Scoliosis (sko-Lee-o-sis) is an abnormal disorder that occurs when the spine curves and rotates sideways. The curves are usually c-shaped or S-shaped. In most people, the cause of the curve is not known, and in such a case it’s called idiopathic scoliosis. Scientists estimate about 4% of the population will develop this condition. If the curve becomes severe enough, back muscles could be strained leading to chronic back pain also known as chronic scoliosis pain.
Who Can Develop Scoliosis Pain?
Individuals of all ages can develop this condition. Children aged 10 and those in their early teens are more vulnerable to idiopathic scoliosis. At this age children are undergoing rapid and girls are at higher risk of developing this condition than boys.
Why is scoliosis pain common in women than men? Science has yet to discover a solid answer to this mystery, but a few theories have been proposed, and they include;
The leptin levels of a patient are linked to patient’s levels of scoliosis. Leptin is a hormone that performs various functions in our bodies. Its standard function is appetite dissolution; ghrelin hormone informs when you need to eat, and leptin tells you when to stop. However, this hormone has shown effects on bone growth in mice through the sympathetic nervous system. Increased sympathetic nervous system in women may result to scoliosis and also affects the patient’s weight. It’s important to note that this is merely a hypothesis, and there is no valid explanation for high cases of scoliosis in women than men.
Types of Idiopathic Scoliosis
There are three types of idiopathic scoliosis, commonly categorized by the age at which the deformity occurs.
- Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis: Develops from birth to 3years of age.
- Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: Happens from the age of 4 to 9 years.
- Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Happens between the age of 10 to 18.
70% of this condition occurs at adolescent because rapid body growth occurs at this period. Monitor the skeletal development of your child carefully at this stage to avoid future chronic back pain.
Common types of Curves
Scoliosis curve generally looks like a c-shape and involves the spine bending sideways. When the spine curves to the right side it’s known as dextro- scoliosis, and when it bends to the left it’s called levoscoliosis. The common types of curves include;
- Right thoracic curve where the curve bends to the right side of the upper back (thoracic region).
- Right thoracolumbar curve where the curve twists to the right, starting from the upper back to the lumbar region (lower back).
- The curve can bend to the right side at the lower back a situation known as right lumbar curve
- Double major curve which involves the curve bending right at the upper back and left at the lower back. The double major curve is barely noticeable as the two balance each other.
Symptoms of Scoliosis Pain
Mild pain scoliosis can be unnoticeable to most people, but as it progresses, the symptoms are vivid. The common signs include;
- Clothes fitting awkwardly. The patients may notice their shirts hang unevenly and the situation should be investigated further. A sideways curvature may be noticed when one is naked.
- Changes in walking. When the spine bends sideways, the hips alignment is affected changing thte individuals walking style. Uneven hips cause an individual to work hard in maintaining balance. This leads to muscle tiredness and may cause chronic back pain. The deformity may cause limited range of motion, due to the spine lacking flexibility.
- Difficulty in Breathing.The rib cage is attached to the upper back. The lungs need space to expand for easy breathing. When the spine curves the rib cage contracts, limiting the space available for the lungs. The rib cage contracting also hinders the heart from pumping blood properly.
- Pain. The spinal twisting leaves the back muscles prone to pain spasms. Due to the spine working harder to support the body, the joints and discs begin to degenerate. Noticeable deformity, especially among teenagers may lead to low self-esteem.
Doctors use the patient medical and genetic history and physical examination when diagnosing the disease. In most cases, idiopathic scoliosis pain is identified during a regular check-up. An x-ray is vital in helping the doctor decide if an individual has scoliosis. Imaging tests also help the doctor measure the curve in degrees and identify its location, shape or pattern.
Causes of Scoliosis
In most cases the reasons for the spine bending are unknown, but some factors increase your chances of developing scoliosis.
- Upper Cervical Spine Injury. When a baby is being born, its head and neck are prone to injury. Excessive force during birth can tamper with the upper cervical spine, causing damage to the nerves and ligaments.Injury to the cervical region may cause abnormal signal feedback between the neck and brain.
- Neuromuscular Conditions. Muscles or nerves are not functioning correctly due to the conditions such as spina bifida, and cerebral palsy can cause scoliosis. The spine will curve as the first disease intensifies.
- Injuries or Degeneration. Scoliosis can develop after a traumatic injury, osteoporosis, or disc degeneration. Scoliosis can also be genetic, but most children with this condition rarely have a family history of the disease.
- Gender, Age, and Unhealthy Dieting. Girls are six times more vulnerable to their spinal curves progressing severe scoliosis and require treatment. Signs and symptoms in most cases appear between the age of 9 to 16. Eating foods that cause high inflammation such as saturated fats and sugary drinks are harmful to the spine.
Treatment for Scoliosis
80% of scoliosis cases are moderate and do not require surgery. In teenagers, it’s quite important to monitor the spine through x-ray and frequent medical examinations regularly. The treatments include;
Painkillers can be helpful in combating the back pain that may occur due to scoliosis pain. The initial treatment recommended is anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, which are available at the local stores. These medicines aren’t suitable for everyone, and some have side effects. Scoliosis can at times cause tingling, numbness, and pain radiating to your arms and legs. In these cases, injections of steroid medication are given to your back, but these injections last for only weeks
Activities that strengthen the muscle are essential in relieving that chronic back pain. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, reducing pressure on your back. Visit a physical expert and get in a program that improves the curvature of your spine. Exercise should be easy to execute and enjoyable.
Your doctor can recommend braces instead of surgery in situations where the patient isn’t in a position to undergo an operation. Back braces aren’t frequently used in adults, but provide relief by supporting your spine.
Most adults don’t require surgery, but it required in cases when;
• The curve is critical and is getting worse with time.
• You have a chronic pain, and it’s not responding to other treatments.
• The spinal nerves become irritated or destroyed.
Spinal surgery is a major operation and carries risks and complications such as increase in pain, blood clot or wound infections. We need to take proper care of our spines and avoid chronic back pain in the future.
- Read more on Everything you Need to Know About Back Problem