- a sideways curvature of the spine - comes in many different forms. The cause, location and severity of the curve can vary hugely from one patient to the next: for example, a 12-year-old girl with idiopathic scoliosis
and an older woman whose spine is curved due to the degeneration of her intervertebral discs could both be said to suffer from scoliosis even though their conditions are very, very different.
One of the most obvious defining characteristics of any spinal curve is its direction - does the patient's spine curve to the left, or to the right?
What do the words 'dextroscoliosis' and 'levoscoliosis' mean?
'Dextroscoliosis' and 'levoscoliosis' look like two intimidatingly dense pieces of medical jargon, but they actually just refer to the direction in which a scoliosis patient's spine curves
- Levoscoliosis curves towards the left side of the body
- Dextroscoliosis curves towards the right side of the body
Unlike the word 'scoliosis', which is Ancient Greek vocabulary, these terms are derived from Latin. It's relatively easy to remember which is which, because 'levoscoliosis' and 'left' both begin with the same sound (and the average person is more dexterous with their right hand, although admittedly that mnemonic may be a little counter-intuitive if you yourself are left-handed).
Is it better to have dextroscoliosis than levoscoliosis?
At this point, you may be wondering which set of scoliosis sufferers has it worse. Is it more painful to have a spine that curves to the left than one that curves right? Or is it the other way around? Or does it not really make any difference?
First of all, it should be reiterated that every scoliosis sufferer has a different experience, and that applies to both dextro- and levoscoliosis sufferers. The direction of your curve is not a reliable indicator of how much pain you will experience, how far the curve will progress, or the extent to which your condition might impair your ability to move around.
That being said, some people have suggested that levoscoliosis is more dangerous than dextroscoliosis because (among other reasons) the heart is on the left side of the body. While a right-leaning spinal curve can indisputably have a hugely detrimental impact on a person's quality of life, there is some evidence that a left-leaning curve is more likely to be accompanied by other health conditions and diseases. A study entitled Left thoracic curve patterns and their associations with disease (Goldberg et al, 1999) noted that there was some correlation between levoscoliosis and disease; however, the authors of that study concluded that the correlation wasn't especially strong, and that several other factors were more reliably associated with disease in scoliosis patients.
More details on the link (or lack thereof) between levoscoliosis and disease can be found here
Treating dextroscoliosis and levoscoliosis
Both levo- and dextroscoliosis are traditionally treated using the same methods:
- Spinal fusion surgery
However, here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have achieved excellent results through treating both levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis using an exercise-based physiotherapy regime called ScolioGold therapy
. Our intensive treatment courses have helped many scoliosis sufferers to combat the symptoms of their condition, achieve a higher quality of life, and avoid undergoing surgery.
Click here to see what our patients have said about their ScolioGold treatment courses, or contact us today to book a consultation.