Top Scoliosis Pain Symptoms & Solutions
Top Scoliosis Pain Symptoms & Solutions
Are you bothered by unremitting scoliosis pain? How can you relieve the symptoms… when you can barely walk? Believe it or not, there are actually some simple techniques that you can use on your own to ease the pain.
More severe cases of scoliosis pain, however, may require a little extra assistance.
We will discuss solutions for your pain in a bit. However, first, let’s take a careful look at scoliosis and why it might be causing you pain.
The spinal column is a series of bones and other tissues that protect the spinal cord. Natural curves in the spine distribute your weight as well as relieve stress on the body. These curves bend gently forward and backward. A profile view of the spine would actually resemble an “S” in shape.
But wait…Some curves aren’t natural.
Scoliosis is a condition in which the spinal column abnormally curves to the left or right. There are two main types of scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis develops in children and teens for unknown reasons. Degenerative scoliosis occurs because of wear and tear on the spine during the aging process.
For adults, the spine’s structure changes due to a variety of reasons. These include:
- Disc Degeneration: In between each of your vertebrae is a rubbery disc that absorbs shock and maintains the spine’s shape. Trauma or disease may cause these discs to lose structure. This results in changes in the spine’s curvature.
- Osteoarthritis: Degenerative arthritis in the facet joints—structures at the back of the vertebrae—can break down the cartilage of the spine and affect how the joints work. As the cartilage wears away, it can cause discs to slip or create bone spurs that affect the spinal structure.
- Undiagnosed Childhood Scoliosis: Although rare, some children or adolescents may not even realize that they have scoliosis. Without proper treatment, their spinal curvature can worsen as they age.
So, it’s more than just the spine curving a little bit?
Absolutely. Scoliosis is often a complex condition in which the spine rotates. Areas between the vertebrae can become compressed or overstretched. This can apply pressure on the nerves, affecting nearby muscle groups and leading to painful, chronic conditions.
Adult scoliosis usually affects the lower back (or lumbar spine). As a result, the natural curve of the lower back may be altered. Likewise, scoliosis can also occur in the thoracic spine—the area between the neck and lower back.
What Causes Scoliosis Pain?
You might be surprised to know that adults with mild scoliosis may exhibit little to no associated symptoms. In fact, some adults might not even know that they have a problem.
Scoliosis pain is often the result of failing structures in the spine narrowing the openings in the spinal column. This can lead to spinal stenosis which can affect nearby nerves. In addition, as an individual with scoliosis compensates for changes in their posture, it can alter their hip, knee, and trunk alignment.
Common Scoliosis Symptoms Include:
- Stiffness and pain in the lower back
- Pain shooting down one or both legs when nerves are affected
- Weakness in the core muscles
- Numbness or cramping in the legs
- Trouble walking
- Changes in posture
- A noticeable bump in the lower back
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of height
Nevertheless, there’s some good news:
For many, scoliosis pain symptoms can be managed without surgery. Scheduling a consultation with an orthopedic doctor who specializes in scoliosis can put you on the right track for managing your symptoms.
Now, let’s take a look at some solutions for your scoliosis pain.
Treatments of Scoliosis
If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis or suspect that you have it, it’s best to routinely visit your doctor.
This allows your doctor to check if your scoliosis is getting any worse. Periodic observations can give your doctor a chance to suggest the treatments most appropriate for your specific condition.
There are, however, some things you can do. These include:
- Stop smoking. We all know that using cigarettes and other tobacco products contributes to a variety of health issues. And, this includes affecting the bones and soft tissues of the spine.
- Keep exercising. Staying physically active can actually relieve some of your scoliosis pain symptoms. Exercise can also strengthen the back and core muscles, which are often affected by a scoliotic curve. Of course, you want to check with your doctor before embarking on a new exercise routine. More on scoliosis pain relief exercises later.
- Be mindful of posture. Hunching over electronic devices, slouching in chairs, and lifting heavy objects improperly applies added stress on the spine. Try to pay attention to the way you sit and stand. Keep your head in a straight line above your shoulders. Align your shoulders with your hips while standing.
- Modify your diet. Eating foods rich in fiber, probiotics, and healthy fats can reduce inflammation in the body and spine. Avoid processed foods and reach for whole foods—like fruits and vegetables—whenever possible.
- Invest in a good mattress. Let’s face it: You spend a great deal of your life sleeping. A firm or medium-firm mattress can support the spine during your hours of sleep. As a result, you may wake up refreshed with less morning scoliosis pain and stiffness.
- Over-the-counter pain medications. If you experience minor scoliosis pain, over the counter medications like NSAIDs—ibuprofen, for example—may assist with pain and inflammation.
What about scoliosis bracing?
You’ve probably heard about (or seen) a child using a brace to correct scoliosis. Unfortunately, once your skeleton stops growing, braces don’t do much to reshape the spine. Braces may be used for temporary pain relief, in other words, but other solutions are more effective for adults.
Exercises for Scoliosis Pain
As mentioned earlier, exercise can relieve some scoliosis pain. Scoliosis exercises can be as simple as gentle stretches to work out morning stiffness and pain. Or, you can develop full routines with a scoliosis specialist that are designed to strengthen core and back muscles.
So, what’s our best advice for starting scoliosis exercises?
Consult with a doctor or physical therapist. Let’s face it, you can easily find some websites that suggest exercise routines for your scoliosis pain. Some are great resources. Others, however, may not have your best interests in mind. The best way to determine which exercises are right for you is through a thorough examination and evaluation by a physical therapist or another professional who understands the complexities of scoliosis. The information that these individuals gather will assist in creating a detailed treatment plan with a set schedule of exercises.
But, how exactly do these exercises help?
Exercises can aid with balance and stabilization, range of motion, and strengthening muscle groups weakened by abnormalities in the spine. Sticking to your exercise routine can actually be quite effective in reducing or eliminating some scoliosis pain symptoms.
But, wait. There’s more.
Physical therapists and other professionals can suggest useful changes in your daily routine, posture, and physical activities. Their experience can provide insights you may have not even considered for alleviating your scoliosis pain. As a result, you may prevent the need for surgery.
Other non-surgical treatments can also relieve scoliosis pain. While some may not reverse spinal structure, they may nevertheless provide temporary pain relief. These alternative therapies include:
- Massage therapy: A certified massage therapist can expertly reduce muscle tension and stiffness and leave you feeling more relaxed. A massage can also increase circulation to areas of the body, thus reducing inflammation and activating the healing process.
- Acupuncture: This ancient practice uses tiny needles inserted in target areas of the body to relieve pain and other issues.
- Yoga therapy: A specially designed yoga routine can increase flexibility, strength, and balance in areas of the body affected by scoliosis.
- Chiropractic care: A chiropractor can adjust your spine and relieve some of the pressure built up by an abnormal spine.
These are just a few non-surgical approaches that you may want to investigate to help with your scoliosis pain. Choosing a doctor who employs a variety of disciplines is a great way to explore those treatment options.
Other Scoliosis Treatments
If your scoliosis pain is severe, your doctor may temporarily prescribe narcotic pain relievers. This is usually a short-term solution that needs careful consideration. Some of these drugs can be habit-forming.
A doctor may also use an epidural or nerve block injection to reduce pain due to arthritis or a pinched nerve. These procedures deliver medications directly to the source of the pain.
Surgery is usually only needed when scoliosis pain limits an individual’s functioning. Only a small percentage of those who suffer from adult scoliosis actually require surgery.
These surgeries are generally invasive and may run the risk of complications. Ultimately, however, surgery can permanently stabilize the spine.
In general, scoliosis surgery often involves spinal fusion. The surgeon will fuse the affected vertebrae together with bone grafts and other instrumentation. In time, the fused bones grow together as one stable bone. During the procedure, the surgeon may also remove tissues or pieces of bone that apply pressure to the spine or nerve roots.
If surgery seems to be the only answer, then it is best to find an orthopedic doctor who specializes in spinal deformities.
Do You Need Answers About Your Scoliosis Pain?
As mentioned earlier, scoliosis is a complicated orthopedic condition. You are not only dealing with pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. The spinal deformities can make you feel less confident and affect you psychologically.
So where can you turn?
How about to a leading expert in the field of scoliosis and spinal deformity? Dr. Jason E. Lowenstein is an award-winning orthopedic surgeon with extensive training and experience in adult and pediatric scoliosis. In fact, he takes a special interest in helping those with severe or rare spinal deformities.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Lowenstein and his team of spine specialists today to find out which conservative therapies may improve your scoliosis pain. If you need surgery, Dr. Lowenstein uses the latest advancements in minimally invasive spine surgery whenever possible. Rated a “Top Doctor” by several sources, you’ll quickly realize you came to the right place to help you live a better life.
Call (855) 220-5966 to schedule a consultation now.