The purpose of this article is to share with you how to get rid of back pain caused by scoliosis. This finding not only prove that the use of braces can help to get rid of back pain caused by scoliosis, there is also strong evidence that scoliosis braces can prevent the need for surgery.
Because we will be focusing primarily on adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, it’s very important that I first provide you with a brief overview and clinical presentation of this abnormal spinal curvature.
The term “idiopathic,” means the exact cause is unknown. Idiopathic scoliosis occurs in toddlers and young children. However, most of the cases occur from age 10 to the time a child is fully grown. It’s by far, the most privalent type of scoliosis.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is characterized by a lateral curvature of the spine with a “Cobb angle” (term used worldwide to measure and quantify the magnitude of spinal deformities, especially in the case of scoliosis) of more than 10 degrees, and vertebral rotation.
Argument to Support that Scoliosis May Cause Pain
Some experts argue that when scoliosis begins in adolescence, patients often experience some pain, typically in the low back area. Although it is often associated with scoliosis, the pain is not always from the abnormal curvature. (Scoliosis Research Foundation Society)
According to one Dr. Robert Winter — internationally known for work in surgical and non-surgical treatment of spine deformity— although rarely, some adolescents with scoliosis may complain of back pain. When the pain is indeed associated with scoliosis, it is often a muscular type of pain which occurs because the muscles on the convexity of the curve are doing an excessive amount of work (causing them to hurt) in attempt to control the curve.
Based on the arguments from the above experts, it’s highly likely that scoliosis that begins in adolescence may cause back pain.
The Use of Brace
To answer the question as to how to get rid of back pain caused by scoliosis, the New England Journal of Medicine(NJM) has published a research article that supports the effectiveness of braces.
Just to provide you with some quick statistics on idiopathic scoliosis found in this study, in 2009, spinal surgery done in hospitals across the U.S. to correct adolescent idiopathic scoliosis were well over 3,600. The overall costs (approximately $514 million) ranked second only to appendicitis among children 10 to 17 years of age. Although approximately 3% of children below the age of 16 develop scoliosis, only 0.3 to 0.5% have progressive curves requiring treatment.
Treatment with rigid bracing (thoracolumbosacral orthosis) according to background information found in this study, is the most common nonoperative treatment for the prevention of curve progression.
Although scoliosis braces come in a variety of designs, the primary objective of all of these braces, is to restore the normal curvature and alignment of the spine. While some are designed to achieve this objective by means of external forces, others are designed to stimulate an active correction as the patient moves the spine away from pressures within the brace.
From this study, the researchers discovered that in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis who were considered to be at high risk for curve progression that would eventually warrant surgery, bracing was associated with a much greater chance of reaching skeletal maturity with a curve of less than 50 degrees, as compared with observation alone.
Other things they noted was that a significant benefit of bracing was evident in both the randomized and the as-treated populations. They also found a significant relationship between the average hours of day braces are worn and the likelihood of a successful outcome. These findings support those of previous prospective observational studies, which have shown a significantly lower rate of surgery among patients who wore a brace than among those who didn’t.
This further led them to the conclusion that bracing significantly decreased the progression of high-risk curves to the threshold for surgery in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Longer hours of brace wear were associated with greater benefit.
When There Might be a Need for Surgery
Firstly, based on Dr. Winter’s rationale when the back pain a patient with scoliosis has been experiencing is indeed associated with their scoliosis, it is often a muscular type of pain (which occurs because the muscles on the convexity of the curve are doing an excessive amount of work in attempt to control the curve); if that’s the case, then this means, the less convex the curve of the spine, the less work the muscles will have to perform in attempt to control it(which will eliminate the pain).
Secondly, since the above study by the NJM was able to prove that bracing (especially when frequently worn)significantly decreased the progression of high-risk curves, it’s fair to conclude that scoliosis braces can indeed help to get rid of scoliosis back pain.
Sources: 1) Dr. Robert Winter; National Scoliosis Foundation 2)Scoliosis Research Foundation Society 3)Stuart L. Weinstein, M.D., Lori A. Dolan, Ph.D., et. al; Effects of Bracing in Adolescents with Idiopathic Scoliosis: New England Journal of Medicine, October 17, 2013