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.
Upcoming Course Dates > Book an Initial Consultation >
National Gardening Week has been taking place in the UK this week (29 April - 5 May 2019). The theme for 2019 is Edible Britain, and so gardeners all over the country have been sharing their love of home-grown produce on social media over the last few days.
Find out more on the RHS website >
Gardening with scoliosis
Gardening can be quite a physically demanding activity, and over the years, we at Scoliosis SOS have treated a number of keen gardeners who were having difficulties due to their scoliosis. Back pain and reduced flexibility are no help whatsoever when you're digging, planting, pruning and weeding!
Here are just some of the gardening enthusiasts our ScolioGold treatment programme has helped (click the links to view news articles in full):
How do we treat scoliosis? Book an initial consultation
Is there a link between arthritis and scoliosis?
Before we answer that question, let's first make sure we understand what those two conditions are:
- Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves or twists sideways to create a 'C' or 'S' shape. Common symptoms include back pain and reduced flexibility, but every case is different.
- Arthritis is a condition characterised by inflammation and pain in one's joints. The most commonly-affected joints are the hands, knees, hips and spine.
So how are these two conditions linked, if at all? Research suggests that if a patient suffers from degenerative arthritis in the spine (a type of arthritis that is somewhat common in older patients), a scoliosis curve will often develop too. We refer to this kind of scoliosis as degenerative scoliosis.
Some of the symptoms that an older patient might experience if they suffer from degenerative scoliosis are:
- Pain in the legs caused by the pinching of nerves
- Lower back pain
That being said, symptoms may be quite severe in one degenerative scoliosis patient and very mild in the next - again, every case of scoliosis is different!
For elderly patients who suffer from the above-mentioned symptoms, there are some treatments that can help to relieve the pain and improve mobility in the affected area of the body. Like most back pain, improving the patient's strength and range of motion can have huge benefits, not only strengthening the back but making it more flexible and reducing pain.
If you're suffering from degenerative scoliosis, an exercise-based programme like our own ScolioGold method may be extremely beneficial for you.
When you come to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, our specialist scoliosis therapists will work with you to compose an exercise routine that will gradually build your strength, improve your mobility and reduce your pain. Once you have learnt the different exercises and stretches, you will be much better equipped to manage your condition independently.
If your degenerative scoliosis becomes incredibly severe, your doctor might recommend that you have surgery to help correct the problem. Surgery might be suggested if:
- You're experiencing intense pain
- Your nerves are at risk
Degenerative scoliosis does not commonly become severe enough to necessitate surgery, but it's not unheard of.
If you'd like to find out more about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and how we can help with your condition, please contact us today to arrange a consultation.
Previously on the Scoliosis SOS blog, we have talked about some of the exercises that scoliosis sufferers can perform at home in order to combat their condition. But while these exercises work well on a sideways spinal curve, they may not be so effective if you suffer from hyperkyphosis - a forward curve of the upper (thoracic) spine.
We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic treat each patient using a combination of non-surgical spinal techniques to ensure that all aspects of their condition are fully treated, without the use of a brace or spinal fusion surgery. To help you overcome your hyperkyphosis, we're going to run through a few exercises you can do at home that will help relieve some of your symptoms.
Please note that these stretches should not be used as a substitute for a full treatment course delivered by a chartered physiotherapist.
- Lie on your stomach and extend your hands in front of your head.
- Keeping your head in a neutral position, look towards the floor, and lift your legs and arms up towards the ceiling.
- Reach away from your body with your hands and feet.
- Hold this position for 3 seconds, and repeat 10 times.
Happy Cat, Sad Cat Stretch
The goal of this stretch is to increase the mobility of your spine.
- On all fours, place your knees hip-width apart, with your hands under your shoulders. Keep your spine in a neutral position.
- Round your back, tuck your bottom under, and drop your head between your arms.
- Holding this position, inhale and try to curve your back even further to increase the stretch.
- Then, during exhalation, arch your back, stick your bottom out, and look up towards the ceiling.
- Repeat this cycle 10 times, using your breathing to help you slowly transition between the two positions.
Head Retraction Stretch
The goal of this exercise is to stretch and exercise weakened neck muscles.
- Lie down on the floor, and pull your chin in as if you were trying to make a double chin.
- Hold this for 15 seconds, and repeat five to ten times.
Chin Retraction Stretch
This exercise stretches your deep neck extensors.
- Stand up as straight as you can - you can do this against a wall if it helps.
- Tuck your chin slightly, and bring your head back directly over your shoulders.
- Bring own, and hold this position for 30 seconds - take a break if you begin to feel pain.
If you suffer from hyperkyphosis, please do not be afraid to contact us - we'd be overjoyed to help you overcome your condition with our non-surgical treatment regime.
Disclaimer: The above information should not be treated as medical advice and the scoliosis exercises described may not be suitable or beneficial for everyone. You should not begin any exercise routine without consulting a qualified health practitioner, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or if you have any chronic or recurring conditions. Any application of scoliosis exercises suggested is at the reader's sole discretion and risk. Scoliosis SOS accepts no responsibility or liability for any loss or injuries caused directly or indirectly through the performing of any exercises described. If you feel any discomfort or pain during exercise, stop immediately. Always consult your own GP if you are in any way concerned about your health or anything associated with it.
Scoliosis is defined as any sideways spinal curvature that measures 10 degrees or more (see Cobb angle). That being said, any curve measuring less than around 25 degrees is considered quite mild and generally less likely to require immediate medical attention. For context, spinal fusion surgery is usually recommended only in cases where the curve measures at least 40-50 degrees.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean that 15 degree scoliosis doesn't need to be treated at all. For one thing, some symptoms of scoliosis can occur no matter how slight your spinal curvature may be. Many people with so-called 'mild' scoliosis still experience:
- Back pain
- Noticeably reduced mobility/flexibility
If these symptoms persist, it may be necessary to treat them in order to minimise their impact on the patient's day-to-day life. Pain medication can help, and physical therapy can improve flexibility/mobility while also combating the source of any pain or stiffness.
15 degree scoliosis won't necessarily stay that way!
Another thing to consider is that scoliosis often progresses (i.e. gets worse) as time goes by. A 15-degree curve may gradually grow into a 20-degree curve, then 25, and so on until eventually the patient has to go in for surgery.
For this reason, preventative treatments are sometimes required in order to stop that progression from happening. Young scoliosis patients often wear a back brace until the body has finished growing to stop the condition progressing. And while surgery is not recommended in milder cases of scoliosis, treatments like our own ScolioGold programme can reduce the Cobb angle, sometimes past the 10-degree threshold to the point where the patient's condition is no longer classified as scoliosis at all. Click here for examples of this.
Would you like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses? Contact Scoliosis SOS now to arrange an initial consultation.