Does scoliosis hurt
In general, scoliosis does not cause pain particularly in younger patients. Scoliosis that is associated with significant pain may have related abnormalities of the spinal cord that need to be evaluated. Scoliosis may cause pain as an adult secondary to development of arthritis. This is the reason why some larger curves should treated early on.
Scoliosis usually does not hurt. A lot of adolescents can have back pain but it is pretty uncommon for scoliosis to cause back pain.
University of Utah Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Most children with scoliosis do not have back pain. Back pain in children can be due to a lot of things, some of which are not serious, such as bad posture or carrying too many books back and forth to school in a backpack over one shoulder. However, a doctor should evaluate serious back pain in children, whether or not they have scoliosis.
New York, NY
Scoliosis is not typically painful in the child or adolescent. This is generally true of patients with small curves. However, larger curves, and particularly those in the thoracolumbar spine (the junction of the ribbed and non ribbed lower spine) are often painful to some degree. In the pediatric population, pain is generally not incapacitating. There are other forms of scoliosis such as that caused by osteoid osteoma, a benign tumor of the spine that are usually painful in children. The adult patient with scoliosis typically presents with pain, which may be debilitating and is often the primary reason for consultation. The adult spine has degenerative changes, which in conjunction with spinal curvatures are often the source of pain. Nerve impingement or "pinched nerves" may arise as a result of a disc herniation or narrowing of the space for the nerves (foramen) as they exit the spine in severe scoliosis.
Typically, scoliosis will not be painful in children or adolescents. Adolescents will develop muscle spasms, but pain is much more common in adult patients. Adults will have associated degenerative disease. When significant spine pain accompanies a spinal deformity in adolescents, immediate attention should be sought to ensure no diagnosis exists. Anyone who has pain associated with their back as a child or adolescent should get immediate medical attention.
Glen Burnie, MD
Many adolescents with scoliosis do not have back pain that limits their ability to perform their usual activities. Some may have mild discomfort in their back or complain of fatigue type pain. Scoliosis associated with severe pain is concerning and should be thoroughly evaluated to make sure that there is not another underlying disorder present. In contrast, adult scoliosis may frequently cause back pain. This pain is often caused by disc degeneration or arthritis of the facet joints. Patients with adult scoliosis can also develop nerve compression that may cause buttock or leg pain.
St. Louis, MO
Mild scoliosis does not cause pain. Moderate to severe scoliosis can increase the likelihood of activity-related musculoskeletal pain.
Los Angeles, CA
In children and adolescents, pain is an infrequent finding with scoliosis. If pain is the major complaint in a young patient with scoliosis, then a work up beyond plain X-rays may be ordered to establish the underlying cause of the curvature. For example, in rare instances, a benign inflammatory focus of tissue (osteoid osteoma) can produce curvature of the spine. In the adult population, pain may be the major reason for a patient with scoliosis to seek treatment. That is because, as we age, our spine becomes less flexible and undergoes changes, which reduce water content in the discs and produce inflammation in the joints.
New York, NY
Healthy teenagers with scoliosis do not have curve related back pain. If back pain is present, other causes should be considered. Pain can occur in adults with scoliosis, and in certain types of curves that render the spine out of balance.
Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Orthopedic Group
Sometimes, but as a rule, patients with scoliosis have no greater incidence of back pain than people without scoliosis. Remember everybody has a back ache at one time or another.
Usually, the spinal curve itself does not hurt. There are, however, studies that suggest people with more severe curves experience a higher degree of musculoskeletal back pain.
The vast majority of adolescent scoliosis patients have no related pain.
Dr. Thomas G. Lowe
Woodridge Orthopaedics & Spine Center, P.C.
Generally there is no significant discomfort with scoliosis although I found that if you really ask people very carefully about the presence or absence of pain, many of them will have some minor discomfort with physical activity.
New York, NY
In children and adolescents scoliosis usually does not cause pain. However, in adults, particularly when scoliosis is associated with instability of the spine, pain is not uncommon. Even in adolescents who do not have scoliosis, back discomfort may occur from time to time. If back discomfort becomes more serious and really painful then an evaluation by a doctor is important.
The commentary above recounts the experiences of these physicians. Medtronic invited them to share their stories candidly. Keep in mind that results vary; not every patient's response is the same. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any products that are mentioned above.
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