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.
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 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 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.
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.
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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, 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.