effective it has been, view our patient results here.

Functional Scoliosis

Functional scoliosis is when the patient appears to have a curve in their spine but it is actually caused by another condition, such as a difference in leg length or a muscle spasm. This happens because the body naturally tries to maintain symmetry - the spinal curve is the body's way of compensating for the underlying problem.

How to treat functional scoliosis

As the spine itself isn't curved in cases of functional scoliosis, the usual scoliosis treatments don't necessarily apply here. However, certain stretches and exercises may be able to relieve the pain that can arise from this condition.

In general, the best way to treat functional scoliosis is to look at what is actually causing the curve. We recently wrote a blog post on how leg length and scoliosis affect one another - read it here. One of the best methods to combat the problems that leg length discrepancy (LLD) can cause is to wear appropriate orthotics and/or insoles that compensate for the length difference, taking pressure off the spine.

If you have any further questions about the difference between functional and structural scoliosis, we would be more than happy to talk to you. Feel free to contact our scoliosis specialists today.

Medical professionals use a mind-boggling array of different terms to refer to scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine. On this blog, we frequently aim to put some of this arcane diagnostic jargon into layman's terms – see our posts on levoconvex scoliosis and thoracic hyperkyphosis, for example.

The tricky medical term that we'd like to look at today is thoracogenic scoliosis. At first glance, this phrase may look like it means the same thing as thoracic scoliosis – that is, a sideways curve in the 'thoracic' (upper/middle) region of your backbone.

But don't be tripped up! Thoracogenic scoliosis is a far more specific term than thoracic scoliosis, and they should not be used interchangeably.

So what is thoracogenic scoliosis?

According to the Scoliosis Research Society's Revised Glossary of Terms, thoracogenic scoliosis is a "spinal curvature attributable to disease or operative trauma in or on the thoracic cage".

In simpler terms, thoracogenic scoliosis is what we call a spinal curve that was caused by either surgery or a disease in the thoracic region (that is, the part of the body that's highlighted in the image below).

Thoracic Spine

This raises another question...

What can cause thoracogenic scoliosis?

There are several diseases and operations that can trigger the development of scoliosis. Here are just a couple of examples:

  • Thoracotomy (surgical operation). A thoracotomy involves opening up the patient's chest, usually to access vital organs such as the heart or lungs. Scoliosis very rarely results from a thoracotomy, but it can happen, as in this case where the patient developed scoliosis post-surgery as the result of her rib fusion.

  • Lymphoma (disease). Cancers such as lymphoma may, if they grow large enough, disrupt the spine and push it into a curved / skewed position.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat all types of scoliosis in patients of all ages. Click here to learn about our treatment methods, or if you'd like to arrange an initial consultation, please contact us today.

Cervicothoracic Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine is curved sideways. There are many different types of scoliosis; it can occur for a wide variety of reasons and affect different parts of the spine.

One of the more unusual forms of scoliosis is cervicothoracic scoliosis, where the curve occurs in the vicinity of the patient's neck and upper back. Cervicothoracic scoliosis is often present as a part of a larger curve of the spine, but scoliosis has been known to occur in the neck alone (see cervical scoliosis).

Cervicothoracic scoliosis can cause more pain and discomfort than other forms of the condition. As the curve spans both the neck and the upper spine, it presents an increased risk of:

  • Neck injury
  • Nerve roots getting trapped between vertebrae
  • Weight imbalance (where one side of your neck is carrying more weight than the other)

As it is one of the rarer forms of scoliosis, research on cervicothoracic scoliosis is still relatively thin on the ground. It's understood that the curvature of the spine can form with no clear cause (idiopathic scoliosis) at any time between infancy and adolescence; in adult cases, it appears that cervicothoracic scoliosis is more commonly caused by spinal injuries or the deterioration of the spine over time.

Other medical conditions such as Klippel-Feil syndrome have also been known to lead to cervicothoracic scoliosis.

Treating Cervicothoracic Scoliosis

There are several treatment methods that have proven very effective in relieving the pain caused by this particular type of scoliosis. The right course of treatment for a case of scoliosis is dependent on the patient's presentation; particularly their age and the cause and severity of the curvature. Typically recommended treatments include:

  • Physical Therapy - Exercise-based treatment programmes can help to strengthen the neck muscles. This often helps with neck discomfort and allows for freer movement.

  • Pain Management - In addition to over-the-counter pain medications such as paracetamol, methods such as epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks and radiofrequency nerve ablation can help to combat the pain that can arise from cervicothoracic scoliosis.

  • Bracing - A brace may be used in early cases of cervicothoracic scoliosis to stop the curvature from progressing until the patient is able to undergo surgery or other more intensive treatments.

Our Treatment Courses

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have developed an effective scoliosis treatment regime for those who do not wish to undergo surgery. Our ScolioGold method has helped countless scoliosis sufferers to overcome the condition and achieve a better quality of life.

If you are suffering from any form of scoliosis, please get in touch with Scoliosis SOS to find out how we can help you with your condition. Contact us today to set up an initial consultation.

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