Thursday, August 11, 2022

Does Scoliosis Cause Nerve Pain

Don't Miss

Scoliosis And Sciatic Pain

Common Root Cause of Scoliosis

As mentioned, scoliosis involves having a spine that has lost one or more of its healthy curvatures, and once those natural healthy curves are lost, they are replaced by unnatural curves. This introduces a lot of uneven forces to the spine and the rest of the body.

As a scoliotic curve progresses, it can squeeze the sciatic nerve, and this can lead to pain at the site and/or radiating pain down one leg, , and can be felt right down to the feet.

Scoliosis, even if it doesnt involve the sciatic nerve, can cause other nerve issues and radiating pain throughout the body. In fact, when it comes to scoliosis in adults, its most often pain felt in the legs and feet that brings them in to see me for a diagnosis.

Nerves are like branches on a tree that fan out in multiple directions, which is why where a person feels pain isnt necessarily its site of origin. When a persons sciatic nerve is pinched and/or compressed, the squeezing can produce varying levels of pain that can range from mild and occasional to chronic and debilitating.

To summarize, scoliosis and sciatica pain have a strong connection. Scoliosis causes the spine to curve at unnatural angles, and this can put a lot of extra pressure on different areas of the back. Especially common in lumbar scoliosis , which is where the sciatic nerve starts, the sciatic nerve is exposed to that pressure and can cause varying levels of pain and discomfort.

Age and Scoliosis-Related Sciatic Pain

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis And Pain

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the conditions most common form it makes up approximately 80 percent of known diagnosed cases. Idiopathic means no known single cause. The remaining 20 percent have known causes such as neuromuscular, congenital, degenerative, and traumatic.

Its not easy to be clear when answering questions about whether or not scoliosis is painful because even within one form of the condition, such as AIS, severity levels and related symptoms can range so substantially.

So before I move on to the common adolescent experience of scoliosis pain, the caveat is that there are always exceptions and each individuals experience of scoliosis will be uniquely their own this is why treating scoliosis effectively demands such a customized approach.

Early Diagnosis and Pain in AISAn indicator of the absence of pain in AIS is how challenging early detection can be. We know that treatment started early on in the conditions progressive line has better results, so why doesnt everyone start treatment early: because scoliosis, especially milder forms, often doesnt produce noticeable symptoms, such as pain.

If you really think about what prompts the majority of your doctor, clinic, or hospital visits, its likely pain. While different medical conditions/diseases produce different related symptoms, a common signifier that something wrong is happening in the body is pain.

Scoliosis Complications Later In Life And How To Deal With Them

A diagnosis of scoliosis, or an abnormal curvature of the spine, can lead to a lot of questions about how to move forward with appropriate treatment and management. Most often, scoliosis is diagnosed during childhood and adolescence, which is an excellent time to treat and prevent any possible complications before reaching adulthood. Since children are still growing, their tissues are more likely to be flexible and receptive to treatment. Thankfully, most people dealing with scoliosis seek immediate treatment to minimize the risk of future complications with aging.

Recommended Reading: Can Lidocaine Cause Headaches

Patient Age And Postural Changes

When a person is diagnosed with scoliosis, the condition is further classified based on a number of important factors: patient age, the amount of degenerative changes to the spinal joints, age that the scoliosis was identified, curvature location, and size of the curve.

These variables help in crafting an effective and customized treatment plan, as the very nature of scoliosis necessitates an integrative and customized treatment approach. Every scoliosis is different, and each patient requires a unique plan of care.

While every case is different and the aforementioned factors can all play a role in determining how painful a condition is, generally speaking, the most important pain-related variables are patient age, the extent of the degenerative changes, and severity of postural changes.

As mentioned, scoliosis is not commonly known as painful in children and adolescents, but in adults, the experience of scoliosis-related pain is very different.

Not only can scoliosis develop at any age, there are also multiple types that can develop, and the conditions most prevalent form in children is termed idiopathic, meaning there is no single-known cause. In adults over 50 years old, we see either childhood idiopathic scoliosis in the adult, or more commonly, adult degenerative scoliosis, also known as denovo scoliosis.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis in Adults

Degenerative Adult Scoliosis

Surgery In Teenagers And Young Adults

Scoliosis as a Cause of Chronic Pelvic Pain

In teenagers and young adults whose spine has stopped growing, an operation called a spinal fusion may be carried out.

This is a major operation where the spine is straightened using metal rods attached with screws, hooks, and/or wires, and bone grafts are used to fuse the spine in place. This metalwork will usually be left in place permanently, unless they cause any problems.

The surgery will take several hours. After surgery, your child will be transferred to an intensive care unit or high dependency unit , where they will be given fluids through a vein and pain relief. Most children are well enough to leave intensive care after a day or two, although they will often need to spend another five to 10 days in hospital.

After the operation, most children can return to school after a few weeks and can play sports after a few months. Contact sports should be avoided for 9-12 months. Occasionally a back brace may need to be worn to protect the metal rods after surgery.

You May Like: Neck Pain And Nausea Symptoms

Can Scoliosis Cause Neck Pain

Scoliosis can cause pain in different areas of the body and in different ways. Again, every case is different as there are a number of important patient and condition characteristics that shape a persons experience of life with the condition: patient age, condition severity, condition type, and curvature location.

As mentioned, children and adolescents dont commonly find scoliosis painful, but it should be mentioned that approximately 20 percent of adolescents living with scoliosis do report some related back and/or muscle pain.

Its important to understand that its not just the structural elements of the spine that maintain its natural curvatures and alignment its also the spines surrounding muscles that help support and stabilize it.

As mentioned, the uneven forces that scoliosis introduces dont just put pressure on the spine, but also its surrounding muscles and nerves. In cases of scoliosis that are causing postural changes affecting the bodys overall symmetry, this means the bodys muscles have to work harder to try and counteract these changes and still provide the spine with support.

Particularly when scoliosis affects the cervical spine, neck pain can be a symptom, especially in adults, or in cases that are progressing as spinal rigidity can increase alongside curvature size.

A condition called military neck is a good example of how postural distortion can lead to further structural issues and pain .

Military Neck

Symptoms of military neck can include:

Chest Pain And Scoliosis

Particularly for scoliosis that occurs in the thoracic section of the spine , this can affect the chest. Again, the more severe a persons condition is, or if it has been left untreated for long periods of time and allowed to progress, the more likely it is that extreme symptoms such as chest pain or lung impairment will become an issue.

As an abnormal spinal curvature becomes more and more pronounced, the more the biomechanics of the entire spine is affected, and this can produce a number of seemingly-unrelated complications.

For example, as the thoracic spine bends and twists, it pulls at the rib cage more and more, contorting it and producing that rib arch commonly associated with scoliosis.

The more the ribs become affected, the more the chest can feel it in a number of ways such as pain and muscle spasms.

In extreme cases, this can also impact the lungs and the hearts pulmonary artery flow.

As the rib cage twists and contorts, the space available for the lungs is limited, and this can affect the ability to inhale/exhale deeply. This can result in a feeling of restricted pressure on the chest.

If lung function is impaired, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the lungs, potentially causing cardiac issues.

While lung impairment and related cardiac issues arent a common symptom of scoliosis, in extreme cases, or cases that have been left untreated, chest pain caused by impairments felt by the lungs and heart can become a factor.

Don’t Miss: Lidocaine Long Term Side Effects

How Is Scoliosis Treated

The majority of children with scoliosis do not require treatment because the condition is mild and corrects itself as the child grows.

If treatment is necessary, a back brace worn until the child stops growing is usually successful in preventing the spine from curving further. Very few children will require surgery to correct the position of their spine.

In adults, it is usually too late to correct the position of the spine so treatment aims to relieve the symptoms of pain. Non-surgical options, such as painkillers, are the first line of treatment with surgery seen as a last resort.

How Is A Diagnosis Made

The Relationship Between Sciatic Pain And Scoliosis

Diagnostic tests include a physician examination, x-rays, CT scan, MRI, or myelogram.

X-rays create images of the bones in your spine and show whether any of them are too close together or whether you have arthritic changes, bone spurs, fractures, or slippage of the vertebrae. Special flexion and extension x-rays will be taken to measure misalignment of the bones and curve progression .

Computed Tomography scan is a noninvasive test that uses an x-ray beam and a computer to make 2-dimensional images of your spine. It may or may not be performed with a dye injected into your bloodstream. It is useful for viewing changes in bony structures.

Magnetic resonance imaging scan is a noninvasive test that uses a magnetic field and radiofrequency waves to give a detailed view of the soft tissues of your spine. Unlike an x-ray, nerves and discs are clearly visible. It may or may not be performed with a dye injected into your bloodstream. MRI is useful in evaluating soft-tissue damage to the ligaments and discs, and assessing spinal cord injury.

Myelogram is a specialized X-ray where contrast dye is injected into the spinal canal. A fluoroscope then records the images formed by the dye. Myelograms can show a nerve being pinched by a disc, bony overgrowth or stenosis. The dye gives a picture of the spinal canal, spinal cord, and nerves in detail. A CT scan follows the test.

Don’t Miss: Cutting Your Wrists To Die

Additional Symptoms Experienced By Some Adults With Scoliosis

  • Loss of height .
  • Shortness of breath or quick fatigue. This affects patients with large and progressive curves that compress the lungs.
  • Premature feeling of fullness in the stomach . This affects people with progressive, thoracolumbar curves . Associated pressure on the abdomen can make a person feel full while eating, even though the stomach itself is not truly full.

Can Scoliosis Cause Numbness Can It Cause Neuropathy

While scoliosis is a spinal condition, its effects can be felt in multiple areas of the body. This is because, as part of the central nervous system, the spine works with the brain to facilitate communication throughout the body.

When scoliosis develops, the spinal curvature introduces adverse spinal tension, which can cause compression of the spine and its surrounding muscles, vessels, and nerves. Scoliosis, like any condition affecting the central nervous system, has the potential to cause tingling, numbness, and neuropathy.

Before we move on to the specifics of how scoliosis can cause feelings of tingling and numbness, lets first define neuropathy and how it can affect the body.

Also Check: Pain In Joints Is Called

What Treatment Options Are Available

Treatment options and outcomes for adultscoliosis have improved significantly over the years. Just a few decades ago,we could successfully treat scoliosis only in children and teens. Today, weknow that multimodal treatment a team approach and combinations of therapy is the best way to treat adult scoliosis and prevent recurrence of symptoms.

While back braces might be effective for scoliosis in children, its not a primary treatment for adults. Sometimes we recommend bracing to stabilize the spine during acute episodes of pain. But long-term bracing can do more harm than good in adults. It can weaken back muscles because they dont have to work to support the torso, putting additional stress on the discs in the spine and speeding up degeneration.

Physical therapy is the first-line treatment for adult scoliosis, which sometimes surprises patients if their backs or legs hurt during activity. A physical therapist can help patients develop proper back mechanics to minimize stress on the spine when lifting, bending, and exercising.

We also recommend other non-surgical approaches, such as acupuncture or dry needling and anti-inflammatory injections to help manage symptoms. Some patients benefit from getting epidural steroid injections to reduce the inflammation affecting the nerves and reduce sciatica pain.

What Are The Symptoms Of Adult Scoliosis

Pin on the causes of back pain

Most cases of adult scoliosis dont cause symptoms, though pain may develop. Back pain occurs for many reasons including arthritis, inability to stand upright, and/or due to weakness of the core musculature and loss of conditioning. Leg pain/numbness/weakness may develop if there is pressure on the nerves in the lumbar spine.

In some cases, changes in the body may include:

  • Height loss
  • Uneven alignment of the pelvis and hips

Read Also: Can Back And Neck Pain Cause Nausea

What Can Happen If You Dont Seek Scoliosis Treatment

Like all conditions, the sooner you treat scoliosis, the better youll live with it. And with scoliosis, the amount of grief you deal with will depend on the degree of your curvature.

Those with mild curves of 20 degrees or less may experience nothing more than back strain or fatique with prolonged sitting or standing. However, those with more pronounced curves may experience a variety of complications.

According to Dr. Lonner, particularly for those with curves that are 50 degrees or more in the thoracic region and 40 degrees in the lumbar spine, untreated scoliosis can create a number of structural and functional problems. These may include:

  • Spinal instability, which can increase the risk of back problems such as herniated discs, spondylolisthesis and others
  • Ribs jutting out on either side
  • Humpback
  • Difficulty sitting, standing, or walking
  • Spinal rigidity and stiffness
  • Cardiopulmonary issues

Bottom line? No matter the severity of your or your childs scoliosis, speak with a spine specialist to see what type of treatment, if any, is needed.

How Is Scoliosis In Adults Treated

Whenever possible, scoliosis in adults is treated non-operatively through physical therapy, medications and other methods. Steroid injections may also help some patients. Surgery may be warranted in patients who have curves that exceed 50 degrees, are not responding to nonsurgical methods or experience other complications.

You May Like: Can Cutting Your Wrist Kill You

Scoliosis And Rib Pain

Sometimes connected to lung impairment, scoliosis can affect the rib cage and cause varying levels of related pain and discomfort.

One of the signs of scoliosis is whats known as a rib arch, and this is most commonly associated with scoliosis that develops along the thoracic spine .

When the spine bends and twists abnormally, its function can be disrupted. As the rib cage is attached to the spine, the abnormal positioning of the spine can also affect the rib cage, resulting in whats known as biomechanical rib cage dysfunction.

While this isnt guaranteed to produce rib pain, the more severe a rib deformity is, the more likely it is to be painful. Related rib pain can be caused by muscle spasms, strained muscles, ligaments, or stiff joints.

If you take a second and pause from reading to deeply inhale, pay attention to how its not just your lungs being engaged, but also the rib cage as it expands upwards and outwards to decrease pressure in the lungs and pass air into the chest cavity.

If a rib cage deformity is preventing the rib cage from fully expanding during inhalation, this can also impair overall lung function.

What Are The Results For Degenerative Scoliosis Treatments

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis Info from a Dallas Pain Management Clinic

For the majority of patients with degenerative scoliosis, pain relief or reduction can be achieved with aggressive use of nonsurgical measures. In patients for whom surgery becomes necessary, the results vary with the underlying problem. Patients who undergo decompression for stenosis or radicular symptoms almost always have an improvement in symptoms. Those whose pain, numbness, or weakness was intermittent prior to surgery tend to experience the greatest benefit.

Patients with degenerative scoliosis who undergo fusion of the spine for isolated back pain have results that are comparable to those achieved in patients with degeneration and straight spines.

Good outcomes are also based on appropriate assessment of surgical candidates by a multidisciplinary team, Dr. Cunningham notes, especially in an older population. “Whenever we consider surgery, we have to ask, ‘Does the patient have other medical problems that will make it difficult to tolerate surgery or to participate in rehabilitation? Is she or he taking any medication that will interfere with surgery and recovery, and is it necessary to stop these medications temporarily?'”

Don’t Miss: Sore Stomach Early Pregnancy

What Part Of The Spine Curves In People With Scoliosis

Scoliosis can affect the spine in any of its three major sections:

  • cervical spine
  • thoracic spine
  • lumbar spine

Figure 5: Diagram showing the sections of the healthy spine, with the neck section at the top, followed below by the thoracic and lumbar sections, the sacrum and the coccyx . The curvature shown in the left image is the normal curve of the spine when it is viewed from the side .

More articles

Popular Articles