Does Scoliosis cause pain?

We have been discussing this on the group and many patients have strong views about their scoliosis and the pain they are getting, especially when they go to see a Dr and he says, quite casually "scoliosis doesn't cause pain!".

So, let's get to the bottom of this debate.

The answer to the question in discussion is rather complicated, because it depends upon the amount of curvature of the spine and the amount of other degenerative changes, like arthritis, in certain parts of the spine. In general, most forms of scoliosis are not specifically painful.

It is common amongst Drs to believe that patients with curves that are less than 30 degrees should not have any more back pain in their life than someone who has a normal straight spine.

However, scoliosis does affect the whole body and larger curves over 30 degrees can cause significant changes in posture that can make it painful for the scoliosis patient to sit, stand or walk. Larger Scoliosis curves can have an effect on the lungs, heart, hips, jaw, throwing out of alignment and it is this that causes the pain.

Muscles in a person with scoliosis are constantly strained and become tired very quickly, the muscles are attempting to keep the scoliosis patient upright, this type of pain has been discussed as a dull and achy pain, constantly there and never feeling any better.

Scoliosis patients are just as susceptible to the same back problems as everyone else and these problems include degenerative arthritis, degenerative disc diseases, spinal stenosis, herniated and bulging discs. There are of course the conditions that are directly linked to scoliosis such as the intervertebral discs in the lumbar spine, for a patient who has lumbar scoliosis there is an increased biomechanical stress in these intervertebral discs, this can cause disc problems and they have a tendency to wear out quicker than those in a person with a normal spine.

Many scoliosis patients complain of pain after their surgery, especially those who have a Harrington rod that finishes beyond the L1 vertebrae in the Lumbar spine, classified as "Flatback Syndrome", the harrington rod was also known for "loss in the lumbar lordosis".

The intervertebral discs adjacent to the fused segment of the spine often wear out faster than they would in a person with a normal spine, this is very painful (it is happening to me and the pain is sometimes unbearable)

Scoliosis surgery carries a high risk (as do many surgeries) and failure of the surgery can result in many problems that cause pain for the patient.

Scoliosis patients tend to have the same aches and pains that affect the non-scoliosis patient, adding more stress and strain to the body and spine. Hips and knees can be affected.

I think we can safely come to the conclusion that Scoliosis DOES CAUSE PAIN and it is insensitive for a Dr to suggest otherwise, I think they should walk in our shoes for a day and then re-assess their medical advice or be more compassionate for the patient sat in front of them and DON'T patronise them by saying "Scoliosis doesn't cause pain", or at least explain the meaning behind the statement, especially when there is someone sat on front of them that has had pain on a daily basis.

Fair comment that the Scoliosis itself does not cause pain but there are many contributing factors that DO cause pain and in many cases this pain is a direct result of the Scoliosis in the patient, the surgery that has been carried out, or the curvature that has been left in the child that has now grown to be an adult and is bearing the weight of a scoliosis curvature over 50ยบ.

Scoliosis comments from the group members:
I've been reading your e-mails on the doctor that said surgery is no big deal. I think he is totally wrong. I would get a second a opinion if a doctor told me that. I believe any surgery is a big deal and to hear that he was only going to keep the patient in the hospital for two days is really hard to believe. I had my surgery
in 2004. My doctor was very informative of the procedure and what would be happening while I was in the hospital. I had my surgery on a Monday and it lasted 12 hrs and that was only the first part.

I then went back down for the second part on the following Monday and that lasted another 8 hours. I was in the hospital a total of two weeks and from there I went to rehab for another week and a half. I came home and had alot of pain for a long time. It took me a while to get back into things. I was just getting use to the hardware in my back when I kept having pain in my back. In December of 2004 I ended up in the hospital with an infection and then I spent alot of 2005 in the hosptal with this infection and finally it went away. The doctor had to undo everything he did from the first surgery except the fusion. I'm finally recovering from it all but it has taken a long time. I also still have to be careful with things I do.

I don't want to scare anyone but I was told any back surgery is major surgery. I before my surgery check my doctor out and made sure he was qualify to do it. I would if I was you make sure the doctor knows all about scoliosis and see how many times he has done this surgery. My doctor still sees me to check how I'm doing and to make sure it isn't progressing. I made that mistake when I was young. I didn't have it check every year and it progress to 63 degrees. I tell people now to get it check and make sure you excecise. I hope this information will help anyone looking to have surgery. You really need to do alot of homework before making this big decision and could there be any alternatives to surgery. Thanks for this group I can finally let my feelings out.

Thank You

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