Scoliosis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an abnormal side-to-side curve in the spine that occurs most often during your growth spurt that happens before the onset of puberty. Conditions such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy may cause scoliosis, but most of the time, the cause is unknown. About 3 percent of the population has scoliosis, and girls are more often affected than boys. While it is, mostly, a mild condition that requires no treatment, in more severe cases, doctors may recommend a back brace or surgery. (x) Surgery as an option is controversial, with other less invasive remedies available. (x)

The spine allows the torso to bend and twist, and the spine curves forward and backward naturally, acting as shock absorbers. Normal curves range from 20 to 50 degrees. However, side-to-side curves are not typical, and any curve above 10 degrees means there’s a good chance you have scoliosis. (x)

Mild scoliosis may not be visible just by looking at the back, but it can still cause pain. If you are experiencing back pain, your doctor may recommend an x-ray of the backbone to determine the cause. (x)

Treatment for mild scoliosis includes physical therapy exercises, chiropractic and other things such as using an inversion table for children, young adults and adults. You may require a back brace or surgery for more severe cases, but you should try to avoid surgery. (x) Additionally, diet and supplementation can help to manage the symptoms.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

The symptoms of scoliosis will depend on the severity of the spinal curvature. For most, the curve is mild, and there are no symptoms. As the curve becomes more pronounced, the shoulders may be uneven, or the head may not appear centered over the body. One hip might be higher than the other or jut out. The ribs may stick out, or your arms may appear to be different lengths. There might be a bump in the low back where the bones stick out. (x)

  1. Spine Curvature

With scoliosis, the spine may curve to the left, the right or both. Levoscoliosis is the term that describes when the spine curves toward the left. Dextroscoliosis means the curve goes to the right in the shape of the letter C. Scoliosis usually occurs in the lower back or lumbar spine. Still, it may also affect the thoracic spine or middle back. It is also possible for the spine to make both left and right curves, making an S shape. Cervical scoliosis or scoliosis in the neck is rare but is a challenge to treat. So, choose a doctor wisely. (x)

An excessive curve in the low back is lumbar lordosis, and an exaggerated curve in the middle back is kyphosis. Because the spine often twists in three dimensions, either or both of these conditions can accompany scoliosis.

An abnormally curved spine may cause the ribs to look rotated in a child, and if the child bends over, one side of the ribs may appear elevated. Another indicator is uneven shoulders or a single, protruding shoulder blade. A hump on one side of the back is another potential sign of a curved spine in a child. (x)

Spinal stenosis is another condition that affects the spine, but it differs from scoliosis. Spinal stenosis means that the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the nerves. It is most common in the neck and lower back. (x)

Spinal rotation often accompanies scoliosis, meaning the vertebrae not only curve to the side but also twist. The early stages of scoliosis rarely present any symptoms, but more severe problems may develop if the problem continues to progress untreated.

  1. Pain

Pain is a common symptom of scoliosis, and nerve pain is also possible. If the spine puts pressure on the stomach, the individual may feel full after not eating very much. Someone with scoliosis may have difficulty walking or standing up straight. It is also possible to lose height, especially among older adults. Fatigue is common, and the person may have trouble breathing or feel short of breath. Bone spurs sometimes form on the joints in the spine and may cause arthritis. (x)

Back pain is the most common symptom of adult scoliosis, and doctors frequently prescribe exercises and stretching for pain relief. These help keep the muscles and joints strong and flexible and prevent further degeneration. Because scoliosis can cause uneven muscle development, a muscle re-education exercise involves bending further in the direction your spine is already curving. It causes your muscles to pull back and shorten, helping to retrain them. The yoga poses Cat and Cow are two other exercises that can also help with pain management for scoliosis. Child’s Pose is another good yoga stretch to relieve pain in the back. Water therapy is another good treatment option because the buoyancy places less stress on the joints. Some people may find that massage also helps to loosen soft tissue and relax tight muscles. (x)

  1. Tertiary Symptoms

Scoliosis can trigger muscle spasms in the thoracic area, causing pain in the mid-back. You may experience difficulty sitting or standing, and your balance may be off. In very severe cases, scoliosis affects your lung or heart function as well. (x)

Causes of Scoliosis

In most cases of scoliosis, the cause is idiopathic, but there is evidence that the condition runs in families. Other spinal conditions, such as kyphosis (or hunchback), are often hereditary. (x)

Underlying Syndromes

Besides muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, other potential causes of scoliosis include Rett syndrome, neurofibromatosis and spina bifidaSpina bifida is a congenital disability (birth defect) in which the bones of the spine don’t fully close, causing a gap. It means that the spinal cord itself does not form correctly. While mild spina bifida (spina bifida occulta) may not create any disabilities, more severe cases can cause scoliosis and kyphosis, as well as other problems. (x)

Another rare but potential cause of scoliosis is syringomyelia, in which a cyst develops in the spinal cord. If the cyst enlarges, it can cause several problems, including syrinx scoliosis, tumors or damage to the spinal cord. Surgery may be necessary to correct the problem. (x)

Lumbar lordosis happens most commonly in children, but obesityricketsarthritis, certain diseases like osteochondropathy, a sedentary lifestyle and injuries may also cause this problem. If you are inactive, getting more exercise can help fix a curve in the lower back. Stretching is also crucial, and be sure to hit all the related muscle groups — the back, abdominals, hip flexors and gluteal muscles. (x)

Other causes of scoliosis:

  1. Birth Defect

Congenital disability refers to physical or medical problems present at the time of birth. A newborn may present with a spinal curve.

  1. Age

Because of aging, musculature and skeletal integrity weaken, so the body cannot always hold itself in the correct alignment. The health condition can cause the spine to curve.

  1. Spinal Tumor

Spinal tumors are very hard to diagnose because of their location and a wide variety of symptoms. One symptom of a spinal tumor is creating a spinal curve and scoliosis. (x)

  1. Infections and Injury

Some rare types of scoliosis stem from infections or injury to the spine.

Scoliosis Symptoms

Treatment for Scoliosis

Understanding the different treatments you can try for scoliosis will help you know solutions to this health concern to help you live a fuller life. Some of these include:

  1. Exercise

While exercises that strengthen the core can help alleviate back pain, specific exercises may do more harm than good, including backbends, bending your neck very far forward or twisting the middle back. High intensity, high contact or highly competitive sports can put extra strain on the spine and worsen the problem. Exercise that requires a lot of jumping, such as gymnastics and ballet, can also exacerbate scoliosis. Distance running, especially on hard surfaces, can compress the spine, compounding the problem. Avoid heavy weightlifting as it may also compress or shorten the spine. Light to medium weights or kettlebells are best for those with scoliosis. (x)

  1. Back Brace

You can use back braces to correct spinal curvature, especially when it is present during adolescence.

  1. Surgery

More often than not, you can have your scoliosis corrected or managed without surgery. But there might be causes that warrant intervention, exercises or a brace can help restore the abnormal curve. However, if the curvature worsens, a doctor may recommend surgery. And the surgeon will fuse the vertebrae or place rods against your spine to correct or maintain the curve. In children, doctors may repeat surgery every six months to a year so that the rods keep up with the child’s growth. Once the child approaches physical maturity, the doctor usually fuses the back. (x) All due respect, avoid surgery and see a chiropractor and have the child receive spinal manipulations until the health concern no longer exists or is more manageable. (x)

  1. Healthy Diet

Dietary supplements are often ideal for those with scoliosis. Vitamin D3 supports strong bones and muscles, and it also helps to prevent deficiencies of other vitamins that may be a contributing factor to the development of scoliosis. Many herbs can help alleviate the pain that accompanies scoliosis, including curcumingingerarnicaBoswellia serrataoreganofish oil and MSM

Supplements for Scoliosis

Take the time to talk with your doctor about any new supplement you would like to start taking. Some include: 

  1. Curcumin

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, and it has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes by practitioners of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. It is an anti-inflammatory that can effectively treat chronic back pain in adults with scoliosis. (x) A standard dose is 1,000 mg, taken once per day.

  1. Oregano

Oregano is another herbal remedy used for centuries for pain relief. It also increases circulation and suppresses inflammation. For oregano extract powder, take 500 mg once to three times daily.

  1. Vitamin D3

For most cases of scoliosis, the cause is unknown, but low bone mineral density and scoliosis have a high correlation. (x) (xVitamin D3 is essential for calcium absorption, and you also need to take it for healthy muscles and overall health. (x) Because the body uses vitamin D to absorb other vitamins, a deficiency can cause other vitamin deficiencies. Take 50mg a day. (x)

  1. Fish Oil

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for overall health. They also help reduce pain and inflammation in the body. (x) Take one or two fish oil softgels two to three times daily. (x)

  1. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is a bio-available form of sulfur that reduces inflammation, offering natural pain relief. (x) Take 1,000-1,300 mg of MSM powder up to four times daily. Be sure to take it with meals. (x)

  1. Ginger

For thousands of years, medicinally Ginger has worked as a potent anti-inflammatory, and in modern studies, medical industry says it still offers pain relief. But, if you must take prescriptions for your pain, taking ginger may also help avoid side effects of conventional painkillers, such as stomach disorders. (x) Take 1,000 mg once daily with plenty of water or as directed by your doctor. (x)

  1. Arnica 

Arnica offers pain relief and helps alleviate inflammation. (x) You should never take it internally but apply it to the skin, over the area that needs pain relief. To use, dissolve a teaspoon or two of arnica extract in 50 ml of water. Dampen a cotton cloth with the mixture and apply to the affected area. You can also use a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Mix the same amount into a 1/4 cup of oil, blend well and rub into the area. Please do not use it on broken skin. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to arnica, so if you have sensitivities to the sunflower family, including dandelions, marigolds and daisies, you may prefer not to use arnica. (x)

  1. Boswellia Serrata 

Also called frankincense, Boswellia serrata has centuries of successful applications as a traditional remedy to treat pain, inflammation and other complaints. Research proves in studies that it reduces pain and inflammation and improves flexibility. (x) A standard dose is 450 mg taken twice daily. (x)

Where to Buy Supplements for Scoliosis?

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The Bottom Line

Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curve of the spine that most commonly strikes adolescents and girls in particular. For most people, the condition is mild and needs no treatment, though chiropractic care has positive results even for extreme conditions. 

However, regular exercise, stretching and supplements such as vitamin D and fish oil can help muscles and bones grow correctly. In contrast, herbs like ginger, bromelain and curcumin can help with pain management.

Treating any health concern is best naturally as a long-term solution. Taking care of your spine is crucial whether you have an abnormal curve or not. With that, visit your chiropractor, healthcare provider to make sure you take proper care of your spine for long-lasting and active life.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Author: BulkSupplements Staff