Adult Scoliosis Pain Management Tips
After years of scoliosis treatment, 16-year-old Rachel Rabkin Peachmans curves had stabilized and her spine had fully grown. At 45 degrees, she had narrowly avoided scoliosis surgery. Her doctor told her she was done.
But she wasnt.
Ive discovered in the years since that scoliosis is not something you endure and outgrow, like pimples and puberty. Now, at the ripe age of 38, I find myself with a 55-degree upper curve, a 33-degree lower curve, consistent pain and no standard treatment to follow. No severe scoliosis pain management protocols exist
She is not the only adult scoliosis patient left in pain. As many as 6 million adults live with scoliosisin the United States alone, whether idiopathic or developed during adulthood . Nearly three in four experience pain as a result, while 23 percent describe their pain levels as horrible, excruciating, or distressing. Scoliosis pain management options are often non-existent.
A misshapen body is the least serious consequence of scoliosis, says Jane Brody, who was diagnosed with scoliosis after her son pointed out that one hip was higher than the other. It can result in disabling pain in the buttocks, back or legs, and neuropathy, a disruption of feeling and function when a spinal nerve is compressed between vertebrae.
That is a lot of people who potentially suffer from adult scoliosis pain.
Treatment Solutions For All Ages
Pain and limited flexibility do not have to stop you from living your best life with scoliosis. Clinical testing, appropriate nutrient therapies, and a dynamic exercise and rehabilitation program will prevent pain and limit curve progression.
Dont know where to start? Take our FREE ScoliQuiz.
ScoliSMART Clinics is committed to treating the WHOLE scoliosis condition, not only the curve. Genetic & clinical testing with targeted nutrient therapies, expert in-office treatment programs, and the worlds only ScoliSMART Activity Suit provides patients of all ages with the most comprehensive, most effective, and least invasive treatment options available worldwide.
The Top 5 Benefits Of The Strauss Method
The Strauss Method has given scoliosis sufferers freedom, quality of life, and peace of mind. You wont believe the additional benefits that come with slowing your progression and decreasing your pain. You have the opportunity to non-invasively improve your condition and your life. What would you give to have hope that your condition will not get worse, but instead will improve?
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Stretches And Exercises For Scoliosis
The correct scoliosis exercises depend on the location of a persons scoliosis curve.
People with lumbar scoliosis should focus on exercising their lower back. In contrast, those with thoracic scoliosis should focus more on exercising their thoracic spine and upper back.
Doctors may recommend the following exercises and stretches for people with scoliosis.
To do this exercise, a person should:
This stretch focuses on the latissimus dorsi the largest muscle in the upper body.
Thoracic scoliosis directly affects these muscles. Lumbar scoliosis can also cause tightness in the latissimus dorsi.
To do a latissimus dorsi stretch, a person should:
Where Does The Pain Come From
When it comes to living with scoliosis, there are two anatomical explanations for pain.
- Musculoskeletal pain is related to how the skeleton changes with scoliosis like straining and overworking muscles and is very common with idiopathic scoliosis.
- Nerve pain is often experienced by people with degenerative scoliosis. As a spinal disc deteriorates, the body has trouble holding itself up, which can start to pinch nerves and cause sharp, radiating pains or numbness in the neck and lower back.
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Helpful Tools For Adult Scoliosis Exercises
ScoliSMART Activity Suit : What if you could turn every movement you make into an effective treatment for scoliosis? If you are walking, it is working! Thats what the ScoliSMART Activity Suit does. Wearing it during your workout can help retrain your body to automatically correct your posture. It provides active resistance while you move to help retrain your brain and muscles to reduce spinal curves.
Many times exercise for scoliosis seems harderespecially with scoliosis pain. The important thing to remember is that you shouldnt do anything that feels bad.
Listen to your body, says fitness trainer Carol Ann. You do want to feel like your muscles are working, but you dont want to work through the pain. To gauge by that.
Having the right equipment available can help. Supporting your spines weak areas and in some cases even enhancing the effectiveness of your exercises. Below are a few devices that are especially helpful for people with scoliosis.
How Is Adult Scoliosis Diagnosed
Before your doctor can suggest a treatment plan, if adult scoliosis is suspected, he/she will need to take a history. This may include questions about:
- Date when you first noticed change in your spine
- Curve progression
- Presence and location of pain, if any
- Any bowel, bladder, or motor dysfunction, which may be signs of more serious nerve damage or pressure caused by scoliosis
In a physical exam your doctor will examine your back to check the shape of your spine and see how you move around. Your nerves may also be tested through reflex, sensation and muscle-strength checks.
If needed, your doctor may order X-rays. X-rays taken from the front and side will show a full picture of your spine. Your doctor can then determine if you have scoliosis and if so, to what degree.
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Additional Scoliosis Side Effects
The key to managing scoliosis-related pain is to be proactive. The traditional approach to treating scoliosis, especially if first diagnosed as mild or moderate, involves a lot of observation. Often, treatment isnt initiated until the curvature reaches severe levels or there is a rapid progression.
Not only can initiating early treatment slow or stop the conditions progression, it can also be hugely beneficial in terms of managing pain and other scoliosis-related symptoms.
If scoliosis is left untreated, it is likely that one or more of the following negative side effects can also become an issue:
- Issues with digestion
Using The Scoliosis Activity Suit Encourages More Physical Activity
Since the Scoliosis Activity Suit creates resistance and reaction from the walking motion, many adult scoliosis patients are increasing their overall activity levels as part of their daily routine. This can have many significant health benefits, including weight loss, improved circulation, and decreased stress all of which can and do contribute to less pain and improved quality of life.
Chronic scoliosis pain in adults is a tough condition to treat. Most existing treatment methods are solely focused on surgery or pain medications to manage not fix the underlying causes of scoliosis pain. In reality, the primary cause of scoliosis pain is often related to spinal twisting causing torque on the spinal column, lack of spinal balance and muscle firing patterns, and poor true core stability.
The pain syndrome often leads patients to less-active lifestyles . So, can scoliosis cause breathing problems when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle? The two seem to go hand in hand.
The Scoliosis Activity Suit has been specifically designed to address all of these complications. What was once deemed impossible has become consistently possible for many adult scoliosis pain sufferers who had otherwise lost hope.
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What Are The Treatment Options For Adult Scoliosis
There are two main treatment options for adults with scoliosis: Surgery and non-surgical interventions.
Only a small percentage of patients with adult scoliosis will ever need surgery, but if surgery is deemed necessary its generally due to dysfunction related to back and leg pain, explains Dr. Kang. Patients who need surgery can benefit tremendously, but surgery is most likely not the best option for more than 90 percent of adults with scoliosis.
For patients who are considering surgery, Dr. Chi and Dr. Kang always remind them that spinal surgery is a major event. These are invasive surgeries, so the decision can warrant a second or third opinion. Both spine specialists counsel patients and help them deeply consider the surgical option.
How To Stop Scoliosis From Getting Worse
June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month. As such, it is one of my favorite months of the year! This month gives me a chance to get the word out about one of my passions: Scoliosis Treatment!
Since 2015, we have been dedicated to the proactive treatment of scoliosis to help those with spinal deformity avoid surgery, reduce pain, and improve posture. I have seen some amazing results and want to share how we stop scoliosis from getting worse.
Do you fall into one of these categories of people who are worried about scoliosis?
If any of the above sound like you, then you are in luck! There are proactive things you can do that are more effective than the old wait and see approach.
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Slowing The Progression Of Childhood Scoliosis
How Is Adult Scoliosis Treated
The majority of cases of adult scoliosis can be managed non-operatively through regular observation by a doctor, over-the-counter pain medications, and core-strengthening exercises to strengthen your abdomen and back and to improve flexibility. If you smoke, its important that you quit. Smoking has been shown to speed up the degenerative process.
In most cases, your doctor will recommend some forms of physical therapy, to both maintain strength and relieve pain. These may include:
- Working to improve posture
- Doing low-impact exercises, such as swimming
- Daily stretching
If pain is not relieved by oral medications or physical therapy, your doctor may recommend epidural or nerve block injections for more effective relief.
Surgery is necessary in some cases of adult scoliosis. This treatment is the last option because of the risks of complications from spinal surgery. Surgery may be suggested for the following reasons:
Advances in surgical techniques and computer-assisted navigation systems make less invasive approaches possible, and recovery time quicker.
Scoliosis Exercises For Long
While simple stretches such as these can temporarily relieve scoliosis pain, they are not a long-term treatment.
There are, however, scoliosis exercises that achieve long-term results by retraining the brain to counteract the spines abnormal curvature.
The key is to use involuntary exercises movements the body makes automatically in response to certain stimuli. For example, the ScoliSMART Activity Suit places small amounts of weight on the head, torso, and pelvis that trick the brain into perceiving a different balancing point for that part of your childs body. The brain sends out an automatic response to re-balance the body, which in turn causes the entire spine to realign.
Clinical studies have proven ScoliSMARTs scoliosis exercise program effective at stopping scoliosis progression and reducing spinal curvature, all without the trauma and risks of bracing or surgery.
Exercise : Bird Dog Extension Exercise
This exercisereleases trigger points in the back while derotating the scoliosis to provide pain control and curve stabilization.
This exercise has been modified for both thoracic and lumbar scoliosis.
The following exercise is for the typical pattern of an S shaped curve with the upper or thoracic curve to the right along with the typical lower or lumbar curve.
Note: If your curve differs in any way from the typical S shaped curve , the exercise may need to be modified. Most people with scoliosis will benefit from this exercise, but if the curve is opposite the typical, avoid this pattern of the bird dog as it will aggravate your condition.
This exercise is performed on a firm surface such as a carpeted floor or a yoga mat. Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
- Keep head aligned with spine
- Keep buttocks and abdomen tight. Do not arch the back
- Lift the left arm up and forward until it is level with torso. Simultaneously lift the right leg in the same manner. Extend your body as far as possible, reaching your arm forward and your foot backward to stretch your spine.
- Keep arm, spine, and opposite leg aligned as if they are forming a tabletop
- Only perform this exercise as instructed, do not perform on the opposite side.
- Remember to breathe
Do 10 repetitions each side while holding for 5 seconds, twice daily
Variation for improved balance
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Spinal Rotation Is The Engine Of Scoliosis Progression
Understandably , most patients see a crooked or bent spine on their x-ray and mistakenly think the curvature itself is the entire problem scoliosis creates. In reality, scoliosis is much, much, much more complicated. In fact, it really isnt bending so much as it is twisting.
Think of the curve in a scoliosis spine as a rubber band that is being twisted from the top and bottom until it makes a coil and buckles to the side. This is the true dynamic and biomechanical driver of scoliosis progression. One cannot simply push on the outside of the curvature toward the midline and force the spine straighter. Actually, due to the unique rotation patterns seen only in scoliosis, many times pushing on the spine with a hard or softback brace will INCREASE the spinal rotation and make the scoliosis spine coil down even more! These are signs scoliosis is getting worse!
Any realistic treatment effort to treat the unique biomechanics of a spine afflicted with scoliosis is going to have to focus on DE-ROTATING the spinal curve and, furthermore, teaching the patients AUTOMATIC postural control centers in the brain how to do so permanently.
While this may sound a bit new and/or far-fetched, it can be done with an entirely new concept in the treatment of adult scoliosis and the painful symptoms often associated with the condition. We call it the Scoliosis Activity Suit.
Scoliosis Back Pain Causes
Nick Jain, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at California-based DISC Sports & Spine Center, explains the mechanics of scoliosis back pain.
Typically, scoliosis has two directions: coronal and sagittal . Depending on the type of scoliosis, the primary source of pain is excess work by muscles and excess pressure on discs as the spine and body attempt to correct to the cone of efficiency.
, the head is centered over the pelvis, and the pelvis centered over the knees, hips, and feet. As scoliosis changes this alignment, the body has to work increasingly hard to try to compensate for scoliosis, Dr. Jain says. That means your overworked back and core muscles are more likely to .
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