Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes the spine to twist and curve to the side. It can affect any part of the spine, but it is most common in the chest region and the lower back. Scoliosis can occur at any age, but it often starts in childhood.
What causes it?
For 80% of cases of scoliosis, the cause is unknown. This is referred to as idiopathic scoliosis. It cannot be prevented and it’s not thought to be related to factors such as bad posture, diet or exercise. However, it’s often believed that scoliosis is hereditary.
There are also less common causes of scoliosis. In some cases, it’s thought to be linked to underlying muscle and nerve conditions, such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. This is called neuromuscular scoliosis. It’s also believed that it can stem from the bones in the spine not forming properly in the womb, which is more commonly referred to as congenital scoliosis. It’s even thought that wear and tear with age can be to blame - otherwise known as degenerative scoliosis.
What are the symptoms?
Scoliosis is usually recognised by changes in the appearance of the back. The main signs can include a visibly curved spine, uneven shoulders and leaning to one side. It can also be spotted if one shoulder or hip sticks out or if the ribs are more prominent on one side. Some people with scoliosis may notice that their clothes no longer fit properly, and it’s also common for adults with the condition to suffer from back pain.If you suspect that you have scoliosis, you should see your GP. It’s likely they will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. If your GP thinks you might have scoliosis, they may refer you to a specialist to help with your diagnosis. In this instance, it’s likely you’ll have a scan to check if your spine is curved and, if so, how severe it is.
How can it be treated?
The good news is that scoliosis can be managed and treated in a number of different ways. The type of treatment recommended is usually determined by factors such as age, how severe the curve is, whether or not it’s likely to get worse over time and how much it affects life on a daily basis. If the condition isn’t very severe, treatment may include making some simple lifestyle changes, while others steps might be needed if the scoliosis is particularly painful.
The main treatment options include:
- Painkiller tablets can help reduce back pain caused by scoliosis. Anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, are usually recommended first. If you find that over-the-counter tablets don’t work, you should speak to your GP. They may be able to prescribe stronger painkillers or refer you to a pain management clinic.
Exercise can also help reduce the pain caused by scoliosis, especially activities that stretch and strengthen your back. Staying active can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn, can reduce the strain on your back. If not sure which exercises are best for you, you should speak to your GP.
Although they are mainly used by children with the condition, back braces can help provide relief by supporting your back and spine. If you’re too unwell to undergo surgery, a brace might be suggested as an alternative.
Scoliosis can put pressure on the nerves in the spine that can cause pain, numbness and a tingling sensation that can be felt in the lower back. In this instance, spinal injections might be suggested. The injections usually consist of steroid medication and local anaesthetic, however the benefits tend to only last a few weeks or months, so this is often used as a short-term solution.
Many adults with scoliosis will not require surgery. However, it could be recommended if the curve of the spine is particularly severe or if it’s getting progressively worse. It might also be a last resort if other treatments haven’t worked. Spinal surgery is a major operation, and it can take a year or longer to fully recover.
How Adjustamatic can help
Scoliosis can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. The abnormal curvature of the spine can cause pain and it can be hard to find a suitable position. Our adjustable beds can help ease some of the symptoms associated with scoliosis. The beds can be adjusted to a number of different positions, helping you to get comfortable so you can enjoy a peaceful night’s rest. We also offer beds featuring our NHC Cyclo-Therapy massage technology which can help in alleviating pain.
To find out more about our adjustable beds, you can browse our website or get in touch with our team of experts. Our specialists are on hand to help you with any questions you might have and provide you with more information about our products.