scoliosis side effects Posted in: Understanding Scoliosis

Since there is so much misinformation about scoliosis side effects floating around, we thought it would be helpful to go through some of the more common myths and why they are incorrect. Hopefully, this will put you on the path to more fully understanding scoliosis.

Myth #1: Scoliosis Rarely Causes Pain

Many people will tell you there is no pain directly caused by a curved spine. The reasoning behind this myth is that the pain is not generally in the actual curve. However, the area around the curve can be painful as a direct result of the abnormal curve. While more severe forms of scoliosis are more likely to cause pain, even mild cases can be responsible for a great deal of pain and discomfort. Because not all scoliosis patients experience this pain, many think that it’s not a side effect.

Lying flat on your stomach, twisting your neck, standing or sitting for long periods of time, and leaning into the curve can all cause muscle pain and soreness for people with scoliosis. This pain and discomfort is more common in adult scoliosis patients, who may also be experiencing pinched nerves from degenerative scoliosis or arthritis. About 20 percent of adolescents with scoliosis also experience some level of muscle pain.

Scoliosis is also associated with headaches. Tension headaches can be a common issue for patients with curves in their upper backs. The tight neck muscles place tension on the head, causing pain that can sometimes escalate to migraine levels. Scoliosis may also interfere with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). And when the CSF pressure in the brain is low, debilitating headaches can occur.

With scoliosis, certain types of pain are warning signs that it’s time for a trip to the doctor. For instance, a sharp back pain that can be pinpointed to one spot could mean an infection or tumor. Though these complications are rare, be sure to alert your doctor of any irregular pain or discomfort. There’s not a guarantee that scoliosis will be painful. However it’s not fair to say that scoliosis is painless. Those with scoliosis carry a higher risk for pain than those without it.

Myth #2: Scoliosis Doesn’t Affect Sleep

Saying that scoliosis doesn’t affect sleep is related to the myth that scoliosis can’t cause pain or discomfort. Shortness of breath is also a common side effect that many scoliosis patients experience. A curve that rotates the rib cage, however slightly, can put pressure on the lungs and restrict breathing. When you’re in pain and having trouble breathing, it comes as no surprise that you may have some difficulty falling and staying asleep.

We have a few pillow-related tips that might help improve your shut-eye. Sleeping on your back with your neck in a forward-flexed position on the pillow can actually cause tension in the neck and make it even harder for you to fall asleep. To ease these scoliosis side effects, we recommend using a donut pillow (one with a hollow indent in the middle) and placing it under your neck to support your spine, while positioning your head straight on the bed so you’re staring at the ceiling above you. This way, your neck gets the support it needs, and you can be more comfortable.

If you like to sleep on your side, you’ll still want to make sure that neck is supported. When compressed, the thickness of your pillow should be equal to the distance from your shoulder to the side of your head. If your pillow is too thin, you may feel like your body is rolling forward, and want to prop an arm up under your head. If your pillow is too thick, you may feel like your body wants to roll backwards. When your pillow is the correct height for side-sleeping, you should feel perfectly balanced and relaxed. For extra cushion and support, use a pillow between your knees. Finding a comfortable position can be tough, but we’ve found that these two options work for many of our patients.

Sleeping on your stomach is very bad for your neck – don’t do it!  When you sleep on your stomach, your neck spends all night in a twisted position.  Just imagine if you were to walk around all day with your head turned to one side; you would probably have some pretty bad neck pain by the end of the day!

Myth #3: People with Scoliosis Can’t Play Sports

Many people think that too much movement will make the Cobb angle worse. But it’s actually the opposite. People with scoliosis should stay active and keep a healthy weight. Movement sends good nutrients to the spine and generally makes you a much happier person than leading a sedentary life would.

However, certain sports are better than others for individuals with scoliosis. Swimming, hiking and dancing are great options, but collision and competitive sports may not be. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new sport. Collision and competitive sports could derail treatment if you injure your spine before the curve is corrected and stabilized. Sometimes, doctors may recommend that you wait until after treatment, or in extreme cases, stop playing altogether. That being said, most people with scoliosis  have no problem returning to sports after they’ve completed their treatment. For more information, visit our page on Sports and Activities.

Myth #4: Scoliosis is Only a Cosmetic Disorder

Coming from the same line of thought that brings people to believe scoliosis is not painful, there is a myth that scoliosis is merely cosmetic. We could spend days detailing every possible part of the body and mind scoliosis can affect. But for the sake of brevity, let’s say that your spinal curve affects a lot more than your physical appearance. Scoliosis side effects, which may include pain, discomfort, headaches, trouble breathing and problems sleeping, can be a major impediment to your daily life. It is also important to recognize that there can be emotional scoliosis side effects, which are just as real as the physical ones.

It can be tough to wade through the many myths and working theories around scoliosis side effects. We hope this helped to clarify some of the misinformation, and if nothing else, give you some validation for any pain or discomfort you may be dealing with.

Do you experience any scoliosis side effects? Have you found any confusing misinformation around them? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

99 comments on “Scoliosis Side Effects: Myth vs. Reality”

  1. 1
    Haytham elsaadany on October 18, 2016

    Tell now my son 14.5y has no pain even with 51cobe angle S ship .He play yoga and do some exercise in madical centre ..is this good for him

    1. 2
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 19, 2016

      Some people with large Cobb angles have no pain, and some people with small Cobb angles have a great deal of pain – there isn’t always a good correlation in this regard. What we do know, though, is that every person needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some yoga maneuvers and exercises can be helpful or harmful depending upon the curve type; it’s always best to consult with a scoliosis specialist to help you determine exactly which exercises and maneuvers are best for your specific curve type.

    2. 3
      amir on June 23, 2017

      its good but it only limites the pain not cure it

    3. 4
      Britt on November 3, 2017

      Yes it is good for him as it helps strengthen the spine

    4. 5
      Denise on June 15, 2018

      My 7 year old daughter have pain in the back of her ear.

  2. 6
    RHONDA LEVY on October 18, 2016

    Thank you ,so much I understand know why me daughter gets the headaches.. My school don’t believe me. So when she gets them I have to get a drs notes .That is so much money taking her to the dr. She gets it mostly with the weather changed. I think she is the first one in her school that never had the surgey. I got her in a gym to do the things you send.

    1. 7
      Jo carter on February 27, 2017

      Thank you, your daughter sounds just like my son, he has missed so much school from daily headaches and migraines! He is on a 504 plan that excuses his absentees so we don’t have to go to doctor each time so very thankful for this! You make us feel we are not alone!

    2. 8
      Abby on April 13, 2018

      My 14yr son has just started having migranes and wasn’t sure until reading this th it coukd be the scoliosis. Our doc also said he would have no pain with it learning quick thats not true.

  3. 9
    C. Whitley on October 18, 2016

    You did not mention scoliosis causing herniated disks. My scoliosis has caused several lower back herniated disks, which lead to severe sciatica problems. I go twice a month to the chiropractor for maintenance and occasional decompression on the machine. The machine has helped control the sciatica pain and spasms, but I have to remember to keep my back straight when bending down to pick something off the floor by bending my knees and sticking my rear end out to avoid sciatica pain. When will your procedure be covered by Medicare and other insurance? I am retired, and cannot afford to pay out of pocket. Cal

    1. 10
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 19, 2016

      Thank you, this is a very good point! It is true that scoliosis can accelerate degeneration in the spinal discs by as much as 20 years (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16598853). We’ll be doing more parts to the “Scoliosis: Myth vs Reality” series in the future, and perhaps this is something we will address in more detail.
      In regards to Medicare, unfortunately they only cover the cost of the chiropractic adjustment, and not any of the adjunctive therapies such as massage, therapeutic exercises, etc, nor any of the costs of x-rays. I certainly wish it were otherwise, considering that over two-thirds of people 65 and older have scoliosis, that bracing & surgery are not very good options for this age group, and that the CLEAR methods have been very successful in helping these individuals reduce pain and improve mobility.
      Please don’t hesitate to contact us privately at care@clear-institute.org if we can provide additional assistance or information!

    2. 11
      skhr on March 20, 2018

      I was diagnosed with severe idiopathic scoliosis at age 12. wore a brace for 4 years, 23 hours a day. My back stopped at 45 degrees lumbar curve and 38 thoracic. For the most part i didn’t have any major issues until i reached 18years. I spent more than half of my 20’s going to numerous doctors and chiropractors looking for the cause of my pain, fearing my curve was progressing to point of surgery. I then found a chiropractor who did xrays from the front aimed through my open mouth. It turned out that at some point I ended up with a dislocated disc in either the atlas or axis vertebrae area, I don’t remember. It was the cause of my debilitating headaches, decreased ability to put in more than a few hours of work at a time and some of the increased pain i had been experiencing. This chiropractor did adjustments for almost a year on this before it stabilized. I experienced breathing problems associated with my ribs dislocating as well. I still have the rib issues. anyways, I mention these things simply to say becuase I didn’t give up throughout all the misinformed doctors and continued to seek alternative tretments for myself i am able to work a normal job, have a family with small children, and have been able to avoid surgery for now. my back has increased to 54 degrees lumbar and 48 thoracic. I have tried treatments from bracing, physio, injections, chirpractic care, meds, tens units, massage. I still get pains that most people don’t understand, have issues sleeping, cannot pick up my kids, along with many other issues. I find it most frustrating having to continually explain my issues to those I’m around now that it affects my everyday life as an adult. but no matter what my message to the parents, Don;t let your kids give up. inner strength and support is important when living with scoliosis. Keep searching for treatment options, don’t just jump straight to the first thing your recommended. It is lifelong.

    3. 12
      Dr. Josh Woggon on March 20, 2018

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story! We always love to hear more about the personal experiences of people with scoliosis; the emotional component & impact of scoliosis is often neglected or ignored, and that isn’t right. I believe as more people understand what it’s like to live with scoliosis, it will open new doors for treatment & research in the field of scoliosis.

      If you are interested, we would love for you to share your story with us in more detail (this offer goes out to anyone reading this who is living with scoliosis or has a friend or family member who does, as well). Please feel free to contact us at care@clear-institute.org; your story could be featured in our Personal Experiences blog section, and serve as a source of inspiration for tens of thousands of people around the world!

      There’s one comment I’d like to make; there are no discs in between the skull (C0), the atlas (C1), or the axis (C2). The first spinal disc is between the level of C2 & C3. What I suspect your chiropractor might have identified in that special open-mouth x-ray view was alar ligament instability (the symptoms you describe, such as chronic headaches & neck pain, are very common with injury to the alar ligaments). The clinical experiences of our doctors have led us to believe that this may play an important role in scoliosis. If this is indeed the case, you are very fortunate indeed! Very few doctors (chiropractors included) have the advanced training & diagnostic skills to recognize alar ligament instability, and if it is never identified, then obviously it can never be successfully treated. I am so glad to hear that, through your hard work & your chiropractor’s, you were able to successfully rehab & stabilize this area!

      Thank you again for sharing, and for your kind words of encouragement; I wish you all the best of health & happiness!

  4. 13
    Gerri Delisle on October 19, 2016

    Thank you for this informative article. Much appreciated to better understand what I am living with.

  5. 14
    Harriette on October 19, 2016

    What exercises do you recommend?

    1. 15
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 19, 2016

      The best exercises are customized and prescribed specifically for you by a scoliosis specialist, after he or she reviews your x-rays, performs an exam, and obtains a complete health history. That being said, there are a few general spinal exercises and stretches we recommend that can be found under “Living with Scoliosis” – Scoliosis Exercises. Click on this link, and on the right side of the screen, you’ll see links to information about Sports & Activities, Back Exercises, and Stretching.

  6. 16
    Jenn Ryder on October 19, 2016

    FACT – Spinal Fusion is NOT as easy as it sounds. It is extremely frustrating as we attempt to raise funds for my 15 year old daughter to get alternative treatment in the US. I feel like saying – what if your child needed brain surgery (huge risks) BUT there was a less invasive and statically proven method to fix the brain. What would YOU asap as parent choose – Invasive surgery with MAJOR RISKS or a non surgical method with a great success rate.
    Chuck out Spinal Fusion Surgery on YouTube.

  7. 17
    Jo Blick on October 21, 2016

    I have adult degenarative double s curve. I find that when lying on the concave side of the thoracic curve(my ledt) a small soft pillow under the waistline helps and the same pillow under the convex hump around the ribs,so a bit futher up towards my shoulders, if lying on my right.
    I also use a folding bicycle to help me walk. Its great. I ride it when I get tired and use it to help me stand. I push it by holding the saddle with my left hand and the right handle bar with my right hand- this creates a small twist to the left which for my curve, is alleviating the twist. I am moving my right shoulder across the body away from the rib hump (my right) and I can alleviate pain even more by pushing up with the left hand slightly to open up the left ribcage abit more.It helps me walk miles when without it I am unable to walk 500yards.
    Good luck eveyone.x

    1. 18
      Susan (Emily) Broyles on January 27, 2017

      Hi to every one. What is a folding bicycle? Sounds interesting.

      From one with a 58 degree neuromuscular scoliosis caused by 2 prior cervical neck surgeries;
      a cervical corpectomy level 4-7 for severe stenosis and a posterior fusion to stablize the levels above original corpectomy from C2-C4 leaving me fused C2-C7.

      Some 9 years later (2011) developed neuromuscular scoliosis, T4-L3.

      Thank you
      Emily

    2. 19
      Misty Listner on August 20, 2017

      After reading your comment i realized that your back problems are similar to mine. I was wondering what degrees your curves are. I have complex cervical, thoracic, and lumbar scoliosis with rib hump on the left. My curves are 15, 27, and 34 degrees. I also have disc degenerative disease. Ive had one surgery, I had a disc fused in my neck in 2002. when I had a checkup with new MRIs they found that not only had my new disc degenerated but also the one above and the one below, I told the I didnt want the surgery. now ive been experiencing pain in my ribs the last few months. Feels like someone is hitting me with a 2×4 across my back. Im scared that my scoliosis has gotten worse and is now affecting my ribs. anything that jars them causes pain, walking sitting and sometimes just breathing. And i have asthma so its really aggrivating. anyway i wanted to reach out to someone who understands. People say they understand but how can they when i live it every day and they have never experienced it. hope to hear back from you

  8. 20
    Lynn stewart on February 23, 2017

    My daughter has mild scoliosis and as she grew into her teens, she developed miagraine headaches. Now, at age 18, they are chronic, every day, 24/7 and are excruciating for most of the time. Nothing has worked, not meds, Botox, pain blocks etc. the pain originates from miofachial tissue in the back of her neck. What can we do? Is there any hope? She went to a new Ciropractor today and the scoliosis was mentioned again.

    1. 21
      Dr. Josh Woggon on February 24, 2017

      I can’t imagine living with severe headaches every day – my heart goes out to your daughter. But there is always hope! Please keep in mind that the term “chiropractic” encompasses many different techniques who all have various ways of looking at the spine. If you go to one chiropractor and it doesn’t help, try a different doctor with a more specialized approach. I’ve also had many patients whose migraine pain was alleviated by aromatherapy (check out http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/green-apple-scent.aspx as an example of this).

    2. 22
      kathryn on November 8, 2017

      My daughter is 21 yrs old now. She suffered from chronic migraines..24/7. She also had botox(5 times) trigger point injections, occipital nerve blocks, infusions, meds, chiropractic adjustments by numerous Dr, her wisdom teeth out, acupuncture, and saw a cardiologist. What FINALLY gave her some relief was cbd oil. The very first time!! She now uses the vape once or twice a day and is keeping her migraines manageable.

    3. 23
      kathleen on December 16, 2017

      i have scoliosis and also migraine and tension headache everyday. i’m 20 yo. you should try acupunture. it’s really helps

    4. 24
      Cheryl on March 4, 2018

      Search for a physical therapist who specializes in the strain counterstain method. JISCS,com

    5. 25
      Micha on June 27, 2018

      I know this is a really late reply so I hope you see it! Look into the Schroth Method, apparently it can be very effective especially for non severe cases.

  9. 26
    Lynn stewart on February 23, 2017

    Could mild scoliosis cause cronic miagraine headaches and what can be done?

    1. 27
      Dr. Josh Woggon on February 24, 2017

      This is a very interesting topic! There has never been any research done on the association between scoliosis and migraines, but many CLEAR doctors have observed a correlation. Although headaches (and migraines in particular) can be complex and related to a number of factors, I personally believe that if a research study were to be conducted on this subject, we would find that headaches are indeed more common in people with scoliosis. Medicine focuses upon alleviating the symptoms (blocking the pain signals to the brain), and most chiropractic techniques do not take precision x-rays nor devote much attention to the intricacies of scoliosis. I would recommend consulting with a CLEAR chiropractor; our unique approach might be able to help where others have failed. If there is not a CLEAR doctor in your area, search for a chiropractor who is trained in CBP (Chiropractic BioPhysics) or upper cervical care (Grostic, NUCCA, Atlas Orthogonal), who uses a precision adjusting instrument on the neck, rather than their hands. In our clinical observations, we’ve noticed a great deal of hypermobility and possible instability in the cervical spines of people with scoliosis; if this is present, using the hands to twist the neck could make it worse.

  10. 28
    Sharon Chandler on February 28, 2017

    Hi,
    My 16 year old daughter has just been diagnosed with Scoliosis . She has a 50 degree curve. She has been referred to a surgeon and is having a MRI in 2 weeks.
    I have so many question :
    She has suffered from migraines , could this be because of the Scoliosis?

    Will it get worse?

    She has so much upper back pain , its like her neck goes into spasam, is this normal?

    She is now having her GCSE mock exams and is coming home from school crying in so much pain as sitting at desk for 2-3 hours at a time.
    I am so concerns this is going to affect her GCSE results . Any tips how she can cope with the pain. No pain killers are touching it

    1. 29
      Dr. Josh Woggon on February 28, 2017

      There’s been so little research on the association between scoliosis and migraines that it is difficult to know if the two are related. In one study, one-third of people with scoliosis reported experiencing additional health problems, and the second-most common condition reported by these individuals was migraines (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24326937). Scoliosis has an association with other conditions such as Arnold Chiari Malformations (tonsillar ectopia), syrinx/syringomyelia, and other maladies linked to spinal cord tension, that may in turn cause problems with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Many patients with scoliosis have a reversed curve in the neck (cervical kyphosis), which is also linked with a higher incidence of headaches and migraines. Advanced chiropractic techniques such as CLEAR focus on restoring the natural, healthy curves in the spine (the cervical and lumbar lordosis, and the thoracic kyphosis), and many patients report improvement in their headaches and migraines with this approach. In contrast, new research suggests that bracing and surgery may actually worsen forward head posture and the alignment of the cervical spine, and evidence suggests that long-term quality of life is linked to good spinal balance.
      In the absence of treatment, most curves above 25-30 degrees will continue to get worse in adulthood. This could lead to more stress and strain upon the muscles. Muscle soreness, pain, and migraines are the body’s signs that something is wrong. I would strongly suggest that you get in touch with a CLEAR certified chiropractor who can perform a comprehensive exam, review your daughter’s x-rays, and then provide you with a more detailed and personal assessment. If the source of the pain is a mechanical, physical problem, then painkillers and muscle relaxants can only treat the effects of the misalignment; chemicals can’t change the physics of the spine, and they require that you keep taking them. Advanced chiropractic care could help to identify the source of the problem, and through physical adjustments, home exercises, and other therapies, potentially keep it from coming back.

  11. 30
    Savannah Davidson on March 13, 2017

    I have an S curve with the top curve being 20 degrees and the bottom curve being 40 degrees. I get headaches almost everyday and did not realize that scoliosis could possibly be the reason. I experiencr really bad neck and shoulder pain, especially if I am in the same position for long periods of time. I wore a brace for 2 years and now I am wondering if this pain will stay with me all my life or even worsen? Also, when sleeping I have found that if I sleep on my stomach the next day I will feel nauseous and have lower stomach pain, could that be related to my scoliosis? Thank you.

    1. 31
      Dr. Josh Woggon on March 14, 2017

      While I cannot provide specific healthcare advice over the Internet, I can say that you are not alone. There definitely does appear to be an association between scoliosis and headaches. While I do not know for certain if your pain will stay or get worse, my personal experiences with biomechanics and spinal degeneration leads me to believe that minor problems, if left untreated, do lead to more severe problems down the road. The best approach is always to be proactive, and take pain as a warning that something in the body needs to be addressed. Chemicals like painkillers may suppress the pain temporarily, but they do not cure the underlying cause of the problem. Not all forms of chiropractic are equally effective in correcting structural problems, as well – some chiropractic techniques are more effective than others for treating scoliosis and spinal misalignments. Be sure you select a chiropractor who takes & analyzes x-rays, and is trained in structural corrective care (such as CBP, Pettibon, or CLEAR).
      Sleeping on your stomach is extremely bad for your spine, whether you have scoliosis or not. It places the neck into a very awkward position, which is then maintained for an extended period of time. The “Back to Sleep” campaign reduced the rate of SIDS by educating parents not to place their infants on their stomachs to sleep at night; some researchers theorize that miscommunication between the brain and the respiratory muscles could occur if the neck is twisted to the side. Since every nerve that connects your brain to your organs must pass through the neck and spine, it makes sense that problems with the neck and spine could lead to problems with various organs, including the stomach.

  12. 32
    Carrie Hathaway on April 9, 2017

    Thank you for this article. I feel less alone. T2-L4 fusion back in 1987. I was diagnosed at age 8, surgery at 12. My larger curve remains at 37 degrees. I’ve been in constant pain for the last 3 years and, thanks to this article, I will be searching for a new doctor. Any time you need a study subject, I’m down!

  13. 33
    Nana on April 13, 2017

    I am 24 years old having 58 degree curve scoliosis, I suffer from chronic headaches that I would want to punch my head especially after several hours of sitting in the office. I didn’t know that my scoliosis is causing this? I always thought that it’s because I’m staring at the computer screen for too long? Scoliosis isn’t common in my country Malaysia, less people know about this. I’m going for the surgery soon, hope everything goes well.

    1. 34
      Popo on April 10, 2018

      Hi Nana,

      You did the surgery? Can you share?

      I have 50degree curve at my lumbar. But I do not want to Surgery.

      Thank you.

  14. 35
    Bron Bradshaw on May 1, 2017

    I was diagnosed at age 12 with scoliosis and I am now 39. I have an S shape (Convex on right thoracic region) curve so not too noticeable with clothes on. The cobb angle was 46 degrees and I have a feeling it is worse but I am waiting to see the orthopaedic surgeon to find out. Recently I noticed my left rib sticks out slightly further than my right which I presume means that my rib cage is twisted? I also have a small right rib hump when I bend over. I am suffering with restrictive breathing and am wondering if my scoliosis is the cause? I also wake up in the morning very stiff.

    1. 36
      Dr. Josh Woggon on May 2, 2017

      People think of scoliosis as a sideways curvature of the spine, but this is not true. Scoliosis is a helix, not a curve. The spine “coils in” on itself, which can cause the ribs to stick out on the back on the right side, and in the front on the left. This rotation of the spine can indeed cause restrictions in breathing. Many patients have reported improvements in breathing and the appearance & symmetry of their ribs after going through CLEAR treatment!

  15. 37
    Laura on May 6, 2017

    I’m currently 26 years old. I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the young age of 13 (just as puberty hit) I wasn’t able to breathe and when I was sat on the floor in life especially for p.e my friend pointed out my ribs and shoulder blades sticking out. I went home and told my parents and within 6 months I was in a brace and 6 months afterwards was in surgery for 10 hours. I have 3 rods and q8 screws in my spine yet I experience lots of pain in my left leg and spine. I still do daily activities but am limited slightly because of it. People who down suffer from it seem to find it hard to understand that scoliosis affects more than the spine. I’ve been with the rods for 12 years and I still get major lower back pain.

  16. 38
    Izza Rojero on June 12, 2017

    Hi i am 18 years old and I was diagnosed with a 25 degree scoliosis when I was 16. I have been experiencing recurring sciatica kind of pain down my left leg and sometimes its is hard to walk properly when it hurts. It’s also difficult to straighten my left leg when sitting upright or doing the straight leg test without causing pain in my leg or buttocks. I dont know what could have been causing this. It comes and go and for the past year it has been more frequent. What could have been the cause of this? Could it be herniation? Sometimes when its not painful I can raise my leg just halfway but not fully. Can I get some advice?

    1. 39
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 13, 2017

      Sciatica is essentially a general term for leg pain, usually coming from the nerves. The bones of our spine have joints between each one. When these joints become stuck, they don’t move as they should. The discs between the bones of the spine are like sponges, and depend upon movement to stay healthy. When the joints of the spine don’t move properly, the discs become sick and weaker. When they degenerate or are compressed down to a certain point, the holes where the nerves exit the spine can become pinched. This can lead to conditions like sciatica, muscle weakness, loss of sensation, and other symptoms like you have described.
      Chiropractic adjustments help to restore normal motion to the spine. This in turn can help restore health to the spinal discs, and reduce the tension on the nerves. If you have never been to a chiropractor, I would suggest you try going to one to see if it could help your condition. Keep in mind that chiropractors use many different techniques to correct the spine; if one technique doesn’t work for you, don’t give up on chiropractic altogether, but rather, try a corrective care technique such as CLEAR or CBP.

  17. 40
    Izza Rojero on June 13, 2017

    Another thing, aside the sciatica I mentioned, when i bend my back backwards, my lower back spine hurts. I dont know what the cause of this could be. It has been a month and it is still the same. I keep on searching these symptoms but I cant seem to find one that the same as mine

  18. 41
    Dr. Josh Woggon on June 13, 2017

    It’s not uncommon for L5 (the lowest vertebra in the spine) to slip forward (called a spondylolisthesis) or backwards (which is called a retrolisthesis). I’d suggest having a lateral lumbar x-ray taken to see if L5 is misaligned. A seated x-ray places more stress upon the low back, and can sometimes be more effective than a standing x-ray when trying to detect a spondy or retro of L5 on S1.

  19. 42
    John O'Hara on June 17, 2017

    I have scoliosis or a curved spine. i’m 62 and am on my feet from 7 A. M, to midnight. I’m constantly tired and don’t get good sleep. It seems to be progressing. I took the early social security and still do this job 2 days a week. It has become increasingly harder to work. Could a good diagnosis help me get disability as well. i still need to work 2 days but being on my feet 16 hrs a day is becoming harder to handle.

    1. 43
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 19, 2017

      Please read our blog on scoliosis and disability (and feel free to reach out the author); hopefully this will help to answer your question!
      https://www.clear-institute.org/blog/disability-for-scoliosis/

  20. 44
    Jolin on July 5, 2017

    Hi my name isJolin I just want to ask because I have a v-shaped scoliosis is there anything I need to be careful?

    1. 45
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 10, 2017

      I’m assuming you meant a “C”-shaped (or single curve) scoliosis. These cases need to be handled differently than double-major, “S”-shaped curves. I’d highly recommend that you consult with a scoliosis specialist to evaluate all of the various factors in your case, and to make the the best recommendations for your specific spine!

  21. 46
    Jenny Ferguson on July 20, 2017

    My son is16yrs old and severely autistic. He has scoliosis quite mild and is started to vomit after eating also indigestion. Feels better to stand when eating any reason for vomiting. Healthy most of time

    1. 47
      Desiree on February 5, 2018

      My son has a 49 degree curve in his upper neck, and a 35 degree curve in between his shoulder blades. I take him to a Kinesiologist to help with pain, and was told by that Dr that scoliosis can cause stomach issues. They said that the curves can affect your entire system. You have to figure, if one thing is out of alignment, it throws your whole system off. He also has a very hard time eating and keeping food down.

  22. 48
    Jennifer Ferguson on July 20, 2017

    16 yr old son severely autistic. Can you vomit when you have scoliosis if you sit in same position for a while

    1. 49
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 20, 2017

      Scoliosis, on its own, is not usually associated with vomiting. Some old styles of scoliosis bracing did raise concerns regarding impingement upon the stomach that could sometimes lead to vomiting.

  23. 50
    Crystal Appleton on July 23, 2017

    I’m 31 with adult scoliosis. My curve has gotten worse over two years that it’s shifted my rib cage. I have shortness of breath and get migraines. My migraines aren’t every day but when I get them I am down for two days minimum. I can pin point my pain at the center where my spine juts out before the curve. My doctor is making me see a neurosurgeon, but I’ve noticed that I seem to be getting dehydrated quickly as well as over heating with simple tasks. Is that normal? I am not over weight either. I used to be in the army and remained quite active when I got out. I’ve been dealing with Scoliosis for fourteen years.

    1. 51
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 25, 2017

      I’ve never heard of people with scoliosis getting overheated or dehydrated more easily. What does your doctor say when you mention it?

  24. 52
    Crystal Appleton on July 31, 2017

    They aren’t sure what is causing it. Right now I’m just waiting to speak to a surgeon. Chiropractors, Bracing, and muscle relaxers/pain medication doesn’t work anymore. I stick to water and Gatorade mostly now. I’ve tried to cut back on a lot of caffeine.

  25. 53
    Maria on August 22, 2017

    My heart goes out to you all, scoliosis and costochonditis and ibs all related adult. The pain can be debilitating and the tension migraine can be so intense, I get a lot of optical migraines-, I don’t mind them they don’t hurt, just annoying.
    On those worst days when the chest pains so intense, aggravated by the back pain which radiates, you feel knocked off your feet, everyone’s individual pain and having to resort to prescription painkillers, or rather paindullers makes the nerve endings more bearable. I also find eating little meals is better – helps ease the nausea. Resonance therapy helps too and an old fashioned hot water bottle; the warmth is very soothing and eases the tension on the neck. Heat therapy is good but defo have to keep up the fluids.
    and De caff yorkshire tea is blooming lovely.

  26. 54
    bb on August 22, 2017

    i’m 15 and i asked my friends dad who is a chiropractor and he thinks i might have scoliosis. the symptoms i have is
    -my legs and arms become numb
    -i have hip problems
    -i get headaches a lot
    -and my lower back hurts sometimes

    1. 55
      Dr. Josh Woggon on August 23, 2017

      The only way to truly know if you have scoliosis is to have an x-ray taken of the spine. If you have many of the signs & symptoms of scoliosis (as described here on our page: https://www.clear-institute.org/learning-about-scoliosis/scoliosis-symptoms/), it’s always a good idea to arrange for an x-ray to be taken.

  27. 56
    Ginger Miller on August 22, 2017

    I was diagnosed in 89 at 14 yrs oldand had an emergency spinal fusion. Other than terrible headaches and muscle knots I never had much pain. About ten years ago I started getting shooting pains in my wrists that sometimes leave me unable to use one or both. Neurologist checked nerves and nothing was amiss. I still have no answers but it the pain is simular to that of tendon damage. About two months ago my ankles and feet started doing the same thing. Feels like the tendons are damaged, but without strain, injury or swelling. Again visit to general practice gave me nothing but a brace that only makes it hurt more and an rx for a steroid I refuse to take. I’m desperate for answers. I wonder if while I can’t find anything on line linking the two, if anyone with scoliosis has experienced this and if anyone has found any answers. I have a career that requires me to be able to walk and use my hands. I can’t stand this and need a solution, not just masking symptoms with dangerous drugs.

    1. 57
      Dr. Josh Woggon on August 23, 2017

      When it comes to scoliosis, CLEAR chiropractors have a unique and inimitable insight. Scheduling a consultation with one of our doctors might help you find the answers you are looking for! https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

  28. 58
    Ginger Miller on August 24, 2017

    There are not any within 400 miles of me according to the search.

  29. 59
    Marydina on September 12, 2017

    I have Thoracic Scoliosis, But before I knew it I actually love to Hike. Is Hiking bad for it? Or worsen the condition? i also wanted to know how to prevent it from Getting worse. Do I need brace? ADVANCE THANKS FOR ANSWER. 😊

    1. 60
      Dr. Josh Woggon on September 13, 2017

      We have some helpful recommendations regarding physical activities for scoliosis on our blog, as well as on our website: https://www.clear-institute.org/living-with-scoliosis/scoliosis-exercises/sports-and-activities/
      Regarding more specific recommendations, your best option is to reach out to a CLEAR Certified Doctor near you (find one here: https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/) and share your x-rays and medical history with them. They will be able to help you determine what treatment options would have the greatest chance of success in your individual case.

  30. 61
    Shirley Kinnear on September 15, 2017

    Over the past 14 months, I have had many episodes of severe stomach pain that radiates to my back. After 6 trips to the ER and three surgeries ( gallstone, gallbladder, adheisions, and internal hernia. I still keep having episodes of severe stomach and back pain. My surgeon suggested my scoliosis and spinal lamenectomy might be causing my stomach pain. Is that possible. I am 72 years old.

    1. 62
      Dr. Josh Woggon on September 22, 2017

      Yes, it is possible that problems with the spine might be contributing to your stomach pain, although the only way to tell for sure would be to schedule a consultation with a chiropractor, who could take some x-rays and perform a physical exam. You can find a list of CLEAR doctors here: https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

  31. 63
    mimi on September 18, 2017

    hi im 15 and i have “s” shaped scoliosis, i was diagnosed over two years now.. i rarely feel pain but these past few days… weeks.. the left side of my ribs are hurting.. what is happening?

    1. 64
      Dr. Josh Woggon on September 22, 2017

      Our blog on Scoliosis Exercises & Back Pain might have some information which could be helpful! https://www.clear-institute.org/blog/scoliosis-back-pain-exercise-7-things/

  32. 65
    Maggie W. on September 25, 2017

    Dr. Woggon,
    Just wanted to thank you for this article. Recently, the head of PT at my hospital told my PT that it was “impossible” to have arm mobility issues or pain from scoliosis, LOL! Apparently my parents were told I had bad scoliosis when I was ten, I don’t recall, but they ignored it. I’m now 50, have severe scoliosis and (or?) kyphosis. I went from 5’11” to 5’5″ in less than ten years and have many other health problems. I can’t have surgery. I’m too embarrassed to leave my house other than to the doctor, I’m in a lot of pain (although not bad in my back unless I’m trying to walk- can only get around my house) and then I get hip and lower back pain. Neck pain pretty often. Anyway, my point was to thank you for posting this. To claim that a major deformity of the spine doesn’t cause x, y, z is crazy and I’m thankful CLEAR is getting the message out!

    1. 66
      Dr. Josh Woggon on September 26, 2017

      You are very welcome! I’m so glad that you appreciated this information. I agree, it is absolutely crazy how some doctors can ignore the very real health effects of living with scoliosis. Thank you for taking the time to share your story and your thoughts – it is very much appreciated!

  33. 67
    Debashish Roy on October 5, 2017

    Can DORSAL SPINE is SCOLOSIS by physically assult or someone hit on my back several time ?and there is no backbone injury.

    1. 68
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 5, 2017

      It is possible for scoliosis to develop or worsen dramatically after a trauma or injury. This is called traumatic scoliosis, and it is subtly different from idiopathic scoliosis (scoliosis with no known cause) or degenerative scoliosis (scoliosis caused by degeneration of the spinal discs). However, unlike those two types of scoliosis, traumatic scoliosis is not well-studied. There are only a few published case reports, like this one: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(05)71052-7/fulltext
      If you think you’ve developed scoliosis as a result of a trauma, car crash, or injury, it’s important to take an x-ray to confirm it right away. If there is a scoliosis, treatment should begin without delay. If the injury is left untreated, scar tissue may form which could make it more difficult to correct later on.

  34. 69
    Becca on October 9, 2017

    Hi I’m 14 and I had scoliosis and spondylosis. I was in so much pain and I had about a 60 degree on one curve and about 50 degee on the other. I had spinal fusion and I still have pain not in my back as much but now the pain is in my neck. You said the pain is not generally at the exact spot of the curve but mine was. When I sleep I cant lay on my back straight I have to prop myself up and losen up. Recovering from that surgery was the hardest thing I have ever done. My legs weren’t the same length either so I had my growth plate in my knee shut down.

  35. 70
    Tracy Richards on October 24, 2017

    I am a 53 year old woman. I have had scoliosis my entire life, as well as migraines. I’ve never been treated for scoliosis, but it is a curve that makes one shoulder about one inch higher than the other, but with little discomfort.
    I have never had any doctor tell me that my migraine and scoliosis may be connected.
    Most of my life up to 10 years ago, I only had a few migraines a year, but now I have 12 plus a month, and they are getting worse.
    My most recent migraine symptoms are, either waking with a severe migraine, with the entire back of my neck and back of my head (scalp) feeling very sore, to the point I can’t touch it, like a bad bruise and/or a tension headache turning into a migraine. Or having a stiff neck leading to a tension headache, then to a migraine. Either way they are severe.
    My recent MRI has several T-2 lesions because of migraine, but no cause seems obvious. I’ve been telling my doctors, that the tension in my neck, pulling the muscles in the back of my head leading to my headaches, but I’ve never been referred to a scoliosis specialist jus have had symptoms treated. Is there hope for this older woman like me? I want relief from these debilitating Migraines, but I am afraid I may be to old for a cure except treating the worsening symptoms.

    1. 71
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 24, 2017

      Hello, and thank you for taking the time to share your experience. Yes, I believe there is hope for you!
      We have had many patients experience significant relief from their migraines symptoms after receiving CLEAR treatment. And there is no age restriction – we have helped people from ages 4 to 84! Check out some of our Patient Success Stories from Marge, Mary Jim, Marvin, and Rosemarie here: https://www.clear-institute.org/about/patient-success-stories/
      While the exact cause of migraines is unknown (and may be different for different people), one potential cause is misalignment of the bones in the neck, which places tension on the muscles and nerves in that area. Chiropractic adjustments have been very successful in helping people with headaches to find relief. I would definitely encourage you to contact a CLEAR doctor to schedule a consultation, either over the phone or in person, to find out if CLEAR treatment could help you! Find a CLEAR doctor here: https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

  36. 72
    KrissyLeigh92 on November 27, 2017

    I am 25 and was first diagnosed in 2004 at 12 with scoliosis. 45degree S curve with twist within a few months I had a spinal fusion from L1-L3 that never actually took. I had so much pain and numbness in my legs/feet I had problems walking. In 2009 I had anoter surgeon go in and fix it at T12-L4. This however has not resolved the numbness and pain in my legs/feet. Within the last year it has moved into my hands/arms and I’ve began dropping things, they told me it’s started In my cervical spine. I have done tons of reading and can’t ever seem to find stories like mine or cases even similar to mine.
    Could the be a cause to my curvatures that my care team is missing?

    1. 73
      Dr. Josh Woggon on November 27, 2017

      Hello, and thank you for taking the time to post. I hope I can be of assistance!
      I’m honestly a little bit surprised that no one has presented you with similar cases; the symptoms you have are somewhat common in a chiropractor’s office. It’s called radicular pain (radicular means radiating), in that the source of the pain is where the spine has buckled, flattening and/or bulging the disc, to put pressure upon the nerve. That nerve becomes irritated, and begins sending out pain signals all along its path farther down the spine. The only way to treat this type of pain is to take the pressure off the nerve, whether through chiropractic, physical rehabilitation, or surgery. Some painkillers or muscle relaxants may dampen the discomfort temporarily, but the symptoms will not resolve completely until the cause (a mechanical dysfunction of the spine) is addressed.
      Unfortunately, if that area has been fused, there is very little that can be done to change the alignment and reduce the numbness/pain in the legs & feet. You might want to consider an injection or nerve block to reduce the pain, although this can be a “hit or miss” procedure with many patients. It is usually possible through CLEAR chiropractic to adjust the areas above and below the fusion, and reduce the forces acting upon the dysfunctional area; however, when the fusion extends all the way down to L4, there are only a few remaining movable segments.
      If chiropractic, physical therapy, and injections or nerve blocks are all ineffective, your only other option would be a surgical revision. You might want to consider obtaining a MRI or CT scan before beginning care, to determine if there might be some debris from the instrumentation that is impinging upon the nerves in any way.
      With the pain & numbness in the arms, this would be arising from dysfunctions in the neck, arising due to mis-alignments, disc degeneration, and/or muscle tension. A chiropractor (preferably one specializing in structural corrective care, with pre & post x-rays to verify the results) should be your first option for care in my opinion, accompanied by an exercise rehab program.
      Be aware that these types of symptoms usually take time to address; while you should begin experiencing changes after a few weeks, it may take several months of care or more to resolve.

  37. 74
    Vanessa Moore on December 2, 2017

    My daughter is 17 and has mild scoliosis. Some mornings the pain in her spine at back, but also at her front near her sternum is very severe that it makes her vommit. Is this normal?

    1. 75
      Dr. Josh Woggon on December 4, 2017

      While digestive issues are sometimes associated with scoliosis, vomiting is not usually one of them. I would recommend that you follow-up with this concern by taking her to a doctor, as there could be something besides the scoliosis which is causing the vomiting.

  38. 76
    Paul Christian on January 5, 2018

    I’m a 67 year old male
    Had a bad back for years
    Have a scoliosis to the left
    Have had all the test and injection
    Nothing working
    For a couple of years I’ve had stomach pain
    As I said had all the test
    Everything ok
    Last couple of days I have been using one of those foam rollers to stretch
    And shore enough I’m getting relief
    As it is only early days
    I’ll let you guys know the outcome

  39. 77
    Val Powlison on February 3, 2018

    Hi, I am a 56 year old female who has suffered with migraines for years. I Ave been to many different kinds of doctors all to no avail. One night I just googled headaches while
    sitting down and came up one cervicogenic headache. This led me to see an orthopedist who diagnosed me with scolosis and said that is what is causing the headaches. I was told when I was a young teen that I had it but that it wasn’t severe enough to do anything about. I am starting PT next week and am hoping it will bring relief. So glad to finally have some anwers!

    1. 78
      Dave on February 25, 2018

      Physical Therapists are quacks, they won’t help you (i know from experience), you can better seek help from a massage therapists with a spinal specialism. A chiro helps only with acute symptoms, not chronic conditions, because of the muscle imbalance which the chiro doesn’t address!
      More importantly, you have to help yourself, examine your body, study it, stretch against the curves, everyday! A lacrosse ball is great for self-massaging, so is a theracane!
      Green Lipped Mussel Extract helps ease the pain and stiffness, also relaxing.
      Turmeric with paracetamol is an instant migraine cure!

    2. 79
      Dr. Josh Woggon on February 26, 2018

      It’s true that general physical therapy (like general chiropractic) can be “hit-or-miss” when it comes to scoliosis; sometimes it can help, sometimes not. This why CLEAR recommends scoliosis-specific physical therapy techniques, such as SEAS, Schroth, and others (more information about these approaches is available on our website here), and also why we developed the CLEAR chiropractic scoliosis treatment protocols.
      It simply makes sense that any treatment (be it physical therapy, massage, yoga, or chiropractic) is much more likely to be effective when it is developed specifically for scoliosis, and applied by someone with advanced training in this spinal condition!
      Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) has been found to be more effective than a placebo – as well as some popular anti-migraines drugs! – in an animal study evaluating its effect upon certain biomarkers related to migraines. You can access the full-text research article here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5674483/

  40. 80
    Cindy Bertram on February 15, 2018

    I have had migraines for 35 years. I have also had scoliosis since I was a kid. I am now 63 years old and so tired of these headaches. Please say theres help.

    1. 81
      Dr. Josh Woggon on February 15, 2018

      Migraines can be caused by a number of different things. In some cases, people with migraines have found relief through chiropractic care. There are different chiropractic techniques, so if you visit one chiropractor and it doesn’t help, don’t give up on chiropractic all together; rather, see if you can find a chiropractor who specializes in a corrective care technique such as CLEAR, CBP, or Pettibon. If those approaches still don’t help, then it’s highly likely that the cause of your migraines is not something that a chiropractor can help with.
      The smell of green apples can help reduce migraine attacks; believe it or not, this has been documented in several research studies, and many have my patients have tried it and it worked for them as well.
      I’ve definitely noticed that my patients with scoliosis often suffer from headaches, and as we treat them, they notice improvement in their headaches as their scoliosis improves.
      Surprisingly, very little research has been done on the association between headaches or migraines and scoliosis, so I’m afraid I don’t have much other than anecdotal evidence to offer at this time.
      I’d recommend seeing if you can find a corrective care chiropractor in your area (preferably a CLEAR doctor in my opinion, but of course I’m a little biased!). If after 6 to 12 visits, you don’t notice any improvement, then you can probably conclude that chiropractic care isn’t the right approach for your migraines. However, if you do experience some relief, then you know there is hope! 🙂
      I wish you all the best of health & happiness in your quest for a cure!

    2. 82
      dave on February 24, 2018

      Try Green Lipped Mussel Extract, it helps with pain, stiffness and helps you relax.

    3. 83
      Dr. Josh Woggon on February 26, 2018

      Great suggestion! In addition to Green Lipped Muscle Extract, a list of some other natural pain relievers/anti-inflammatory supplements & the research behind their effectiveness can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011108/

  41. 84
    Dave on February 24, 2018

    Scoliosis has been a hell for me.
    Blocked neck (pinched nerves/veins), tintling, occasional paralyzed finger/thumb, migraine, tension headache, seeing flashes, dizziness, trouble breathing, cramps left side face.
    Muscles getting tensed because they have to compensate for the imbalance –> cause extreme exhaustion and stress. Nervous system/hormonal imbalance, anxiety, depression, issues with (twisted) colon, impotence. All this has caused hell in my life, it ruined my life, caused low self esteem, difficulties at work and social life.
    If you consider the philosophy behind acupuncture; even the smallest blockade causes issues with organs/hormones/nerves. They are actually right!

    Only thing that can help is you yourself! Study your body, in what ways is your body curved, stretch against the curvature taking into consideration imbalance in shoulders neck everything, experiment! I have certainly made improvement helping myself which others (chiro, manual therapist, orthomanual therapist and countless others ) have not been able to help!

    1. 85
      Dave on February 24, 2018

      I forgot to mention issues with blocked left ear, no, it was not wax, have been to ENT specialist, doctor found nothing, he mentioned it could be psychological LOL (what a quack).
      Because my neck was sideways bent, the muscles in my neck/jaws blocked my Eustachian tube which could not drain itself in a natural way.

  42. 86
    Shelby on April 11, 2018

    I play softball and I have a 28 degree curve. I am almost positive it has gotten worse since my last visit though.. my right shoulder has dropped down and forward. I also have experienced nerve pain throughout my entire right arm starting from my upper back on the right side. Do you suggest that I don’t play softball? When I do play, I actually feel more pain

    1. 87
      Dr. Josh Woggon on April 11, 2018

      Pain is the body’s “check engine” light – it’s a sign that something’s wrong. Activities which increase pain are probably placing stress upon over-worked muscles and mis-aligned joints. If you ignore the pain (or take painkillers to suppress it) and continue the activity, without seeking any treatment or help for it, it’s highly likely that the symptoms will continue to get worse, and eventually may become disabling & prevent you from continuing your participation.
      It’s common for sports involving one-sided rotational activities (such as pitching, swinging a golf club or baseball bat or tennis racket) to aggravate scoliosis. You can find more information here.
      The goal of CLEAR treatment is to empower people with scoliosis to live full, pain-free lives, enjoying doing the activities they love to do. During the initial phase of treatment, your doctor might ask you to discontinue certain activities for a while, but the purpose of this short-term sacrifice is to maximize the benefit of treatment so that you can achieve the best possible long-term benefit, and perform at your full potential – without pain slowing you down.
      Please let us know if we can provide additional assistance, or help you find a CLEAR Doctor near you!

  43. 88
    Kathleen on April 25, 2018

    I was diagnosed with fairly mild scoliosis at age 10, though it never progressed past 14 degrees in the thoracic spine. I’m now 47, and have right-sided stenosis in my cervical spine. Is this possibly because things are not “wearing out” evenly as I age? It is not severe enough to need surgery, although it does cause pain & numbness down my right arm (acupuncture & chiropractic work helps a LOT with this). What I am wondering — can such a mild curve cause shortness of breath both at rest & on exertion? My family doctor put me through a ton of heart & lung tests — all negative. I’m just thinking that as I already have known side issues from the scoliosis, that this might be another.

    1. 89
      Dr. Josh Woggon on April 25, 2018

      This is a very astute & insightful question – thank you for taking the time to ask! For many years, medical doctors were taught that mild scoliosis does not cause pain or shortness of breath. However, this was based upon (flawed) studies, which only evaluated lung function at rest and used inferior methods of assessing pain. When better methods are used, and lung function is evaluated during exercise, then it quickly becomes apparent that mild scoliosis does indeed cause impairment of respiratory function and physiological deterioration. It’s also important to note that Cobb angle has a very weak correlation with rotation of the ribs & spine; a 14 degree Cobb angle could potentially have more rotation (and thus cause more lung problems) than a 25 degree curve with less rotation.
      The good news is that many scoliosis-specific exercise treatments have been shown to have a positive effect upon lung function (we are currently planning a similar study, using high-quality spirometers, specifically on the effect of CLEAR treatment on lung function, as well), so there is hope! These methods can help adults with scoliosis, too, not just adolescents. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can provide any additional information or assistance. I wish you all the best of success in your scoliosis journey!

  44. 90
    Brooke on April 27, 2018

    People may not know this, but there is a type of scoliosis caused by unequal growth in legs. Personally I think I fractured my growth plate when I was 12 playing volleyball. Nobody knows but I was diagnosed at 13 with scoliosis. I didn’t have a lot of pain or at least I was more sore from soccer training. 11 years later and less exercise, the pain is worse and never ends. If anything it’s bearable at times but never pain free. Standing sitting or laying more than 15 minutes is painful. I have to constantly move and stretch and take breaks. But honestly exercise is probably the main treatment and pain relief. Mainly I came here to see if others wake up in more pain. Morning is the worst for me.

    1. 91
      Dr. Josh Woggon on April 27, 2018

      Thank you for sharing! While it’s true that scoliosis can be caused by a long-standing leg length inequality, I think it’s important to mention that true anatomical leg length differences are rare, occurring in less than 5% of the population. Most leg length inequalities are functional, resulting from changes in the spine, hips, and other areas. We’ve seen apparent leg length inequalities resolve frequently with treatment. Too many chiropractors (in my opinion) think that scoliosis can be treated with a simple heel or foot lift, and while it might be helpful in some instances, very rarely does it truly “cure” the scoliosis. In the case of a true anatomical leg length inequality, the spine would straighten right out if an x-ray were to be taken with a heel or foot lift.
      It’s heartbreaking to hear that you’re living in constant pain; I hope you consider reaching out to a CLEAR doctor or another scoliosis specialist that might be able to help. There is hope!
      Hang in there; we wish you all the best of health & happiness! Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.

  45. 92
    Megan on June 2, 2018

    Hi I’m 17 and my back pains just got worse to where I had to wake mi had to wake up my mom because I was crying so bad from.it should I not be doing soccer and basketball right now due to my pain

    1. 93
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 4, 2018

      Hello,
      While we cannot provide specific healthcare advice over the Internet, it is a good general rule of thumb to discontinue any activities which cause or worsen pain. Severe back pain in a 17 year-old is a cause for concern; I would highly recommend that you reach out to a CLEAR doctor, CBP chiropractor, or spine physician for help in diagnosing & treating the source of the pain.

  46. 94
    Ryan Graham on June 21, 2018

    Its good to hear what others go through since it is easily dismissed as painless! I have an S curve from my neck to middle back. Im 42 and for years I just had tense muscles up and down my back, thank God for chiropractors! I am having more issues with my left side upper back in knots with the area around my spine very tender to the touch! I get pain up into my face and head, sometimes feeling like A bad toothache! It hurts to bend my head back and find myself having to sleep sitting up in order not to hurt!
    I had new xrays where the ” wet”, read showed nothing major but I’m wondering if my very active lifestyle is going to have to slow down at home and work? I tried working out more but seems to just cause more issues if I’m not super careful. I see my mom go through a lot of pain but figured I had a bit longer before this decent I seem to be on?

    1. 95
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 21, 2018

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience! While it’s impossible to accurately diagnose the source of your pain over the Internet, it sounds like it could be related to the trapezius muscle, levator scapulae muscle, the recurrent spinal nerves, or the cranial nerves. CLEAR chiropractors undergo hundreds of hours of advanced training in scoliosis, and work with hundreds of scoliosis patients each year. This knowledge & experience helps when trying to identify symptoms & problems that might be related. An important fact to consider as well is that our doctors are happy to co-manage scoliosis patients with their local chiropractor. You can visit a CLEAR doctor, they can perform an evaluation & exam and provide a few treatment sessions, and then provide you with exercises to do at home, as well as a detailed description of their findings & recommendations for care to give to your local doctor. You can always send the CLEAR doctor copies of your x-rays and medical history, and hold a consultation over the phone to explore your options, as well.
      I hope this information is helpful – please let us know if there is anything else we can do to be of assistance!

  47. 96
    Micha on June 27, 2018

    Just wanted to leave this here for anybody that’s interested. http://www.schrothmethod.com/

    I’ve had scoliosis since I was a kid but it isn’t a severe case however I do know of others that have really bad cases and I’ve heard that the schroth method was fairly effective so you all might want to look into it a bit further.

    1. 97
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 27, 2018

      The Schroth method is one of many different schools of scoliosis physiotherapy originating in Europe, along with SEAS from Milan, Italy; DoboMed & FITS from Poland; BSPTS from Barcelona; the Lyon approach from France; and, the Side-Shift approach from the UK. An excellent review of these techniques can be found here.

      Many of the CLEAR doctors are certified in Schroth, SEAS, or similar techniques, or employ PT’s who are. The CLEAR method includes asymmetric spinal exercises that incorporate elements of many of these approaches. We are absolutely in favor of providing more options to people suffering from scoliosis, and hope that these options become more widely accepted & available to more scoliosis patients in the United States and around the world!

  48. 98
    Mas on June 27, 2018

    Dear Dr. Woggon

    I was diagnosed with a 24 degrees thoracic dextroscoliosis and a milder lumbar Levoscoliosis when I was 17. I haven’t grown since I was 15 ( I am now 18). I was surprised when I found out that both of my curves worsen and now my dextroscoliosis is 28 degrees. I have read from multiple sources that scoliosis does not worsen after one is done growing, with the exception of cases where the curve is severe. What could have possible caused worsening of my scoliosis?

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      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 28, 2018

      Hello,
      While it is true that the majority of mild scoliosis cases (under 25 degrees) will not progress after spinal growth has ceased, it is difficult to predict on an individual basis exactly which patients will get worse, and which will not. It was also recently published that if Risser sign (the most common indicator of skeletal maturity used in scoliosis) is the only method used to assess skeletal maturity, there is a moderate risk that the spine is not in fact done growing, and the scoliosis will be under-treated (access the article here). Up to 2.5 cm of spinal growth can occur even after the ossification of the iliac crest (the final Risser stage). Additional methods of assessing skeletal maturity, such as evaluation of the triradiate cartilage or analysis of the bones in the wrist (the Tanner-Whitehouse or Sanders methods), should be used in conjunction with the Risser sign to accurately assess when the spine is done growing.

      It is also important to consider if the torso and hips are compensated (directly aligned one over the other) or uncompensated (the torso in relation to the hips is shifted left or right), as uncompensated cases of scoliosis have a higher risk of worsening even if the Cobb angle is below 25 degrees.

      One last point – measurement error for Cobb angle is generally regarded to be around 5 degrees, so if the difference between two different x-rays is less than 5 degrees, the change isn’t considered to be significant.

      I hope this is helpful! Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to provide assistance.

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