What Is Scoliosis And How Can I Manage The Pain?

How Exercises & Myotherapy Can Alleviate the Pain

What Is Scoliosis And How Can I Manage The Pain

The spine, also termed as “vertebral column” or “backbone” is our body’s central support structure. It extends from the base of the skull to the pelvis and connects the different parts of our skeleton (the shoulders, head, pelvis, arms, chest, and legs) to each other. It performs the following important functions:

  • protects the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots
  • transmits weight from the body to the leg
  • supports the head
  • facilitates movement and flexibility

Normally, there are three natural curves in the vertebral column that give it the “S” shape when viewed from the side. These curves play an important role in even distribution of body weight and help us to stand upright.

However, in the case of abnormalities in the vertebral column, these natural curvatures of the spine are misaligned or exaggerated in certain areas. The three major types of abnormalities (deformities) in the vertebral column include:

  • Kyphosis (hunchback) – when the backward curve in the upper spine is too great (more than 50 degrees of curvature), the condition is referred to as “kyphosis”, “thoracic hyperkyphosis” or simply hunchback.
  • Lordosis (swayback) – when the inward curve in the lower back is too great (between 40-53 degrees of curvature), the condition is referred to as “lordosis”, “hyperlordosis” or simply swayback.
  • Scoliosis – in the above two conditions, the spine curves from front to back or vice versa, however in scoliosis, the spine curves from side to side.

So, what is scoliosis and how can I manage the pain?

What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a term that describes any sideways curvature of the spine. People with Scoliosis have a spine that curves more than 10 degrees to the left or right giving it the “S” (double curve) or “C” shape when viewed from the back.

Scoliosis is the most common deformity of the spine affecting approximately 2% of the population. It is more common in females than males and usually starts during the preteen years. The exact cause of Scoliosis is still unknown; however, doctors believe that genetics plays an important role.

How to Manage the Pain

Some people with scoliosis do not experience any sort of pain, but for others, it can result in neck pain, back pain, muscle spasms, rib pain, and abdominal pain. Additionally, this spinal curvature abnormality can also negatively affect lung or heart functioning. There are two main explanations for pain associated with scoliosis:

  • Musculoskeletal pain – pain associated with skeletal and muscular changes in the body – like overworking muscles and straining
  • Nerve pain – pain associated with nerve damage or spinal disc degeneration, often felt as sharp, radiating pain in the lower back or neck

For patients suffering from adult scoliosis, numerous pain management treatments are available. Some of them are:

  • Physical Therapy – targeted exercises (such as Pilates, stretching, planks, swimming, yoga) and physical therapy techniques (such as soft tissue massage, acupuncture, and trigger point therapy) that strengthen the core muscles can help alleviate pain, improve posture, and prevent further complications. Depending on your age, severity, and type of pain, your physical therapist can recommend exercises and stretching routines to suit your special needs.
  • Hydrotherapy & Myotherapy – aquatic exercises are also helpful in managing the pain associated with scoliosis as the therapeutic heat of the water help relieve pain. Water also gives you buoyancy which not only reduces the effect of gravity on your body; it also improves blood circulation and de-stresses your body.
  • Medications – over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol)) can help treat inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Epidural Steroid or Facet Block Injections – these injections are injected directly into the affected area (under closer supervision) and can be used to combat acute pain.
  • Spinal cord Stimulation – if the pain is originating as a result of nerve damage, your doctor may prescribe spinal cord stimulation technique to subside the pain.

How Exercises And Myotherapy Can Alleviate the Pain

Patients suffering from any of the three different types of scoliosis (congenital scoliosis, functional scoliosis, or neuromuscular scoliosis) tend to have more muscle tension and pain than the average person, and manual therapy such as myotherapy can help alleviate pain significantly.

Similarly, any form of sports activity or movement is usually beneficial for people with scoliosis, as it strengthens the muscles and joints affected by scoliosis. The goal is to promote symmetry within the spine and to regain trunk alignment; therefore these exercises should be performed gently and with proper techniques. Before performing any exercise, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor to avoid any chances of harming your skeletal system.

While it is not possible with simple massage therapy to correct twisted or curved bones, myotherapy for scoliosis can definitely help reduce pain and increase mobility in scoliosis sufferers. Here is how different types of therapies (such as Cranial-Sacral therapy, deep tissue, Shiatsu, Swedish massage, and sports massage) can benefit those with functional or structural scoliosis:

  • massage helps calm stretched, uncomfortable muscles that are pulled out of place due to abnormal (curved) bone structure
  • massage also helps to lengthen and release the contracted muscles on the other side of the curve
  • massage increases blood circulation in the body, providing oxygen and other nutrients to the affected muscles
  • massage breaks up the scar tissues and decreases the incidence of muscle spasms
  • massage also increases flexibility and range of motion
  • massage not only improves the physical health and well being of scoliosis sufferers, it also calms the nerves and decreases mental stress

In a nutshell, myotherapy prepares the body and the mind to better deal with chronic pain related to scoliosis.

If you would like more info regarding “what is scoliosis and how can I manage the pain” feel free to give us a call, 03 9645 9923.

Melbourne Natural Therapies
What Is Scoliosis And How Can I Manage The Pain?
Myotherapy Melbourne