Last updated on January 19th, 2022 at 10:08 am
After years of scoliosis treatment, 16-year-old Rachel Rabkin Peachman’s curves had stabilized and her spine had fully grown. At 45 degrees, she had narrowly avoided scoliosis surgery. Her doctor told her she was done.
But she wasn’t.
“I’ve discovered in the years since that scoliosis is not something you endure and outgrow, like pimples and puberty. Now, at the ripe age of 38, I find myself with a 55-degree upper curve, a 33-degree lower curve, consistent pain — and no standard treatment to follow. No severe scoliosis pain management protocols exist”
She is not the only adult scoliosis patient left in pain. As many as 6 million adults live with scoliosis in the United States alone, whether idiopathic or developed during adulthood (and that is a conservative estimate). Nearly three in four experience pain as a result, while 23 percent describe their pain levels as horrible, excruciating, or distressing. Scoliosis pain management options are often non-existent.
“A misshapen body is the least serious consequence of scoliosis,” says Jane Brody, who was diagnosed with scoliosis after her son pointed out that one hip was higher than the other. “It can result in disabling pain in the buttocks, back or legs, and neuropathy, a disruption of feeling and function when a spinal nerve is compressed between vertebrae.”
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 68 percent of people older than 60 show signs of degenerative, adult-onset scoliosis. (Bone mass and density loss is the usual culprit.) And that doesn’t even account for those whose childhood scoliosis continues to progress a 1-2 degrees per year.
That is a lot of people who potentially suffer from adult scoliosis pain.
Many feel let down by conventional treatments or fear they will need to have surgery. As the majority of doctors continue to adhere to outdated treatment methods, painkillers and surgery are often presented as the only options. But that isn’t the case. Better treatments, guided by emerging research, are helping adult scoliosis patients achieve significant pain reduction without resorting to drugs or surgery. Get recommendations for living to your fullest potential with scoliosis.
Types and Causes of Scoliosis Pain
Scoliosis usually isn’t painful, particularly in childhood. Even when patients do experience pain, it is often not caused by the curve itself but by secondary issues, such as spinal degeneration. Adults with idiopathic scoliosis tend to have more symptoms than teens because the degeneration in their discs and joints causes spinal nerve openings to narrow; discoordination of spinal muscle firing patterns leaves some muscle groups doing much more work than others, resulting in dull, achy, burning, cramping spasms.
There are several types of adult scoliosis pain, including:
Joint Inflammation Caused by Scoliosis
As patients with adult scoliosis age, they often develop “joint slipping” in the spine, known as spondylosis. It is especially common in those whose condition has gone untreated. “The joints become inflamed, the cartilage that cushions the disks may thin, and bone spurs may develop,” says the New York Times. “If the disk degenerates or the curvature progresses to the point that the spinal vertebrae begin pressing on the nerves, pain can be very severe.”
Symptoms of joint inflammation include:
- Activity-related pain that gradually gets worse
- Stiffness and pain first thing in the morning, as well as later in the day
- Localized pain to just the area of the joint
Mechanical Pain Caused by Scoliosis
This type of back pain stems from abnormal stress on the muscles surrounding the spine. Poor posture is often the culprit. Many patients with scoliosis lean forward a lot, either because their spine has lost its natural curve or in an attempt to relieve pressure on affected nerves.
Symptoms of mechanical pain include:
- Dull, achy, burning spasms
- Low back pain and stiffness
- Fatigue from strain on lower back and leg muscles
Nerve Pain Caused by Scoliosis
Adult scoliosis pain can also arise when nerves become compressed.
“A combination of the degeneration of the spine and scoliosis deformity may cause pressure on nerves and possibly even the entire spinal cord.”
This can lead to symptoms in the lower extremities, such as:
- Loss of coordination
Non-Surgical Scoliosis Pain Treatment?
Because each person is unique, a customized treatment plan is recommended to reduce curvature, improve functionality, and relieve scoliosis pain in adults. It is also important to address the condition’s underlying cause — bone mass and density loss — with nutrient supplements and possibly hormone replacement therapy.
Other non-surgical scoliosis treatment options include manual manipulation/Chiropractic adjustments, Exercise with the ScoliSMART Activity Suit, natural de-inflammation nutrients, and ice/heat therapy.
3 Strategies for Scoliosis Pain Management
Adults with spinal curves have far more options for scoliosis pain management than many realize.
In fact, the most effective treatment plans tackle the problem from multiple angles — one that combines a variety of approaches for maximum effect.
Our doctors recommend the following ScoliSMART treatments for adults with scoliosis pain:
Manual manipulation/Chiropractic adjustments
Joint mobilization can be very effective for stuck or stiff joints that cause localized pain. As a wise person once said, there is no potion, powder, or pill for a stuck joint. You just need to un-stick it.
Exercise with the ScoliSMART Activity Suit
Scoliosis pain exercises are the key to any scoliosis pain management plan. Strengthening core muscles is essential for improving posture and preventing further degeneration. Stretching helps combat stiffness and maintain flexibility. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise program that is customized to fit your needs. Walking is a low-impact exercise with proven health benefits and an ideal time to use the ScoliSMART Activity Suit as well.
ScoliSMART Activity Suit
The ScoliSMART Activity Suit is a completely non-invasive treatment option for adult scoliosis that doesn’t just relieve symptoms – it addresses the underlying problem of spinal curvature.
Whether you are performing specific scoliosis exercises or simply going about your daily activities, wearing the ScoliSMART Activity Suit helps improve communication between the brain and muscles surrounding the spine, naturally correcting postural imbalances. Scientific research has found that eight in 10 adults with scoliosis who wear the suit for 4-6 hours a day enjoy significant pain relief — not to mention a more than 6-degree curve reduction and noticeable posture improvement.
Natural de-inflammation nutrients
Working out may sound impossible to an adult living with scoliosis pain, but taking the right dietary supplements can help ease the symptoms, making exercise less difficult. For example, four in 10 patients with scoliosis experience long-lasting pain relief when taking curcumin. Our ScoliPAIN Plus supplement provides comprehensive scoliosis pain relief with 2 types of curcumin, Boswalla, and Fenugreek.
Ice and Heat Therapy
Most patients wonder how to relieve scoliosis pain at home and when to use ice or when to use heat for pain is one of the most common questions. While there is no one absolute answer for any particular situation, it is generally recommended to use ice for pain and heat for stiffness with little or no pain
The Search for a Better Way to Treat Chronic Adult Scoliosis Pain
Chronic back pain is a fact of life for many people, but it is almost TWICE as likely if you have scoliosis according to a 50-year follow-up study of adults with scoliosis. Patients often describe their scoliosis back pain as burning, intense achiness, stiffness, spasms, and even breathtaking in some cases. It becomes more than a nuisance; it becomes the focal point of their lives.
Many patients gradually begin planning their lives around chronic scoliosis back pain and it slowly erodes their lifelong hopes and dreams of an active and adventure-filled retirement later in life. I even had one patient describe their experience with scoliosis back pain as being stuck.
“I’m stuck,” she said. “I am stuck between pain and surgery. I am stuck between pain and pain killers. I am stuck between scoliosis pain and my life.”
Pills, potions, lotions, surgeries, even psychologists for treating scoliosis back pain in adults have led us down a road to nowhere and we need a new and better way. Many patients (correctly, in my opinion) have turned to active rehabilitation approaches for treating their chronic scoliosis pain. Yoga, Pilates, Schroth, inversion tables, exercises for scoliosis pain in adults, and even acupuncture for scoliosis pain anecdotally have provided long-time scoliosis back pain sufferers with varying degrees of success, but all of these approaches only provide temporary pain reduction and fail to produce measurable long-term results for treating the actual scoliosis condition.
Spinal Rotation Is the “Engine” of Scoliosis Progression
Understandably (but inaccurately), most patients see a crooked or bent spine on their x-ray and mistakenly think the curvature itself is the entire “problem” scoliosis creates. In reality, scoliosis is much, much, much more complicated. In fact, it really isn’t “bending” so much as it is “twisting.”
Think of the curve in a scoliosis spine as a rubber band that is being twisted from the top and bottom until it makes a “coil” and buckles to the side. This is the true dynamic and biomechanical “driver” of scoliosis progression. One cannot simply “push” on the outside of the curvature (like a scoliosis brace) toward the midline and force the spine straighter. Actually, due to the unique rotation patterns seen only in scoliosis, many times “pushing” on the spine with a hard or softback brace will INCREASE the spinal rotation and make the scoliosis spine “coil down” even more! These are signs scoliosis is getting worse!
Any realistic treatment effort to treat the unique biomechanics of a spine afflicted with scoliosis is going to have to focus on DE-ROTATING the spinal curve and, furthermore, teaching the patients AUTOMATIC postural control centers in the brain how to do so permanently.
While this may sound a bit new and/or far-fetched, it can be done with an entirely new concept in the treatment of adult scoliosis and the painful symptoms often associated with the condition. We call it the Scoliosis Activity Suit.
6 Ways the Scoliosis Activity Suit Can (Will) Reduce Your Scoliosis Pain While Improving Your True Core Strength & Stability
Increased Core Strength & Stability
“Core stability” has been a hot topic buzzword around physical therapy offices and gyms for decades, but for the most part is being misused and misunderstood, especially when it comes to adult scoliosis.
Core strength/stability is more than just how many sit-ups or back extensions one can perform during a workout. The adult scoliosis patient has specific needs and core stability should be more focused on “specific muscle recruitment” than general muscle strength or endurance.
Without getting too “wonky” on spinal anatomy, it needs to be recognized that intrinsic spinal muscles (groups of muscles within the spine that are involuntarily controlled but make up the bulk of one’s true “core stability”) are not significantly influenced by voluntary motion exercises like yoga, Pilates, Schroth, or weightlifting (these activities only train the muscles used for lifting or resisting gravity, not coordinating your automatic spinal alignment to gravity). Thus, it requires a unique “reflexive re-training” approach so the brain learns to activate and use the “true core stabilization” spinal muscles patients do not have conscious control over.
The Scoliosis Activity Suit works with your body’s natural movements, creating new muscle memory while actively reducing and stabilizing adult scoliosis. Scoliosis hip pain in adults improvement has also been reported by many of our patients. In fact, scoliosis and hip pain are extremely common.
Unlike rigid scoliosis braces, the Scoliosis Activity Suit has been designed through advanced engineering and human biomechanical analysis to stimulate and engage deep-layer “intrinsic” spinal muscles while you perform the normal activities of daily living.
Reduced Spinal Rotation & “Torque” on the Scoliosis Spine
Scoliosis curve progression is driven by spinal rotation causing a torque type “corkscrew” effect seen on a 2-dimensional x-ray as just a bending spine. This “torque” is being caused by the coordinated misfiring of spinal muscles to hold the spine in a twisted position when upright to gravity. Anyone who just stands in a semi-twisted position for any length of time will tell you it is a lot harder and tiring than just standing normally, so it stands to reason holding your spine in a twisted position for long periods of time would be exhausting and uncomfortable.
The Scoliosis Activity Suit targets the spinal rotation and reduces the scoliosis curve by causing your brain to untwist it, thus reducing torque on the spinal column.
Re-Coordinating Spinal Muscles Firing Patterns
They say, “many hands make light work,” and that is also true when it comes to muscular support of the spinal column. Back pain caused by scoliosis is the #1 complaint from adults living with scoliosis.
The human spine is covered with five layers of spinal muscles (numbering literally in the hundreds) and they are designed to work together in a coordinated fashion. Unfortunately, mis-coordinated muscle firing patterns are very common in patients with scoliosis (and especially in adult patients with chronic scoliosis pain).
The Scoliosis Activity Suit actively recruits muscle firing patterns and gets them all firing at the same time again, thereby reducing fatigue, spasms, and pain!
Improved Spinal Balance
While virtually all scoliosis curves are twisted from spinal rotation, some curve patterns also develop a body shift as part of the natural compensation for the condition. This unbalances your body’s natural center of gravity, making the spinal muscles work harder to hold you up to gravity and becoming painful if forced to do so day after day. Uneven bodyweight distribution can scoliosis cause pain in the legs as well.
Fortunately, the Scoliosis Activity Suit can be recommended to improve both the spinal twist and body shift at the same time.
Scoliosis Curve Reduction
79% of adult scoliosis patients using the adult Scoliosis Activity Suit we able to reduce their spinal curves by 6 degrees or more after using the Scoliosis Activity Suit for 18 months.
Many still believe adult scoliosis cannot be improved non-surgically, but patient after patient using the Scoliosis Activity Suit is proving them wrong.
While curve size reduction does not always correlate with scoliosis pain reduction, an overwhelming number of the patients in the study also reported less pain and improved quality of life.
Using the Scoliosis Activity Suit Encourages More Physical Activity
Since the Scoliosis Activity Suit creates resistance and reaction from the walking motion, many adult scoliosis patients are increasing their overall activity levels as part of their daily routine. This can have many significant health benefits, including weight loss, improved circulation, and decreased stress — all of which can and do contribute to less pain and improved quality of life.
Chronic scoliosis pain in adults is a tough condition to treat. Most existing treatment methods are solely focused on surgery or pain medications to manage — not fix — the underlying causes of scoliosis pain. In reality, the primary cause of scoliosis pain is often related to spinal twisting causing torque on the spinal column, lack of spinal balance and muscle firing patterns, and poor “true” core stability.
The pain syndrome often leads patients to less-active lifestyles (which only compounds the problems). So, can scoliosis cause breathing problems when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle? The two seem to go hand in hand.
The Scoliosis Activity Suit has been specifically designed to address all of these complications. What was once deemed impossible has become consistently possible for many adult scoliosis pain sufferers who had otherwise lost hope.
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