Scoliosis Symptoms

What is Scoliosis?

The quick answer is Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves to the side (laterally).  It typically is more apparent in the upper part of the back (thoracic spine), but it may also occur in the lower spine.   With scoliosis, it is common when there is a side curve in one part of the back for there to be a compensatory curve in another part of the back going to the opposite side.  Scoliosis is named according to the direction of the curvature.  For example, if there is a curve that deviates to the left in the upper back, it is called a Right Thoracic Curve.

scoliosis is an S-shaped curve of the spine.  In some cases there can be pain and surgery may be needed.Scoliosis Symptoms

What are the Early Signs and Symptoms of Scoliosis?

Most people have a slight side curve in their spine.  We can’t all be perfectly symmetrical!  This is not abnormal.  If there is a more noticeable curve in the spine, it may be necessary to X-ray the spine.  The side curves of the spine can be measured on X-ray to determine the angle of the curve.  This is called the “Cobb Angle”.   If the angle is less than 20 degrees, there is typically no treatment but it is monitored to ensure that it does not increase.  From 20 to 40 degrees, especially in adolescents, bracing and exercises may be used.  If the angle exceeds 50 degrees, surgical intervention may be used.  

Scoliosis may causes spinal pain between the shoulder blades.  Scoliosis may be a cause of lower back pain which may be what causes pain in the legs for some people.  Scoliosis symptoms may also include neck pain.  

What will Happen if Scoliosis is Not Treated?

If scoliosis is worsening and not treated, it may lead to other health problems.  Back pain, hip pain, and foot pain are some of the possible symptoms.  In severe degenerative scoliosis, organs may become compressed which may cause severe health issues.

What is the Main Cause of Scoliosis?

There are different types of scoliosis.  It can happen with infants/toddlers, adolescents, and with adults.  Scoliosis may occur for no apparent reason.  This is called idiopathic scoliosis.   In other cases, scoliosis may occur with degenerative changes and osteoporosis or other spine diseases later in life.   If the legs are not the same length, this may cause the pelvis to not be level which may cause scoliosis.  

How Should You Sleep if You Have Scoliosis?

Sleeping position with scoliosis symptoms should not be much different than with anybody else.  It is typically recommended to sleep on the back with pillows under the knee, or on the side with pillows between the knees.  Changing positions regularly can help to decreased irritation during the night.   If there is still pain at night, consulting a physical therapist may help to customize sleeping positions for individual needs.

If you are concerned about your spine and whether you have scoliosis, the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute can help.  We have a dedicated spine team with decades of experience to address your concerns.  To schedule an appointment, please call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click below. 

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Content Writer: Ehren Allen, PT, COMT

Back and Neck Specialists

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