Scoliosis Pain – How Common Is IT?
Generally speaking, scoliosis does not cause pain in the early stages. However, scoliosis pain and symptoms become prominent once the scoliotic curve progress beyond a 30-degree curve. Generally, a scoliotic curve is not painful in adolescents. If kids or teenagers experience pain, it may not be solely due to their scoliosis. Careful assessment is needed to identify the root cause. Painful scoliosis during adolescence is often reported with curves bigger than 40-degrees. Adults, on the other hand, can get painful scoliosis with curves. Regardless of age, scoliosis will become unbearable as one age. Scoliosis pain in adults results from premature changes resulting from the continued stress of scoliosis placed on muscles, ligaments, joints, and spinal discs, causing them to wear out prematurely. Early detection and appropriate care are crucial to avoiding painful scoliotic conditions.
Our clinical teams of physiotherapists and chiropractors in Malaysia offer the best comprehensive treatment means for asymptomatic (painless) and symptomatic scoliotic conditions. In addition to the 30-degree rule, scoliosis pain such as back pain and neck pain can result when scoliotic curves progress faster than the adaptative abilities of your body. Visit our clinical teams of chiropractors and physiotherapists today and learn more about what you can do for faster results and recovery.
Before we discuss scoliosis pain and symptoms, let’s review some basic information about scoliosis. The most common type of scoliosis is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, and it affects teenagers from the ages of 10 to 17 during their growth spurt. Adolescent scoliosis is more common in girls than boys.
Mild scoliotic curves often go unnoticed to the untrained eye. However, in time the curve progresses. Increased scoliotic curves can become quite painful.
Often, the family members, relatives, friends, or the healthcare team in school who does a health screening on the kids first detect scoliosis. Typically the first signs are when the kid’s clothes hang on the shoulders unevenly with one side higher than another or when the trousers/dress sit on the pelvis asymmetrically. Parents may also notice the sideways curvature when the kids change clothes or wear tight-fitted clothing, such as a swimming suit. Unfortunately, many scoliosis cases are only detected when the curvature is more than 30 degrees, which falls under the moderate category of scoliosis. A 30-degree curve can be hazardous to the kid if they are still actively growing.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Scoliotic Spine
While idiopathic scoliosis does not normally cause pain, there are many visible signs and symptoms that you should watch out for in your kids:
- Uneven shoulders (one higher than the other)
- Prominent protrusion of the shoulder blade on one side (one side sticking out more than the other)
- Uneven waistline
- The rib cage pops out on one side
- Head is tilted to one side, making it off-center
- Body tilted or leaning against one side
- Uneven leg length (one shorter than the other)
- Curved spine apparent from the back view
If the curvature is in a moderate to severe category, the symptoms may be shown as below:
- Breathing problems, shortness of breath (limited space for the lungs to expand)
- Cardiovascular problems
- Chest pain
- Neck pain
- Back pain (muscle spasm due to muscle imbalance)
- Limited spine range of motion
- Changes in walking patterns or limping
Hence, it is important for parents or guardians to watch out for the signs and symptoms in their children (age 10–17) before it gets worse. If the curvature is at a mild to moderate stage, there is still a high chance of stopping the curve from progressing while the kid is still growing. Scoliosis curvature with a degree of 60 or more is at risk of experiencing more serious symptoms that can even be life-threatening.
What are the Common Causes of Scoliosis Pain in Kids?
As mentioned, it is rare for kids to develop painful scoliosis with mild or moderate curves. The typical scoliotic curve has to be bigger than 40-degrees for it to cause pain in kids or teenagers. However, there are circumstances and conditions in which a mild scoliotic condition results in pain, and we have mentioned a few here:
- Short leg length: Young adults and kids with a short leg of more than 10mm may develop back pain.
- Exessive cellphone or smart device use: Text neck or tech neck are real, and they cause havoc in kids, especially if they an instability in their spine, such as scoliosis.
- Heavy bookbags: It is surprising how heavy kids’ school bags are getting. Some can tolerate it without pain or symptoms. However, a scoliotic spine is a weak spine, and any time kids are subjected to carrying heavy bags, it leads to pain, even if the curve is not moderate.
- Poor posture: Poor posture can cause pain and symptoms in healthy kids, but kids with scoliosis are at more significant risks
What is the Actual Cause of Adult Scoliosis Pain?
Adults with scoliosis will eventually develop pain. Scoliosis is a progressive disorder. It never stops! It keeps getting worse throughout life. The first stage of rapid progression is during puberty. The second and lesser-known stage occurs after 5o. The cause of scoliosis pain in adults is similar to the ones mentioned above for kids and teenagers. In addition, other reasons result from premature degenerative changes in spinal joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, and nerves.
- Slipped disc: Adults with scoliosis have 5 to 10 times greater risks of developing a slipped disc. As the spine bends, it damages the disc. A damaged spinal disc is a week structure that eventually slips (bulges or herniates).
- Joint damage: Spinal joints of adults with scoliosis are under tremendous stress. Over time, these stresses cause premature degenerative and arthritic changes such as bones, spurs, and facet hypertrophy.
- Damage to critical ligaments: An important ligament in the spine (aside from the vertebral disc) is the ligamentum flavum. Adults with chronic scoliotic curvatures develop thicker ligamentum flavum. As ligamentum flavum thickens, it buckles, spinal compression cord and spinal nerves.
What are some Home Remedies for Scoliosis Pain in the Neck and Back?
There are several things you can do at home to help with painful scoliosis. These suggestions are for those that experience spinal pains and aches. Follow them carefully and hope they help:
- Avoid aggravating activities
- Stop athletic and sports-related activities for at least the next 3-5 days
- Ice the painful spinal area for 15-minutes every two hours during the day
- Don’t sit for longer than 30 minutes at a time
- Don’t sit with a forward-leaning posture
- Decrease cell phone and computer use
- Stay away from lifting heavy items
- Get some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that is available over the counter (NSAIDs)
Icing and refraining from aggravating activities should provide the best pain relief from scoliosis. As we mentioned in earlier sections, scoliosis patients are prone to getting slipped discs. Slipped discs are standard and can present as bulging, herniations, protrusions, and extrusions. Any form of a slipped disc can cause pain, especially in scoliosis patients. If your scoliosis pain is not decreasing, you need to visit a CSC center for a detailed assessment. Care must be taken when icing; never ice without using a timer. Icing longer than 20-minutes or too frequently can increase pain. Also, always wrap the ice pack in a thick cotton cloth before placing it on your body.
Essential to Successful Outcomes: Early Detection and Proper No-Operative Spine Treatment
We do not recommend surgical procedures for scoliosis patients who have a curvature of 60 and below. Surgery for scoliosis involves spinal fusion. Scoliosis surgery should be the last option as there is the potential for complications, infections, and instrumentation failures. Besides, various studies have reported a poor long-term outlook on the surgical intervention of scoliotic patients. We highly recommend scoliosis patients try conservative scoliosis treatments and exercise first before thinking about surgery.
Our treatment methods for scoliosis are highly specific and advanced. We combine chiropractic, physiotherapy, and advanced technology to treat scoliosis patients. On top of that, we focus on particular exercising programs to encourage the proper stretching and strengthening of the surrounding spine muscles. To conclude, scoliosis pain is common and easily treatable through our breakthrough methods and technology.