The human spine is a complex and fascinating part of the body that combines strength and flexibility in a structure that does supports more weight and strain than one might think. The spine is also prone to many common injuries and pains. The most common position that causes people pain is keeping the head forward with rounded shoulders, mid back hunching, often caused by poor sitting posturing in front of the computer or when we look at our electronic handheld devices. Prolonged sitting triggers tension in the hips, creating a poor foundation for the lower back. These deviations are well observed when you look at people suffering from these injuries from the side.
In today’s article, I would like to discuss deviations which occur in the spine’s side. Have you ever noticed your jacket or dress not resting properly on your shoulders? Have you had to bring your trousers to the tailor to shorten one leg consistently to make it fit right? Have you noticed some people having one elevated shoulder or a mild hunch protrusion to the side of the shoulder blade? All of these symptoms could be an indication of a mild form of scoliosis.
Scoliosis affects 2-3% of the population starting mostly between 5 to 15 years of age. Unfortunately, there is no identified cause. Women are also more prone to developing it than men. Over 600,000 visits to physicians have been recorded due to pain and other negative symptoms affecting the heart, lungs, and intestines due to scoliosis. This data, however, may not include unreported pain of patients suffering from early onset of scoliosis which also can occur with age due to general weakness and poor postural awareness.
As already described, scoliosis is a side-bend deviation of the spine. The pelvis is shifted to one side, causing the lower and mid back to compensate by shifting to the opposite side to keep balance. The side protrusion or deviations can cause significant amount of discomfort and pain.
These spinal deviations are frequently identified in pre-adolescents. One of the causes could be kids’ growth spurts, when bones expand faster than muscles which can force the spine to move sideways instead of upward. The spine must deviate laterally to compensate for the tight muscular structures not catching up with the bone expansion.
In adulthood, gravity and accumulative bad posturing can worsen side deviations and cause structural changes leading to increased pain. Old injuries from accidents may trigger compensatory postural behaviors due to pain. In severe cases of scoliosis, it can affect lung capacity and start to affect the space for internal organs. It can become a life-threatening problem.
Treatment interventions can include spinal fusions (rods to stabilize and straighten the spine), with hours of surgery. Surgery can become necessary if symptoms become unbearable.
One can mitigate the need for spinal surgery by trying to straighten the spine by wearing custom scoliosis braces. These bracing systems force the spine towards the center, changing the alignment and triggering muscular stimulation on the areas where the spine has to become stronger. They can also stretch the muscles on the side where the spine has to elongate.
Physical therapy is an option to assist with spinal deviation corrections and pain management.
As each vertebra of the lower and middle back and the neck can be displaced on a small segmental level and corrected through mobilization techniques. The introduction of these highly specific corrective motion concepts by highly trained Therapists is essential for success and pain relief. This neuromuscular education helps the spine to correct itself to the center and reduce pain.
At Results Rehabilitation Inc., we use specific scoliosis treatment techniques (a modified version of the Schroth Scoliosis treatment System) to help patients correct their spinal deviations. A doctorate physical therapist at the clinic will assist with selective movement concepts and teach the unique strengthening and stretching activities which allow the patient to reduce pain and to create an improved postural spinal awareness and correction.
Our next upcoming free Online Workshop on June 7th, at 5:30 will provide more information about back pains associated not only with scoliosis but provide knowledge about the spine and options to address back pains. To sign up, go to our website at Results Online Workshops (resultsrehab.com) or call 619-437-6450.
VOL. 112, NO. 22 – June 1, 2022