De Novo Scoliosis

As we explained in our blog on the subject, there are two forms of adult degenerative scoliosis. Today, we're going to take a closer look at the condition known as de novo scoliosis.

What is de novo scoliosis?

De novo scoliosis is a sideways spinal curve that appears in adulthood. The difference between de novo scoliosis and degenerative scoliosis is that de novo scoliosis affects patients who have never had scoliosis in the past.

'De novo' means 'new', and this name refers to the fact that the condition occurs later in life, during the patient's adulthood rather than their adolescence. It is uncommon for de novo scoliosis to arise before the age of 40-50.

Causes of de novo scoliosis

As bones get weaker and the ligaments and discs in the spine become worn due to age-related changes, the spine may begin to curve.

In most cases, de novo scoliosis is caused by the ageing of the facet joints and discs in the lower (lumbar) spine, leading to the vertebrae slipping out of place and the spine losing its shape. However, a number of other conditions - including spinal canal stenosis, compression fractures, and osteoporosis - have been known to contribute to the occurrence of de novo scoliosis.

Diagnosing de novo scoliosis

A physical examination and X-ray scan / imaging techniques are required to diagnose de novo scoliosis.

Common symptoms include:

  • Muscle fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Feelings of stiffness, numbness and weakness in the back and legs

Posture may also be affected.

In many cases, de novo scoliosis is not properly diagnosed, especially when it does not cause a significant amount of pain. A thorough inspection of the patient's medical history helps to determine whether any underlying issues have contributed to its development.

De novo scoliosis treatment

The best treatment for this condition can depend on the nature of the condition and the symptoms experienced by the patient, with both non-surgical and surgical interventions available.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we use our own physiotherapy programme called ScolioGold to treat scoliosis sufferers of all ages. Physical therapy can improve the patient's mobility, boost strength and correct abnormal posture, and ScolioGold therapy combines a variety of proven non-surgical techniques to achieve noticeable, lasting results.

More About ScolioGold >    Book a Consultation >

Check Your Child's Back

Summer time is fast approaching, and with holidays and days out planned, the shape of your child's spine is probably the last thing on your mind right now.

However, summer is the time when you are most likely to see your pre-teen/teenage child's back.

Scoliosis is usually idiopathic, meaning of unknown cause. Idiopathic scoliosis usually becomes apparent to parents around age 11-12, when children reach puberty and undergo rapid growth within a short period of time.

Here are some of the signs of scoliosis that, as a parent, you ought to look out for:

  • Rib hump (details here)
  • Different shoulder heights
  • Leaning to one side

Back pain is also often associated with scoliosis, most commonly affecting the lower back region. Pain may also occur in the neck or shoulders depending on the position of the curve. It has been suggested that there is no correlation between the size of the patient's curve and the level of pain they experience - some patients with large curves experience very little pain, while some patients with very mild curves experience significant pain.

I think my child has scoliosis - what do I need to do?

If you suspect that your child has scoliosis, please contact Scoliosis SOS today and one of our patient care coordinators will arrange an initial consultation. During this appointment, our consultant will take a radiation-free back scan of your child's spine, along with various other measurements. We will then be able to assess your child's condition and discuss a suitable treatment plan if necessary.

Spondylosis

Spondylosis, also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease, is a painful condition caused by degeneration of the vertebrae within the spine. It can occur in the neck (cervical spondylosis), the upper back (thoracic spondylosis) or the lower back (lumbar spondylosis). In severe cases, it can also affect more than one region of the spine - this is known as multilevel spondylosis. 

The term spondylosis can be used to describe a range of different degenerative spinal conditions that can occur as a person ages. If you have been diagnosed with spondylosis, ask your GP what specific type of spondylosis you have, as this may determine the best treatment method(s) for your condition.

What causes spondylosis? 

Over many years, almost every part of your body is affected by general wear and tear. This includes your spine, and spondylosis is caused by the soft tissue in the spine (including spinal discs, muscles, tendons, cartilage and ligaments) deteriorating over time. This in turn can cause a deterioration of the spine that leads to stiffness and pain in the back.

Spondylosis can also be hereditary. That's not to say you will definitely get spondylosis if a family member has it, but it may mean that your body is predisposed to spondylosis. There are several other factors that can increase your risk of developing spondylosis:

  • If you have a high BMI, this can put an increased level of strain on your spine, which may lead to quicker and further deterioration of the spine.

  • If you smoke, it can dehydrate the discs in your spine, causing more wear and tear and potentially leading to spondylosis. 

Can you prevent spondylosis? 

As spondylosis is predominantly caused by old age and can be hereditary in cases, it is difficult to prevent. However, certain lifestyle changes can be made to help decrease the chance of spondylosis developing. These include:

  • Regular Exercise - As hard as it can sometimes be to get to the gym, exercise is key to maintaining good general health. Weightlifting can also help to increase bone density.
  • Stretching Often - Stretching can help reduce any pressure placed on your spine from tension. Try to stretch every morning and regularly throughout the day.
  • Balanced Diet - You may be tired of hearing this one, but a balanced diet is necessary to a healthy life. Not only that, getting the vitamins your body needs helps look after your bone and can help your body to withstand wear and tear better.

Can spondylosis be treated?

Most of those diagnosed with spondylosis do not need to undergo surgery. In the majority of cases, the primary aim is to treat the pain caused by this condition. Here are some common treatment methods:

  • Physical Therapy - This treatment method helps to build back muscles and increase flexibility. Increased strength in the back can help decrease the pain caused by spondylosis.
  • Acupuncture - Often used to relieve back and neck pain, acupuncture involves inserting tiny needles into parts of the body in an effort to reduce the discomfort caused by spondylosis. 
  • Lifestyle Changes - As mentioned above, lifestyle changes such as losing weight and eating more nutritious food can help to improve spinal health. After a spondylosis diagnosis, it is especially important to maintain these positive habits.

If you suffer from spinal curvature as a result of spondylosis or a similar condition, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic may be able to help. Learn about our treatment courses or get in touch to arrange an initial consultation.

Harrington rods for scoliosis

If you suffer from scoliosis, you will probably have looked into the various treatment options for this condition. Today, we're going to look at the pros and cons of one specific treatment method: spinal fusion surgery using Harrington rods.

What are Harrington rods?

Developed in the early 1960s by Dr Paul Harrington, the Harrington rod is a straight rod that contains a ratcheting mechanism. These rods are used in spinal fusion surgery to reduce the curvature of the patient's spine.

The rod is positioned along the concavity (inside) of the spinal curve and attached to the spine using two hooks - one attached to a vertebra at the bottom of the curve and the other to a vertebra at top of the curve. Then, employing the ratcheting mechanism, the surgeon stretches the spine to straighten the curve and fuses into position.

Do Harrington rods help to correct scoliosis?

For 20 years, Harrington rods were seen at the 'gold standard' for spinal fusion surgery - if you underwent spinal fusion surgery before the year 2000, the surgeon most likely used Harrington rods. This procedure was routinely recommended for any patients with a spinal curve exceeding 45 degrees.

These days, however, there are a number of alternatives for scoliosis patients who require surgery. You can read about these more modern methods here.

Harrington rods have been successful in many cases of scoliosis, but they also come with a number of risks and limitations.

What are the risks and limitations of Harrington rods?

As with all surgical operations, there are risks involved with the procedure described above. This intrusive operation requires the surgeon to remove spinal discs and muscle so that the rod can be inserted and screwed onto the vertebrae. The spine is then bent forcefully and fused into that position. Infection is one possible complication - other potential risks include:

  • Bending and breaking of the rod
  • Hardware migration
  • Pseudoarthrosis
  • Flat back syndrome

Furthermore, this surgery is not recommended for patients whose spines are still growing. Performing a spinal fusion on a growing child can lead to a number of complications, such as the Crankshaft phenomenon. As young spines continue to grow there is a chance the spinal curve will also change, which may mean the rod will end up causing further complications.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

In some very severe cases, surgery is the only way to ensure that a spinal curve will not get any worse. In most cases, however, there are plenty of other scoliosis treatment methods available that do not involve intrusive, potentially risky surgical procedures.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we offer a non-surgical scoliosis treatment programme called ScolioGold therapy, which combines a number of effective techniques to improve patient's condition. To see how effective non-surgical treatments can be, have a look at our results and see how we have reduced our patients' Cobb angles without surgical intervention.

If you have any more questions about scoliosis surgery and how our non-surgical approach can help you with your back condition, please get in touch today.

Neck pain and computer use

Neck pain is strongly associated with excessive use of computers.

Office workers have a higher incidence of neck pain than people in any other occupation. However, the relationship between symptoms and risk factors is currently still unclear.

A recent research study was conducted by the University of Queensland to examine the relationship between self-reported neck pain and a range of individual and work-related factors. Office workers both with and without neck pain were recruited for the study.

All participants completed a survey, which included a numerical pain rating scale and such independent variables as:

  • Demographic
  • Individual
  • Work-related factors
  • Neck/shoulder muscle strength
  • Endurance
  • Range of motion

So what were the results of the study?

Neck pain was significantly associated with females in senior occupational roles and those working more than 6 hours a day on the computer, which resulted in a reduced cervical flexion.

Many of our patients here at Scoliosis SOS find that they struggle with being seated at a computer for long periods of time. There are lots of ways in which patients can adapt their seated position to ensure they stay in their corrected posture. We encourage patients to take regular breaks from their computers and ensure they know how to cope when working at a desk.

If you suffer from scoliosis or neck pain, please contact us today. Our experts can offer advice, treatment and a spinal/ergonomic assessment.