ScoliosisScoliosis is an S shaped or C shaped curve in the spine. You can be born with it, or it can develop over time. Scoliosis can also range from very mild which is hardly noticeable to sever cases causing deformity.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

Scoliosis symptoms may include back pain but not always. The pain associated with scoliosis is likely to be a burning muscular pain. There will be a visible curve or S shape when viewing the spine from the back and one shoulder may appear higher than the other. If the curve is in the upper back then one shoulder blade may be more prominent.

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis of the spine is a sideways curvature that can often result in an 'S' shape or 'C' shape curve in the spine.The curve is usually in the Thoracic or Lumbar regions of the spine. Scoliosis can either be congenital, meaning present from birth, or idiopathic, meaning it develops over time as a result of another condition such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.

Idiopathic scoliosis can also develop as a result of a muscular imbalance caused by either physical trauma following an accident or by one sided activities such as throwing or racket sports. Children can develop scoliosis through carrying heavy bags on one shoulder all day at school.

Scoliosis is not always obvious is minor cases. If you run the fingers down the spine either side of the vertebrae they will leave two red lines. It is often easier to see the curving of the spine in these red lines.

Treatment of Scoliosis

Scoliosis illustration

  • Scoliosis treatment varies from person to person, depending on how severe the curvature is and how much growing they have left to do.
  • If the condition is not severe, it will normally just be observed (especially in adolescents who are still growing) with regular X-rays, to make sure it does not get worse. Sometimes growth can correct the problem altogether.
  • In more severe cases a brace can be worn, which will stop the curve from getting any worse, although will not correct the problem. Often these braces must be worn for up to 23 hours a day, although they are lightweight and can be worn under clothing.  
  • In the most severe of cases, spinal fusion surgery may be required. This can help reduce the curvature, relieve back pain and prevent damage to the heart and lungs.  
  • There are other options which are also available to help ease back pain and reduce the deformity in mild to moderate cases. These include physiotherapy, reflexology, spinal manipulation, acupuncture.
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises, as well as deep tissue massage can help scoliosis which is caused by muscular imbalances

How can you Prevent Scoliosis in Young People?

  • Avoid carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. Get a rucksack type bag and wear it properly or regularly alternate carrying arms and shoulders.
  • If you are a one sided sports person e.g. Javelin thrower, hurdler or tennis player, at the end of each practice make sure you throw a few times with your wrong arm or hit a few balls with the other arm. Get into the habit - it will be worth it in the long run

For more information on Lower Back Pain: