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)
  • Feet
  • Buttocks
  • Back

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

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
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Pregnancy
  • 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.

40 Degree Scoliosis

While even a minor spinal curvature can have a huge impact on an individual's life, scoliosis tends to be particularly problematic when the curve measures 40 degrees or more.

As we've explained previously in our guide to Cobb angle measurements, UK medical professionals usually recommend surgery when a scoliosis patient's spinal curve reaches 40 degrees (although in some other countries, the threshold is 50 degrees instead). Spinal fusion remains by far the most commonly-used surgical method for correcting curvatures of the spine, and so this is the procedure that most people with 40-degree scoliosis end up undergoing.

READ MORE: What Happens During Scoliosis Surgery?

 

Is there an alternative to surgery for people with 40-degree scoliosis?

While surgery is the most frequently-recommended treatment option for spinal curves measuring 40+ degrees, it is not the only path available.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we often treat scoliosis patients with curves of 40 degrees and up, and we have consistently found that our non-surgical, exercise-based treatment programme can eliminate the need for surgical intervention altogether.

VIEW TREATMENT RESULTS: Before & After X-Rays

 

Case Study: Ahda from Malaysia

Ahda Khalil, a 12-year-old girl from Malaysia, came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in late 2016 because she didn't want to undergo surgery for her condition. Ahda's scoliosis had already passed the 40-degree mark, and several surgeons in Kuala Lumpur had told her family that surgery was the only viable option, but after conducting some research on the Internet they travelled to London and Ahda completed a ScolioGold treatment course under the supervision of our highly-trained physiotherapists.

If you'd like to hear the full story, please watch this video interview with Ahda and her father:

 

How do we treat 40-degree scoliosis?

The ScolioGold method incorporates a number of proven non-surgical techniques into a wide-ranging treatment programme that's specifically tailored to the needs of people with scoliosis (and other curvatures of the spine).

Here are just a few of the methods we currently utilise on our scoliosis treatment courses:

If you would like to book a Scoliosis SOS consultation for yourself or a loved one, please fill out our online form or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

Running a marathon

The London Marathon is fast approaching, and if you're preparing to take part in the run, it's even more important than usual for you to look after your back.

Back issues can result from all manner of activity and inactivity. Lots of runners experience lower back pain; this is due to the repetitive stress and impact on the body for a significant stretch of time.

If all the bones in the vertebrae and the other vertebral articulations are functioning well, then running should not cause any problems. It is when these vertebrae are aggravated that runners experience back pain.

Lower back pain is common among new runners and runners who have come back too strong and too quickly after taking some time off.

What back problems do runners most commonly experience?

  1. Muscular pain that comes on suddenly in the lower back is indicative of a muscle spasm. Your muscles will feel very tight, and the pain can be extremely severe and debilitating in some cases. This type of pain does not cause a shooting sensation, and can be corrected through ScolioGold exercises.

  2. Pain shooting down the back of one or both legs indicates a trapped nerve, often known as sciatica. Sciatica can cause a great deal of discomfort and will need to be fully assessed to determine the best form of treatment.

How to avoid back pain from running

To prevent back pain, it's important to work on strength and flexibility all the way through your kinetic chain. Your spinal muscles are supported by your core - having a strong core is essential, and this is where our ScolioGold therapists come in. Asking your ScolioGold therapist to teach you core-strengthening exercises will be highly beneficial to your overall health.

Tightness or weakness in your glutes, hips, quads and hamstrings will also have an impact on the muscles in your lower back, putting more strain on those muscles and setting them up for a spasm.

At Scoliosis SOS, we always advise our patients to continue with their hobbies and other things they enjoy doing - they just need to do exercises that are specifically tailored to them to compensate for any potentially problematic activities. Building a strong core and balanced muscles will significantly reduce your chance of injury.

If you are trying to prevent lower back pain or spinal injuries whilst you run or train for a marathon, make an appointment with one of the Scoliosis SOS Clinic's specialist therapists today. Contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

Scoliosis Walking

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.

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.